The Cross: A Symbol of Our Faith and Reminder of God’s Love 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF Church Cross Angle View
Music Special – The Power of the Cross (Official Lyric Video) – Keith & Kristyn Getty – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcULqyoINg

Near the Cross – The Petersens (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/Gf_wlFwBIMc

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Cross: A Symbol of Our Faith and Reminder of God’s Love’

© March 20, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on January 14, 2018, and October 26, 2014

BLCF Bulletin January 14, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin October 26, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer     

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

Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Lover – John 3 and 1 John 4);

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘The Cross: A Symbol of Our Faith and Reminder of God’s Love’

Bloor Lansdowne - BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

Music Special: Pass It On – TheNCrewhttps://youtu.be/ovdKx6lQ8OM

Spring Blessings

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Praise and Worship service today at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, on this the first day of Spring for 2022!

It was just over two years ago, on March 16, 2020, that Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship closed its doors and suspended all in-person Church Service Meetings, as well as all outreach activities, including the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, due to the deadly threat to the vulnerable from the COVID-19 Virus which had spread to a Pandemic.

We finally reopened our doors last October, 2021, to Sunday Worship Services, under the guidelines of Public Health of: wearing masks, keeping social distance, etc.

Services at BLCF continued until Boxing Day, 2021, where BLCF again suspended in-person worship activities due to the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the COVID-19, from December 2021 until the present date.

While we hope to reopen again prior to this Easter, we continue to keep an watchful eye for any new variant, including the new Omicron Sub-Variant that is currently in the UK, USA, and Canada. After being open since 1938 as Crusaders Church, and now as Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. only a deadly virus could shut the doors to this church. The two tenant congregations who also use our church  building have had to deal with the threat of COVID-19, while keeping their own health and safety policies.

We continue to maintain contact to fellow members of the BLCF Community by way of phone and via social media, until we are certain that the threat to the vulnerable in our community from the COVID-19 has passed. We encourage you to continue to pray for each other and contact one-another with words of encouaragement and hope, until the day when we can reopen our doors for Praise and Worship Services at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.

Sunday Sermon Pastor Steve BLCF Church Cross

Let us now begin our lesson for today, which is entitled: ‘The Cross: A Symbust over two years jol of Our Faith and Reminder of God’s Love’.

Before we delve into the lesson, I would like to share our own miracle of the cross here at BLCF.

It was at a BLCF picnic in the back of the church at St. Helens several years ago, that the congregation decided to invite the Bloor Lansdowne Community to a simple barbeque/picnic, featuring hot dogs and corn on the cob.

Since we had a small Hibachi grill, it was decided to cook the hot dogs outside and boil the corn inside the church kitchen. I was running the barbeque in the front driveway so as to catch the attention of passersby with a sign posted as an invitation to join the picnic posted above my station.

As I cooked the hot dogs, a group of four or five young people passed by, where one having read our sign commented: “What kind of place is this?” To which another replied: “I think it is a church.”

When I heard their comments, I realized that the church signage consisted of a front marquee sign and another on the east wall, outside of the prayer room, both mounted high above eye level, making the signs all but invisible to pedestrians walking on the sidewalk in front of the building. The church had a small cross, composed of white bricks embedded in the red brick wall located high above the front facade of the church. No wonder many people were unaware that we were a church. The lights inside the marquee sign had stopped working several years before.

Later, intrigued about the cross, I went to the roof and found an old five foot cross made of plywood with faded white paint sitting upon the roof. It looked as if the weather and wind had caused the cross to fall some years before, with the lag bolts pulling free from the peak of the front wall.

Here is where our little miracle occurred…

As I pondered whether the cross might be repaired, restored and mounted back on the roof, we received an interesting message from the daughter of one of the members of our congregation, who had passed away two years before. It seemed that a nearby church had closed and the property sold for commercial use. The new owners intended to convert the building to lofts. Part of the conversion included the removal of the large twelve foot silver cross mounted on the front of the building.

It seems that the young lady noticed the cross was placed in a scrap bin. She convinced the contractor to give her the cross, indicating that she knew of a church that needed a cross. When she contacted me, she asked: “Could use a new cross?”

My reply was an emphatic ”Yes, though I was not sure how to arrange delivery of a twelve foot cross, let alone how we would mount it on the building. I did not tell her that the church at the time had funds for neither.

I was informed that in memory of her mother, she wanted to hire a contractor to deliver and mount the cross, all at her expense and that we not reveal her name.

When I received the dimensions, I measure the wall and from examining recent photos of the building, I had determined that it would fit perfectly above the front doors, between the double arches that framed the front doorway.

The contractors has asked whether we wanted the small white cross formed by white bricks embedded in the wall to be painted red so that the new cross would be the only cross above the front entrance. I told them to leave the cross as is, and asked that the small white window arch behind the new cross be painted red to match the rest of the brickwork of the front wall.

I marveled how the Lord had provided a solution to the need to replace the old cross, before I had even raised the need to Him. And the solution that the Lord provided was far better than what I had imagined. The Lord was going to ensure that people in the community knew without a doubt that BLCF is a place of worship. The Lord recognized the need for a new cross. He provided both the cross, as well as the means to install it, before we had a chance to pray for it.

I wonder how many times God provides for His children, before the need is raised? And how many times does the Lord provides for a need before it is even recognized. This was not the first time God has provided in a miraculous way for need at BLCF.

By-the-way, I did manage to repair, stain, and mount the old BLCF cross and mount it on the wall behind the risers where Terry Sywanyk performs at our BLCF Cafe Community Dinner beside the “kNOw JESUS kNOw PEACE” sign.

Terry BLCF Cafe Cross

It may surprise you to find out that the cross has not always been a symbol of the Christian Church. Let us check our Wikibits for the history of the cross:

The Christian Cross

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

A Latin cross

The Christian Cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a usually three-dimensional representation of Jesus’ body) and to the more general family of cross symbols.

In contemporary Christianity, the cross is a symbol of the atonement and reminds Christians of God’s love in sacrificing his own son for humanity. It represents Jesus’ victory over sin and death, since it is believed that through his death and resurrection he conquered death itself.

See Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

The cross is often shown in different shapes and sizes, in many different styles. It may be used in personal jewelry, or used on top of church buildings. It is shown both empty and in crucifix form, that is, with a figure of Christ, often referred to as the corpus (Latin for “body”), affixed to it. Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran depictions of the cross are often crucifixes, in order to emphasize that it is Jesus that is important, rather than the cross in isolation. Large crucifixes are a prominent feature of some Lutheran churches, as illustrated in the article Rood. However, some other Protestant traditions depict the cross without the corpus, interpreting this form as an indication of belief in the resurrection rather than as representing the interval between the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

Crosses are a prominent feature of Christian cemeteries, either carved on gravestones or as sculpted stelas. Because of this, planting small crosses is sometimes used in countries of Christian culture to mark the site of fatal accidents, or to protest alleged deaths.

In Catholic countries, crosses are often erected on the peaks of prominent mountains, such as the Zugspitze or Mount Royal, so as to be visible over the entire surrounding area.

Patriarchal cross

Also called an archiepiscopal cross or a crux gemina. A double cross, with the two crossbars near the top. The upper one is shorter, representing the plaque nailed to Jesus’ cross. Similar to the Cross of Lorraine, though in the original version of the latter, the bottom arm is lower. The Eastern Orthodox cross adds a slanted bar near the foot.

Cross (disambiguation)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cross consists of two lines or bars, intersecting each other at a 90° angle and dividing one or both of the lines in half.

Cross or to cross may also refer to:

Religion

  • Cross necklace, a necklace worn by adherents of the Christian religion

Object

  • Cross (crown), the decoration located at the highest level of a crown
  • A cross with a human body affixed is referred to as a crucifix
  • High cross, early Medieval free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_(disambiguation)

The cross as a symbol in the Christian Church may refer to either an object or a motion with the hand or fingers did not come into practice in the Christian Church until the third or fourth century A.D.

Members of the early Christian church would often use a fish, represented by two intersecting arches as a symbol to represent Christian faith.

Some churches avoid having a cross in their place of worship, fearing that the cross may be treated not as an icon or symbol but worshiped as an idol. In the same manner, many evangelical churches avoid having statues for the same fear that they will be prayed to and worshiped as idols.

There are some denominations who feel the cross may offend church attendees as a symbol of torture and death. I think that if you sanitize what happened to Jesus on the cross you run the risk of diminishing the impact of the resurrection! The fact that our Lord, Christ Jesus instructed all disciples to remember His sacrifice by way of the Communion observance indicates that we should not hide what the cross represents: His death and sacrifice for our sins.

While the cross or crucifix does remind us that Christ suffered and died for the sins of humanity, without the resurrection Christ’s death would have only made him a martyr. It is only after Jesus was resurrected from the grave and following the Holy Spirit’s arrival on the Day of Pentecost, did the Christian Church come into being, as a proof of Christ’s Lordship with the fulfillment of the prophecy found in the Scriptures, as we read in Isaiah 53:5-6 (ESV):

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

 he was crushed for our iniquities;

 upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, 

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

Is it wrong to have a symbol such as the cross as a reminder of the sacrifice of the cross? I believe that Jesus felt it was useful to have visual cues to help remind us of the price that he paid for our salvation. We find that the holes left by being nailed to the cross, and by the Centurion’s spear to his side, helped Jesus demonstrate his supernatural victory over death to the disciples, including Thomas who was absent at his first appearance but arrived eight days later, John 20:19-31 (ESV):

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, 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.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

Word made flesh

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

The signs of the wounds Jesus showed his disciples helped them to understand both the suffering he endured and the supernatural victory Christ achieved over death by his resurrection. Interestingly, though Jesus had the wounds from the cross, he now was able to pass through the locked door of the upper room. Having showed the disciples his wounds, Jesus breathed onto them the breath of the Holy Spirit, to help them go forth in his place, no longer disciples, but apostles of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus death on the cross had removed the debts from sin, Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV):

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The cross is a symbol, not just of the suffering and death that Jesus experienced, but reminds us that while we are called to follow the Lord and may suffer for our faith, we have the assurance that the judgment for our sins has been born by the Lord, 1 Peter 2:20-24 (ESV):

20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Just as the cross acts as a reminder to Christians of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, our faith in the Lord is made perfect, not just because he endured the cross, but the holes in his hands and side act as a reminder to God the Father in heaven, as Jesus sits at the right hand side of the throne of God. Our faith is made perfect through Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus revealed his hands and side to the disciples, it was not so that they would dwell upon his wounds upon the cross. The intent was to give encouragement and hope in the victory of his resurrection. And we read that is exactly what took place, John 20:19-20 (ESV):

 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, 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.  

The disciples were glad when they saw the marks of the crucifixion. Let us , therefore view the cross not as an instrument of torture and death of Christ, but as a symbol for our own hope in his resurrection and be encouraged in the truth of his promise to all believers of their own resurrection on the day Christ returns.

Let us pray…

Music Special: In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) – Adrienne Liesching | LYRIC VIDEO – https://youtu.be/rn9-UNer6MQ

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.

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship -BLCF Church in the heart of Toronto

Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith? 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF: Jesus-walks-on-water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith?’

© March 6, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on March 13, 2016, August 18, 2010, and April 18, 2010

BLCF Bulletin March 13, 2016

BLCF: by-faith-we-grow-to-sonship

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Light Of The World (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/_cLhaZIBSpo

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading # 660 (The New Way of Life – Luke 6); Prayer

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

Scripture Verses: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:51-52 and John 6:20-21

BLCF: exercise_faith

  

Lauren Daigle – I Am Yours (Acoustic) – https://youtu.be/w9B-81mZV5E

Let us pray…

This morning’s message is about the miracle of Jesus’ walking in the Sea of Galilee.

But first, let us look what is the definition of a miracle, as described in the Bible? It’s very interesting that a common word used for a miracle in the New Testament can also be translated as “sign.” A miracle is a sign that God uses to point to Himself; the same way we follow signs to guide us along highways or city streets.

Most scholars agree that the Gospels record 37 supernatural miracles of Jesus or, 37 Devine interventions in nature.   There are 21 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Matthew, 3 of which are unique to Matthew. There are 19 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Mark, 2 of which are unique to Mark. There are 22 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Luke, 7 of which are unique to Luke. And there are 8 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in John, 6 of which are unique to John.

We do not have time this morning to go through all 37 of these miracles, which are by definition supernatural events. And when we say supernatural, we are not talking about ghosts, zombies, or things that go “bump in the night”, though the disciples did initially mistake the Lord treading across the sea for a ghost or apparition. A supernatural event can be described as something that is super or above and beyond nature or what is described as a natural event. Natural events follow the rules and laws of physics. The natural event can be predicted to follow these rules and laws. A supernatural event defies the rules because it was caused by the Lord, Who is supernatural, as He is part of the Trinity of God. God created the universe and therefore is not bound by the rules of nature.

This morning we will focus on the miracle of Jesus walking on water, that occurred the day after Jesus had performed the miracle of the “Loaves and Fishes.”

Matthew 14:22-32 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus walks on the sea

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

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

Mathew’s account of events records three miracles; Jesus walking on the water; Peter walking on the water; and the calming of the wind and waves. John’s account records the fourth miracle; and that the boat was instantly transported to their destination of Bethesda, some 3½ miles away. Only Luke’s Gospel does not give us an account of any of these miracles. Perhaps he was asleep in the cabin, having served an earlier watch? But, upon what body of water did these events take place.

Sometimes referred to as a lake, the Sea of Galilee, lake described in this passage, from Britannica Online:

BLCF: Jesus walks on the water

The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake in the north of Palestine. It is 13 miles (21 km) long and about 8 miles (14km) across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 150 feet (46km). Lying 640 feet (195m) below sea level, it is surrounded by mountains 1,200-1,500 feet (365-460m) high, rising close to the shore except for short stretches on the south, southwest and northwest. The lake is fed from the north by the River Jordan and by numerous lesser streams, as well as by underwater springs, some of them hot, to which medicinal properties have been attributed. Emerging from the southern end of the lake, the Jordan carries the outflow to the Dead Sea.

Ancient Harbor of the Sea of Galilee

The area was very prosperous in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Early on, under the Ptolemies, the fort of Philoteria was built on the site of ancient Beth Yerah and served as the capital of a district, developing into a large Jewish city in the Roman period. The shores of the Sea of Galilee were the scene of the early ministry of Jesus. From Nazareth he went to preach in the synagogues, some of them in cities close to the sea, such as Capernaum and Chorazin. It was from these shores that he called the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, and James and John “to become fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-21), and at the water’s edge that he fed the multitude with two loaves and five fishes (Matthew 14:19-20). Tradition places the site of this miracle at Heptapegon, where the early Church of the Loaves and Fishes was built. Both Jewish and Christian communities flourished along the shores of the lake during the whole of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Excavations made on many sites round the lake, such as Beth Yarah, Tiberias, Hammath, Heptapegon and Capernaum, have revealed much evidence of the splendor and prosperity of the region in all periods.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/224050/Sea-of-Galilee

Similar to Ontario’s Lake Nipissing, near North Bay, the Sea of Galilee’s dimensions and orientation make it a prime candidate to sudden unpredictable storms caused by the prevailing winds. Needless to say, I am sure that Jesus, having been blessed with the Holy Spirit, and by virtue of being the Divine Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), knew that the disciples would encounter a storm on their journey.

Canadian Hydrographic Services Key Map of Lake Nipissing

Canadian Hydrographic Services Key Map of Lake Nipissing

Callander Bay, the South Bay, Cache Bay, the Northwest Arm, the West Arm, the West Bay, the South River, the Sturgeon River and the French River can all be navigated safely in small skiffs. However, to venture to the Manitou or Goose Islands in such a craft would be foolhardy, except under the most favourable circumstances.

Lake Nipissing is notorious for the speed with which it can become treacherous when the weather turns foul – the combination of its shallow depth and low shoreline, its long fetch and orientation toward the direction of the prevailing winds, mean that it can become very rough in short order. It also exhibits a short wave interval, which makes it extraordinarily uncomfortable in windy conditions.

http://www3.sympatico.ca/jeffrey.froud/Cruising.html

So why did He allow them to go in the boat without Him? And why did He wait so long before joining them?

Do not forget that Jesus wanted to go up the mountain to pray. As Christians, we need to take time to pray, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in order to clear our slate of all the thoughts, actions, and feelings in our lives that may tend to distance us from God.

Jesus was a good teacher, not only to the multitude but to the twelve who followed him. The journey from Heptapegon, also known as Tabgha, el-Oreme, or ‘En Sheva to Bethesda was about seven miles distance and would have normally taken the disciples a maximum of 3-4 hours, under normal conditions. Because of extreme headwinds and waves, the disciples’ boat had covered only half the distance in about 12 hours’ time or about 1/6 of the normal rate of travel.

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about the challenges his disciples were encountering, but he allowed them to go for some time before he set out to tread across the sea. Until Jesus arrived, the disciples had to work persistently and together to keep their boat on course, against the storm. The disciples would need the same persistence and cooperation, in the not too distant future, to share the Gospel to people who knew nothing of God, or worse, had drifted away from God in the pursuit of a religion devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Continuing with Mathew 14, verse 25:

BLCF: Jesus walking on water

25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Again there is the human tendency to forget their faith, as initially, none recognized Christ on the water, thinking instead that they saw a spirit or ghost on the water. If Christ had told them he would join them later, they would have likely forgotten the lesson Jesus had intended to teach them. If they had expected Christ to join them before they departed, they likely would not have understood that Jesus had the power to effortlessly cross a stormy sea that held the disciples’ vessel stationary for so many hours.

Now Peter, not sure if it was Jesus said, reading Mathew 14, verse 28:  

BLCF: Jesus-walking-on-water

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

The disciples, who had already seen the power of Jesus, having personally witnessed several of His miracles, had not connected the dots to conclude that it was their Master Who approached their vessel.  At this time of Worldwise Pandemic and the horror of war that Russia is currently inflicting upon Ukraine, we as Christian believers may suffer from an absence of faith in the face of such adversity. If for a second we take our eyes away from the Saviour, just like Peter walking on the sea, we can be distracted from our faith, by dwelling on our circumstances, just as Peter did, and in our fear and doubt, sink in the sea of our adversities.  In spite of the fleetingness of faith, Jesus still is there just waiting for us to call to Him to extend His hand and lift us from a sea of sadness and despair. He joins us and He calms the stormy sea and accompanies us to our destination. Up to this point, the disciples had shown a lot of religion and only a little faith. Their hearts had been hardened to the source of the miracles which they had witnessed up to this point, as was indicated in Mark 6:51-52:

BLCF: Lord-Jesus-animated

1And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Jesus had allowed the twelve disciples to suffer what they considered a possible life-threatening peril of the storm at sea and they had not recognized the supernatural Christ, who had dominion over all of nature, walking towards them on a violent sea. Instead, they saw a ghost. Peter allowed his vision of the stormy conditions around him to act as a distraction, causing him to be distracted momentarily, which resulted in him forgetting the presence of Jesus, whereupon the disciple promptly sank into the sea. It was not until Jesus had boarded the vessel, that the disciples finally understood just Who had performed the Miracle of the Loaves; feeding the multitude; Who had walked across and calmed the stormy sea; and Who had empowered Peter to walk the sea, In short, the disciples had forgotten just Who Jesus really was Matthew 14:33:

BLCF: Jesus_is_Lord_animated

33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I believe that this was the purpose of the exercise of the voyage to Bethany, the storm on the sea, and the subsequent miracles. The miracle was a sign to the disciples who their teacher was: the Son of God! For this miracle established in the disciples a belief without question that Jesus was the Son of God, and from this belief comes faith that as Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to fulfill the scriptures.  As we read in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV):

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Now Christ did one more miracle that was not only for the benefit of the 12 disciples, but it was also for everyone, man, woman, child, for all generations of the next 20 centuries, up to and including today. He died on the cross for our sins, to remove for us the tempest of God’s judgment. Jesus did the ultimate miracle by rising from the dead. Not finished with His miracles, he ascended to heaven to be our Advocate. Finally, He rewarded our faith by sending us a Comforter in the Holy Spirit, to join us on our travels through life; to assure us through the storms we may encounter; to calm of fears in our trials; to accompany us to our destinations, and to assist us in sharing the Gospel.

Our bodies are like clay jars, fragile, easily shattered, but thanks to His miraculous power He is capable of transforming us from empty clay jars into being vessels of the most valuable of treasures, which is the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:7:

BLCF: earthen_vessels_with_heavenly_treasure

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Just as the disciples set out in a vessel that can be destroyed by the raging sea, our bodies are subject to destruction by the natural forces of misadventure, disease, and age. But by faith in Jesus, we can remove the threat of natural death and supernaturally share the miracle of eternal life. But to make our bodies a proper vessel for the Holy Spirit, we must cleanse ourselves of unrighteousness, by confessing our sins and accepting the miraculous gifts of the sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf,  so that we may receive justification in God’s eyes. Only then, are our bodies sanctified to receive God’s Holy Spirit, as we read in  2 Timothy 2:20-21:

BLCF: Holy Work Earthen-Vessels

20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. 21Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house ready for every good work.

Disciples sail the stormy sea

It may appear, come from outside this church, that Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is like a vessel set upon by a great destructive storm. We are a relatively small congregation, with a large mission of sharing the Gospel of Christ. Still, God has rewarded our faith with what is necessary to achieve His purpose in our community: to feed and minister to a multitude of up to 150 souls each and every Wednesday evening. God continues to provide the means, including the funds, volunteers, even the fridges and stoves, for workers in His house to do this good work.

While our work has been paused due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we may take this respite to reflect on the wonderous miracles the Lord has worked in our lives, in the life of His Church, and prepare to pick up the standard of faith so as to rededicate our commitment to continue His plan in our community!

Do we need a ghostly apparition in our midst to convince us from whom these miracles come? Dare we take our eyes away from Him to look at the storm around us, and in doing so, risk losing our precious faith to end up, only to sink into a sea of despair? Are we here to perform hollow religious worship or are we here to demonstrate our faith in our Savior, faith in the gift of Salvation, cleansing our bodies in faith, so that our vessels may continue to hold the Holy Spirit, in order to do the Lord’s work?

Let us conclude today’s message with the following characteristics of religion and faith:

Religion exists to control faith;

 Faith exists to keep religion in check.

Religion is man’s interpretation of God’s will,

Faith is its acceptance.

May our actions demonstrate our faith and trust in God, not a practice of religious ritual. Let us not question God’s will, but with the help of His Holy Spirit, accept and implement it to His glory!

Let us pray…

BLCF: faith_in_God

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Trust In You (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/qv-SXz_exKE

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.

BLCF: Faith - Hebrews 11_1

Are You Part of the Church or the Body of Christ? 2022

 

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
 

Music Special: Kari Jobe – Breathe On Us (Live) – https://youtu.be/0PCT0P6zi_s

BLCF: the-church-works-best-when-we-work-together

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

Message for Sunday Morning::          

Are You Part of the Church or the Body of Christ?

© February 27, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on August 22, 2021 and August 16, 2015

BLCF Bulletin August 16, 2015

BLCF: dont_go_to_church_be_the_church

 

Music Special: Speak To The Mountains (feat. Chris McClarney) | Church of the City – https://youtu.be/RhxSJlwzrws

 

Announcements and Call to Worship – Responsive Reading #620:                                       

The Church (Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians1)              

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

Prayer Requests                                                                                                        

Today’s Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 and Colossians 1:15-29 

Music Special: The Word is Alive — Seasons Collective – https://youtu.be/0qEatFIOnBI

1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (ESV)

BLCF: gifts-of-the-Holy-Spirit

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

One Body with Many Members

BLCF: Christ-head-of-church-body

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Or servants; Greek bondservants b. 1 Corinthians 12:20 Or members; also verse 22

Colossians 1:15-29 (ESV) The Preeminence of Christ

BLCF: Christ above all

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[b] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul’s Ministry to the Church

BLCF: San_Paolo_St_Paul

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 1:16 That is, by means of; or in b. Colossians 1:23 Or to every creature

BLCF: Church_bounty_of_Christ 

Opening Music Special: Cochren & Co. – Church (Take Me Back) [Official Lyric Video] – https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service for the fourth Sunday of February, 2022. I would like to begin the message by initiating a prayer and petition for peace in the Ukraine and a worldwide recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic. I believe that much of the current fear and conflict in the society has its roots in the Pandemic. I call this behaviour the COVID Malaise, and firmly believe that citizens and leaders, alike, can fall victim to the Malaise and then act out their COVID frustrations in an angry, violent manner. That said, any bad behaviour, where we demonstrate that we have forgotten the Lord’s instructions to demonstrate a love for Him as well as our neighbors, is no excuse for harming our neighbors is inexcusable. If we are truely followers of the Lord, with guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may overcome the challenges of a Pandemic by focusing on actions of love, as the Lord demonstrated to us, though we surely did not deserve it.

The lesson for this morning is worded as a question: Are You Part of the Church or the Body of Christ? On first blush, you may conclude that the question posed is a trick question with two valid answers, but that was not the intention of the question. Many Christians perceive themselves as strictly members of a Church, while others consider themselves connected spiritually to the Holy Spirit of God.

If you were paying attention to this morning’s Responsive Reading, you will recall that the answer to the question is found in the final paragraph of that reading: that we are in fact both part of Christ’s Church and part of the Body of Christ, as we read in the first of today’s Scripture Verses, Colossians 1:15-18 (ESV), which has the sub-heading; The Preeminence of Christ:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church.

Jesus Christ is Lord

The Apostle Paul, while seemingly uses the “Church” and “Body of Believers” interchangeably, there some aspects where the two terms differ. The church is often viewed as a group of people who worship together in a building. Sadly, some people identify with either the building or the denomination.

How often do we reply to the question: “To which church do you belong?” with the answer, “Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship”, knowing full well that Christ views His Church as the people and not a building. Sometimes, people will answer the question with the Denomination of their church, if it has one, rather than indicating they are a part of Christ’s Church.

We have in two additional Scriptures where the Apostle speaks of first of the Lord’s calling as described in Galatians 1:11-24 (ESV):

Paul Called by God

BLCF:apostle-paul

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[a] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[b] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[c] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[d] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 1:11 Greek not according to man b. Galatians 1:15 Greek set me apart from my mother’s womb c. Galatians 1:16 Greek in e. Galatians 1:16 Greek with flesh and blood

We know that our faith conversion, where we acknowledge Jesus as Lord in our lives and with the confession of sins, that our faith’s reward is the baptism by God’s Holy Spirit and the gifts that the Spirit gives us, as we see in Paul’s Epistle to the Church of Rome or, more accurately, to the people of Church in Rome. Romans 12:3-8 (ESV):

Gifts of Grace

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members,[a] and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[b] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Footnotes: a. Romans 12:4 Greek parts; also verse 5 b. Romans 12:8 Or gives aid

It is important to note that the gifts given to the members of the Church differ with each member and are meant to be used together in a complementary manner. To clarify how Jesus defines his Church, let us look our Wikibits reference from gotquestions.org:

Question: “What is the church?”

BLCF Church Toronto Canada

Answer: Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.

Joe Elkerton Disclaimer - BLCF Church

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return.

The body of Christ is comprised of two aspects:

BLCF: the-church-is-a-body

1) The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—what we call local churches. A Baptist church, Lutheran church, Catholic church, etc., is not the church, as in the universal church—but rather is a local church, a local body of believers. The universal church is comprised of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.

In summary, the church is not a building or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Local churches are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-the-church.html

How do we, as members of the body of believers, encourage, teach, and build one another in the knowledge and race of the Lord?

We may find a perfect example of the Body of the Church working together at the BLCF Café Community Dinner every Wednesday. Just like parts of a body, we see volunteers working together throughout the day cleaning up the church, preparing meals, setting up tables and chairs, the sound system, preparing beverages, cutlery and dishes, instructing and briefing new volunteers – all for some 100 to 150 guests. Then guests are greeted, meals are served, music and a message/testimony shared. After the guests finish their dinner and fellowship, the cleanup begins, as we begin to prepare for next Wednesday’s meal.

BLCF: Community-Dinner

Just like the parts of the body, if volunteers cannot prepare the food or beverages or play music, the meal is not complete. We cannot serve up to 150 guests without tables or chairs. Every Wednesday, from January 2008 until March 2020, the BLCF Cafe had served the Lord’s Gospel and the Church Body, by way of a meal, a message and manner by which we serve. 

As our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, both Christian and non-Christian, the former have an opportunity to share the Gospel with other volunteers as well as with the guests. Fortunately, the Lord sends His Spirit to all who are involved, which infuses the dinner with the blessing of a unity of purpose.

Only a deadly COVID-19 Pandemic brought about a suspension of cause the dinner activities. But this does not mean that we we suspend demonstrating love and compassion to others, particularly towards those in need. God’s love can be demonstrated simply in how we speak or act towards to others, even if we may feel justified in expressing angry words or behaviour. 

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.’

The Least of These

But there are those who may argue, “”Well I suffered through two years of restrictions, guidelines, and rules, during this Pandemic, someone owes me for my sufferings and has to pay me, so let me go out to protest, make war, or vent my anger, as someone has to pay! Remember Paul’s words to the Elder of Ephesus:

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Let me recapitulate, that the Church of Christ consists of a Body of Believers, whose members are united by faith and by a common Spirit. Each member receives one or more a variety of gifts from the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit typically differ from one member to another, forcing each of us to work together in unison, as a team or unified body to effectively do the Lord’s work. This is part of God’s plan to have the members of the Curch Body depend upon one-another and to help each other achieve His goals of growing the Lord’s Church and sharing the Gospel of Christ.

Paul uses the parts of the body to illustrate how each of us serves a different function, with none being of greater importance than the other. Just like the Church Body, our body’s strength comes from the variety of its parts working together in harmony to achieve a common goal. The Spirit gives the diverse members of the Church Body strength and stamina, by enabling them to work together in harmony, with the help of the Holy Spirit that unites us. In this way, the Church members achieve far more together, than is possible to achieve alone. With the Holy Spirit, the whole Body’s strength is indeed greater than the sum of its individual parts.

BLCF: Body-of-Christ

 

Though Jesus described Peter as the one foundation of His Church, with Christ being the important cornerstone, with each of us being an integral member of the Church Body. The parts of the Body combine to make the Church complete. A church that is both built and operates according to Lord’s plan and facilitated by His Holy Spirit, to share the Gospel of Jesus, a story of the true expression of God’s Love.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: It Is Well – Lauren Daigle [lyrics] – https://youtu.be/RYMjqc5I9G4

 

Benediction – (Galatians 1:3-5): Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

BLCF: the Church is

God’s Invitation to His Wedding Feast – RSVP – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
 
 

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:              

‘God’s Invitation to His Wedding Feast – RSVP’

© February 20, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on February 4, 2018, and January 8, 2012

BLCF Bulletin February 4, 2018

BLCF_Bulletin_January_8_2012

Music Special: There is Love – Paul Stookey. 1971 – https://youtu.be/5lXrMXbAz1c

Announcements & Call to Worship of Prayer, Opening Prayer

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God 

Responsive Reading #655: The Final Word (Revelation 22) 

Message by Stephen Mickelson: God’s Invitation to His Wedding Feast – RSVP

Music Special: Only By Grace – Fr. Rob Galea (with the FRG Ministry Band) – https://youtu.be/MJBPL6vjXbA

Let us pray…

The focus of our lesson today will be what we may learn from the Lord’s parable which Jesus described as the “king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”

Several years ago this spring, my nephew Steve married his fiancée, Elise. This was the fourth wedding held on Sophie`s side of the family. The wedding consisted of a memorable service, followed by a joyful banquet. The wedding was the culmination of many months of planning and preparation for the blessed event.

At the time, if we were to turn on the television, we may see any of a number of reality shows about various aspects of the wedding, including such aspects as choosing a wedding planner, selecting the right wedding dress, or four brides who attend each other’s wedding and then rate aspects of the weddings.

Millions of viewers anticipate another royal wedding in the UK, between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, to be broadcast this spring. Only those with invitations will be privy to the reception and the following banquet. It is appropriate that only those familiar with the hosts and who appreciate the significance of the celebration to the bride and groom would be given an RSVP invitation to attend.

Most people enjoy attending and observing moments of nuptial bliss, where a bride and groom embark upon the journey of a new life together, not expecting to see reality show dramatics nor royal pomp and circumstance in the event. We all can imagine the various elements involved in a wedding ceremony and the celebration that followed the exchange of vows, where a couple embark upon a new life, united in both heart and spirit. The expectation of the invited is to witness a happy, joyful wedding and celebration afterward, which makes it is not surprising that Jesus used a wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14, as a parable to illustrate God`s covenant for dealing with our sinful nature through Jesus and to illustrate the gospel of Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV):

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” 

The parables of our Lord Jesus are earthly stories meant to explain heavenly truths. Each person or object is symbolic of someone or something else. Understanding the symbolism is crucial to discovering the lesson of the parable. This is entirely consistent with literal, historical, grammatical interpretation, since the passage is clearly described as a parable, and in fact gaining the theological impact of this parable requires such an understanding. In fact, Jesus best explains His purpose for using the parable in Matthew 13:10-17 (ESV):

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”  And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:                                                             

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Back to the lessons from The Parable of the Wedding Feast, the servants sent out to announce the wedding are ignored by some, as were the first disciples who share the good news about Jesus who have been ignored. But the Lord is patient and does not want us to rashly reject the gift of salvation, so he sends out more servants, or more disciples, with His invitation. But we see that there are those who choose not only to reject the invitation but choose to kill those bearing His message. This represents those who have imprisoned, humiliated, or even killed God`s disciples. But, the King, will kill the murders and destroy their city.

In the Wedding Feast Parable, the King represents God the Father; His Son is our Lord Jesus.  The Invited guests represent Israel and the servants He sent symbolize the prophets and disciples. The city the king had his troops burn because the people invited not only refused to attend but has killed the king’s servants, representing a defiant Jerusalem.

We find further clarification of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Mark`s gospel, in Chapter 2:18-20 (ESV):

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

God has prepared a banquet with His son Jesus the bridegroom and His bride is the church, being the body of believers, not the mortar and brick. Some say those He then sent His servants out to invite represent the church, which can contain both good and bad believers. However, the symbolism and timing are wrong. The Church is the Bride of Christ, not a group of last-minute substitute guests. Since Israel had already refused their invitation, and the Church (being the bride) would not need an invitation, so who are the guests in the parable, and what else are we to take from the lesson?

The wedding garment, worn by the guests represents His righteousness. This is a concept explained on numerous occasions in both Old and New Testaments.

The fact that a guest is thrown out into the darkness for not wearing proper wedding attire indicates these last-minute guests have to be clothed in “garments of salvation” to publicly identify themselves as believers.

The parable makes it clear that there is no reason, none at all, for people to reject a gracious invitation from the King to come to the wedding feast and enjoy all good things. The only reason they reject the invitation is that they do not believe the King, or they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Since this is a call from the King or from God, the people are not free to take it or leave it, even if they think they can be non-committal. To reject the invitation from God to share in His Kingdom is folly, it is choosing death, as it not only constitutes a rejection of God’s offer of grace, and it is a rejection of His only provision for eternal life.

The poorly dressed guest might also be considered one of those who profess to be followers of Christ when in the company of other believers, but who hide their light under a bushel when in the presence of non-believers. This brings us to the next Scripture verse for this morning`s message, Romans 1:16 (ESV):

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The wedding garment not worn by the guest who is removed from the banquet in Our Wedding Banquet Parable has another interesting aspect, which is represented by what the guest chose to wear to the banquet.

First-century Jewish wedding customs held that the father of the groom was in charge of the event and bore all the expenses associated with the wedding and reception. In the case of royalty or the very wealthy, this often included providing a specially made garment to be worn over a guest’s regular clothing. This wedding garment was presented to the guest upon arrival and donned immediately. Wearing it wasn’t mandatory, but was considered a great insult to the Father of the groom if refused and could get a guest ejected from the festivities. In the case of large gatherings, it also served as identification to discourage uninvited guests from crashing the party.

The guests gathered by the servants for the wedding represent both the good and the bad. That is they represent either those who repent their sins or those who have not. The guest who accepted the invitation, calling themselves righteous, while claiming to be entitled to His mercy. However, it takes more than just words to claim redemption.

The wedding guest not properly dressed for the banquet is like the person who claims to be a child of God, but his thoughts and actions reveal whether or not his actions matched the words. This is like the expression: you may talk the talk, but did you walk the walk.  There are many so-called Christians whose focus and service are performed in the name of the Lord, but their true focus is self-promotion. While they may fool some into believing that they are serving the Lord, God knows that they are only seeking to benefit themselves. Unfortunately, for them, at the Lord`s Banquet, their actions and our motives become visible, like their outer garments. Those who are not servants of the Lord will be judged. Those who were not sincere in their faith practices will be bound and ejected from Heaven. Not all who have been invited will be allowed to stay.

From the beginning of time, God has given humanity a choice. The rags worn by the guest are not unlike those worn by all humanity because of sin. Adam and Eve in an attempt to conceal their sin of disobeying God in the garden felt ashamed and chose to wear fig leaves and loincloths in an attempt to conceal their guilt from Him. Let us read about this in Genesis 3:7-10 (ESV):

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[a] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[b]10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:8 Hebrew wind b. Genesis 3:9 In Hebrew you is singular in verses 9 and 11

God saw Adam and Eve had known sin because they had eaten the forbidden fruit, which caused them to want to hide their nakedness, so God made them garments to wear, not to conceal their sin, but as a reminder of their sin, as described in Genesis 3:21 (ESV):

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

When the Day of Judgement comes, and no one knows the day, only those clothed in righteousness will not have their sins exposed, Revelation 16:15 (ESV):

15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)

What do we mean when we talk about keeping the garments righteous? Where do these garments come from? We may find our answer in Galatians 3:27 (ESV):

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Like the Wedding Banquet Parable, those who accept God’s gift of salvation, by believing His Son, Jesus died for our sins, so that we may accept the Holy Spirit, and wear new garments of righteousness, discarding filthy garments of sin that we inherited from Adam and Eve, and exchange them for pure vestments, free of iniquity, Zechariah 3:3-4 (ESV):

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

Let us discard our rags of sin and accept the gift of the new wedding garment and wear it to celebrate the fact that we were not only called by Him but to celebrate that He chose us as guests to His banquet. We only need to RSVP to His invitation.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle NOW IS FOREVER LYRIC VIDEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kMNKtsEkoc

Benediction – (1 John 1:6-7): If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  – Amen

The Three Rewards of Faith: Grace, Love, and Fellowship 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve

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

Message for Sunday: 

‘The Three Rewards of Faith: Grace, Love and Fellowship’

© March 13, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Previously Shared at BLCF on August 6, 2017

BLCF Bulletin August 6, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                          

Opening Music Special: Cochren & Co – One Day (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/LIWAoT9aX78

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

Responsive Reading #640 (Redemption in Christ – Romans 5)                 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                               ‘                          The Three Rewards of Faith: Grace, Love, and Fellowship

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – We Believe (Acoustic) [Newsboys Cover] – https://youtu.be/DoPLgOwg4tY

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF’s Praise and Worship Service, on this the second Sunday of  March. I trust those who live in a Time Zone that observes Daylight Saving Time, that you remembers to adjust your clocks ahead last night!

Spring Forward dont be late for church

Daylight Savings Time Map

For our lesson today, we will examine: The Three Rewards of Faith: Grace, Love, and Fellowship’ .

Let us begin our lesson by examining what is meant by faith and how could we explain its presence? I found an interesting posting on the topic on the Web site, bibleinoneyear.org:

On Faith

John Paton (1824–1907), a Scot, had travelled to the New Hebrides (a group of islands in the south-west Pacific) determined to tell the tribal people about Jesus, but he struggled to find the right word for ‘faith’. One day, when his indigenous servant came in, Paton raised both feet off the floor, sat back in his chair and asked, ‘What am I doing now?’ In reply, the servant used a word that means, ‘to lean your whole weight upon’. This became the expression that Paton used. Faith is leaning our whole weight upon Jesus.

https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/2354

So we have a good working definition of faith, but what about the three rewards of faith that are the focus of today’s lesson: grace, love, and fellowship?

Music Special: This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/SUglaJyobks

Christian Grace

In 2 Timothy 2:1-7, e have a good description of grace, which is the first reward of our faith:

2 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV): A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men and women, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

While there are three examples of the rewards of faith in everyday life, valid both today as well as in the time of Christ: a dedicated soldier, a winning athlete’s crown, and a productive farmer’s first share of the harvest.

In the same regard, as apostles or messengers of the Gospel of Christ, we are expected to bear witness of Jesus, so that others may become messengers and teachers of the Way of the Lord.

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

Christian Love

But how does one best share the Gospel of Christ? Just as God gave us His only Son, Jesus, who demonstrated his love for humanity by surrendering his own life as the final sacrifice for the sins of the world, the best way to share the message of the Gospel is to share the love that God and His Son Jesus, demonstrated to us:

John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

John 13:35 (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Music Special: Church (Take Me Back) Cochren & Co. Worship Video with lyrics https://youtu.be/ns8lIG6cLc8

Christian Fellowship

While we may take comfort in the unconditional love of our Father and His Son that we receive as our reward to faith, as a body of believers in the message of the Gospel of Christ we enjoy a fellowship with the Lord and each other, by way of the Holy Spirit, another gift which Jesus gives us as a reward to our faith and trust.

1 John 1:3 (ESV)

 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The gift of the Holy Spirit, an expression of God’s love is not only a reward for our faith, His love is intertwined in the message of the Gospel of Christ, Jesus:

We may conclude that grace, love, and fellowship are the three rewards of faith in the message of the Gospel of Christ, there  is another reward to our receiving and sharing God’s New Covenant made manefest by His Son Christ, Jesus is the complete joy found in the fellowship we enjoy with our Father, His son and each other:

1 John 1:1-4 (ESV): The Word of Life

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 1:4 Some manuscripts your

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Word Of Life – [Lyric Video] Jeremy Camp – https://youtu.be/s6Q1KCI6teg

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

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

Honoring HIS Choices 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve

 BLCF: header_lean_into_the_lord

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

Message for Sunday:

Honoring HIS Choices’

© February 13, 2022,  by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on November 13, 2016

BLCF: Bulletin-November-13-2016

Opening Music Special: Cochren & Co – Stained Glass Window (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/EmckCz1rRGc

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #641 (Christian Assurance – Romans 8); Prayer

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

Scripture Verses:  2 Peter 1:1-14, Romans 8:31-39, John 3:16-18

BLCF: Gods-covenants

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – I Am Yours (Acoustic) – https://youtu.be/w9B-81mZV5E

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service. For today’s lesson, we will talk about three aspects of our relationship with the Lord which some Christians casually use interchangeably: covenants, promises, and contracts relating to God.

To understand the differences between the terms let us briefly look at the definition of each term.

Covenant vs Promise

 BLCF: God's_promises_rainbow

Although some people consider a covenant and a promise as synonymous, it is a wrong assumption because there is a difference between a covenant and a promise. First, let us define the two words. A covenant can be defined as a formal agreement between two or more parties where they agree to do or not to do something. This word is mostly used in religious backgrounds as well. On the other hand, a promise is an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen. The main difference between a covenant and a promise is that while, in a covenant, both parties have clear obligations and responsibilities, in a promise, this characteristic cannot be observed. Instead, in a promise, what we can observe is the active role undertaken by one party while the other remains passive. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two words, covenant, and promise.

http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-covenant-and-vs-promise/

Difference between Covenant and Contract

BLCF: covenant-vs-contract

A covenant is defined as an agreement or written promise between two or more parties that constitutes a pledge to do or refrain from doing something. Thus, an agreement that requires the performance of some act is termed an “affirmative covenant” while an agreement that restricts or refrains a person from performing something is called a “negative covenant.” In other words, a covenant is a type of contract and falls within the purview of contracts in general. The person making the pledge or promise is called the covenantor while the person to whom such promise is made is known as the covenantee. In addition, covenants are also included in a contract, thereby forming part of the contract. In certain instances, it may constitute a particular condition in a contract.

In simple terms, a contract is an oral or written promise that is enforceable by law. It is defined in law as a voluntary agreement between two or more parties, who intend to create legal obligations, in which there is a promise to do or perform some work or service for a valuable consideration or benefit.

http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-covenant-and-vs-contract/

Scriptures describe two Covenants; one is described as Old and the other as New:

BLCF: Covenant-of-Grace-chart

The Old Covenant

 The content of the Law is spread among the books of ExodusLeviticus, and Numbers, and then reiterated and added to in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy is Latinized Greek for “Second reading of the Law”). This includes:

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

The New Covenant

The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Hebrew Bible. Generally, Christians believe that the New Covenant was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist, which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment.

There are several Christian eschatologies that further define the New Covenant. For example, an inaugurated eschatology defines and describes the New Covenant as an ongoing relationship between Christian believers and God that will be in full fruition after the Second Coming of Christ; that is, it will not only be in full fruition in believing hearts, but in the future external world as well. The connection between the blood of Christ and the New Covenant is seen in most modern English translations of the New Testament[6] with the saying: “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.[7]

Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.”[8] It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenant_(religion)

Believers in the Resurrected Christ should focus on God’s New Covenant. Let us recap the important points of the New Covenant terminology:

 The New Covenant

  • A covenant is defined asan agreement or written promise between two or more parties that constitutes a pledge to do or refrain from doing something.
  • Covenants are also included in a contract, thereby forming part of the contract. In certain instances, it may constitute a particular condition in a contract.
  • In a promise, what we can observe is the active role undertaken by one party while the other remains passive.
  • Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the blood of Christ shed at his crucifixionis the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.

 Now that we understand the differences between

2 Peter 1:1-14 (ESV) Greeting

BLCF: 2_Peter

 Simeon[a] Peter, a servant[b] and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

BLCF: 2 Peter-Promises

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters,[g] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body,[h] to stir you up by way of reminder,14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 1:1 Some manuscripts Simon b. 2 Peter 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface c. 2 Peter 1:3 Or by e. 2 Peter 1:3 Or virtue f. 2 Peter 1:5 Or excellence; twice in this verse g. 2 Peter 1:8 Greek these things; also verses 91012 h. 2 Peter 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters i. 2 Peter 1:13 Greek tent; also verse 14

 Romans 8:31-39 (ESV) God’s Everlasting Love

BLCF: Romans-8_31-39

 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[b] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:31 Or who is b. Romans 8:34 Or Is it Christ Jesus who died… for us?

John 3:16-18 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

BLCF: John-3_16

 16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

If we view Christ who has called us to his glory and excellence and by accepting the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross, we enter a spiritual contract.

Elements of a Contract. The requisite elements that must be established to demonstrate the formation of a legally binding contract are (1) offer; (2) acceptance; (3) consideration (price); (4) mutuality of obligation; (5) competency and capacity; and, in certain circumstances, (6) a written instrument.

https://contracts.uslegal.com/elements-of-a-contract/

genesis-28_15

So, let us examine the elements of this contract, that as Christians we are bound:

(1) Offer – God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son

(2) Acceptance – Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

(3) Consideration – God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him

(4) Mutuality of obligation – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, (saved) but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God

(5) Competency and capacity; and, in certain circumstances – Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love

  (6) A written instrument – (written by the blood of Christ) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Loyal (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/xXKG-ooExGs

Benediction – (Psalm 121:7-8):

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep 

                                                    your going out and your coming in                                                           from this time forth and forevermore.

psalm-121_7-8

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF: GoodSamHands

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

Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan’

© February 6, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF by, May 2, 2021, August 19, 2018, June 8, 2014, and on May 2, 2010

BLCF Bulletin August 26, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin June 8, 2014

BLCF:Good_Samaritan

Music Special: Because He Lives – Cochren & Co. [Live Green Room Session] – https://youtu.be/F7a5Idd8Dhg

Cochren & Company – Man From Nazareth (Official Music Video) – https://youtu.be/IfLAZl58Zw8

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Responsive Reading #653 (Love and Discipleship – John 13 and 1 John 1 and 3)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of the Good Samaritan

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Rescue (Official Lyric Video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PugD11k3JU

Let us pray…

Today’s message is entitled ‘The Lessons of Good Samaritan’, also known as The Good Samaritan, referring to one of the parables Jesus used to teach and give insight into God’s will in our lives. The word “parable” comes from the Greek “παραβολή” (parabolē), the name given by Greek rhetoricians to any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed. A parable is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. The dilemmas presented in Jesus’ parables often mirrored the real-life situations faced by those with whom the parable is presented. As God has provided us with the Bible as a lamp to guide us through life, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was written for all who read His word.

BLCF: good-Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV): The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Therefore, we may consider the Good Samaritan Parable was written expressly for both you and me. Any lessons learned from the parable are lessons given by God to us, for our benefit, and are just as relevant today, as they were in the time of Christ.

1964 of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in Queens, New York

BLCF: kitty-genovese

The story of Kitty Genovese In March 1964, a New York City woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was raped and stabbed to death as she returned home from work late at night. According to a newspaper report published shortly after her death, 38 people had witnessed some or all of the attack, which took place in two or three distinct episodes over a period of about a half-hour — and yet no one did anything to stop it; no one even reported it to the police until the woman was already dead. Although the murder itself was tragic, the nation was even more outraged that so many people who could have helped seemingly displayed callous indifference. And so the failure of bystanders to intervene became known as “Kitty Genovese Syndrome”—or, sometimes, just “Genovese Syndrome” or “Genovese Effect.” Social psychologists sometimes call it the “bystander effect.”

So what is it we may learn from the Parable of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25, Jesus was tested by a lawyer who wanted to know how he may inherit eternal life. In Luke 10:26 Jesus answered this question with a question of his own: “What is written in the Law?” and tested the lawyer’s understanding of the scriptures by pairing with his first question, with a second question: ”How do you read it?”

The lawyer’s reply was: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In Luke 10:28, we have Jesus acknowledge the lawyer’s reply as having answered correctly, telling him that by doing what he said he will live.

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

The Parable of the Good Samaritan starts with a lawyer, Greek nomikos, who is a “legal expert, or a jurist, or a lawyer, and a man who is skilled in interpreting the Jewish Torah testing Jesus on a point of law.” The Jews often called upon a lawyer or jurist of the scriptures to settle legal issues. The purpose of using this question to test Jesus was not intended to reaffirm the lawyer’s faith in Christ, but more likely an attempt to find a flaw in His understanding of the scriptures. Jesus was quite astute by turning the question back to the lawyer and giving him the test, instead. Another interesting aspect of Jesus response was to allow the lawyer to answer his own question and to follow it up by advising the lawyer to show the love of God and love to others, indicating that the attempt to trap Jesus implied motives absent of love for either, but more of an earthly desire based on distrust or fear.

The priest and Levite in the parable represent the religious elite. These people were characteristically arrogant and hypocritical, treating others they considered to be of a lower class, such as Samaritans, with contempt. Samaritans, in particular, were looked down upon. Though holding claims on Judaism, they were not pure Jews. They were half-breeds both genetically and theologically, a mixture between the Jews of captivity and the Samaritan people of the land they were captive in. Jews typically held Samaritans in contempt. The Samaritans were not gentiles and were still bound to the same law as the Jews. The parable illustrates Jesus’ characteristic trait to humiliate the proud and lift up the humble, and thus he used a Samaritan in his illustration.

Jerusalem and Jericho are connected by a 27 Kilometer road. This road is quite steep, dropping over 4800 KM in altitude. In the times of Jesus, this road was notorious for robbers and thieves. The prospect of traveling this route and encountering a victim as described in the parable is well within reason.

While the reaction of the priest and Levite could be rationalized that both avoided the half-dead man on the road because they feared the man to be not a victim but bait for a trap set by thieves. The fact that neither returned with help really shows how self-absorbed these two were. The other rationalization for their reaction might be the fear that the victim was already dead and touching a dead body, if not a Jew, would defile particularly the priest to the point that he would not be able to collect, distribute or consume sacrifices presented to priests as tithes. Levites were descendants of Levi, but not of Aaron. Levites assisted priests, who were descended from Aaron, in the temple. The same expectation of non-defilement would apply. Whatever the reason for the journey of the priest and the Levite, each felt their business more important than the life a wretched victim found half-dead on the road, without help left to die.

So if the priest and Levite had decided to not stop to help this man, we would not be surprised if Samaritan had decided to do the same. Instead, we see in Luke 10:33 that the Samaritan shows compassion and acts on his compassion by stopping and treating his wound, then taking the man to an inn on his own animal, and paid in advance for the man’s room and board; promising to return and pay for any more spent for the care of the man.

Another example of a modern-day Samaritan left to die by individuals with “more important” priorities is found among the elite mountain climbing community and their treatment of climber Lincoln Hall, who was rescued by Dan Mazur and Mazur’s team of fellow climbers, as described in summitclimb.com.

BLCF: dan_mazur_

Dan Mazur is most widely known for his discovery and assistance in the rescue of Lincoln Hall, an Australian climber on Mount Everest on 25 May 2006. Lincoln Hall had been ‘left for dead’ by another expedition team the previous day at around 8700m on Everest after collapsing and failing to respond to treatment on the descent from the summit. Mazur and his fellow climbers – Andrew Brash (Canada), Myles Osborne (UK) and Jangbu Sherpa (Nepal) – in abandoning their own attempt on the summit in order to save Hall’s life epitomised the noblest traditions of mountaineering. Their sacrifice was underscored by the death of a British climber; David Sharp, who died a few days before Hall, lower down on the same route. Approximately 40 people said they saw Mr. Sharp in distress, and walked past him, but no one rescued David Sharp, and he subsequently died. Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the first ascent of Everest in 1953 with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, spoke out against those 40 people, and said that nothing like that would have happened in his day.

BLCF: mt_everest

What was Mazur’s opinion of his team’s actions in contrast to the inactions of other climbing teams with respect to helping a climber left to die on the route to the peak of Mount Everest? The website uwpexponent.com provides us with Mazur’s view on the subject:

In May 2006, Mazur made headlines when, while leading a small group of climbers on Everest, he discovered an injured climber named Lincoln Hall.  Hall had been left for dead by his own climbing group a day prior. Mazur and his group risked their lives to save Hall’s.

“When the story became international news, I was really surprised,” Mazur said.  “I didn’t do anything different on that climb than I normally would have in that type of situation.”

During the rescue, Mazur attempted to flag down two passers-by for help.  The climbers claimed they did not speak English and continued on their journey to the top. Mazur later discovered that they did in fact speak English.  Mazur explained that the urge to reach the top often effects the decision making of mountain climbers.

“They said they didn’t stop because they were working on a research project and didn’t have the time to,” Mazur said.  “I then asked them in a non-confrontational way what they thought about people who climb to the top and can’t make it down on their own.”

Mazur further explained that the two hinted that if people are not strong enough to get back down on their own, they essentially deserve to die at the top.

“Every one of us has the ability to stop and help someone out, every last one of us,” said Mazur.  “However, every last one of us also has the ability not to stop.”

http://uwpexponent.com/features/2013/03/21/mazur-speaks-about-everest-climb-rescue/

BLCF: good_samartin_trditional_view

According to John Welch’s Commentary, this parable is an allegory of the Fall and the Redemption of Mankind:

“This parable’s content is clearly practical and dramatic in its obvious meaning, but a time-honored Christian tradition also saw the parable as an impressive allegory of the Fall and Redemption of mankind.

“This allegorical reading was taught not only by ancient followers of Jesus, but it was virtually universal throughout early Christianity.”

In this allegorical interpretation of the parable, perhaps Jesus was hinting in this parable of the fact that he was going to pay the price for our salvation.

BLCF: Good_Samaratin

I would like to offer another interpretation of the parable; that this parable is an allegory, but with a different paradigm or point of view from the traditional. With all due respect to John Welch and others, I would like to offer a different allegory, wherein Christ is represented not by the Samaritan, but instead, Christ is the fallen victim, avoided by the quote “Corporate Religious Groups”,  or modern-day Pharisees whose focus is upon achieving their self-serving goals. They would find nothing worthwhile to the corporate group’s interests in helping a half-dead wretch on the road or any other poor individual unable to contribute financially to their organization’s bottom line or financial growth. Such groups would deem it not only advantageous to themselves to not stop and help; better to give misery a wide berth, as stopping would only impede its self-serving financial objectives.

It is surprising that I have been asked on occasion by people associated with Christian Groups: “Why do we at BLCF Church bother wasting resources and time hosting the BLCF Café Community Dinner in the heart of Toronto for the homeless and marginalized? After all, what could they contribute financially to our church in return?

My response is: “Really! I mean really!

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Members of such large misguided religious corporations are represented in the parable by the Priest and Levite. They find that the dying individual does not fit into their corporate schedule. Besides, they are already late for some important meeting, and anyway, it’s contrary to their business plan to assume the liability or risk of helping a relatively insignificant individual. After all, it’s all about numbers and corporate sponsorship.

In the parable, it appears for the Priest and the Levite and the Levite, their focus was more upon themselves, their position in the church, and the fact that there was nothing to be personally gained, by stopping to help this man; a viewpoint which flies in the face of the Lord’s expectation of the practice of believers, as we see in Proverbs 14:31.  Now, it is popular among some Christian circles to portray Jesus as a radical with a totally different view from the Scriptures, which we refer to today as the Books of the  Old Testament. But what Jesus taught in Matthew 20 about helping the least of our brothers and sisters was totally in sync with the Old Testament. It was Pharisees, Scribes, and other Jewish leaders who twisted the interpretation of the Scriptures to suit their own worldly priorities instead of the Lord’s, not unlike some so-called Christian churches today. Fortunately, there are those who hold close to the Lord’s intended purpose in the Scriptures. Just below the graphic illustration of the Lord’s Commandments in Luke 10, we find the verse from Proverbs 14.

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)

31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,     

but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.

By their motivations and actions in not showing compassion and helping the least of these, they have brought upon themselves the same treatment for their souls, condemning death upon them, by putting their own interests first. The same could be said for individuals and organizations that focus on their own growth and make no provision for caring for those in need who cannot contribute to their bottom line. The Apostle Paul authored numerous letters to Christian churches whose membership had drifted away from the path given to them by the Lord’s gospel and word.

Now think back on the Good Samaritan Parable, where the traditional interpretation holds that the Samaritan in the parable represents Jesus. My belief is that the penniless, naked, beaten, half-dead man on the road to Jericho is not the fallen Adam, but Jesus who was beaten, naked, abandoned, left to die. And how did I come to such a different conclusion? The answer is from Jesus own words, as we read in Matthew 25:31-40, where Christ tells us  exactly who the beaten (sick), the naked stranger on the road is:

BLCF:TheBystanderEffectByBenRoffelsenPhotography

Matthew 25:31-40: 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.’

BLCF: Change-the-World

So if we walk by a beaten, naked, half-dead, penniless man left to die on the road, for whatever excuse we choose to rationalize our behavior, we have violated the rule stated in Luke 10:27b: “love… your neighbor as yourself.” And since God states that how to treat or mistreat others, particularly the less-fortunate shows to God how we love him, Luke 10:27a.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

By violating these two rules, that is, by not demonstrating love to our neighbor who is in need, God says you are treating Him the same way and you condemn your soul to death.

But the keyword in Luke 10, is love, which the Apostle Paul describes for us as the “The Way of Love”, in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV): The Way of Love

BLCF: just_for_jesus

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

BLCF: EvilThrives

In conclusion, the next time you see an opportunity to help others and choose to walk around or go the other way, from someone in need, you have brought upon yourselves a heavy judgment by the Son of Man on the Day of Judgment. You have in all likelihood denied yourself a place in God’s Kingdom.

As believers in the resurrected Christ, we are considered to be “Born again” in God’s Holy Spirit, and if given an opportunity to be a “Good Samaritan” to demonstrate love and compassion to someone who is distressed, we would do so without hesitation. Otherwise, as we read in Mathew 25:31-40, we can expect to be judged, accordingly.

Let us pray…

BLCF: do_something

Closing Music Special: Cochren & Co. – For My Good (Official Music Video)https://youtu.be/4_TX-Ty263Q

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:23-24):

Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

BLCF: God is Love

Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Led by the Spirit1

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

Message for Sunday:

‘Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch’

© January 30, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on June 13, 2021, June 9, 2019, and on May 1, 2016 

BLCF Bulletin June 9, 2019

BLCF Bulletin May 1, 2016

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Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                           

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

Responsive Reading #612 (The Lamb of God – from Isaiah 53)

Message by Steve Mickelson:

Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch 

Opening Music Special: McKinney Sisters sing “Nothing But the Blood”

https://youtu.be/q2j8POionWA?t=43

Music Special:Down By the Riverside feat. Grandpa Elliott | Playing For Change | Song Around The World – https://youtu.be/nQ1gHm8v3ek

Let us pray.

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church for January 30, 2022. Today’s lesson is primarily focused on the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, as described in Acts 8:26-40 (ESV):

Acts 8:26-40 (ESV): Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

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Rembrandt: The Baptism of the Eunuch (1626)

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[a] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[b]38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Footnotes: a.Acts 8:26 Or go at about noon b. Acts 8:36 Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The above account, of the encounter between Philip and a eunuch in the remote desert, describes how the Apostle is first directed by an angel of God, on a trek on the road running south Jerusalem towards Gaza.

BLCF: Meroe-Africa

It is on this road that the Spirit of God directs Philip to approach a chariot carrying an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. Philip, directed by the Spirit, asks the eunuch whether he understands the Scripture which he is reading.
BLCF: The_Journeys_Of_Philip

This affords the eunuch the opportunity to invite Philip to join him in order to understand the Scripture, particularly in Isaiah 53:7-8:

Isaiah 53:7-8 (ESV)

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7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

It is in regard to this passage of Scripture that the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Philip helps the eunuch is to understand that Isaiah 53:7-8 indicates that Christ’s sacrifice was made on behalf of all people, who are oppressed and judged for their transgressions or sins. No doubt, the eunuch was given limited access to the temple, as a eunuch would be considered “blemished’, under the criteria of holiness that the Lord gave Moses in Leviticus 21:16-24:

Leviticus 21:16-24 (ESV): Holiness and the Priests

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16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
interior design of Jerusalem Temple
The Temple, (see above), was partitioned into four courts, beginning with the Court of the Priests; then the Court of Israel; followed by the Court of the Women, and finally by the Court of the Gentiles. But a eunuch was viewed to have a physical blemish that would prohibit him from entering the temple or Assembly of God:

Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV): Those Excluded from the Assembly

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23 “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Because a eunuch was considered to bear a physical defect or blemish, he would be lucky if he were permitted to enter the Court of the Gentiles, a court most removed from the Holy altar containing the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence of God was considered to reside.

In addition to being a blemish, the eunuch was also considered a foreigner. But Isaiah indicates that the Lord offers a path to salvation to foreigners, as we see in Isaiah 56:1-5:

Isaiah 56:1-5 (ESV): Salvation for ForeignersThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is galatians-3_14.jpg56 Thus says the Lord:

“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

But the Lord did instruct his people to offer compassion to the afflicted, such as the deaf or blind:

Leviticus 19:13-14 (ESV)This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is disabled-healed.gif

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

But there is a huge difference between have compassion and pity for the disabled, whose afflictions were regarded as a punishment for sin, and being totally forgiven of their transgressions.

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By the grace offered by the New Covenant, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment for any blemish or sin is removed. The believer is made both whole and holy in the eyes of God to become an Ark of the Holy Spirit, by way of God’s New Covenant.

The eunuch is sanctified by faith in Christ and asks Philip to be baptized in a stream nearby. At one time, only a eunuch, who is impotent, would be allowed to approach a married woman without being judged guilty of the sin of adultery:

Matthew 19:8-12 (ESV)

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8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Footnotes: a.Matthew 19:9 Some manuscripts add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery; other manuscripts except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery

As a final reflection, under the Old Law, a eunuch would be barred from entering the temple and drawing close to God because of the blemish of his physical condition. Any priest who suffered injury and thus became physically blemished could no longer perform the rites of a priest and was subject of charity in order to be fed. He could no longer approach the Ark of the Covenant and would be removed from the presence of God because of his affliction.

In the Acts 8 account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is significant in so many ways. We see that Philip, an apostle/messenger of Christ’s Gospel, is sent out by an angel of God on a missionary journey and then directed by God’s Holy Spirit to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch, who is converted, Christian.

By contrast to other accounts of conversions of blind, paralytics and others who are considered by Jews as blemished, are first healed of their respective infirmity or blemish in order to enter the temple and worship as a member of the assembly. The eunuch is baptized and received as part of the body of Christ and his blemish is unchanged. Through Christ, he is unblemished in God’s eyes.

We see that being a eunuch with physical deficiencies is no more an impediment to being saved and joining the body of Christ, than are the scars or stripes Jesus bore for our sins an impediment for the Lord to be the head of his church. Through Christ, there is no physical impediment to salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Ethiopian eunuch is the first foreigner to become a convert of Christ and the first black person to convert to the Way of the Lord. In spite of being a student of the Scriptures, who had just returned from worshiping at the Temple, the eunuch’s physical blemish would likely have been allowed by the Temple Priests to worship in the Court of Gentiles, and this conversion is significant as it is the first recorded Christian conversion of a Gentile.

Christ suffered physical affliction on the cross to remove the restrictions and judgments under the Old Covenant and to permit access to God’s Presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit, under a New Covenant through Christ.

Come to think of it, under the Old Covenant rules, the Resurrected Christ would not be permitted access to the Temple because the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and sides would be considered unacceptable defects or blemishes. Under the Old Covenant, the blemishes borne by the Son of God would create the paradox that Christ would neither be allowed to pass through the veil at the Priest’s Temple Court to access Holy of Holies nor allowed to ascend to sit at the side of the Father in Heaven.

But it is because Christ took upon himself to bear the marks or stripes of our sins under the New Covenant, any blemish or defect can no longer be a barrier to the sanctification of the believer. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice guarantees our access to the presence of God, which is the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Special Closing Doxology: The WORLD BLESSING 2022 – 154 Nations Sing in 257 Languages! – Hope & Unity in our divided world – https://youtu.be/d48-qbcovVY 

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Amen

The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
 
 

BLCF: Trinity_of_God

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

Message for Sunday:

‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’

©  January 23, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on January 10, 2016

 BLCF Bulletin January 10, 2016

BLCF:Trinity

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #624: (The Great Commission – Mark 11 and Matthew 21); Prayer         

Opening Music Special: It Is Well – Mandy Harvey – https://youtu.be/BHTgqVIVZGk 

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

Today’s Scriptures: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 3:13-17, John 2:1-12, Acts 2:1-13

BLCF Church Resurrection Sunday 2011 Church Bulletin

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – “Come Alive (Dry Bones at the CentricWorship Retreat) – https://youtu.be/7XAeyFagceQ

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church, where our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’. Before we get too involved in the lesson, let us check out the definition of three terms used in the lesson’s title: manifestation, Epiphany and Pentecost.

The first term is manifestation:

BLCF: Jesus_dove

Manifestation – from the Thesaurus portion of freedictionary.com

noun 1. manifestation – a clear appearance; “a manifestation of great emotion”

 

 

appearance – the event of coming into sight

epiphany – a divine manifestation

theophany – a visible (but not necessarily material) manifestation of a deity to a human person

Word of God – a manifestation of the mind and will of God

tidal wave – an overwhelming manifestation of some emotion or phenomenon; “a tidal wave of nausea”; “the flood of letters hit him with the force of a tidal wave”; “a tidal wave of crime”

 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Noun

 

The term manifestation might be illustrated when BLCF Cafe volunteers help with various chores at our Community Dinner as an expression of compassion and care to the guests.

Those Christian volunteers among the team believe that by serving the least of their brothers and sisters is a manifestation of service to their Lord, Christ Jesus, where physical actions are an expression of love and faith.

Next, let us look at Epiphany:

Epiphany – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: Epiphany

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

And last, but not lease, we have Pentecost:

Pentecost – from Wikipedia.org

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot (Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. “Weeks”), the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses at Sinai. In Christianity, Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, inclusively (i.e., 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks), hence its name.

In the New Testament, Pentecost was the occasion of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. and therefore in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating this occasion. For this reason, Pentecost is described by some Christians as the “Birthday of the Church”.

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

BLCF: signs_wonders_miracles

Christians commonly accept that Epiphany marks the occasion when our first Lord demonstrates his supernatural divine nature to humanity as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity, though there is some disagreement among scholars as to when the Epiphany took place.

Let us look at the three events in the Scriptures, which happen to involve two of the three members of the Trinity: Jesus, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Depending on the scholar, each event may be considered Epiphany or the first physical manifestation of Epiphany.

Our first Scripture verse concerns how Mary became the mother to Jesus, from Luke 1:26-38 (ESV):

Birth of Jesus Foretold

BLCF: Angel and Mary

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you e. Luke 1:38 Greek bondservant; also verse 48

Mary conceived her son by way of the Holy Spirit, where the Power of the Most High had overshadowed her. In this verse, the Holy Spirit is described as “the Power of God, who is the Most High. The conception is a miracle of God.

Our next Scripture describes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

BLCF:Jesus_Baptism

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a.Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b.Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove upon Jesus after his baptism. We hear a voice from heaven, from the Most High, describing Jesus as His beloved Son, with whom He is well pleased. Both the arrival of the Spirit, Who appearance is descending like a dove and the voice from heaven announcing the identity of Jesus are miraculous in nature, from God.

Our third verse describes the miracle Jesus performed at the wedding at Cana, where our Lord changed water into wine, as described in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: Miracle_Wedding_at_Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b.John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

This miracle performed by Jesus, who was conceived as the Son of God and baptized by the Holy Spirit. All three verses describe events which demonstrate the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit enables Mary to conceive God’s Son; empower Jesus, who is also the Son of Man to resist testing and temptation from the devil, and enable Christ to transform ordinary water to wine.

This same Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus, who sits beside the Father in heaven, to transform common believers into Spirit-filled Apostles of the Lord. As is told in our final Scripture verse, Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost_Dove

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

Music Special: Jan McCormick – Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on me – https://youtu.be/-CC72IzKqLo

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit enables both the Son of God and Believers in Christ to demonstrate His power and purpose to share the Word, which is the Gospel manifested through Christ Jesus.

God has come in human form, as Jesus, whose sacrifice provided the way for the Holy Spirit to come to all believers, so that we are empowered to prepare the way of the Lord, when all will be brought before the Father, at the time of Jesus’ return.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Epiphany

Closing Music Special: Cochren & Co. – Don’t Lose Hope – https://youtu.be/mKjCd5mx1uQ

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: Power of the Spirit