Prayer and the Holy Spirit: The ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Faith – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Prayer and the Holy Spirit - The ‘Dynamic Duo' of Faith promo

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:

Prayer and the Holy Spirit: The ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Faith

© April 16, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Lessons Shared at BLCF on February 7, 2021 and June 7, 2015

BLCF Bulletin June 7, 2015

BLCF: Power of the Spirit

BLCF: dynamic-duo

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

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

 Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Opening Music Selections:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back) https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Scripture Verses: Matthew 6:5-13, John 17:1-26, Romans 8:26-27

BLCF: Come-Holy-Spirit

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

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the Sunday, April 16, 2023..

For our lesson today, we will be looking at Prayer and the Holy Spirit, as the two dynamic elements of Faith in Jesus, whose sacrifice is remembered in church when we partake communion. Just as in communion, we are drawn together as a body of believers, in our prayers we are drawn closer to God’s Holy Spirit.

We are living in a time of great challenge that comes with a COVID-19 Pandemic, just as Jesus encouraged us to take communion together, we find with places of worship closed or open with safety restrictions needed to preserve life and health,we find that the Lord has given us both prayer and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God, as a means to deal with the pandemic shutdown and as a way to connect with Him and each other by way of prayer. We may pray to the Lord and for each other, unencumbered by physical limitations and restraints caused by the pandemic. Prayer and the Holy Spirit are not bound by the boundaries and limitations of the world, both are pure expressions of the love of God. Love and God may be viewed as synonymous, as we read in 1John 4:16.

If the Holy Spirit is an expression of God’s love, then prayer could be considered the language of His love.

We know that the elements of communion are the bread and juice, but what are the elements of a prayer? Jesus gave us an idea in his response to the disciples’ question: “How should we pray?” in what we commonly refer to today as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

The Scriptures give us two accounts of Jesus’ example as of how to pray in Matthew, Chapter 6 and Luke, Chapter 11. For our lesson, I have chosen the example recorded in Matthew 6:5-13. While most references indicate the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew beginning at verse 9 and ending with verse 13, I find that the four verses previous to verse 9 are just as important, as they explain not just the content of our prayers, but the attitude and manner of expression of the prayers.

Matthew 6:5-13 (ESV) The Lord’s Prayer

BLCF: stop-praying-like-a-pagan

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.[a]

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done,[b]

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]

12 and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.[d]

Footnotes: a. Matthew 6:9 Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence b. Matthew 6:10 Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done c. Matthew 6:11 Or our bread for tomorrow e. Matthew 6:13 Or the evil one; some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

BLCF: Lords_prayer

There is the common practice among many churches of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at every service. Such practice runs the risk of just heaping many words publicly as described in Matthew 6:7-8. When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, it was before the Day of Pentecost and so we could understand why the disciples did not discern or understand how to construct a prayer. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit’s presence brings dynamism to our prayers, and the Spirit with prayer acts as a ‘Dynamic Duo‘ to our faith requests. I am not talking about a Super Hero, but the Spirit delivers dynamism to the prayer. But what do we mean by the term dynamism? Let us check our Wikibits for an answer:

dynamism [dahy-nuh-miz-uh m] /ˈdaɪ nəˌmɪz əm/ noun 1. any of various theories or philosophical systems that seek to explain phenomena of nature by the action of force.

Comparemechanism(def 8),vitalism(def 1).

 2. great energy, force, or power; vigor:

the dynamism of the new governor.
3. Psychology. a habitual mode of reducing or eliminating tension.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dynamism

BLCF: Holy Spirit in prayer

This synergy of Spirit and faith together make our prayers more than just hollow words. Faith in the Lord brings the Spirit and the Spirit mediates our prayers and His reply.

Just prior to his crucifixion for all our sins, the Lord gave his “High Priestly Prayer.

John 17 (ESV) The High Priestly Prayer

BLCF: John_17

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth.

18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Footnotes: a. John 17:15 Or from evil b. John 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God) c. John 17:19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God) d. John 17:19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God) In verses 17-26 of John 17,

Jesus asks the Father that those who believe and follow him be sanctified, unified and that the love of God that is in Christ will be in them. The manner by which this request by the Lord may be achieved is by way of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ Prayer in John 17 describes how the Lord delivered on his promise to ask the Father to provide another Helper, described as “the Spirit of truth” earlier in John 14:12-17.

John 14:12-17 (ESV)

BLCF: Dove

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, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[c] in you.

Footnotes: A. John 14:14 Some manuscripts omit me B. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 C. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

How does the presence of the Holy Spirit, which is part of the Holy Trinity of God, change the manner in which we pray. Here is an excerpt from Ray C. Stedman’s article on The Holy Spirit and Prayer, from a Series: Jesus Teaches Prayer:

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Author: Ray C. Stedman:

Read the Scripture: John 14:12-17

BLCF: Prayer_Family

It is significant to note that, though Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, he did teach them how to pray. Much of his teaching on prayer is found in this rich and fragrant passage, which is called The Upper Room Discourse, found in John, Chapters 13 through 17. It is a passage that is filled with astonishing concepts.

I know of no more challenging part of the Word of God than this. It is a vast area of mystery and beauty and glory. I never read it without feeling tremendously humbled in the experience of it. Perhaps in this place, more fully than anywhere else, our Lord unfolds to us the unique secret of Christianity, that aspect of life that has been called “the exchanged life.”

This is the secret of a Christian: He is not living his own life, he is living another’s life. Or, more accurately, another is living his life in him. Until you have grasped that as the mystery and key of Christian living you have not graduated from the kindergarten level of the Christian life.

This is what Jesus says: “In you” means that you are under the control of the Holy Spirit, and yielding obedience to his totalitarian sovereignty. It means the total collapse of all your rebellion against him.

“Oh,” you say, “I’m not in rebellion against the Spirit of God. Why, I’m a Christian. I don’t rebel against him.” Let me ask you: “What kind of life are you living? Is it God-centered, or is it self-centered? Is it to please yourself that your activities are done and your desires aimed?” Then you are in rebellion against the Spirit of God, and to have him dwelling in you means the total collapse of all that revolt until you are saying, “Lord Jesus, whatever you say, your word is my command. I am ready to obey.”

It is not our relationship with Jesus Christ which counts before the world, it is our resemblance to him.

http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/prayer/the-holy-spirit-and-prayer

It is important to note whether at home, in church, or as we travel, God in form of the Holy Spirit, is always with us and we should always be mindful of Him, especially in our prayers:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12

BLCF prayer walk

Unlike the disciples in Matthew 6 or Luke 11, we need not worry how to word our prayers, as we are accompanied by the Holy Spirit to help us express our concerns and to intercede on our behalf, as we see in Romans 8:26-27:

Romans 8:26-27

BLCF: Lord's Prayer

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.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:27 Or that

In spite of understanding that the Holy Spirit facilitates prayer, many Christians struggle with how to receive the Holy Spirit. For we receive the Spirit by faith. Author Bill Bright describes three steps in the Scriptures to our being filled with the Holy Spirit in his article, The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit:

The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

By faith, you can trust God right now to fill you

by Bill Bright

BLCF: broken_sinned_forgiven_saved

Millions of Christians are begging God, as I once did, for something which is readily available — just waiting to be appropriated by faith. They are seeking some kind of emotional experience, not realizing that such an attitude on their part is an insult to God — a denial of faith. But faith is the only way you can please God. Though you are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith and faith alone, it is important to recognize that several factors contribute to preparing your heart for the filling of the Spirit.

First, you must desire to live a life that will please the Lord. You have the promise of our Savior, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Second, be willing to surrender your life totally and irrevocably to our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul admonishes in Romans 12:1, 2: “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Third, confess every known sin which the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and experience the cleansing and forgiveness which God promises in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I call this process “Spiritual Breathing.”

Just as you exhale and inhale physically, so you also breathe spiritually. You exhale spiritually when you confess your sins.

http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/classics/transferable-concepts/be-filled-with-the-holy-spirit.7.html

f84f5-prayer-changes-everything

The Holy Spirit provides for a dynamic dialog between God and the believers. Without the Spirit, prayer consists of hollow words with little hope of being heard by the Lord, let alone any reply. It is the Spirit acting as an Intermediary between the Lord and the believer that brings a Devine understanding to our deepest concerns far better than we can put them into words. As an Intercessor, the Spirit brings Devine comfort, encouragement, and eventually understanding to the issues that we raise. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we may be assured that anything, for which we pray, according to the Lord’s will, will be heard and answered, 1 John 5:14 (ESV):

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Let me conclude today’s lesson with a portion of Paul’s letter to members of the Church of Ephesis, which is in the form of a plea and prayer to the Lord on behalf of both the people of Ephesis and himself: Advice and a prayer which is well suited for all Christians:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Let us pray…

BLCF: faith_thanking-God_in_advance

Benediction – (Psalm 19:14): Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I will pray

Easter Sunday – Walking with the Resurrected Christ – 2023

BLCF Church Easter Invitation

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Easter_Resurrection

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Easter Sunday:

‘Walking with the Resurrected Christ’

© April 9, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

 Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on April 5, 2015 and on September 1, 2013

BLCF Bulletin April 5, 2015

BLCF Church: Bulletin September 1, 2013

BLCF: christ_is_risen

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer  

Responsive Reading #623:’The Risen Lord’ (Matthew 28;John 20)

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

 Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Musical Prelude – He Is Not Here, He Is Risen (Song: Now We Are Free) – https://youtu.be/svGrySsQi4I                                

Tiffany Coburn – The Easter Song OFFICIAL Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/dSbcYzgy8ao

Today’s Scriptures: Luke 24:13-49, John 14:15-26

Let us pray…

Good morning. I wonder how many of you recall the reality TV program: “Undercover Boss”? For the uninitiated, “Undercover Boss” was a documentary-style show where the head of a company, usually the owner or CEO, disguises him or herself and works alongside unknowing employees to understand any concerns that they may have with their boss or their organization. Later in the show, the boss removes the disguise and reveals his or her identity  often to the astonishment  of the employee.

BLCF: abiding in Christ

We have an account, described in Luke 24:13-35, where the resurrected Jesus, travelling incognito, encounter two of his disciples on the Road to Emmaus:

Luke 24:13-35 (ESV): On the Road to Emmaus

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Footnotes: a. Luke 24:13 Greek sixty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

In the Emmaus account, which gives the name of one of the two disciples as Cleopas, we have the pair telling the Lord how they had hoped before his crucifixion; they had hoped that Israel had been delivered. To which the Lord chides them, saying (in verses 25-25):

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

It is only after the breaking of the bread, does Christ reveals himself.

It is important to note that these two disciples did not initially recognize this stranger as Christ, which is similar to Mary Magdalene’s mistaking the Lord as a gardener or groundskeeper at the cemetery, as described in John 20:1-18 and later in another  encounter, where Jesus reveals himself to his disciples in the Upper Room, as described in John 20:19-23.  The two accounts of Jesus revealing himself are presented together in John 20:1-23 (ESV):

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[c] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: 1. John 20:7 Greek his 2. John 20:16 Or Hebrew 3. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

Now back to this morning’s Scripture lesson from Luke 24:13-35, Jesus  takes on a similar tact by not revealing himself to two of his disciples. The resurrected Christ approaches the two, Cleopas and a companion, to find out what they were discussing as they walked along. This encounter takes place on the third day after the crucifixion, now called Easter Day. Two disciples were going from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus. Today, the location of Emmaus is not precisely clear. The name Emmaus may be derived from the Hebrew word hammat, “hot spring.” Luke places it about 60 stadia from Jerusalem. At about 607 English feet or 192 meters per stadion, this makes the distance about seven miles or eleven and quarter kilometers.

Jesus hears an accounting of his crucifixion, the empty tomb and rumours that Christ is alive! The account describes the two as being sad as they had hoped that Jesus was going to be the one to redeem Israel. This demonstrated  a lack of understanding on the part of the two with the true prophesy of the scriptures, as well as a lack of faith in understanding how the redemption of Israel was to be accomplished. That Christ had to suffer on the cross to fulfill the prophecy of the scriptures.

Christ appears to be continuing on, when the two invite him to stay with them, as darkness is approaching. To which Christ agrees. It is not until Christ blessed and broke the bread at their supper, were the two disciples able to recognize the identity of their house guest. It was only then that the two understood   what Jesus was talking about as they were travelling along the Emmaus Road.

Shortly thereafter, Cleopas and his companion returned to Jerusalem, to share their experience with the 11 disciples. Their experience was validated by the fact that Simon Peter had also encountered the resurrected Christ. Their experience tells us about the importance of the Lord’s revelation to believers. I am not talking about the John’s prophetic epistle we call the Book of Revelation.Any book of the Scriptures is meaningless without the Holy Spirit’s presence to give understanding to those passages of the Bible.

BLCF: walking-to-emmaus

The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos”. The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be “Counselor” or “Advocate”.

Faith in Christ is not simply about our free will decision: it requires a revelation from God to understand the truth.  Please note the timeline of this encounter on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus had been crucified a few days previous. The Lord revealed himself soon after his resurrection from the tomb and prior to his ascension to heaven. The day of Pentecost was still some 40 days in the future, so the Holy Spirit, as a spiritual guide and comforter was not gifted to believers. Prior to Pentecost Jesus was the comforter. The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos.” The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be Counselor or Advocate, John 14:15-26 (ESV):

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,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7   b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

Back to our Emmaus account, where we have two dejected, saddened disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem. After all, Christ who was expected to deliver the people of Israel from subjugation by Imperial Rome is now dead, as were their hopes of liberation. In that regard, the two had misunderstood Christ’s purpose and an inaccurate understanding of his teachings.  While Jesus corrects them by referring to the scriptures, it is only after he blesses and breaks the bread do they realize their companion’s true identity.

It is interesting that when we take the bread element of communion, we do it to remember Christ, as we read in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

BLCF: Walking With The Lord

I believe that Christ having ascended to Heaven has sent us the Holy Spirit to accompany us on our Christian walk. And we need the Lord’s revelation, too. Whatever our human skills and talents, whatever decisions we are capable of making, the life of faith does not start with us. It begins with God revealing himself to us. For us, as Christ has ascended to the Father’s right hand, that conviction comes by way of God, the Holy Spirit.

What implications are there here for us? It reminds us that for anyone to find faith in Christ there must be a revelation from God. Christian witness cannot be reduced just to us saying the right words or doing the right things so that people will come to faith.  So in our witness we rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s presence and love to people.

This does not only apply to the call to conversion. It involves all aspects of the Christian life. We always need the revelation of God. However much we study a Bible passage, we need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of the scripture.

Just as Cleopas and his companion discovered the importance of a Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture, we too need to seek an understanding through the Spirit, to avoid misunderstanding what is read.

This brings us to the second part of this morning’s lesson, where Cleopas and a companion return to Jerusalem. Then, having heard of Simon’s encounter with the Risen Christ, the pair shares with the eleven disciples their Emmaus experience with Jesus.  Jesus, again, appears, this time to those gathered saying “Peace to you!”  And just like the two on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is aware that not only do the disciples have doubt in their hearts, they have fear thinking the Lord is a ghost or apparition.

You may recall that the disciples experienced a similar reaction as described by John’s account of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. And those in the boat who first saw Jesus thought the Lord to be a ghost or apparition.

And as in the Emmaus encounter, Jesus continued on his way past the group, until the disciples call out to Him. And like the Emmaus encounter, he chastises the disciples for their little faith. Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Having offered to show his wounds as proof of identity, and just to reinforce the fact that he is not a ghost, he asks for food.  And as he had done to Cleopas and the companion, Jesus reminded the eleven of his teachings prior to his crucifixion:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

These two accounts of the Resurrected Christ, teach us a number of lessons:

  1. The first lesson is that it is possible for the disciples to forget what they have witnessed heard and read.
  2.  The next lesson is that all of understanding of God’s purpose depends upon how willing we are to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is encouraging, to see that when we do go down the wrong path in our understanding, that through the Spirit, the Lord will guides back on the righteous way.
  3. And last, but not least of the lessons, is that through the Spirit, we “are clothed with power from on high.”

And whether we receive the power of the Spirit depends not only upon a declaration of faith, but the manner by which we seek guidance from the Spirit:

Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV) But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

BLCF: Emmaus Road Gospel

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: Hymn #163: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Choruses  

Christ the Lord is Risen Today (Hymn Charts with Lyrics, Contemporary) – https://youtu.be/1lchVdAqCWk

Benediction Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction (1 Corinthians 15:20-22):

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

BLCF: He-is-Risen-Indeed

Join Us 11 AM Easter Sunday at BLCF Church!

BLCF Church Easter Invitation

                 

Celebrate Easter Sunday in the Heart of Toronto

 Join us at 11:00 AM

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church 

 1307 Bloor Street West

(Lansdowne Station – Bloor West Subway Line)         

416-535-9578

closed good friday sign

Hosanna: Our Cry, HIS Reply – 2023

have faith this too shall pass

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is palmsunday-jesus-painting-thinkstock-sedmak.jpg

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 Hosanna: Our Cry, HIS Reply’  

 © April 2, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Messages Shared at BLCF on March 28, 2021 and April 13, 2014

BLCF: Bulletin April 13, 2014

BLCF:  hosanna

Announcements and Call to Worship, Prayer,

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #625 (The Triumphal Entry – Mark 11 and Matthew 21);  Prayer

BLCF: Galatians_6-8

Scripture Verses: Zechariah 9:9-10, John 12:12-36, Psalm 92:12-15

BLCF: Hosanna_guitar

Music Special: I, the Lord of Sea and Sky (Here I Am Lord) – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/5zURbVI3xp0

 

Message by Steve Mickelson: Hosanna: Our Cry, HIS Reply

Let us pray…

Today is Palm Sunday, an important day on the Christian Calendar. For Catholics, who sometimes refer to today as ‘Passion Sunday’, it marks the last week of Lent, a period of self-sacrifice prior to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For all Christians, it marks the start of Holy Week, a time when Jesus, as fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah, triumphantly enters Jerusalem, riding upon a donkey:

BLCF: hosanna

 

Zechariah 9:9-10 (ESV)

The Coming King of Zion

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  

Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;     

righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey,     

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim     

and the war horse from Jerusalem;

and the battle bow shall be cut off,     

and he shall speak peace to the nations;

his rule shall be from sea to sea,     

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

BLCF: Hosanna Palm Sunday

 

We began today’s lesson, with a look at Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, with a contrast between the expectations of how the Messiah sent by God and how Jesus did arrive. Though the reception given by the people for Jesus’ entry to the city was like that given to a king, the mode of transportation he elected to use was not what the world would expect of arriving royalty. Instead of a noble horse or stately chariot, Christ arrived by means of a donkey, the same humble mode of transportation that his mother Mary used to go to Bethlehem, when she and her husband Joseph travelled to respond to the Census call by Caesar Augustus, as told in Luke, Chapter 2. Jesus’ arrival on the back of a donkey fulfilled prohecy described in  as The Coming King of Zion in Zechariah 9:9b (ESV):

Behold, your king is coming to you;     

righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey,     

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

The similarity betwwn the crowds expectation for a king arrival and Jesus did arrive differs because our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem was in response to a higher calling from the Father in Heaven, rather than a response toany person or Emperor.

And our Lord intended to do more than what the disciples had expected, which was to go to the city to celebrate Passover. Instead, Jesus intended to glorify God, and restore the separation of the people from Him, which was the result of sin, through his act as the last sacrificial lamb.

.

BLCF: Matthew_21_Leullier

 

Let us, again review the account given by John, which he authored as an apostle of the Lord, rather than as a disciple. You may be aware that John’s Epistles were authored some 30 years after Passover, where the disciples, following the ascension of the Lord and the Day of Passover, had received God’s Holy Spirit, so that by the Great Commission of Christ, became Apostles of the Lord, no longer Disciples of Christ. That is why I elected to use John’s account of Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John had the advantage of knowing how, when and why Jesus would glorify the love and compassion of God towards a humanity who were facing the judgement of sin, which is death.

 

BLCF: Palm Sunday

John 12:12-16 (ESV): The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;

behold, your king is coming,     

sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 

 

 

John was able to give us a better understanding of the purpose and plan for Christ’s entry into Jerusalem upon a humble donkey. Christ was aware that in order to remove God’s judgement upon the world, Jesus would have to take upon himself the punishment for all of humanity’s collective sin. In order to achieve this sacrifice, the Lord had to step down from his throne, like the seed of grain, and die in order to bear much fruit. Jesus is the grain; his death would be on the cross; and the fruit that he bears would be the gifts of salvation an eternal life. The other gift we see in verse 31, is that that Satan, who is ruler of this world, is cast out. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus simultaneously has conversations with the Father in heaven and with the people gathered around him. It is interesting to note, that some of the crowd thought that when God spoke, they thought it to be thunder, while others thought that an angel was speaking. And let us look again at verse 27 and 28:

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  

This brings us to the title of today’s message: ‘Hosanna: Our Cry, HIS Reply’.To understand what is meant by this title, must first understand what we mean when we say, or as we had sung earlier, Hosanna. And for a definition, let us look at the Wiki bits from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

BLCF: Hosanna

Hosanna (/hˈzænə/) is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana. Christianity: “Hosanna” was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” It is used in the same way in Christian praise, especially on Palm Sunday which commemorates that event. Etymology: The word hosanna (Latin osanna, Greek ὡσαννά, hōsanná) is from Hebrew הושיעה־נא, הושיעהנא hôshia-nā’ which is short for hôšî‘â-nā’ from Aramaic הושענא meaning “save, rescue” (possibly “savior”). In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25). It is applied in numerous verses of the New Testament including “Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11.9), “hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:10); “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9). The old interpretation “Save, now!”, based on Psalm 118:25, does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels as a shout of jubilation, and this has given rise to complex discussions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna

 

 BLCF: Hosanna_by_right__hand

So it appears that we have Hosanna, according to Wikipedia, described both as a shout of jubilation and a cry for salvation! Our opening hymn was the former, while in John 12:27, Jesus spoke of Hosanna as the latter. In a sense, Hosanna is both. Christ chose not to be saved from his death on the cross, in order to give humanity the celebration of victory over death, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for humanity’s sake. His loss was our gain. I think that it is safe to conclude that the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna’ to celebrate the Messiah’s arrival, while at the same time asking Christ for their salvation. Jesus had yet to die on the cross, and humanity was subject to God’s judgement and punishment for sin. So the Hosannas were a plea to God for His mercy. After Jesus died, the Hosannas that we sing are praises to Him, acknowledging His love and mercy, provided by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The next question we might ask is: Why was the palm branch used to carpet the path of the donkey which carried our Lord? Here is a portion of an article on the subject by André Roosma:

 

BLCF: Hosanna

 

The Palm Tree in the Bible: Full of Rich Symbolism

André H. Roosma, 28 January 2012 (NL orig.: 11 Jan. 2012)

The Bible presents a lot of symbolism featuring the palm tree. God refers in His Word to a number of characteristic aspects of the palm tree:

  • an abundance of especially refreshing fruits;
  • its growth: rather fast, and straight up;
  • the ever-green leaves at its top;
  • with its raised branches/leaves (the official term is: fronds) at its top it seems to worship God the way it was done in Biblical times: with raised arms;
  • to that end, those fronds let themselves easily moved by the wind (compare: the Spirit of God);
  • by its example and by its fruits it stimulates men to look up and to listen to God.

The most widely used Biblical Hebrew word for ‘palm tree’ is תמרtamar. In the old pictographic script this is: – literally: ‘the sign of water/abundance of the Other (God). The first time this word tamar appears in the Bible is in Exodus 15: 27 and parallel in Numbers 22: 9. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the water. On their voyage from Egypt the people of Israel came in Elim, where, it says, there were 70 palm trees. Now 70 is in the Bible the number of great fullness. Did one date palm in the desert already mean good news, a fullness of palm trees was extraordinarily refreshing for the people. Together with the twelve water wells, one for every tribe, this was typically a sign of God’s blessing and care for them. He granted them to be refreshed and to receive new energy.

http://www.hallelu-yah.nl/thepalmtree2.html

 

 BLCF: hosanna_palms

 

And to those familiar with the Scriptures, the palm tree represented those who receive the righteousness of the God, by way of His righteous Son, Jesus. As believers and followers of the resurrected Christ, we may bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit by sharing the Gospel of Jesus unto the ends of the earth, which is the ‘Great Commission’ Christ gave to us. We are reminded of this, by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:

BLCF: Psalm-Sunday_

Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree     

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;      

they flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They still bear fruit in old age;      

they are ever full of sap and green,

15 to declare that the Lord is upright;     

He is my rock,

and there is no unrighteousness in him.

 

BLCF: Holy Week

 

Let us then consider our Hosanna, as our Palm Sunday prayer of praise to a God Who is merciful and kind, with a great love for us. And as a sinful world cries out for salvation from judgement; God replies by offering a path to salvation by way of his Son, Jesus:

BLCF: John_3-16

John 3:16 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

BLCF: God loves you this much

Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24):

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

BLCF: Christ-the-seed-that-dies

 

Celebrating the Life of Rawle James – March 26, 2023

Celebrating the Life of Rawle James – March 26, 2023

Celebrating the Life of Rawle James

Celebrating-the-Life-of-Rawle-James-Bulletin-xcsdms

Celebrating the Life of Rawle James – March 26, 2023

Invocation And Prayer: Pastor Steve Mickelson

Prayer and Offering: Doxology (Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow)Lyric Instrumental Video – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU  

Music Special: Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me – Lyric Instrumental Video – https://youtu.be/GdN7q2lroJI  

Music Special: I, the Lord of Sea and Sky (Here I Am Lord) – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/5zURbVI3xp0

Message – Pastor Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                

Celebrating the Life of Rawle James

11102798_10155515854215167_7132785994642178972_n-copy

Let us pray…

Good morning. I would like to welcome you to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service, which includes a life celebration of our dear friend, and brother-in-Christ, Rawle James. A recent article, written by Kerry Doole of FYI Music News on March 7, gave the following summary of Rawle’s career:

FYI Music News by Kerry Doole, March 07, 2023

Rawle James, a Toronto dance music industry veteran, died of a heart attack on March 1 at age 68. James’ career included roles in A&R, marketing, radio promotion, management, publicity, retail buying, record store ownership, DJing, record production and mixing, and album compilations (including some of the Much Music Dance Mix series) at such companies and labels as Koch, TJSB, Disco Sound, J’s Records, Aires Entertainment, and Quality.

https://www.fyimusicnews.ca/articles/2023/03/07/obituaries-march-9-2023

While “dash” found between Rawle’s date of birth and his date of death would include a multitude of achievements, anniversaries, and important events over the 68 years of his lifetime. I would like to leave the sharing of Rawle’s personal and career events to those who will come forward to share their memories of him later in this service and focus instead upon Rawle’s actions as a friend and brother-in-Christ here at BLCF over the last 16 or 17 years.

My first impression of Rawle was his great smile, booming laugh, and friendly, casual demeanor. How could you not like this guy? Early on, our conversations were limited to the short coffee and tea time held after the service. Sometimes we talked about the message of the service, others it might be an aspect of sports or politics.

So if you were to ask me what single verse from the Bible best exemplifies Rowle James, I would have to say that Psalm 100 best exemplifies Rawle’s joyfulness, gladness, and love for song:

Psalm 100 –  His Steadfast Love Endures Forever (ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

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

 Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Over time BLCF sought to an outreach activity to grow the church and make the local community aware that BLCF was there to serve the needs of the neighborhood. When another church which had run a community dinner for several years proposed that we sponsor a similar one at BLCF, we did not hesitate to take the leap.

Within a few months, the Bloor Lansdowne Community Dinner, grew from an initial outreach to 30 guests to over 50 guests and by 2010, we found the number jumping to 100 or more every Wednesday.

When we needed servers Rawle stepped up. Then when BLCF needed a cook to help prepare and cook 100 or more meals ever Wednesday, Rawle stepped in. Later when one of the partner churches which would bring bread for the dinner moved to another part of the city, Rawle stepped in and negotiated donations from a couple of bakeries, which provided brad and pastries insufficient quantity to be served both as part of the meal and dessert, with enough left over that we could start distributing bread for our guests to take home after their meal. On two occasions we had local bakeries close their doors due to the economy, Rawle had sourced a new donor. And when we found that serving a weekly dinner to a 100 or more guests necessitated us to find a source of 70 to 80 chairs, Rawle found a donor willing to give us 80 chairs, as well as shelving and tables.

When Terry Sywanyk, our regular singer for the dinners bought in the rest of his group, Coldwater Roots to sing for fundraisers for the dinner and at special dinners, such as Christmas and New Years, Rawle approached them to see if he could help them fill their need for an experienced manager.

It was about this time that I realized that Rawle was a person who could easily wear any of many hats, including a chef’s hat or the hat of a musical consultant. Rawle had a knack of finding solutions to logistical problems by involving friends in his quest to become the “Bread Man of BLCF”. If he needed help to pick up donations from the bakery, he would ask friends to help. If would help if the friend had a vehicle to help transport the donations. After bringing the bread to the church during the week prior to the Wednesday BLCF Café, Rawle would ensure that the bread delivery was put safely away.

On Wednesday, Rawle would arrive around noon, and after seeing that the needs for the dinner prep were taken care of, our “Bread man” would next set up his bread tables, clean them, and after putting on the table cloths, he embarked upon cleaning them, then sorting his bakery goods and packaging them individually for distribution at the dinner that evening. At the end of the day, Rawle would strike down the tables, vacuum the floor. Our George Brown volunteers would keep attendance by taking a group photo of their student volunteers. As everyone needed to be in the photo, Rawle would offer to take the group photo. He would end the day by sweeping and mopping the kitchen and prep room, often offering to lock up at the end of the evening.

When all is said and done, you may conclude Rawle was a good, dedicated volunteer for a local dinner feeding the marginalized in our community, and you would be right. However, like broadcast journalist Paul Harvey would say, “and now the rest of the story.”

Often after Rawle arrived at the bakery to pick up a donation, he would talk with the staff, and find that some would have a family or friend who may be in need of prayer for a concern. Rawle would bring these Prayer Requests to either the Wednesday Bible Study at BLCF or to the Sunday Worship Service.

And while Rawle serving at the bread table, dinner guests would often share a concern with the bread man. If Rawle could not think of a solution, he would ask if were OK to bring up the concern at Sunday Prayer at BLCF.

And then, having brought bread to BLCF for the dinner, Rawle would often play a game or two of hoops in the church gym, which provided him an opportunity to chat with those who helped him pick up the bread.

Rawle wore the hats, sometimes more than one at a time, of chef, musician, baker, basket ball player, and lay minister. If we had a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and needed an MC for the event, Rawle would step up to the task.

This brings me to one of our multi-talented friends gifts, which was the ability to read the room, whether it be occupied by two individuals or a hundred and twenty. Rawle would see a need, figure out a solution, and take action to fix the problem.

Rawle’s next talent was the tactful use of humour and a positive attitude to address a problem.

A number of years ago, I had developed what I thought was a great formula for writing my sermons. Having written the lesson for Sunday, and chosen illustrations for the online version of the message, all I needed was to select hymns which complemented the sermon. In the back of our hymnals were several indexes, allowing one to find a hymn by its title, by the first line of lyrics, based on a Scripture Verse, or based on a topic. I used the latter two to search out an appropriate hymn based on topic or a Scripture used in the lesson. If I did not know the hymn, I would read through the lyric, to see whether they were a match to the Scripture verses used in the message. But there was one problem to this system, I did not read music.

One Sunday, the failure of my system became quite evident when two of the hymns I had selected, though containing wonderful inspiring prose for lyrics, had a terrible melody. Both were remarkable for unknown, difficult for the congregation to sing, and almost depressingly slow. At the end of the service, Rawle walked up to me, and commented that “a couple of those hymns today were so bad, I wouldn’t sing them at a funeral.” To which I agreed and we both had a chuckle. Needless to say, when selecting hymns, I first audit either on Youtube or Godtube, and then verify with Sophie if it is OK from a musical standpoint. And then check to see if it meets the following criteria described by Stephen Witwicki:

1) Is it singable?
2) Is it memorable?
3) Does it tell the truth about God?
4) Does it tell the truth about us? (are we saying/singing something we wouldn’t actually do)

https://search.brave.com/search?q=christian+music+artists&source=web

I believe on one occasion, a few years later did I repeat my mistake. And as Rawle approached me I said, “No need to say it, Rawle. I know!” At which point we both burst out in laughter!

Rawle had a compassionate care for the needs of others. Whether it was alternately missing church on alternate Sundays so that he could travel from his place near Mimico to visit his mom in a home in Markham, by way of public transit, or the time he invested in teaching students how to clean and temper a cast iron pan, or having taken a group photo of student volunteers, asking for them to pose for another one, this time make a funny face, Rowle always found a funny way to break the ice when the going gets tough. Rawle shone his light to all he met, just as Jesus taught us in John 8:12,

John 8:12 (ESV): I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 Rawle allowed the light of his faith to shine, as we see in Matthew 5:14-16.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV): You Are the Light of the World

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Dear friend Rawle, we will miss your booming, infectious laugh, your compassionate concern for those in need, your love for your God and your mom, and your joy for music.  Goodbye for now dear friend, you will be sorely missed until the day the Lord chooses to reunite us. For how you have treated others, reflects a love for the Lord reflected through your love for others, as we read in Matthew 25:21:

Matthew 25:21(ESV)

21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[a] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

As believers in the resurrected Christ, I would like to share the following poem, written by Clare Harner entitled, Immortality, which describes Jesus’ promise to those who believe:

Immortality – bClare Harner

 Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there; I do not sleep.  

I am a thousand winds that blow,

 I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain, 

 I am the gentle autumn rain.     

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

This poem reflects the faith that we as believer in the resurrected Christ Jesus, believe is promised to all by way of His New Covenant:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (ESV): The Coming of the Lord

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

 Let us pray…

At this time, I would like to invite members of the family and friends to come forward and share a memory of experience they had of our friend Rawle James.

Eulogies from Family and Friends

Music Benediction Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction: 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. – Romans 15:13 (ESV)                                                                                                         

BLCF wishes to thank the family, friends, and volunteers for attending this Service to Celebrate the Life of our dear friend, and brother-in-Christ, Rawle James

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Thank you for sharing the Celebration of the Life

Of our dear friend Rawle James

Dear friend many good thoughts and

Words were shared

Love you and you will be missed

But Rawle of many hats you will be not be forgotten:

BLCF church and BLCF Cafe and your

Music Industry friends and family

-Sophie Mickelson, BLCF, March 27, 2023

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Trish Buchanan: Rawl James  (Posted March 31, 2023)

 
I with John & Irene had the pleasure of attending our neighbour Rawle’s Celebration of Life on Sunday, March 26th, 2023.
 
There were many common threads that everyone had to say about Rawle.
First & foremost Rawle was a man of God and served every day of his life. This was evident in the stories that was shared by his friends that went back to the 70’s.
 
His charm and charisma stole everyone’s ♥️.
 
Rawle was kind, soft, a teddy bear, funny, had a hearty laugh, beautiful smile, not materialistic, intelligent, saved lives, travelled a lot, master of music, loved deeply and LOVED his Mother. 🙏🏼💜
 
So long neighbour. You are missed as you pass by our homes, smiling, waving & singing a tune. No more chats on the street, ,no more Milo (my dog) greeting you, a ride to the subway, & no more bread runs with Rod. Parisbakery
The love in your church was bountiful and your presence with be deeply missed for a long time.
RIP Rawle James 🙏🏼⭐️
 
 

About 60 attended Rawle James’ Celebration of Life at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – Blcf Church on March 26, 2023. Memorial Service photos courtesy

Staying on the Path to Salvation: Through Humility and Forgiveness – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church has reopened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness 

© March 19, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on lessons shared with BLCF on November 21, 2021, January 21, 2018, July 20, 2014, and February 28, 2010

BLCF Bulletin January 21, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2010

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

 Opening Music Selections:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back) https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Lauren Daigle ~ Love Like This (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/U7eyU9EPGWo

O’ Lord w/ Lyrics (Lauren Daigle) https://youtu.be/K42bvpgimTg

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

 

Let Us Pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for Sunday, March 19, 2023. Tomorrow, Monday, March 20 marks the first day of Spring, 2023.

Spring Blessings

In Next Sunday’s Service, we will have a celebration of our friend and brother in Christ, Rawle James, who passed suddenly on March 1. We invite you to join us in remembering Rawle, who was both an active member of BLCF Church and a volunteer for our BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

334087185_887927155825838_8606304332189554485_n-942360770-e1679162647755

I would like to begin our lesson today, entitled Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness, with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

If you picked up a newspaper recently, you may have read the following headline and news story:

Accused Florida school shooter pleads guilty in 2018 Parkland massacre

Oct 20, 2021 (Reuters) – Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest ever at a U.S. high school.

At a hearing, Cruz, 23, stood hunched over and entered one guilty plea at a time as the judge read off the charges. His lawyer, David Wheeler, Broward County’s chief assistant public defender, said last week Cruz intended to plead guilty in the Valentine’s Day attack.

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the “cold, calculated and premeditated” killings, Broward County’s State’s Attorney Office said in court documents.

After the pleas were entered, Cruz removed his COVID-19 mask and apologized to his victims.

“I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day,” he said. “And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others … I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Cruz wore a dark blue sweater vest above a blue shirt. He was thin and had on large glasses. His hands clutched the wooden podium he stood at while the judge spoke to him.

As a prosecutor read a detailed account of the incident, relatives and friends of the victims sat in the courtroom gallery, wiping tears from their eyes and holding each other.

Because prosecutors have vowed to seek the death penalty, his change of plea from not guilty opens the penalty phase. A jury would decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death. In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence. If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/accused-florida-school-shooter-set-plead-guilty-2018-parkland-massacre-2021-10-20/

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost often quote the title of a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

When my younger sister, Rhona, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore, it was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved) having won numerous awards for her work for the rights of the disabled:

RHONA MICKELSON (From Hansard Transcripts – Legislative Assembly of Ontario) 36th Parliament, 1st session, October 29, 1996:

RHONA MICKELSON

Mr. Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On October 22 the disabled community lost a very special friend. Rhona Mickelson, founder of Star Tracks Performing Arts Centre and Talent Agency for the Disabled, passed away from heart failure..

At the age of three, Miss Mickelson was playing with her dolls when an improperly constructed patio roof gave way at the family home at San Antonio, Texas, caving in on her. The resulting spinal injury left her a paraplegic and required the use of a wheelchair.

In university, she noticed during film studies that able-bodied actors were used to play the roles of people with disabilities; thus the idea for a talent agency for the disabled was born. Her efforts opened doors for people with disabilities in the world of film, advertising and employment. She found work for people with disabilities as models, in magazines, films and commercials. Rhona Mickelson lived on a disability pension and supported Star Tracks out of her own pocket.

Rhona was a personal friend who was always there for me, with a smile, with a laugh, with optimism abounding.

Whatever damage was caused from the accident, the spirit of a remarkable woman survived. There are examples of courage everywhere, from the tenacious desire of Terry Fox to the determined perseverance and courage of Rick Hansen. Rhona Mickelson personified all that and more. Her unfailing spirit and selfless concern for others is a remarkable legacy that will never be forgotten.

Rhona, you are among the leaves, the trees — you will always be among us.

Our deepest sympathies go out to her sister, Penny, brother, Stephen, and father, Harry.

https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-36/session-1/1996-10-29/hansard#P28_4668

BLCF: Rhona Mickelson

14 Feb 1997, 102 - National Post at Newspapers_com Rhona Winifred Mickelson 1997 King Clancey Award

14 Feb 1997, 102 – National Post at Newspapers.com Rhona Winifred Mickelson winner of 1996 King Clancy Award

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone close to them with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter, or jokes. For parents, they sense the loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost, are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent had for the child.  Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes are often hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss may be hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006, and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and a hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family. Though the act of violence against the children in the Amish schoolhouse by this outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of the Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief, and then grief, the reaction of the Amish community to the deaths was not what others had expected. Members of the Amish community sought to support all of the families who had suffered a tremendous loss; both Amish as well as Robert’s family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends, and families of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow, and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooter’s family, to show forgiveness towards the killer, and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned both the public and the media.

Dr. Donald Kraybill co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

For all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship– BLCF Church, the strength to forgive is found through humility and by God’s grace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

C. Ryle on the subject of humility and love said: “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically-based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, and the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer but actually incorporating the message of the prayer into their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

In order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse-drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; do not have any gas lines, phones, radios or televisions,  computers, or the internet. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, and no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is comprised of a community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.         

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

But you may ask: “Does God really command or require us to be humble”? We find the answer to this question in Micah 6:8 (ESV):

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?             

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest proponent of the faith in the Lord:

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer let us look to Matthew 25:31-45 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ’s words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.          Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So, we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path that we may walk as do the Amish, it is a way of life. The Scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the scriptures, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity… is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes so as to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great. What we must sacrifice is relatively small, we must be humble, forgiven, and receive the gift of salvation.

With respect to forgiveness and the Christian walk, author CS Lewis observed: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Over the last century alone, history bears witness to a host of inexcusable circumstances, a World War meant to end all wars” that failed in this purpose, a Spanish Flu Pandemic, a Great Depression, another World War which included a Holocaust that epitomized man’s inhumanity to man, the Atomic Bomb that drove Superpowers to a protracted cold war that nearly ended with a Missile Crises in Cuba, more wars, police actions, interventions, racial riots, mass shootings, terrorist attracts, and our current COVID-19 Pandemic. All of these have put people’s faith and trust in God to the test, as some deny war and Holocaust,  deny pandemics and vaccines, deny sin in general, preferring to hide the lies of their sins under a veil of fig leaves, oblivious to the truth. The human reaction to such horrific events is the adrenalin-driven “flight or fight” syndrome, whereby they run away and hide from the horrors, pretending that it does not exist and if they deny it, it will just disappear and go away. On the other hand, they could decide to put on the armour that God has provided for just such events and fight their own fears and frustrations, avoiding any denial of the truth, being confident that the Lord will bring them through the storm, safely to the other side.

Let us conclude this morning’s lesson with the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that was used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

Music Benediction Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finding What Is Lost: A Sheep (Luke 15:1-7); A Coin (Luke 15:8-10); A Son (Luke 15:11-22) – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church has reopened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF:P The_Hour_I_First_Believed

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘‘Finding What Is Lost: 

A Sheep (Luke 15:1-7); A Coin (Luke 15:8-10); A Son (Luke 15:11-22)”

© March 12, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

 Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on August 1, 2021, March 22, 2015, and October 20, 2013

BLCF Bulletin March 22, 2015

BLCF Bulletin October 20, 2013

BLCF: lost_sheep 

BLCF: spinning clock animated daylight savingsArrive at church for procession Daylight Saving Time spring Forward

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special: Shine Jesus Shine (with lyrics) – Georgetown Community Church – https://youtu.be/wfPSUy1stmc

Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound –  Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone (with lyrics) – Georgetown Community Church – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wbxqt3qQ4o

Scripture Verses: Ezekiel 34:11-16, Luke 15:1-22, Jeremiah 23:1-8 

BLCF: lost

Let us pray…

We are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of  Rawle James on March 1, 2023. Rawle is in now God’s hands. Our friend Rawle, we will miss your booming, infectious laugh, compassionate concern for those in need, your love for your God and your mom, and your joy for music.  Goodbye for now dear friend.

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Amazing Grace, our opening hymn this morning, is a testimony in song authored by John Newton whose faith conversion was as dramatic a change as the apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Here are the Wiki bits of John Newton:

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (forced into service involuntarily) into the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have simply been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns, but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.

Author Gilbert Chase writes that “Amazing Grace” is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,” and Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually.  It has had particular influence in folk music, and has become an emblematic African American spiritual. Its universal message has been a significant factor in its crossover into secular music. “Amazing Grace” saw a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and has been recorded thousands of times during and since the 20th century, occasionally appearing on popular music charts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

For the Trekkers out there, Amazing Grace was piped by Commander Scott at the funeral of First Officer Spock in the movie The Wrath of Kahn.  If you are not a follower of Star Trek, the point is that Amazing Grace has become synonymous with the living testimony of Christians, often sung at a believer’s funeral to praise and express gratitude for the promise of the resurrection through our Lord Jesus Christ.

But John Newton, not to be confused with contemporary singer Olivia Newton-John, before his conversion, lived the life of a lost sheep described in Ezekiel 34, without love for God or fellow man. He became wealthy at the expense of the lives and freedom of others. But like Saul of Tarsus, the Lord had a plan for Newton: a plan of conviction and conversion of faith that led John Newton to become a minister of God, spreading the gospel of Jesus.

But more than gathering together His lost sheep, the Lord will send the lost sinners a new shepherd and reclaim from a life of sin and destruction His beloved human sheep. Ezekiel 34:11-16 (ESV):

 The Lord God Will Seek Them Out

BLCF: Jesus-seeks-and-saves-the-lost-sheep

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.

Footnotes: a. Ezekiel 34:16 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate I will watch over

To reaffirm how Jesus fits in the picture, let us look at the prophecy, where the Lord is described as the “Righteous Branch” in Jeremiah 23:1-8 (ESV):

 The Righteous Branch

23 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”   

BLCF: Parables_of_The_Lost

The love that the Lord has for us is so great that he rejoices every time a lost human sheep returns to his flock, as is expressed in the three parables we have printed in today’s bulletin. The first is found in Luke 15:1-7 (ESV):

The Parable of the Lost Sheep   

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.    

We all have experienced the loss of something valuable. We worry and fret over what is lost. But like the lesson from Ezekiel, the Lord will go out and seek the lost sheep, bring it back to the fold, and celebrate its return. For every lost soul or sinner that is saved, there is a celebration in heaven.

For those who may not identify with the sheep in the first parable, we have the parable of the Lost Coin, Luke 15:8-10 (ESV):

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:8 Greek ten drachmas; a drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal in value to a Roman denarius, worth about a day’s wage for a laborer

And just in case we still do not understand what the Lord has told us, he teaches us the lesson again, in the parable of a son that is lost in Luke 15:11-22 (ESV):

The Parable of the Prodigal Son     

 11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:15 Greek joined himself to b. Luke 15:21 Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants c. Luke 15:22 Greek bondservants

BLCF: prodigal_definition

The Parable of the Prodigal Son not only teaches how the Lord desires us to return to Him but how He has compassion for us and is willing to forgive us all of our transgressions.

By teaching the same lesson three times in three different parables, the Lord indicates how much He cares for His lost sheep and the priority He places on returning sinners back to a righteous place.

I remember some years ago, how Sophie had lost her engagement ring at a church function. Sophie looked everywhere in her pockets for the ring. She had retraced her steps through the evening. Eventually, Sophie received a call from a friend that the young daughter of one of the ladies had found her ring. How relieved and happy she was when it was returned.

BLCF: thr-prodigal-son

And when a sinner returns to the flock, he has the confidence and peace of mind as well, that he is safe at home with the shepherd, as we see in Psalm 23, which I would like to read for our closing prayer:

Let us pray…

Psalm 23 (ESV): The Lord Is My Shepherd  – A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.[a]

3 He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]

for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e]

shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell[f]

in the house of the Lord forever.[g]    

Footnotes: a. Psalm 23:2 Hebrew beside waters of rest b. Psalm 23:3 Or in right paths c. Psalm 23:4 Or the valley of deep darkness d. Psalm 23:6 Or Only e. Psalm 23:6 Or steadfast love f. Psalm 23:6 Or shall return to dwell g. Psalm 23:6 Hebrew for length of days

Closing Hymn #49: A Pilgrim Was I and A-wandering (Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me) – (Ministers Hub  Lyrics with Piano Accompaniment) – https://youtu.be/GdN7q2lroJI

Let us pray…

 Music Benediction Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction Hebrews 13:20-21(ESV):

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: The_Lord_Is_My_Shepherd

Remembering Rawle – A Celebration of the Life of Rawle James

We are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of  Rawle James on March 1, 2023. Rawle is in now God’s hands. Our friend Rawle, we will miss your booming, infectious laugh, compassionate concern for those in need, your love for your God and your Mom, and your joy for music.  Goodbye for now dear friend.    – Steve and Sophie Mickelson

Remembering Rawle – A Celebration of the Life of Rawle James

He was a member of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship and BLCF Cafe

Please join us 11 AM Sunday, March 26, 2023, at 1307 Bloor Street West

For more information call: Blcf Church at 416 535-9578

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

                                Remembering Rawle                                     

A Celebration of the Life of Rawle James

Thank you for sharing the Celebration of the Life

Of our dear friend Rawle James

Dear friend many good thoughts and

Words were shared

Love you and you will be missed

But Rawle of many hats you will be not be forgotten:

BLCF church and BLCF Cafe and your

Music Industry friends and family

-Sophie Mickelson, BLCF, March 27, 2003

 

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Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver nor by Gold – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver nor by Gold’

© February 26, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on November 17, 2019, November 20, 2016, and February 16, 2014

BLCF Bulletin – November 17, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin-November-20-2016

BLCF: Bulletin February 16, 2014

BLCF: faith_sees_header

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special: Mandy Harvey – It Is Well (Lyrics) –  https://youtu.be/BkTaVYhOFbw

Music Special: I’d rather have Jesus – Buller, Balzer, and Aichele the Hymn Project (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/u62uYEssk7o

Responsive Reading #669 (The Lord’s Servant – 2 Timothy 2 and 3)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver nor by Gold’

BLCF: Simon heresy

Let us pray …

Welcome to BLCF‘s Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service.

The focus of our lesson last week was to examine aspects of love associated with God’s Holy Spirit. In our lesson, today, entitled: ‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver nor by Gold’, we will examine the signs and miracles associated with the Holy Spirit, which is gifted to believers. These signs are exhibited through the faith of the believer, solely as a testament to the power of the Lord, not to the person who demonstrates a miracle and believes in Christ.

In giving His Great Commission, the Lord did say there will be signs associated with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, as they preach his gospel, which was his final instructions before he ascended to heaven, as we read in Mark 16:14-20 (ESV):

The Great Commission

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Another way of reading Mark 16:17-18 would be:

17 And these signs will accompany:

Those who believe in my name they will cast out demons.

Those who believe in my name will speak in new tongues.

 Those who believe in my name will pick up serpents with their hands.

Those who believe in my name, if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.

 Those who believe in my name will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Remember, as Jesus was tempted by Satan from a high place in the desert after he was baptized by John the Baptist, we are not to put God to the test by deliberately performing any of the acts described in Mark 16, as a public demonstration of faith. Miracles that come by the power of God are not intended to be part of a magician’s sideshow, or to sell books, Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The only signs we are to concern ourselves with, are those that come by way of our preaching of the gospel in the name of the Lord. Those signs not being celestial, but associated with true believers in verses 17 and 18 of Mark 16:  

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

In spite of the signs provided by God’s Holy Spirit for His disciples, as they shared the gospel, both in the time of Jesus and today, there are self-proclaimed prophets who present themselves as God’s messenger, using signs of magic to fool the people. The Scriptures provide an account of one self-proclaimed prophet and false disciple of the Lord, named Simon, (Simon Magus) who preached his false gospel in Samaria, in Acts 8:4-25 (ESV):

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

BLCF: Acts-8_5

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

Nucci,_Avanzino_-_Petrus'_Auseinandersetzung_mit_Simon_Magus_-_1620

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.           

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:5 Some manuscripts a city b. Acts 8:13 Greek works of power c. Acts 8:23 That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile

Here is our Wikibits assessment of Simon the Magician:

Wiki Notes on Simon Magus

BLCF: simon-magus

Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of lawlessness.[1] According to Recognitions, Simon’s parents were named Antonius and Rachel.[2]

Surviving traditions about Simon appear in orthodox texts, such as those of IrenaeusJustin MartyrHippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often regarded as the source of all heresiesJustin wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and the sect of the Simonians.[3][4][5][6] Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter.

In apocryphal works including the Acts of PeterPseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Magus

Upon reading the Scriptural account in Acts 8 carefully, you will see that the people of Samaria, including the false prophet Simon, were convicted by the miracles performed by the disciple Philip, as they were true signs from God. In verses 12 and 13, we read that the Samaritans, including Simon, were baptized in water,

12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed. 

BLCF: baptism-masaccio_thebaptismoftheneophytes1

Now the tough part for some Christians who hold on to the false belief that water baptism either follows or ensures baptism of the Spirit. We see that in verses 14 to 17:

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Only by a profession of faith, may one receive His Holy Spirit, see Acts 8:17,

  17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

However, the acts of observing God’s miracles, being baptized in water, and even having received the touch by the hands of a disciple of the Lord do not guarantee one may receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not enter a heart that is not prepared. Let us continue reading Acts 8, from verse 17:

BLCF: Simon Sorcerer

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Peter observed that Simon, was still a slave to sin, and therefore subject to the judgment of death, Acts 8, verse 20:

20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Simon acknowledges that his heart is, as Peter had observed, “not right before God”, as he is in the “bond of iniquity”, and that he was still a slave to sin. Unfortunately, Simon’s reply is to ask Peter to “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me”, indicating a reluctance by Simon to surrender completely to God, preventing the magician from receiving the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the mistaken belief on the part of Simon, when he attempts to purchase, with money, God’s free gift that was already purchased by Christ on Calvary’s cross. And one can only receive the gift of the Holy Spirit of God through genuine faith in the gift of Jesus; by the confession of, as well as the turning away from a life of sin; and by following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

It seems interesting to note that whenever money enters the picture, as with the offer to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit by Simon, or the sales of books claiming to reveal God’s purpose by way of observing celestial events, we see that God’s Holy Spirit is absent. Offering money in exchange for gifts of the Spirit, as Peter observed, indicates a heart that is not right with God and unworthy of the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit. There is no treasure on earth that can purchase a plan only to be revealed by God, in His chosen time.

I want to close today’s message by posing a question to you, framed in the form of a metaphor, about your own spiritual journey, as the answer has life-or-death consequences for your soul’s salvation:

“Are you racing alongside a speeding celestial train, as it travels on a magical media tour, hoping to buy salvation in a can, or have you placed your trust in the assurance of salvation by following Jesus’ Way to heaven, being the only true way to avoid the judgment of death?”  After all, the choice is yours.

Let us pray…

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – To God Be All Glory (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/u9kMP_F1Asw

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.

BLCF: May-the-God-of-Hope-Romans-15_13