Honoring HIM Most, by Serving the Least

least_of_my_brothers_and_sisters

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Honoring HIM Most, by Serving the Least’

© September 27, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 27, 2015

BLCF: called by example

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:Responsive Reading #633 (The Good Shepherd – John 10); Prayer                    

Opening Hymn #182: Marvelous Message We Bring; Choruses                       

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

Today’s Scriptures: Mark 10:35-45, John 13:1-20, Matthew 25:31-46

 

BLCF: God qualifies the called              

Let us pray,

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of fall, 2015.  For those of us who live in Toronto, Canada, fall officially arrived last Wednesday, September 23, at 4:21 A.M. EDT. If you did not hear it through the media or from your calendar, you may have not been aware of fall’s arrival.

For our lesson today, ‘Honoring Him Most, by serving the Least’, we will examine what initially seems to be a contradiction in terms, where the disciples of Christ had to be taught on more than one occasion, in more than one way, to empty themselves of their personal selfish ambitions and tendencies towards conceit, seeking to live a life of humility and compassion to others.

The disciples knew that the Lord was the Son of God, anointed with the Spirit, and able to demonstrate the supernatural ability to perform miracles. However, they did not grasp the fact that Jesus came in the likeness of humanity having emptied himself of his godliness to serve as the vessel of humanity’s judgement for sin, and thereby raising us above death and sending us with the Holy Spirit of God. We receive these gifts of God’s love, by our faith, to be reconciled as new creatures reborn in the Spirit.

While the disciples did not benefit from understanding that comes by way of the Spirit, as the day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit, had yet to arrive. Perhaps this is why the Lord had to demonstrate to the disciples the need to be humble not just before God, but before others. We see examples of the challenges the Lord encountered in today’s Scripture verses:

Mark 10:35-45 (ESV) The Request of James and John

BLCF: Jesus_James_and_John

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:43 Greek diakonos b. Mark 10:44 Greek bondservant (doulos)

BLCF: Jesus_Glorified

I believe the answer to the question in the preceding graphic is: “None of the above”.  The two disciples, James and John, assumed that Jesus would be glorified in heaven. We see that the Lord was truly glorified by surrendering himself as a humble sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity. By seeking to share with the same glory of Jesus, they would have to endure the same death as Christ.

Before surrendering himself to judgment on the cross, the Lord took time to again teach his disciples a lesson in humility by washing their feet, assuming the humble station of a house servant.

John 13:1-20 (ESV) Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

BLCF: Jesus-washing-the-disciples-feet

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Greek bondservant d.John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled

Our third Scripture passage, is where the Lord describes The Final Judgment by the example of separating the sheep from the goats.

 

Sheep anf Goats

                                      

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

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The description of goats and sheep attributed to those being judged, where goats are stubborn, defiant and often tend to wonder away from the flock. By contrast, sheep stay in the herd, obediently following their master, listening to his call.

Obedience is illustrated in today’s verses can be described by servant humbly washing the feet of others; by sheep obediently heeding the voice of their master and helping others of the flock; and by the sacrifice of the Son of God by surrendering his life as a testament to his love for us.

 

BLCF: Mark_10_45

We know that God created men and women in His image, but He sent His Son, Jesus, to serve humanity, not as a king or emperor, but to surrender his life to pay the price for the judgement for the sins of humanity. Like the rest of humanity, Christ suffered death. However Christ died to pay the debt for all the sins of humanity.

We see that Jesus was raised from death, being resurrected from the grave. In death, Jesus gave us redemption. With Christ’s resurrection, we are given the promise of our own resurrection. And with his ascension to heaven, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit to be our companion and comfort, until the day that the Lord returns.

Philippians 2:1-7 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

BLCF: obedience-humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men.

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

 

BLCF: Matthew_25_40

We find that in our own humility, we may receive gifts of the Spirit to enable us to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion to others, particularly serving the Lord by serving the least of our brothers and sisters.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Love-all-serve-all-Mark

Closing Hymn #508: I Gave My Life for Thee                                             

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23): Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: Who_do_you_serve

 

 

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The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity

Trinity of God

Trinity of God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity’

©September 15, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 15, 2013 

BLCF Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 641: “Christian Assurance”

Prayer                                                                         

Opening Hymn: #204 There’s a Quiet Understanding

Let us pray…

For the lesson today, I would like talk about similarities and differences between the trinity of God, sometimes referred to as the Godhead and the trinity of the human race.

Yes, there is a trinity aspect of people, though not quite the same as the trinity of God. While one trinity is not widely known, or at the least spoken about, particularly in context of the other. And the other trinity, though spoken about frequently, is often misunderstood. Hopefully, by the end of this message we will have a better knowledge and understanding of both trinities, particularly how the two relate to each other.

Let us begin with the one that is more frequently spoken about by Christians and frequently misunderstood, the trinity of God. This trinity is used to describe three Devine aspects or expressions of God: the Father/Creator, the Son/Word-made-flesh and the Holy Spirit. Here are we encounter some controversy amongst various denominations of the Christian Church, as well as criticism from those who challenge the Christian faith as monotheistic.

When we read the King James Version of 1 John 5:7-8, we see a direct reference to the trinity being three aspects of one God:

7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.   

   – 1 John 5:7 (KJV)

Recently, some Biblical scholars have questioned whether the disciple John authored this verse of scripture as there may be some indication to believe that this verse was altered in a later translation and that the translation from the original scripture may be found in the English Standard Version as follows:

7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.                                                                                                              

   – 1 John 5:7-8 (ESV)

At first blush, it appears that mention of the trinity which is clearly described in the King  James translation, seems to be omitted by the English Standard translation. However, if we examine the English Standard translation more closely, we see implies the same message as the King James more by inference than by words, and as a more subtle expression of the same thought. If this verse were the only passage of scripture which supports the trinity of God, then we could say that existence of the trinity is open to debate. And only Satan and the Pharisees desire believers to waste the Lord’s time and mission debating theology.

Fortunately, we have many other verses which support the singularity of God. In the beginning of the Bible, we read that God refers to Himself in the plural, using the personal pronouns: “us” and “our” rather than “me” and “my” as we read in Genesis 1:26:

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.                                                                                                          

    –  Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

But who comprised the ”we” and ”us” mentioned this passage, describing the beginning of the Bible? We find the answer in John 1:1.

 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.                                                                                                                               

    – John 1:1 (ESV)

So we know that with God was the Word, but who is the Word? Those of you familiar with the Scriptures are likely already have an idea, as we read from John 1:14:

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.                       

         – John 1:14 (ESV)

This passage refers to Jesus, also referred to in the Bible as the “Word made flesh”. But was Jesus there in the creation? From John 1:1 and John 1:14, we may conclude that Jesus or the Word was with God and the Word was God. To help us understand this relationship better, Jesus put it simply in John 10:30:

30 I and the Father are one.”                                                                                                –

– John 10:30 (ESV)

What about the Holy Spirit? Was the Spirit there at the beginning? The answer to this question is found in Genesis 1:2:

2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.                   

 – Genesis 1:2 (ESV)

Let us recap. We have at the beginning God referring to himself as a plural entity, using the personal pronouns we and our. We are told that Jesus, the Word made flesh was there in the beginning of creation, as was the Holy Spirit. Not three Gods, but three distinct aspects of the same God.

It would be presumptuous of us to expect that we fully understand all the aspects of the the Holy Trinity, or of God, our Creator. But by faith and grace of the Spirit we may accept the Holy Trinity or Godhead.

The Godhead or Triune of God is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as follows:

trin·i·ty (tr                                                                       n           -t      )n. pl.trin·i·ties1. A group consisting of three closely related members. Also called triunity.2. Trinity Theology In most Christian faiths, the union of three divine   persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in one God. Also called Trine.

3. Trinity Trinity Sunday.


[Middle English trinite, from Old French, from Latin tr      nit      s, from tr      nus, trine; see   trine.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Triune+God

This is where  our bulletin has some illustrations that may help us. On the first inside page of today’s bulletin are two triangles. On the left, we have the triangle of the Godhead, Go the Father, Son and Holy Spirit pointing upwards towards heaven above a triangle pointing downwards illustrating the human triangle, consisting of body, mind and Spirit. Next, the illustrator through a bit of insightful genius  combines the two triangles combine to form a Star of David, illustrating a union of mankind and God, by way of the Holy Spirit. And then beside this symbol, is an illustration indicating God is the Father; is the Son and is the Holy Spirit, but also indicating that the Father is not the Son;  the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. By Faith and way of the Holy Spirit we may accept this description of God, even though the limitations our humanity prevent us from fully understand Him. Fortunately, God’s salvation is based upon our faith and not our understanding of God.

Trinity ofGod and Trinity of Humanity

Trinities of God and Humanity

On the next page, we see a graphic that illustrates how God interacts with us: John 1:14 shows that God became flesh through Jesus: John 1:14:

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.                              

  – John 1:14 (ESV)

And we know Jesus became Christ, the Messiah, by dying on the cross for our sins. The Jesus was resurrected from the grave and ascended to heaven. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to all believers, 1 Corinthians 15:45:

45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.                                                                                                 

  – 1 Corinthians 15:45 (ESV)

And God, in the form of the Holy Spirit enters into all who believe.

How the Trinity influences humanity

How the Godhead influences humanity

Our third illustration on the back page of the bulletin indicates that our Lord, Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, translated from Greek to English as the First and Last or the Beginning and End.

Alpha-Omega

Another verse to help us understand specific characteristics of the members of the Godhead or Trinity may be found in 2 Corinthians 13:14:  

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

    – 2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV)

Those expressions of God, Paul indicates that we receive grace from Jesus, the son; love from God the Father and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. These three gifts are distinct and inseparable aspects of God’s presence in the life of the Christian believer, in the same way that the elements of the Trinity are distinct but inseparable.

Trinity Diagram

Trinity Diagram

I wonder how many of you know the children’s story of Peter Pan, a free spirited eternal youth who became separated from his shadow, which both confused and complicated his life until his friend Wendy took and thread in hand and sewed the shadow back to Peter, making him happy and whole again. This somewhat silly child’s tale makes for a good analogy to the human condition.

Adam and Eve, created in the image of God had a good relationship with the Creator.

That was until Satan took the form of a serpent and beguiled Eve and Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden We read in Genesis 3, verses 1-6:

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.                                                           

  – Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

We read the consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God described in verses 22-23 of the same third chapter of Genesis:

 22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.                          

  – Genesis 3:22-23 (ESV)

Adam and Eve were told that they would surely die if they ate from the tree, commonly called the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil or Tree of Life? Having done so, Adam and Eve were not only expelled from the Garden of Eden, they had brought the judgement of death upon themselves and their descendents. Once Adam and Eve broke God’s rule, all members of the human race became like the Peter Pan character.

But not severed from their shadow, but severed from the Holy Spirit. While the scriptures have no Wendy to sew things up, we do have a way to repair what has been broken. Jesus Christ came to the world to repair the tear in our spiritual fabric, to restore our souls, to bring that joy again to those who have inherited the judgment of sin.

To better understand God’s solution for the problem of sin, let us now talk about the Human trinity. Let us recall from Genesis 1, that we were made in God’s image, verse 26:

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.                       

   –  Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

If we are made in God’s image, it is not hard to understand that God gave us three aspects of our character, a Human trinity as described in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

23Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                  

   

 – 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV)

We see that the Human trinity consists of the body, soul and spirit. Spirit exists like Peter Pan’s shadow, severed from us by the sin of Eden once the human race having eaten of the tree of knowledge became aware of good and evil and the consequences of choice. God provided us with a way to reconnect with the Holy Spirit, by confessing our sins and receiving the gift of salvation through Jesus and eternal life through the Holy Spirit. The proof and the promise may be found in John 20:20-23:

20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, .Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, .Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.                                                                                         

   – John 20:20–23 (ESV)

Dr. Clarence Larkin in his book, Rightly Dividing the Word expands on the Human trinity mentioned in 1 Thessalonians, by describing the three as follows:

“The human body touches the material world through the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.  And the gates to the soul are imagination, conscience, memory, reason and the affections.

The spirit receives impressions of outward and material things through the soul. The spiritual faculties of the spirit are faith, hope, reverence, prayer and worship.  To understand God, we must receive the Holy Spirit by faith and trusting God.”

And we see the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit in revealing God’s purpose and presence explained in 1 Corinthians 2:9-11:

9But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.                                                            

     – 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 (ESV)

Let us therefore pray that we find the faith to trust God’s Plan for Salvation, Reconciliation and Sanctification, through confession of sin, trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and acceptance of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14):  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

Holy Trinity