Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’

 © September 2, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 2, 2018

Originally Published on October 9, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin October 9, 2011 Bulletin  

Blood from a Stone

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

  Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                  Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses                        Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings           Responsive Reading #606: (Blessings from God – Psalm 103)                                       Message by Stephen Mickelson:  ‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Happy Labour Day Weekend to each and every one of you. And since today happens to be the first Sunday of the month we give thanks to the Lord’s gifts of Salvation, Sanctification, and the Holy Spirit by taking the elements of communion. This leads us to the following questions:

What Is Communion And Why Do We Do It?

(Courtesy of the New Spring Network)

 Have you ever wondered why Christians eat a small piece of bread and drink a sip of wine (or grape juice) in some church services?

You’re not alone.

 For thousands of years, the Church has continued a practice called communion, or depending on different church traditions, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.

Communion uses bread as a symbol for Jesus’ body and wine as a symbol for His blood. Yes, it sounds strange. But why do Christians talk about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood? Are we cannibals?

Where Did Communion Come From?

Jesus started the tradition of communion. He instructed His followers to use bread and wine to remember the sacrifice He was going to make when He died for our sins on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 Jesus called Himself “the bread of life,” which means that we’re nourished by Him, we survive because of Him, and He satisfies us when everything else leaves us empty (John 6:48-51). There’s a connection between our nearness to Jesus, believing in Him, and being fulfilled by Him (John 6:35).

The early Church celebrated Jesus by taking communion, sometimes every day (Acts 2:42-46). They saw that every time they gathered around a table to eat and drink, it was a chance to recognize Jesus and thank God for all He’s done.

Reasons Not To Do Communion

Taking communion doesn’t make you a Christian. It doesn’t save your soul or get you to heaven.

God actually warns us about taking communion without considering what it means and why we’re doing it. The intent is not for us to mindlessly perform a ritual, but to intentionally set aside time to remember what Jesus has done and why He did it (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).

Why Christians Do Communion?

It’s not about the bread and wine; it’s about the body and blood of Jesus.

It’s not about the ritual or the method; it’s about listening to Jesus and doing what He says.

Communion is not an obligation, but a celebration.

Communion celebrates the Gospel: Jesus was broken for us so that we can be fixed by Him.

Celebrating communion marks the story of Jesus, how He gave Himself completely to give us a better life, a new start, and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It’s not about a ritual to revere, but a person to worship. Jesus is less concerned about the method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it.

 As often as we remember Jesus, we should celebrate Jesus.

Communion is important because it’s a command to remember. Jesus wants us to remember every time we taste bread and wine, and even when we sit at the tables in our own homes, that He is the one who provides all we need. He gives us the physical food that we need to survive and the spiritual nourishment we need to keep taking our next steps with Him.

https://newspring.cc/articles/what-is-communion-and-why-do-we-do-it

What does the Bible indicate the importance of giving thanks to God? The following Scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, which is  Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colossae was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colossae had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including the worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading terror in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord.

And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV):

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

Colossians 3:17 –  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Many in today’s society seem to have found themselves wandering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                           

Water from the Rock 

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah [a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a]Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarreling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the Christian faith, I attended a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages per issue, with ten issues a year. In those days, computer technology lacked high-resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two-finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of a newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as, after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. Yet, in spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12:

David’s Song of Thanks

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,

 Let us pray…

Communion – An Act of Fellowship and Demonstration of Our Faith:

1 John 1:3 (ESV): Fellowship

 3 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.

Communion

Communion began on the annual celebration of Passover Supper when Jesus told his disciples to remember his sacrifice as they ate the bread and drank the wine.

Just as Israel celebrates the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, when the angel of death passed over their homes, so believers in Jesus celebrate and remember his sacrifice for the judgment of all of our sins when he died on the cross.

Communion uses bread as a symbol of his body and juice as a symbol of his blood. The act of taking communion does not save us, it is an act of worship and remembrance our Lord, who instructed his followers to continue, until the day he returns.

Luke 22:14-20 (ESV): Institution of the Lord’s Supper

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[a] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.                                                                                                                                        

[b] Footnotes: a. Luke 22:16 Some manuscripts never eat it again b. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given… in my blood)

Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows

Benediction –  (Colossians 3:15): And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

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A New Year, A New Age, A New Life – in Christ

BLCF: animated_magi-starstargraphic

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

A New Year, A New Age, A New Life – in Christ’

© January 3, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

 BLCF Bulletin January 3, 2016

BLCF: animated-wisemen-star

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616: (Christian Baptism – Matthew 3 and 28, Acts 2, Romans 6); Prayer                                                                                   

Hymn #251: My Song Shall Be of Jesus; Choruses

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

Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-18, John 1:29, John 3:1-8

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service, on this, the first Sunday of 2016, which is a Communion Sunday.

Our lesson for today, A New Year, A New Age, A New Life – in Christ,’ we give us an opportunity to reflect upon the events of 2015, while anticipating the hopes and expectations of the New Year, 2016.

Christians today, as in the years past, find the Christmas Season fraught with assaults against God, our faith and our Savior. It is around Christmas and Easter, the naysayers come forth to either deny the existence of Jesus and the truth of the Lord’s Gospel, or to promote a theory that Christ did not exist, or was not Savior.

It seems that no other faith is the subject of so much derision and attacked to the extent that is our faith in Christ. But the gospels are full of warnings that believers in the resurrected Christ may anticipate to see a parade of false prophets and perversions of the truth. We see an example of the agenda of proponents of this anti-Christian theology in the way we mark our calendars, where B.C. and A.D. are being replaced by B.C.E. and C.E., respectively. We find a Wikibits explanation for the meaning and motives for such a change as follows:

B.C. /A.D. versus B.C.E. /C.E.

BLCF: BC_Nativity_AD

Our calendar is based on the birth of Christ; all years before Christ’s birth have traditionally been designated B.C. (before Christ) and those after his birth as A.D., an abbreviation for the Latin term Anno Domini which means “in the year of the Lord.”

Some historians have adopted an alternative dating system, referring to B.C. as B.C.E. (Before the Common Era), and to A.D. as C.E. (Common Era). The change was made to mask the Christian basis for the dating system and presumably make it more palatable to non-Christians.

The new designation is unsatisfactory on several levels. In the first place, no “common era” exists. It can’t be found in history books or the dictionary. It was just made up. If there is a common era, it didn’t begin in the year one; it probably began around 1500 A.D. when ocean exploration connected the world in a global trading network.

On a cognitive level, B.C.E. and C.E. repeat the same letters in the same order making the distinction between them harder for the eye and mind to grasp than the traditional system that uses all different letters. To understand the meaning of dates, readers may have to stop and consciously translate the letters.

The politically sensitive thinkers who developed the new terminology were not so bold as to identify a new, logical, non-Christian basis for dating time such as the beginning of agriculture ten thousand years ago or the beginning of civilization five thousand years ago. Instead, they kept the Christian system but attempted to obscure its historical origin, a curiously anti-historical act.

http://www.studentsfriend.com/feed/topic11.html

BLCF: BC_AD

While some historians have an agenda focused on removing Christ from Christmas and modern calendars by using B.C.E. and C.E., no effort has been undertaken to make our nomenclature for “politically correct” by renaming the months named for Roman gods: January, February, March, April, May and June. Certainly Christians could be “offended” by the use of Roman gods to name the months is the same way non-Christians object to the acknowledge each year including and following Jesus’ birth as an Anno Domini or Year of the Lord and any year preceding his birth as an acknowledgement as well.

Many view the New Year as a time for resolutions for change, improvement, and reconciliation in our lives. So it is not surprising that while many such expectations answered by the birth of Jesus; others perceived his arrival as a threat to their own personal authority, as we see in the first of our Scripture verses, which tells of the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men in Matthew 2:1-18 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

BLCF: animated_wise_men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

BLCF: Jesus-in-Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

BLCF: Herod the usurper

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

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

Since the Wise Men brought three different gifts to Christ child, offering him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh, we may infer that there were three Wise Men, with each bringing a gift for the newborn king.

Some try to disparage the Wise Men as astrologers and Wikibitsdictionary.com define as astrology as follows:

astrology – definition

BLCF: Ptolemy_Astrology_1564

A study of the positions and relationships of the sun, moon, stars, and planets in order to judge their influence on human actions. Astrology, unlike astronomy, is not a scientific study and has been much criticized by scientists.

If the Magi were just interested in studying the Star of Bethlehem, they would have neither acknowledge to star’s arrival as a fulfillment of the Jewish prophecy of the birth of the Christ child, nor would they arrive to worship him with valuable treasures. The fact that an angel had warned the Magi not to return to Herod indicates that there may have been some Divine influence which brought the Magi to Jesus and consequently gifts worthy of a king were brought to the Lord.

No doubt when Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Egypt, these valuable gifts were used by the three refugees while in exile until the time that they returned.

I find it ironic that many who profess to be Christians today have little or no sympathy for the plight of the refugees in the Middle East, fearing the refugees may harbor a threat to their way of life. This perceived threat parallels the motive which prompted Herod to kill all the male infants age two years and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

I feel that God, the Father, knew of the danger from Herod and He provided a way of escape by an angel’s warning to Joseph and the gifts of the Magi.

The date of Christ’s birth is so significant to history that events are observe to have occurred on a date defined as a year preceding or following the year that Jesus was born. While AD or Anno Domini translates as the “Year of the Lord”, Christians mark the date of their re-birth as a child of God some thirty three or so years later, following the Lord’s death, resurrection, ascension, and Day of Pentecost, which collectively mark the birth of the Church, a body of believers, who having demonstrated faith in Christ by confessing their sins, following the Way of the Lord, receiving the Spirit and teaching the Gospel.

That Gospel message being that: Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death; his death was for our re-birth, as was acknowledged by John the Baptist in John 1:29 (ESV):

Behold, the Lamb of God

BLCF: Jesus_Lamb_of_GOD

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Just as Jesus was born to mature to become the Savior from the judgment of the sins of humanity, believers must be willing to be reborn through faith, by God’s Holy Spirit, as indicated in the account of Nicodemus in John 3:1-8 (ESV):

You Must Be Born Again

Be still and know HE is God!

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:2 Greek him b. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7 c. John 3:6 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit d. John 3:7 The Greek for you is plural here e. John 3:8 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

Just as our Lord grew from an infant to a child, and then a man, those who are re-born or born again in Christ are expected to grow and mature in the Spirit. And with the maturity of Spiritual growth, Christians are expected to take upon themselves the responsibility of preaching the Word or the truth of Christ’s Gospel to others, 2 Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV):

Preach the Word

BLCF: The_Great_Commission

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Footnotes: a. 2 Timothy 4:3 Or healthy

For our closing prayer for this New Year 2016, I would like to read to you ‘A Prayer for Peace’ by St. Francis of Assisi, which gives a good outline of how we may best achieve the task of preaching the Gospel in thought, word and deed. What better way to implement a Christians’ desire for resolution for change, improvement, and reconciliation in the New Year of their rebirth and the future.

BLCF: Animated_Prayer_For_Peace

Let us pray…

Hymn #220: Break Thou the Bread of Life                                                        

Communion Scripture Versus: 1 Corinthians 10:16-18, 11:23-26

1 Corinthians 10:16-18 (ESV)

BLCF: communion_fac

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel:[a] are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 10:18 Greek Consider Israel according to the flesh

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

BLCF: Communion Sunday

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[b] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some manuscripts broken for b.1 Corinthians 11:24 Or as my memorial; also verse 25

Benediction – (Psalm 90:14): Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

BLCF: animated-keep-christgif

Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb

BLCF: Christ-our-Passover

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb 

© February 1, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

 BLCF Bulletin February 1, 2015

BLCF: Jesus_the_Christ_the_spotless_Lamb_of_God

Reading #612 (The Lamb of GOD – Isaiah 53); Prayer                                              

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

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

Scripture Verses: Exodus 12:1-14, John 1:29-34, Hebrews 10:5-18

 

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this, the first Sunday of February; Communion Sunday.

Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb, where with the help of the Scriptures and our Wikibits we will explore and connect the dots between the first Passover in Egypt, the Festival of Passover or Pesach, and Jesus as the final Passover lamb.

It is hoped that our journey today will give us a better understanding and appreciation for the communion.

Let us begin our journey today with the first Passover, where Jewish People celebrate not only their liberation from enslavement under Pharaoh in Egypt and by the blood of a sacrificed lamb,  avoided the judgment of death, which was the Tenth Plague rendered by God.

Passover – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: Passover_Seder

Passover or Pesach (/ˈpɛsɑːx, ˈpsɑːx/;[4] from: פֶּסַח in Hebrew, Yiddish; Tiberian: [pɛsaħ] ( listen), Modern Hebrew: [ˈpesaχ] Pesah, Pesakh; Yiddish: Peysekh, Paysakh, Paysokh), is an important biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharaohs, and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

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

We see how Passover celebrates the liberation the Jewish people, from life as Hebrew slaves, but how dis GOD effect their release from bondage?

The Tenth Plague of Egypt

BLCF: List_of_10_Plagues

The Plagues of Egypt (Hebrew: מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim), also called the ten plagues (Hebrew: עשר המכות, Eser HaMakot) or the biblical plagues, were ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Israel’s God inflicted upon Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth plague, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrew people. The plagues were designed to contrast the power of Yahweh with the impotence of Egypt’s various gods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagues_of_Egypt#10._Death_of_the_firstborn_.28.D7.9E.D6.B7.D7.9B.D6.B7.D6.BC.D7.AA_.D7.91.D6.B0.D6.BC.D7.9B.D7.95.D6.B9.D7.A8.D7.95.D6.B9.D7.AA.29:_Ex._11:1.E2.80.9312:36

Let us now review our first Scripture Passage, which gives us the account of the first Passover, from Exodus 12:1-14 (ESV):

The Passover

BLCF: The Passover

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.[a]

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 12:6 Hebrew between the two evenings

GOD instructed the people of Israel to celebrate Passover throughout generations. It is interesting that the Passover Feast begins the day before as a fast, for some people, as we see in this posting from chabad.org:

 The Fast of the First Born (chabad.org) – by Eliyahu Kitov

BLCF: Exodus_tenth_plague_great_cry

It is an ancient and widespread custom for the firstborn to fast on the day before Passover. This commemorates the miracle which spared the firstborn Jewish sons from the plague which struck down the firstborn sons of the Egyptians.

By right, this fast should be held on the anniversary of the day on which the miracle occurred: on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan. However, since the fifteenth is already Passover, and we do not fast on Festival days the fast is pushed back to the fourteenth.

There is an additional reason why we fast specifically on the fourteenth. The firstborn of the Jews were saved in Egypt because they humbled themselves before GOD, admitting and declaring that all greatness, power, and sovereignty are His alone.

This stood in contradistinction to the Egyptians who, filled with foolish pride and egotism, declared: “I am, and besides me there is none other.”

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1678/jewish/The-Fast-of-the-First-Born.htm

If GOD instructed the people to celebrate Passover as a statue forever, are Christians obliged to observe Passover? Let us go back to our Wikibits:

Passover (Christian holiday)

Passover_Chart

The Epistle to the Hebrews states that the sacrificial killing of animals could not finally take away sin, but awaited the atonement of Christ. (Hebrews 10). It proceeds to explain that Jesus Christ offered the one sacrifice that was acceptable to God, and that he lives forever as the believers’ intercessory high priest, replacing the Jewish sacrificial system and its sacerdotal priesthood. Most Christians consider the external ritual of sacrifice instituted in the Old Testament by God to be a precursor of the self-sacrifice offered by Jesus. For this reason, Jesus is called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The main Christian view is that the Passover, as observed by ancient Israel as well as Jews today, was a type of the true Passover Sacrifice of God that was to be made by Jesus.[3] The Israelites’ Passover observance was the commemoration of their physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt, whereas Passover represents for most Christians a spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin (John 8:34) and, since Jesus’ death, a memorial of the sacrifice that Jesus has made for mankind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_(Christian_holiday)

As Jesus died on the cross, as a final sacrifice for all of our sins, as Christians we celebrate not only GOD’s passing over our judgment from sin through Christ; we are given the assurance of our salvation and resurrection from death, as well as the gifting of the Holy Spirt, until the day the Lord returns. For that reason we see the celebration of an annual Passover Feast, replaced by Communion, as instructed by Jesus, at the last Passover.

Where Passover gives celebrants pause to reflect upon the liberation of the Israel Nation from the bondage of enslavement and the judgment of death to all first born in Egypt, Communion observance gives Christians an opportunity to celebrate the freedom of all of humanity from bondage and judgment for sin through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, which is a gift to all from GOD.

Let us look at the Scriptures account of the Lamb of GOD, from John 1:29-34 (ESV):

Behold, the Lamb of GOD

 BLCF: John-the-Baptist

 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Although John, also known as John the Baptist, does identify Jesus as Lamb of God, the Apostle Paul gives us a more complete understanding of the significance of this final sacrifice, in Hebrews 10:5-18 (ESV):

BLCF: Passover-Cross-montage

Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,                                                               

but a body have you prepared for me;                                                                                   

in burnt offerings and sin offerings                                                                                  

you have taken no pleasure.                                                                                                 

 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,                                           

as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[b] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them     

after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts,     

and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 10:5 Greek he b. Hebrews 10:12 Greek this one

BLCF: Jesus - Passover Lamb

 

Looking closer at this Scripture passage, we see that the sacrifice of Christ does away with all other sacrifices, including that performed at Passover, Hebrews 10:8-10:

“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

BLCF: Jesus_Lamb_of_GOD

 

In final portion of this Scripture passage, not only do we need not to follow the observances of the Mosaic Law of Feasts, for we now come under GOD’s new covenant, through our Lord, Christ Jesus, Hebrews 10:15-18:

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them                                                       

after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts,                      

and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

blcf: Jesus_Passover_Lamb

 

While there is no need to observe the old laws under the OLD Covenant, as Christians, who are freed from the judgment for our sins by our Passover lamb, who is Christ, we must continue to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, as we read in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (ESV):

BLCF: Yeshua_Passover_Lamb

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Let us pray…

At this point in our worship service, we will observe Communion, which we reflect and remember the final sacrifice made by our Lord, Jesus, which saved not just the people of Israel from a single threat and judgment, as had happened in Egypt, but the Passover of all believers in the Resurrected Christ, potentially of humanity, from the death judgment of all sin, for all time, until the day Christ returns.

Communion differs from Passover, which celebrates a single miracle, at a single point in time. We have Communion celebrate a miracle that is more global in scale, for everyone who believe, not just at one time, but for all time.

Passover is an observation for all generations, under the Mosaic Law and Old Covenant; where Communion is an ongoing observation celebrated more frequently, as salvation after Jesus’ sacrifice and New Covenant comes at any time a believer makes a faith decision to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and agrees to accept his Lordship. Salvation and the New Covenant may occur for anyone, at any time, and in that regard is not limited to a single day or time. That is why Christian Churches celebrate the “New Passover” more frequently, in the spirit and truth the Lord intended.

We have the following description of the Words of Institution or Consecration spoken while we observer Communion.

 Communion: Words of Institution

 BLCF: mysteries-of-the-holy-eucharist

The Words of Institution (also called the Words of Consecration) are words echoing those of Jesus himself at his Last Supper that, when consecrating bread and wine, Christian Eucharistic liturgies include in a narrative of that event. Eucharistic scholars sometimes refer to them simply as the verba (Latin for “words”). Protestant denominations

Protestant denominations generally, with the exception of the Anglican Communion and Lutheranism, rely exclusively on the words of St. Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. (ESV):

Protestantism has typically utilized the words of institution as a central part of its Communion service, though precise traditions vary by denomination. The debate over the force and literalness of the words of institution underlies the arguments between consubstantiation and transubstantiation. Most of the established churches in the Protestant tradition employ a mirroring of Paul’s words surrounding the words of institution, while Congregationalist and Baptist churches use the words themselves without the full citation of Paul’s wording.

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

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

BLCF: Communion

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

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Let us pray…

 Closing Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain                                      

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21): 

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

BLCF: Hebrews10_10

 

Alive in Christ – Faith’s Reward

BLCF: Jesus-walks-on-water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Alive in Christ – Faith’s Reward’

© June 1, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin June 1, 2014

BLCF: prayer-walk

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #648

(A Challenge to Faith – Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer

Opening Hymn #237 What Can Wash Away My Sin?

Scripture Verses:Hebrews 11:1-3 and Matthew 17:14-20

BLCF: exercise_faith_walk_with_Jesus

Let us pray…

As you may have surmised from today’s Scripture verses and the Responsive Reading that we read as a Call to Worship for the Worship Service here at BLCF, today’s Message is on the topic of Faith. More specifically, we will look at God’s reward for faith: being “alive in Christ”.

Instead of being a religion, Christianity is described as a faith practice. To get a better understanding of what we mean by faith, let us cite the following Wiki bits:

From online dictionaries, (by way of Google search), we have faith described as follows:

BLCF: Faith

Faith fāTH/ noun

noun: faith

  • 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

 

 

“this restores one’s faith in politicians”

synonyms:

trust, belief, confidence, conviction; More

 

optimism, hopefulness, hope

 

“he justified his boss’s faith in him”

antonyms:

mistrust

  • 2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

 

 

synonyms:

religion, church, sect, denomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine More

 

“she gave her life for her faith”

  • a system of religious belief. plural noun: faiths

 

 

“the Christian faith”

  • a strongly held belief or theory.

 

 

“the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe”

Origin

 

Middle English: from Old French feid, from Latin fides

https://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4MSIM_enCA539CA540&q=faith

BLCF: faith-strong-belief-in-the-doctrines-of-a-religion-based-on-spiritual-conviction-rather-than-proof

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. It can also be defined as belief that is not based on proof,[1] as well as confidence based on some degree of warrant.[2][3] The word faith is often used as a synonym for hope, trust, or belief.

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

From the Christian believer’s standpoint, we can get a more specific definition, as follows:

BLCF:mustard-seed

Christianity

Triumph of Faith over Idolatry by Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646–1713)

 

Main article: Faith in Christianity

 

Faith in Christianity is based on the work and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity declares not to be distinguished by faith, but by the object of its faith. Rather than being passive, faith leads to an active life aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of Jesus. It sees the mystery of God and his grace and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and grow, and has its origin in God.

 

In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not fideism or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements. Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer. In English translations of the New Testament, the word faith generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (pistis) or the Greek verb πιστεύω (pisteuo), meaning “to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure”.

 

And the Christian definition of faith, can be narrowed further to the Evangelical Christian view or perspective:

Evangelical views

BLCF: what-we-believe-copy

In contrast to faith meaning blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence, Alister McGrath quotes Oxford Anglican theologian W. H. Griffith-Thomas, (1861-1924), who states faith is “not blind, but intelligent” and “commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence…”, which McGrath sees as “a good and reliable definition, synthesizing the core elements of the characteristic Christian understanding of faith.”

 

American biblical scholar Archibald Thomas Robertson stated that the Greek word pistis used for faith in the New Testament (over two hundred forty times), and rendered “assurance” in Acts 17:31 (KJV), is “an old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for bringing forward evidence.” Likewise Tom Price (Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) affirms that when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis] which means “to be persuaded.”

 

British Christian apologist John Lennox argues that “faith conceived as belief that lacks warrant is very different from faith conceived as belief that has warrant.” And that, “the use of the adjective ‘blind’ to describe ‘faith’ indicates that faith is not necessarily, or always, or indeed normally, blind.” “The validity, or warrant, of faith or belief depends on the strength of the evidence on which the belief is based.” “We all know how to distinguish between blind faith and evidence-based faith. We are well aware that faith is only justified if there is evidence to back it up.” “Evidence-based faith is the normal concept on which we base our everyday lives”.

BLCF:“Faith-is-not-belief_-Belief-is-passive_-Faith-is-active_”-–-Edith-Hamilton

Peter S Williams holds that “the classic Christian tradition has always valued rationality, and does not hold that faith involves the complete abandonment of reason will believing in the teeth of evidence.” Quoting Moreland, faith is defined as “a trust in and commitment to what we have reason to believe is true.”

Regarding “doubting Thomas” in John 20:24-31, Williams points out that “Thomas wasn’t asked to believe without evidence.” He was asked to believe on the basis of the other disciples’ testimony. Thomas initially lacked the first-hand experience of the evidence that had convinced them… Moreover, the reason John gives for recounting these events is that what she saw is evidence… Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name. John 20:3031.

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

There are many Scripture passages that contain reference to faith. Perhaps the Apostle Paul gives the best definition in Hebrews, Chapters 11 and 12, which we read paraphrased and condensed in this morning’s Responsive Reading. But Paul presents a good summary in Hebrews 11:1-3.

BLCF: Hebrew_11_1

Hebrews 11:1-3 (ESV) By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

This morning’s bulletin has a good graphic illustration describing faith, from a worldly perspective.

BLCF: to-have-faith-is-to-trust-yourself-to-the-alan-watts

Evangelist Billy Graham used to describe faith based on how we trust a chair: which we use, based on trust. When you arrived in church today, you sat on, without first examining the pew to verify that the chair would support you without collapsing.

But there are several examples in the Bible where Jesus helps us understand faith by comparing the importance of having faith over the desire or need for material goods. The lack of, or absence of faith makes us anxious. The first example, comes from Matthew 6:30-34.

BLCF: what-we-value

Matthew 6:30-34 (ESV)

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 ”Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6 contains the first of many verses about the problems when we have little or no faith. The next example of little faith, occurs when the Lord calms a stormy sea in Matthew 8:23-27.

BLCF: CalmingOfTheStorm-by-Sparling

Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

The next “little faith” account takes place as Christ walk on the water in Matthew 14:28-33.

BLCF: JesusOnWater

Matthew 14:28-33 (ESV) Jesus Walks on the Water

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[c] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

 

And where faith engenders confidence, then little faith creates doubt, as we see when the disciples unsuccessfully attempt to heal a boy possessed by a demon in Matthew 17:14-20.

BLCF: Matthew-17_14-20

Matthew 17:14-20 (ESV) Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon,[a] and it[b] came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.[c] 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[d] Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:18 Greek it b. Matthew 17:18 Greek the demon c. Matthew 17:18 Greek from that hour d. Matthew 17:20 Some manuscripts insert verse 21: But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting

 

One thing that the disciples lacked was the infusion of God’s Holy Spirit, which takes place in the Upper Room on the evening of the day of Christ’s resurrection. Faith is the key to our effectiveness in doing the work of the Lord in the world. And if faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, just imagine what else can be achieved through faith.

In Hebrews 11, Paul details the work of faith amongst believers, or should we say God’s faithful.

BLCF: faith_hall_of_fame

Hebrews 11 (ESV) By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Footnotes: a. Hebrews 11:37 Some manuscripts add they were tempted

The miracles or signs the recorded in the New Testament are given as evidence so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That belief that Paul speaks of, produces faith, which grows by the Grace of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John indicates that faith is the purpose of his Epistle, John 20:30-31.

BLCF: that-you-may-believe-John

John 20:30-31 (ESV) The Purpose of This Book

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.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #8: Glory Be to God the Father

BLCF: Communion_Remember_Me

Communion – (1 Corinthians 11:23-26):For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

BLCF: Colossians_2_6-7

Benediction – (Colossians 2:6-7 – Alive in Christ): Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

 

BLCF: YourWords

BLCF: faithworks