Faith, Freedom and Folly before the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith, Freedom and Folly before the Lord’

© November 19, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 19, 2017

Based on a Message Originally Shared at BLCF on June 26, 2011

BLCF Church Bulletin June 26, 2011

 

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #602 (Divine Deliverance – Psalm 33), Prayer

Message by Steve Mickelson: Faith, Freedom and Folly before the Lord’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Faith, Freedom and Folly before the Lord’, taken from Chapter 12 of the New Testament’s Book of Acts of the Apostles. You may recall that after the Day of Pentecost, where God’s Holy Spirit came upon all the believers, and with the resurrection and ascension of the Lord, Jesus, the disciples or students of their teacher, Jesus, became apostles, or messengers, of the Gospel or story of Jesus. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we too are messengers or apostles of the Lord.

There is a possibility for readers of this account to confuse the identity of those named in Acts, Chapter 12. Let us briefly review who were, as there may be some confusion among some here today, not necessarily with respect to what happened, but with whom and to whom, the narrative in the Scriptures describe:

Acts 12:1-11 (ESV) James Killed and Peter Imprisoned

12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

We have the Apostle James, one of the Lord’s original disciples, executed by sword at the order of King Herod. When Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he had another Apostle, Peter, arrested with the intent to also be executed, following Passover or the days of Unleavened Bread.

But the church of the Way of the Lord, by church we mean the people, prayed to God. And how did the people pray? They prayed earnestly!

Peter Is Rescued

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

On the night that Peter was to be executed, the apostle was enchained, sleeping between two guards, when an angel of the Lord arrived in an illuminated cell, woke Peter, causing the two chains to fall off. The angel ordered Peter to get dressed and put on his sandals, wrap himself in his cloak and to follow the angel.

Uncertain that what was happening was a dream or vision, Peter obeyed the angel.

Peter followed the angel, as they passed the guards and went outside the Iron Gate leading to the city, which was opened.

Eventually Peter realized that what was happening was not a vision, remarking that: “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” (Acts 12:11).

Acts 12:20-25 (ESV) The Death of Herod

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,[a] they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

Footnotes: a. Acts 12:20 That is, trusted personal attendant b. Acts 12:25 Some manuscripts to

Though Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, who he assumed were responsible for freeing Peter. Being dependent on Herod for their food, the people asked the King for forgiveness, an on an appointed day, following a speech from the King, proclaimed Herod as a god.

Though Herod observed the Passover tradition of not executing Peter, the king did not acknowledge God, but accepted the people’s proclamation. This offence sealed the king’s fate, as an angel of God struck Herod down.

The word of God increased and multiplied, with Barnabas and Saul returning from Jerusalem, bringing with them John, who was also called by the name Mark.

For those who followed these Scriptures may ask: “Who is John Mark described in Acts 12:25?”

And recalling the description of The Visit of the Wise Men, from the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-15, didn’t Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee to Egypt, only to return at the death of Herod?

It is time for a little research or as I like to call them: use Wikibits, to understand the answer to these questions. First, let us look at the identity of John Mark:

Identifying John, Mark and John Mark (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

John Mark is named in Acts as an assistant accompanying Paul and Barnabas on one of their missionary journeys. By some he is regarded as identical with Mark the Evangelist.

From these it may be gathered that John’s mother Mary had a large house in Jerusalem to which Peter fled after escaping prison; that John assisted Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in Cyprus but then returned to Jerusalem; and that later controversy over receiving John Mark back led to Paul and Barnabas parting ways, with Barnabas taking Mark back to Cyprus and both thereafter disappearing from the narrative of Acts. The reasons for John Mark’s departure to Jerusalem and the subsequent disagreement between Paul and Barnabas have been subject to much speculation, but there is simply too little data to regard any explanation with confidence.

It was common for Jews of the period to bear both a Semitic name such as John and a Greco-Roman name such as Mark. But since John was one of the most common names among Palestinian Jews, and Mark was the most common in the Roman world, caution is warranted in identifying John Mark with any other John or Mark.

Ancient sources in fact consistently distinguish John Mark from the other Marks of the New Testament and style him Bishop of Byblos. Nor was John Mark identified in antiquity with any other John, apart from rare and explicit speculation.

Medieval sources, on the other hand, increasingly regarded all New Testament references to Mark as Mark the Evangelist, and many modern scholars have agreed in seeing a single Mark. The very fact that various writings could refer simply to Mark without further qualification has been seen as pointing to a single Mark.

First, there is Mark the cousin of Barnabas, mentioned by Paul as a “fellow worker” in the closings of three Pauline epistles. In antiquity he was regarded as a distinct Mark, Bishop of Apollonia. If, on the other hand, these two Marks are to be identified, the fact that these epistles (if authentic) were written after the departure of John Mark with Barnabas in Acts must suppose some later reconciliation. But a majority of scholars, noting the close association of both Marks with Paul and Barnabas, indeed regard them as likely the same person.

Mark the Evangelist, however, is known only from the patristic tradition, which associates him only with Peter and makes no mention of Paul. Jerome alone suggests that the Mark of whom Paul speaks may be the Evangelist. But modern scholars have noted that as Peter fled to the house of John Mark’s mother, the two men may have had a longstanding association.

Several scholars have argued, on the other hand, for identifying John the Evangelist and/or John the Elder with John Mark;] there is, in fact, a great deal of controversy surrounding the various New Testament people named John.

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

While it is not clear whether John Mark in Acts 12, describes the Apostle Mark or a different Apostle, named John Mark, we do know that the arrest of Peter in this passage refers to the Apostle Peter. The Devil loves theologians to debate the identity of John Mark, which missing God’s response the peoples’ fervent prayer where He sent His sending his angel to free Peter in quite a dramatic way. And then God sent His angel to strike Herod dead, for refusing the people’s declaration that the king was a god.

Which brings us to the question of the identity: who is the King Herod in Acts 12? Again let us look at Wikibits:

Herod the Great (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Herod (/ˈhɛrəd/; Hebrew: הוֹרְדוֹס‎, Hordus, Greek: Ἡρῴδης, Hērōdēs; 74/73 BCE – 4 BCE), also known as Herod the Great and Herod I, was a Roman client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian kingdom. He has been described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis“, “the evil genius of the Judean nation”,”prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition” and “the greatest builder in Jewish history”. He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Herod’s Temple), the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada and Herodium. Vital details of his life are recorded in the works of the 1st century CE Roman–Jewish historian Josephus.

Upon Herod’s death, the Romans divided his kingdom among three of his sons—Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, and Philip became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan.   

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

King Herod Agrippa (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Herod Agrippa, also known as Herod or Agrippa I (11 BC – 44 AD), was a Judean monarch during the 1st century AD. The grandson of Herod the Great and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice,  he was born Marcus Julius Agrippa, so named in honour of Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. He is the king named Herod in the Acts of the Apostles, in the Bible, “Herod (Agrippa)” (Ἡρώδης Ἀγρίππας). He was, according to Josephus, known in his time as “Agrippa the Great”.  Christian and Jewish historiography take different views of this king, with the Christians largely opposing Agrippa and the Jews largely favoring Agrippa.

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

The Herod referred to in Acts 12, was King Herod Agrippa, grandson to the deceased King Herod the Great, or Herod I, who met with the Magi, or Wise Men, as described in Matthew 2. We see in the case of King Herod of Agrippa, the grandson to Herod the Great that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Both kings sought to kill anyone who posed a perceived threat of to keeping the people from worshiping the king as a god, by proclaiming the deity of Jesus, the son of God.

God sends His angels for important tasks, which in today’s lesson include freeing of Peter and the death of Herod.

In conclusion, the faithful prayers of the people of God’s church were answered by the release of the Apostle, Peter from bondage, and the death judgment of King Herod.

Let us pray…

Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound

Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10-11):

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever.  – Amen.

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Blessed Quietness in the Storms of the Soul

BLCF: Spiritual-war-wave-vs-light

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Blessed Quietness in the Storms of the Soul’

© April 10, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 10, 2016

Sparling_2_4_1_08, 4/3/08, 12:25 PM, 8C, 9324x10101 (0+1252), 117%, Custom, 1/50 s, R16.1, G8.2, B15.3

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – from James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer                                         

Opening Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain; Choruses                             

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

Scriptures: Leviticus 11:4-8; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 5:1-20; Mark 7:14-30

BLCF: Jesus_calms_the_storm

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and worship Service. This morning’s lesson, Blessed Quietness in the Storms of the Soul, will examine the two types of storms or challenges to our faith and salvation, often encountered by followers of Christ. These challenges may be thought of as being either internal or external in nature, or more precisely viewed as having characteristics that are mostly of a mental/emotional nature or existing in the physical environment.

We have a good example of the physical/external threat in the Scripture passage found in Mark 4:35-41(ESV), entitled:

Jesus Calms a Storm

BLCF: Jesus calms the sea

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

BLCF: Jesus_Apostles-17

Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, sailing from Capernaum south and east to the Region Gerasenes. The Sea of Galilee, also described as a large long lake, similar to Ontario’s Lake Nipissing, being subject to the effects of the prevailing winds which generate large rolling waves. These storms can be sudden and unpredictable, posing a threat to even moderately size vessels.

BLCF: Jesus-troubled-man

The storm described in Mark 4 was so severe, that they threatened to swamp and sink the vessel. Fearing for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus, who was sleeping upon a cushion located at the bow of the boat.

Jesus rebuked the wind and commanded the sea to be at “peace” and to “be still”.

Jesus then turned to his disciples asking them why they were so fearful and questioning why they were still lacking in faith’

It was almost as if part of the reason for the cruise was to test the faith of the disciples in the face of the threat of a great storm and affording the Lord with an opportunity to demonstrate that he was in fact the Son of God.  Jesus brought peace and calm by giving commands to these elements of nature to become calm, Mark 5:1-20 (ESV):

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

BLCF: freedom

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[a] And when Jesus[b] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

BLCF: herd-of-pigs

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed[c] man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[d] to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Footnotes: a. Mark 5:1 Some manuscripts Gergesenes; some Gadarenes b. Mark 5:2 Greek he; also verse 9 c. Mark 5:15 Greek daimonizomai; also verses 16, 18; elsewhere rendered oppressed by demons d. Mark 5:17 Greek him

 

Leviticus 11:4-8 (ESV)

BLCF: clean_unclean_food_chart

Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

 Mark 7:14-30 (ESV) What Defiles a Person

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[a] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[b] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Jesus is neither telling anybody that what you eat or drink. is unimportant. nor whether or not you should wash your hands. He is challenging the legalism of behavior professed by the Scribes and Pharisees, which they used as a criteria of judging “the faith” of others.

What really matters is our faith for God, not whether we observe a set of rules disguised as expectations from on high.

 

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

BLCF: Annibale_Carracci,_Cristo_e_la_Cananea,_1595,_Parma

24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.[c] And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Footnotes: a. Mark 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear b. Mark 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine c. Mark 7:24 Some manuscripts omit and Sidon

As born-again believers in the resurrected Christ we must turn away from old beliefs and habits that do not glorify God or edify the body of believers. If we do find some aspects of our Christian walk that is not in line with Christ’s Commandments, like the son who said that he would not work for his father and then changed his mind, we too can change by the grace of our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #192: Joys Are Flowing Like a River (Blessed Quietness)                     

Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10-11):  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

BLCF: SIN-CAN-DEFILE-MANY-BIBLE-QUOTES-HD-WALLPAPERS-HEBREWS-12-15-spreadjesus.org