Meeting Jesus: Finding Rest by Heeding His Call

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Meeting Jesus: Finding Rest by Heeding His Call’

© April 30, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 30, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                        Opening Hymn #547: Jesus, We Want to Meet; Choruses                                  Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #671: God’s Love and Ours (1 John 4)                                  Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                     ‘Meeting Jesus: Finding Rest by Heeding His Call’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF’s Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service in the heart of Toronto.

Our Lesson today, ‘Meeting Jesus: Finding Rest by Heeding His Call’, continues on the subject of forgiveness from sin through Jesus. And with forgiveness comes rest or peace from the Lord, which falls in line with the with the Scripture found posted in the Church Sanctuary and on front of today’s bulletin “Know Jesus – Know Peace; No Jesus – No Peace”, which paraphrases the Scripture 2 Peter 1:2 (ESV): May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

You may recall in last week’s lesson, we looked at how, on the night Jesus was arrested, Simon Peter sinned against the Lord on three separate occasions when he denied that he knew Jesus. Later, after his resurrection, Jesus asked Simon Peter three times whether he loved his Lord, which the disciple acknowledged each time. In his acknowledgement of his love for Jesus, Simon Peter was then forgiven and invited to follow the Lord.

So this begs the question: Is Paul’s forgiveness of his transgressions by Jesus an example of special dispensation towards his disciple or is the same dispensation available to all sinners? For an answer to this question, let us look at the first of today’s Scriptures, Matthew 11:25-30, titled as:

 Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 11:26 Or for so it pleased you well

In verse 38 of Matthew 11, Jesus offers rest to “all who labor and are heavy laden”.  When we see that all, you may ask is this rest from the Lord available to all disciples or anyone who may have sinned? The answer is found in our next Scripture passage, Luke 7:36-50, titled as:

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[a] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Footnotes: a.Luke 7:49 Or to

We see in Luke 7 that Jesus accepts an invitation to dine at the home of a Pharisee and that a woman, who is a sinner arrives, where she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair; kisses his feet and anoints his head with ointment. All of these actions should have been performed by the Pharisee as host for the meal. Instead of taking ownership for his own mistakes as host, Simon focuses on the fact that the woman was a sinner, likely a harlot, and that Jesus had allowed the woman to touch him. Jesus praises the woman’s actions while admonishes inactions of his host sounds very much like the comparison of the goats and sheep described in The Final Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46, which happens to be the Mission Statement that BLCF has adopted for the BLCF Café Community Dinner.

Jesus then tells the Parable of the Two Debtors, after which he gets his host to acknowledge that if both debtors are forgiven their debts, the one whose debt is ten times greater would be more appreciative. In the same regard, the woman whose greater sins are forgiven would be able to not only receive salvation from the Lord, but his peace as well.

We see that forgiveness is available to disciples and sinners, but what about those who are viewed not to be a member of the faith? Jesus gives us a clue to the answer in John 12:20-26, titled as:

 Some Greeks Seek Jesus

 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

In verse 26 of John 12, we see that anyone who serves Jesus will be honored by the Father in heaven.

So far in today’s lesson, we see that salvation is available to all, regardless of whether they are disciples, sinners, or gentiles. This brings us to the final question: What do we do about the sin of a brother or sister and is there a limit to how many times a person can be forgiven? Our answer comes from today’s next Scripture passage, which is Matthew 18:21-35, titled as:

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[a] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[b]25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[d] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 18:23 Or bondservants; also verses 2831 b. Matthew 18:24 A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer c. Matthew 18:26 Or bondservant; also verses 2728293233 d. Matthew 18:28 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer e. Matthew 18:34 Greek torturers

When Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive a brother’s sins, the Lord replies seventy-seven, which is an unlimited number for that time. After all, Jesus forgave Peter three times for committing the same sin over and over again.

But what happens if Christian claims to love God, but refuses to forgive the sin(s) of a brother or sister? The answer comes from our final Scripture passage, 1 John 4:20 (ESV):

 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.

Footnotes: a.1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he

If a Christian refuses to forgive the transgression of a brother or sister is a hypocrite and should not expect God to forgive them. This is an expensive price to pay for the self-indulgence of keeping a grudge and not forgiving a sin.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #509: Is Your Life a Channel of Blessing?

 Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10): 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.

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Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace

BLCF: grace_and_glory

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’ 

© February 15, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on January 16, 2011

BLCF Bulletin February 15, 2015

BLCF: grace-unmerited-favor-by-luis-rivera-free-photo

 

Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses: Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13

 

BLCF: by-grace

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson for today explores; ‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’. It would be presumptuous of me, or anyone else, to claim to fully understand God. But by His grace we are able to perceive His plan that He provides for our forgiveness, reconciliation, sanctification, and edification, from our sins to His grace.

In bulletin today, is a list of characteristics of God, as revealed through the Scriptures:

God-is-

 

God is self-existent Exodus. 3:13–14

God is self-sufficient Psalm 50:10–12

God is eternal Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2

God is Infinite 1 Kings 8:22–27; Jeremiah 23:24

God is omnipresent Psalm 139:7–12

God is omnipotent Genesis 18:14; Revelations 19:6

God is omniscient Psalm 139:2–6; Isaiah 40:13–14

God is wise Proverbs 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17

God is immutable Hebrews 1:10–12; 13:8

God is sovereign Isaiah 46:9–11

God is incomprehensible Job 11:7–19; Roman 11:33

God is holy Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15

God is righteous and just Psalm 119:137

God is true John 17:3; Titus 1:1–2

God is faithful Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:1–2

God is light James 1:17; 1 John 1:5

God is good Psalm 107:8

God is merciful Psalm 103:8–17

God is gracious Psalm 111:4; 1 Peter 5:10

God is love John 3:16; Romans 5:8

God is spirit John 4:24

God is one Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Isaiah 44:6–8

God is a Trinity Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14                                            

(Chart by John Neely)

The attribute that I would like to focus upon is God’s  grace or graciousness, mentioned in Psalm 111:4 and 1 Peter 5:10, among other in the Bible. Psalm 111:4 (ESV) reads, as follows:

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;    

 the Lord is gracious and merciful.

And the second Scripture, from 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV), is:

10 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.

While we may understand that when we talk about grace, we are not talking about a prayer, thanking the Lord for the bounty and asking for His blessing for a meal before we eat, (For the prayer before meals, see Grace (prayer)).

The grace we are talking about is that which God has gifted to those who have confessed their sins and have faith in Christ. Most Biblical scholars and theologians do agree on the definition of the nature of grace as:

Grace ɡrās/ noun (in Christian belief) – the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.                

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace

BLCF: Gods-grace-is-sufficient

But there is much debate and controversy among various Christian churches as to manner by which Christian believers are able to obtain God’s grace manifest in their lives:

Grace (Christianity) – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: grace-of-God

In Western Christian theology, grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to mankind — “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] — that take the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.

Christian orthodoxy holds that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God.

In Eastern Christianity too, grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity.

The question of the means of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern [theological] liberalism from [theological] conservatism.”[4]

The Catholic Church holds that it is because of the action of Christ and the Holy Spirit in transforming into the divine life what is subjected to his power that “the sacraments confer the grace they signify”: “the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through [each sacrament], independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.”[5][6] the Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) are seen as a means of partaking of divine grace because God works through his Church.

Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants agree that faith is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8

BLCF: Grace_Eugene-O-Neill-God

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

Protestants almost universally believe that grace is given by God based on the faith of the believer.

 Lutherans hold that the means of grace are “the gospel in Word and sacraments”.[7][8] That the sacraments are means of grace is also the teaching of John Wesley,[9] who described the Eucharist as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God”.[10]

Calvinists emphasize “the utter helplessness of man apart from grace.” But God reaches out with “first grace” or “prevenient grace” that each person may accept or reject. The Calvinist doctrine known as irresistible grace states that, since all persons are by nature spiritually dead, no one desires to accept this grace until God spiritually enlivens them by means of regeneration. God regenerates only individuals whom he has predestined to salvation.

Armenians understand the grace of God as cooperating with one’s free will in order to bring an individual to salvation. According to Evangelical theologian Charles C. Ryrie, modern liberal theology “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to initiate his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace.” He writes that theological conservatives maintain God’s grace is necessary for salvation.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_(Christianity)

But in the two Scripture verses featured in today’s Bulletin, Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13, we see that in the 1500 or so years between the time that the prophet Moses described in Exodus 34 and the Apostle Paul described in Romans 10, a significant change had taken place in the relationship between God and mankind.

 

BOOK            DATE                         AUTHOR

Exodus          1445-1405 B.C.        Moses                 

Romans          56 A.D.                      Paul
http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTAR125.htm

The first passage describes how God instructs Moses to construct a new set of God’s Commandments to replace the first set that Moses broke in anger upon seeing the behavior or should I say misbehaviour of the people of Israel in his absence on the top of Mount Sinai.

 Exodus 34:1-11 (ESV) Moses Makes New Tablets

BLCF: love-God-and-others

 1The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

 The Covenant Renewed

BLCF: God-Speaks

10And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Our second Scripture verse, Romans 10:1-13, describes a New Covenant and relationship with God. Not just forgiving sin without judgment, but providing both forgiveness and removing judgment from us, (as Jesus has taken our judgment upon himself), making salvation freely available to those who have faith:

Romans 10:1-13 (ESV)

BLCF: Christ-is-the-end-of-the-law-of-Moses

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

The Message of Salvation to All

BLCF: the-law-of-moses-was-abolished

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

Footnotes: a. Romans 10:4 Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified

BLCF: abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

By God’s grace, we find a description  of some of the key characteristics of the Lord, (Exodus 34:6-7):

6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

In Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV), we see that Paul urges us, as a body of believers, who are united through Jesus, to follow the Lord’s example in our behavior:

Unity in the Body of Christ

CLCF: grace_verses

1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

God provides, by way of Jesus, a path to grace before the Lord for all, Jew and Gentile alike, through faith. Under a New Covenant, we are promised a place in heaven, where Jesus is mediator of a purchased by his precious blood, Hebrews 12:18-24 (ESV):  

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

BLCF: 3_aspects-of_salvation

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.                                                   

 Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church

BLCF: dont-go-to-church-be-the-church1

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord

Benediction – Ephesians 6:2: Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

 

Grace_is_GODs_idea