Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’

© July 23, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared at BLCF on October 4, 2015

BLCF Bulletin July 23, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                 

Opening Hymn #126: Amen, Amen! ; Choruses                                                  

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

Responsive Reading #638 (The Holy Spirit Promised – John 14 and 16)    

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’

                  

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’.

Through a series of verses, we will find how the Lord answers humanity’s collective cry for help: for companionship, guidance, understanding, peace, mercy, grace, the Holy Spirit, love, the Lord’s testimony, baptism, and unity of faith, to enable us to implement the “Great Commission’ of Sharing the Gospel of Christ. The Scripture verses which we may use as a roadmap to guide us on the path as apostles or messengers of the Gospel are found in your bulletin.

We need faith in the Lord, and acknowledge Whom will guide us on our journey, as we see in Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV):

My Help Comes from the Lord 

  

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.     

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,     

who made heaven and earth.

Our help comes from our creator, our Lord who made heaven and earth. The Lord knows where help is needed among His creation. The first need was Adam’s need for a companion or helper. And so, God created Eve, Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV):

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for[a] him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed[b] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[c] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[d] into a woman and brought her to the man.

23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”[e]

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:18 Or corresponding to; also verse 20 b. Genesis 2:19 Or And out of the ground the Lord God formed c.Genesis 2:20 Or the man d. Genesis 2:22 Hebrew built e. Genesis 2:23 The Hebrew words for woman (ishshah) and man (ish) sound

God created woman not just as a helper, but a wife to man, so that the husband and wife may physically be one in the eyes of the Lord.

We know the story of how the first man and woman fell from God’s grace by the sin of disobedience. This disappointed Him and brought separation of the man and woman from His grace, as well as the judgment of death.

God continued to have love and compassion for His creation, and so he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, as a final sacrifice to bring forgiveness, grace and a New Covenant to humanity. We acknowledge this sacrificial gift and Covenant, as a united body of believers, every time we partake in Communion.

This New Covenant from the Lord includes not only the promise of our resurrection from death, but also the gift of the continuous presence of God’s Holy Spirit, John 14:25-27 (ESV): 

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper[a], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Footnotes: a. John 14:26 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also John 14:16; 15:2616:7

Just as the Lord provided for man’s need for companionship, by creating woman as a physical helper; He sends men and woman, grace through Jesus, and Spiritual companionship by way of a Spiritual helper, the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s answer’s humanity’s need for grace and mercy from the Lord. Jesus sends his helper, the Holy Spirit, to provide the faithful with companionship, guidance, understanding, and peace.

Having been forgiven by faith in Jesus as our Lord and savior, and gifted as vessels of the Holy Spirit, we may draw closer to God’s throne of grace in the time of need, with Jesus being our intercessor, the Great High Priest, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Having received mercy, grace, and the gift of the Spirit, we may gather together, as a Body of Believers or Christ’s Church, where we may ask and receive from God anything according to His will, Matthew 18:19-20 (ESV);

19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Salvation is a gift of God, given to us as an expression of His love, 1 John 4:10 (ESV):

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Having accepted the gifts of salvation and grace from the Lord, we are equipped to share the Gospel of Christ, which is his testimony of love, and our testimony of faith, 1John 5:6-10 (ESV):

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

Part of our testimony of faith is expressed through the observance of Communion as a single body of believers, where on the first Sunday of each month, we eat and drink the elements of Communion to acknowledge the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV):

One Body with Many Members

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

When we partake in eating and drinking the tangible elements of Communion, we acknowledge our faith in the intangible gifts of mercy, grace and the Holy Spirit. These gifts allow us to embark on the Great Commission of being sent out to share the gospel unto the ends of the earth, John 20:21 (ESV):

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14):                                                                         

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

Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

© July 16, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin July 16, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #435: What a Friend We Have in Jesus                                          

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

Responsive Reading #630: Christ Teaches Prayer (Luke 11 and John 16)        

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                           ‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, which we just launched using prayer as our call to worship. As it happens worshipping God through prayer happens to be the subject of today’s lesson: ‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full’.

You may recall that last Sunday’s lesson dealt with the use of music and song in Christian Worship. Today, we have another key element of Christian Worship of the Lord, which is prayer.

Prayer has long been a part of a believer’s faith practice, where people call upon the name of the Lord, as we see in Genesis 4:25-26 (ESV):

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed[a] for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 4:25 Seth sounds like the Hebrew for he appointed

Unfortunately for those who are ‘seekers of God’ or who do not enjoy a personal relationship with the Lord, the Genesis 4 passage does not reveal specific details as to how the people expressed themselves when they prayed or  called upon the name of the Lord.

Last Sunday, we looked at the passage of 2 Chronicles 5:2-14, which describes the Ark of the Covenant, carrying the stone tables of the Law that Moses carried from his visit with God on Mount Horeb, in a ceremony that included music, song, and celebration to call upon God’s presence, which is described as being like a cloud.

The Hebrew Practice of prayer included the washing of the hands and feet, with men and women worshippers covering their head while in praying the Holy Temple or when reading the Holy Scriptures. You may recall that God instructed Moses to remove his sandals while in God’s holy presence.

In addition to the washing before prayer and the covering of the head, in the preparation for prayer would include wearing a prayer shawl, expressing prayer by singing from the Psalter, while rocking and bowing the body.  These practices of Hebrew prayer is echoed by Christian prayer, which not only includes actions that may range from the bowing of the head and closing of the hands to either the clapping or raising of the hands towards heaven, along with to singing, dancing, and shouts of: “hallelujah”, “praise the Lord”, and “amen”!

The difference between the Hebrew and Christian prayer is rooted in the Jewish belief that there is a physical separation between worshippers and God caused by sin. Prayer is an attempt to restore the communion enjoyed between God and Adam and Eve that existed before the fall in the garden. In order to even approach the altar of worship, strict rituals of cleansing, sacrifice, confessions, dress and decorum had to be observed before the prayer began.

Thanks to the gift of sanctification and the presence of the Holy Spirit given by our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, we no longer have to go through a physical cleansing and purification routine in order to pray to God, as Jesus brings us sanctification before God. Here is a brief description of what prayer means to the Christian believer.From, The New Bible Dictionary:

 Prayers

 In the Bible prayer is worship that includes all attitudes of the human spirit in its approach to God. The Christian worships God when he/she adores, confesses, praises and supplicates Him in prayer. This highest activity of which the human spirit is capable may be thought of as communion with God, so long as due emphasis is laid upon divine initiative. A man/woman prays because God has already touched his/her spirit.

The Pauline Epistles

It is significant that immediately after Christ revealed Himself to Paul on the Damascus road it is said of Paul ‘Behold, he prayeth’ Acts 9: (ESV) 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, (Acts 9:11). Probably Paul discovered what prayer really was, so profound was the change in his heart which conversion had effected. From that moment on he was a man of prayer.

But perhaps Paul’s greatest contribution to our understanding of Christian prayer is in establishing its connection with the Holy Spirit. Prayer is in fact a gift of the Spirit (1Corinthians 14:14-16). The believer prays ‘in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:18); hence prayer is a co-operation between God and the believer in that it is presented to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the inspiration of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The New Bible Dictionary – Organizing Editor J.D. Douglas , WM.B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING CO. – © The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1962 ISBN 0-8028-2282-7   -Pages 1019 and 1022

Christian prayer requires no sanctification process or sacrifice, Jesus has done both once and for all, as Christ is now the Great high priest and Christians are now the temples, being vessels of God’s Holy Spirit, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

 Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Thanks to Christ’s gifts of sanctification and the Holy spirit, we may ask anything in the name of the Lord, and expect Him to do it, John 14:12-16 (ESV):

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[b] to be with you forever,

Footnotes: a. John 14:14 Some manuscripts omit me b. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:2615:2616:7

Today, there is a variation in the method of prayer, as it may made individually, by a group or congregation, spoken or silently, in song or by words, quietly or overtly, however the Spirit leads the person(s) who pray.

What about the expressions of the prayer? Should those around sense or understand the uttering of the Spirit?

1 Corinthians 14:13-19 (ESV)

 13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider[a] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 14:16 Or of him that is without gifts

While one may be moved by the Spirit to commune with God through prayer, often the Spirit alone understands the expressions of the individual’s prayer yhat the believer cannot adequately put into words:

John 16:20-28 (ESV)

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[a] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

Footnotes: a. John 16:27 Some manuscripts from the Father

We should be aware that there are false prophets, wolves in sheeps’ clothing, who seem on the surface to be Spirit-led in their prayer and worship, in order to gain a foothold within the church, the body of believers:

Acts 19:13-16 (ESV)

 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[a] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Footnotes: a. Acts 19:16 Or both

Let us pray what is in our heart, in manner that is fittingly honours the sanctification and the love that comes from by way of the sacrifice of our Lord, Christ, Jesus:

Romans 8:18-30 (ESV) Future Glory

 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[b] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:27 Or that b. Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

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

Anticipating the Love of Christ

BLCF: Romans-8_38-39

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Love of Christ

© December 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin-December-18-2016

BLCF: 4_advent-candle_wreath

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where over the last four Sundays, including today, we lit four Advent Candles to honor four of the virtues brought to this world by the birth of Jesus, as son of Mary and son of God. The four virtues: hope, peace, joy, and love. As we light the Advent Candle, representing the Lord’s love, we have a Scripture passage which includes His four virtues:

Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Romans 5:1-8 (ESV):

BLCF: animation_candle_flame-free

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.                                                                                                                   

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:1 Some manuscripts let us b. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith c. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 d. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #632:                                             God’s Redeeming Love (John 3, 1 John 4); Prayer                                                    

Opening Hymn #137: What Wondrous Love Is This?; Christmas Hymns          

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

Scriptures: Isaiah 54:10, Psalm 107:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 15:13,                                      1 John 3:1, John 3:16

BLCF: love-one-another-feet-washing

Let us pray…

The title of today’s lesson is Anticipating the Love of Christ’. The Bible says that we are created in God’s image and those good characteristics reflect those good virtues of God.

So how important is the virtue of Love, represented by the fourth candle of Advent? For an answer, let us look at the Scripture passage 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV), found on the back of today’s Bulletin, entitled:

The Way of Love

BLCF: greatest-is-love

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s featured Scriptures give us a better idea of the greatest virtue, love, beginning with  Isaiah 54:10 (ESV):

 10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

BLCF: isaiah-54-10

 

While the virtues of hope, peace and joy may grow and diminish, for believers the virtue of love endures, as we read in our next Scripture, Psalm 107:1-3 (ESV), entitled:

BLCF: his-steadfast-love-endures-forever

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble[
a]
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 107:2 Or from the hand of the foe

And if love is the greatest virtue, the greatest example of love by the sacrificial love that the Lord demonstrated when he gave up his life on Calvary’s Cross, in order to pay for the sins of humanity, John 15:13 (ESV):

 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

BLCF: nogreaterlove

Our faith in Christ’s love and sacrifice not only separates us from the world, which does not understand His love or our faith, 1 John 3:1 (ESV):

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

BLCF: child-of-God

But why did God have His son come as a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. We find the plan and the purpose of Jesus’ birth in John 3:16 (ESV), which has the title:

For God So Loved the World

BLCF: John_3_16

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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

And remembering the Lord’s commandments to love God and love our neighbors, we find God has prepared more than we have seen, heave heard of, or even imagined as a reward, 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV):

But, 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”

BLCF: 1-corinthians-2-9

 

The greatest virtue, the Lord’s Love, transcends or surpasses all obstacles that could separate us from His love and His presence, Romans 8:38-39 (ESV);

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

BLCF: Romans-8_31-39

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #120: Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

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

BLCF: do-everything-in-love

Jonah’s Prayer and Testimony

BLCF: Jonah_and_Whale

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jonah’s Prayer and Testimony’ 

© April 17, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 17, 2016

BLCF: Jonah&Whale

 

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

 Opening Hymn #180: Jesus Is Coming to Earth Again; Choruses

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

 Scriptures: Luke 11:29-36; Romans 6:1-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18                   

Jonah

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning praise and worship service at BLCF Church. For our lesson today, we will examine the Scripture’s account of the Prophet Jonah and the Wale, or to be more precise, a large fish. While a large fish plays a part in the lesson narrative, Jonah’s account is, by no means, a fish story or fishy tale.

Rather than read through the three chapters of the Book of Jonah, let us check what I like to refer to as our Wikibits on the subject, which presents an interpretation that agrees with most Biblical scholars:

Book of Jonah (From Christianity.about.com):

BLCF: Jonah-and-the-Whale

The book of Jonah is different from the other prophetic books of the Bible. Typically, prophets issued warnings or gave instructions to the people of Israel. Instead, God told Jonah to evangelize in the city of Nineveh, home of Israel’s cruelest enemy. Jonah didn’t want those idolaters to be saved, so he ran away.

When Jonah ran from the call of God, one of the oddest events in the Bible occurred—the story of Jonah and the Whale.

The book of Jonah highlights God’s patience and lovingkindness, and his willingness to give those who disobey him a second chance.

Author of the Book of Jonah: The Prophet Jonah, son of Amittai. Date Written: 785-760 B.C.

Jonah and the Whale – Story Summary:

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The story of Jonah and the Whale, one of the oddest accounts in the Bible, opens with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.

Jonah found this order unbearable. Not only was Nineveh known for its wickedness, but it was also the capital of the Assyrian empire, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. Jonah, a stubborn fellow, did just the opposite of what he was told. He went down to the seaport of Joppa and booked passage on a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh. The Bible tells us Jonah “ran away from the Lord.”

In response, God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces. The terrified crew cast lots, determining that Jonah was responsible for the storm. Jonah told them to throw him overboard. First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher.

Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm. The crew made a sacrifice to God, swearing vows to him.

Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and cried out to God in prayer. He praised God, ending with the eerily prophetic statement, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9, NIV)

Jonah was in the giant fish three days. God commanded the whale, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed. Surprisingly, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.

Again Jonah questioned God, because Jonah was angry that Israel’s enemies had been spared. When Jonah stopped outside the city to rest, God provided a vine to shelter him from the hot sun. Jonah was happy with the vine, but the next day God provided a worm that ate the vine, making it wither. Growing faint in the sun, Jonah complained again.

God scolded Jonah for being concerned about a vine, but not about Nineveh, which had 120,000 lost people. The story ends with God expressing concern even about the wicked.

Points of Interest from Jonah and the Whale:

  • God commands everything in his Creation, from the weather to a whale, to carry out his plan. God is in control.
  • Jonah spent the same amount of time—three days—inside the whale as Jesus Christ did in the tomb. Christ also preached salvation to the lost.
  • It’s not important whether it was a great fish or a whale that swallowed Jonah. The point of the story is that God can provide a supernatural means of rescue when his people are in trouble.
  • Some scholars believe the Ninevites paid attention to Jonah because of his bizarre appearance. They speculate that the whale’s stomach acid bleached Jonah’s hair, skin, and clothing a ghostly white.
  • Jesus did not consider the book of Jonah to be a fable or myth. While modern skeptics may find it impossible that a man could survive inside a great fish for three days, Jesus compared himself to Jonah, showing that this prophet existed and that the story was historically accurate.

http://christianity.about.com/od/biblestorysummaries/a/Jonah-And-The-Whale.htm

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I would like to suggest to those who have studied animal classification, who might have objections to referring to a whale, a mammal, as being a fish, we should not allow the author some slack, as the inventor of modern scientific classification, Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), had not been born.

While the interchangeable use of whale and fish can be overlooked, the conclusion that the Jonah account parallels the story of Jesus is not completely accurate.

Both Jonah and Jesus came to evangelize the message of God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation, Jonah was God’s Prophet, with Jesus being the Word made flesh. In other words, while Jonah preached God’s plan for saving humanity from the judgement of sin, Jesus’ sacrifice provided humanity with the means to become saved and forgiven, by faith.

The parallel between Jonah and Jesus ends, when we see that Jonah rebelled against God and ran away in the opposite direction.

Jonah willingness to sacrifice his own life to appease God’s anger, in order to save the crew of the boat, has drawn comparisons with the Lord’s self-sacrifice for humanity. The comparison fails when we consider that Jonah had committed the sin of offending God and Jesus was innocent of any sin.

Then, we have the comparison between Jonah and Jesus with regards to the three day’s Jesus’ body was kept in the tomb until his resurrection, being akin to the same number of days Jonah stayed inside the fish. It must be noted that Jonah’s being kept alive by God inside the fish for the three days is not the same as Jesus being dead in the tomb for three days, before being resurrected.

This raises the comparison to what did the Lord mean when he described his own resurrection in Luke 11:29-36 (ESV), as being the The Sign of Jonah:

The Sign of Jonah

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29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

While both Jonah and Jesus ministered to a sinful world, offering God’s forgiveness, we see the Lord pointed out in verse 32 that his sign or miracle would be not only greater than Jonah’s given to the people of Nineveh, and the Lord’s wisdom is greater than that of King Solomon. For after the Lord death, resurrection and ascension, comes the light of God’s Holy Spirit to all who forgiven by faith, Christ warns us not to hide or extinguish the light of the Spirit and fall back into the darkness of sin, as we continue to read from Luke 11:

The Light in You

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33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Like Jonah, believers in the resurrected Christ are commissioned to evangelize the Gospel of Christ unto the ends of the world.

I feel that the lesson to be learned from Jonah’s account does present an example to us of God’s forgiveness and preserving a life for His plan to evangelize to the sinners of the world. However, instead of comparing Jonah’s salvation to Christ’s, we need to view it in the context of the rebirth of Christian believers, who must evangelize, as apostles or messengers to the world of the salvation message contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we see in Romans 6:1-14 (ESV);

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

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What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Footnotes: a. Romans 6:6 Greek man b. Romans 6:7 Greek has been justified

While we are instructed by the Lord to evangelize the Gospel message not as Jonah had to a single people, but the Good News of Jesus unto the ends of the world. We should never lose our hope and faith in Christ’s resurrection and encourage one another in this hope, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV):

The Coming of the Lord

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13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Footnotes:a. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Or by the word of the Lord

Finally, as believers in the Resurrected Lord, we should take comfort that Jonah, in spite of being confined in the belly of a giant fish, facing his own uncertain fate, did not allow the surrounding darkness  to extinguish the light of his own faith in God, as we see in Jonah’s testimony that is also his prayer, Jonah 2 (ESV), which I would like to read as a closing prayer for today’s lesson.

Let us pray:

Jonah’s Prayer

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Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (AMEN)

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Closing Hymn #248: One Day When Heaven Was Filled

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

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

BLCF: Jonah-Woodcut

Significant Hat Tricks of Christ’s Gospel

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

© September 20, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 20, 2015

BLCF: hat trick weather

Responsive Reading #635 (Comfort from Christ – John 14); Prayer                                       

Opening Hymn #365: I Am Weak but Thou Art Strong; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: John 18:15-27, John 21:14-19, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18

John 18:15-27 (ESV) Peter Denies Jesus

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15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants[a] and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

BLCF: Jesus-trial

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

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25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Footnotes: a. John 18:18 Greek bondservants; also verse 26

John 21:14-19 (ESV) Jesus and Peter

BLCF: feed my lambs

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

2 Corinthians 12:1-18 (ESV) Paul’s Visions and His Thorn

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12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Concern for the Corinthian Church

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11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Or hears from me, even because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited

BLCF: hat-trick

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

BLCF: hat_trick_a_brief_history

For those of you who do not follow sports, particularly hockey, a hat trick is a term that refers to when a player scores three goals during the course of a game. The fans of the player’s team will mark this rather rare event by throwing their hats onto the ice; hence the term “hat trick.” This hockey tradition has recently found its way to other sports. Those who follow baseball, and the Blue Jays quest to return to the post season after a draught of some 22 years, may recall recently that Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnación recently achieved the milestone of three home runs in one home game. The Canadian Blue Jay fan’s showed their appreciation by throwing hats onto the playing field. Encarnación, who hails from the Dominican Republic, could be excused for being puzzled by the hat trick accolade. But his team mates, familiar with hockey, filled Edwin in with the significance of the rain of hats. Later, the media posted a photo of Edwin proudly posing with a huge bag full of hats.

BLCF: edwin_hat_trick

Back to today’s lesson, in which I hope to talk about a few of the trios found in the gospel of Christ, by referring to the Scripture verses listed in today’s Bulletin. But, let me first direct you to the verses at the bottom inside of the Bulletin, just below the order of service:

John 13:36-14:4 (ESV) Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

BLCF: Number3

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In John 13:36-14, we read the Lord’s response to his disciple, Peter’s promise to lay his life for Jesus, in verse 38: 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In the second part of the Scripture passage, Jesus tries to assuage his disciples’ concern his prophecy of betrayal and absence, with a promise to return to them, in John 14:1-4, with the sub-heading, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c]

Footnotes: a. John 14:1 Or You believe in God b. John 14:2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you c. John 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know

 

BLCF: grace-mercy

 

The Scriptures read today began with John’s Gospel account where Simon Peter denies knowing Jesus, not once or twice, but three times, (John 18:15-27). This illustrates, how well the Lord understands each of his children’s failings, even in the realm of our faith. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 26:75) we see Peter’s visceral reaction to how accurately the Lord perceived Peter’s weakness: And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Fortunately, Jesus loves us in spite of our weaknesses and failings, which is why he surrendered to the cross, to remove our judgement and to forgive us. We see this illustrated in our next Scripture passage, John 21:14-19, where Jesus revealed himself for a third time to the disciples, following his resurrection. The first time was in the Upper Room on the evening of his resurrection and the second was eight days later in the same Upper Room, for the benefit of the disciple, Thomas. And just as in the two prior revelations, Jesus revealed himself with the breaking of bread.

After eating together, Jesus had a conversation with Peter, where the Lord asked the disciple three times whether Peter loved him. And three times, Peter affirmed his love for Jesus. It was as if the Lord forgave his disciple for each of the three occasions that Peter denied Jesus. And after each affirmation, the Lord gave an instruction to the disciple:

First the Lord said: “Feed my lambs”, followed by: “Tend my sheep”, and then: “Feed my sheep”; all references to his flock who comprised the body of Christ’s Church. Christ concluded by telling Peter to “Follow me”, indicating that Peter would end up following Jesus and surrendering his life for the Lord, as prophesized in John 13:36-37:

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

BLCF: Peters death predicted

Our third triad in the scriptures is found in the third of today’s Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18, which occurs after Pentecost; the Apostle Paul shares, in his letter to the Corinthian Church, his visions and his thorn. His vision speaks of a third heaven, a reference to Genesis 1:7-8, which you may find a graphic representation on the front of today’s Bulletin. The earth’s atmosphere is the First Heaven; above this is the vacuum of space, being the Second Heaven; then above this are the waters above the firmament; and finally above all is the Third Heaven, where God’s Throne is located. In addition to the privilege of having a vision of to harass the apostle and to keep him humble and not conceited by the importance of the revelation.

BLCF: My_Grace_is_sufficient

Three times Paul pleaded with Jesus to remove this affliction and we see the Lord’s answer in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As Christians, we are consoled that not only is the lord’s grace sufficient for our needs, but Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Paul states when we are afflicted with the thorns of weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamites, we are strong in Christ.

Paul shares that he will return to the Corinthian Church, for the sake of the people, willing to surrender himself to save their souls.

From Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we understand the Lord’s expectation that his messengers have the same agape, or unconditional love, as Jesus had demonstrated for others. In return, the Lord promised never to leave or forsake us. This is faith’s reward to his flock that follows the Lord, in spite of the obstacles that are given to us, when we heed the calling of the Lord to follow him.
Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #232: I Hear the Savior Say

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

BLCF: keep-calm

The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity’

© July 12, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Originally Shared on September 15, 2013

BLCF Bulletin July 12, 2015

BLCF: Trinity

 

BLCF Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #592:                                                            

“God, The Creator” (Genesis 1 & 2; Psalm 33); Prayer

Opening Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: 1 John 5:7-8 (ESV); Genesis 1:26; John 20:20–23; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 (Benediction)

BLCF: The Trinity

 

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 the lesson we will have a better knowledge and understanding of both trinities, particularly how the two relate to one another.

Let us begin with the trinity 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. With the Trinity of God, 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 (KJV) of 1 John 5:7-8, we see a direct reference to the trinity, called: “three in one”, as 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)

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Recently, some Biblical scholars have questioned whether the disciple John authored this verse of scripture as found in the KJV, 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 (ESV) 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 Version, seems to be omitted by the English Standard Version. However, if we examine the ESV more closely, we see that it  implies the same message as the KJV, however more by inference than by words, as a more subtle expression of the same thought. If this verse were the only passage of the Scriptures which supports the Trinity of God, then we could say that existence of the Holy Trinity is open to debate. And only Satan and the Pharisees desire believers to waste their time by  debating Theology instead of performing the Lord’s Great Commission.

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Fortunately, we have many other verses in the Scriptures that 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 to 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  at the time the world was created? 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)

BLCF: Art_Trinity

 

Let us recapitulate: we have at the beginning God referring to himself as a plural entity, using the personal pronouns we and ours. 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 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:

BLCF: trinity_tri-unity

 

trin·i·ty (tr  -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  today’s bulletin has some illustrations that may help us. On the first inside page of today’s bulletin are two triangles representing two trinities. On the left, we have the Trinity of the Godhead, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit pointing upwards towards heaven above a triangle pointing downwards illustrating the Human Trinity, 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 prevents us from fully understand Him. Fortunately, God’s salvation is based upon our faith and not our understanding of God.

BLCF: 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)

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

BLCF: Alpha and Omega

 

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.

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)

BLCF: John-Wesley-Quote-Comprehend-God

 

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.

BLCF: Peter_Pan_book_small

 

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.

 

BLCF: Wendy Peter and the shadow

 

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 descendants. Once Adam and Eve broke God’s rule, all members of the human race became like the Peter Pan character.

BLCF: human race shadows

 

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.

 

BLCF: joy_shadow

 

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…

BLCF: Life Restored Through Jesus

 

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.

 

BLCF: God-Jesus_Man

 

Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit

BLCF: rejoice-in-the-Lord

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:      

Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit

© June 21, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 21, 2015

BLCF: Come-Holy-Spirit

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #664:                             

About Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12); Prayer

Hymn #214: We Bless the Name of Christ the Lord; Choruses                        

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

Scripture Verse:  Acts 2:14-41

 

BLCF: Happy Fathers Day Summer Solstice                                                                                  

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Father’s day 2015, which also coincides with Summer Solstice, the day that the North Pole is closest to the Sun; Summer’s first day. Our lesson last Sunday entitled, Standing Firmly in God’s Grace, examined how the Lord never leaves or forsakes us in trying times. We found how a test or trial should not be the cause of us having a diminished faith as the more we persevere, the more we glorify Him, and the greater the reward of God’s grace is given to us.

In today’s lesson, Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit, we will examine some of the amazing changes brought to the disciples, now part of a contingent of some 120 apostles or messengers of the Gospel, after they received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. For a brief review of the significance of Pentecost, which Christians generally recognize as the birthday of the Christian Church, let us look to our Wikibits:

Pentecost – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: PENTECOST_SHAVOT

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.[1] For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.

In the Eastern Church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost; hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days inclusively (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[2] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from this New Testament event, as the movement emphasizes direct personal experience with God, akin to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pentecost

While the beginning of the Second Chapter of Acts does record with the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the 120 gathered in the Upper Room, our focus will be primarily on the Apostle Peter, whom Jesus described as being the rock upon or foundation for His church.

Before we look today’s Scripture Verse, Acts 2:14-41, which features Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost, let us get some context for Peter’s Message by briefly reviewing the thirteen verses previous to today’s featured Scripture passage:

Acts 2:1-13 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost4

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

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

With respect to those mocking the apostles for their utterances in various tongues, I do not know of any wine, new or old, which enables them to speak in a multitude of languages and be understood. This ability is a gift of the Spirit given to the believer.

Now let us look at Peter’s Sermon delivered in the morning of the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:14-41 (ESV):

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

BLCF: PeterPreaching

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be,

God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,     

and your young men shall see visions,     

and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants[b] and female servants     

in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above     

and signs on the earth below,     

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness     

and the moon to blood,     

before the day of the Lord comes,

the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,     

or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;     

you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand, 35    

until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

Peter begins his message by addressing the “men of Israel” gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. For this targeted group would understand the three Old Testament Passages that Peter refers to within his sermon. The first of these Scriptures comes from Joel 2:28-32 (ESV), where the prophet describes the Lord’s promise to pour His Spirit upon all flesh, both men and women, of all classes, who will experience visions and prophesies:

 The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit

BLCF: pentecost1

28 [a] “And it shall come to pass afterward,     

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,     

your old men shall dream dreams,     

and your young men shall see visions.

29 Even on the male and female servants     

in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Footnotes: a. Joel 2:28 Ch 3:1 in Hebrew

But Joel’s prophecy warns that the gifts of the Spirit and the salvation on the day the Lord returns will be given to those believers who call on the name of the Lord, Jesus. It is these believers whom the Lord calls.

Peter continues his discourse by reminding his audience of the prophet David’s comment of the joy, gladness, security and confidence that he will never be abandoned or forsaken by the Lord, which is a reference to Psalm 16:8-11 (ESV):

I have set the Lord always before me;     

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices;    

 my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,     

or let your holy one see corruption.[b]

11 You make known to me the path of life;     

in your presence there is fullness of joy;     

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 16:9 Hebrew my glory b. Psalm 16:10 Or see the pit

Peter continues to describe how the Saviour sent by God, overcame death to be raised up and exalted at the right hand of God, as we read in Psalm 110:1 (ESV):

   Sit at My Right Hand

      A Psalm of David

110 The Lord says to my Lord:     

“Sit at my right hand,

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Peter reminds the congregation that Jesus, a descendent of David, was resurrected by God and ascended to Heaven, as was prophesized in the Scriptures.  The arrival of the same Holy Spirit to the apostles is yet another prophecy, and promise from God, come to past.

The truth of Peter’s message cut to the heart of those listening, and they became convicted by the Spirit to repent of their sins in the name of Jesus and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This gift from Lord is not available only to that generation, but to their decedents, as well all others whom the Lord calls.  Some 3,000 souls responded to the call from the Lord and on that day Jesus saw the birth of His Church. The Church today is the single body of believers that we now call Christian.

The boldness of Peter’s speech to the multitude is in stark contrast to his behavior just few weeks prior; where upon the arrest of Jesus, Peter fearing for himself, denied knowing the Lord not once but three times. The rest of the disciples had the same fear for their own safety after Christ’s crucifixion had cloistered themselves in the Upper Room. Their feared turned to joy when Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, appeared to them in the same room. But the disciples’ joy was short lived when the Lord announced that he had to leave them, but he promised to send the Holy Spirit in His place. The Spirit would bring guidance, understanding and the continued presence of God with each of them at all times. This included Thomas, who was absent when the Lord first returned to the Upper Room and actually had to see the wounds from the cross on the Lord before he believed.

Upon the arrival of the Spirit to the 120 believers who were gathered in the Upper Room, some ten days after the Lord ascended to Heaven, we see how the Spirit gave them the ability to speak in all tongues and be understood by all those present. The joyful behavior demonstrated by the apostles after they became filled with the Spirit was mistaken by some as intoxication. Peter set the record straight by delivering the Good News that Jesus had come to fulfill Gods promises to bring forgiveness to sinners who confessed; the gift of the Spirit to those who believed; and the reward of the resurrection. Peter spoke with boldness of Spirit gifted by the Lord on that Day of Pentecost.

That is how the Spirit works then, but you may ask is that same fullness of Spirit at work today?

I witnessed on CNN the answer to that question, which came this week from the families of a prayer group who had gathered last Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was at this prayer meeting, that a disturbed young man, with designs on creating a racial war, murdered nine prayer warriors who had welcomed him into their midst. Two days later, at the court arraignment that the grieved family members, whom the judge permitted to speak, revealed the power and love of God given by the Holy Spirit by forgiving the man who admitted to murdering the nine victims. Many of the victims’ families included in their statements to the court, that they prayed for God’s forgiveness and mercy upon the disturbed young man. It is how amazing to see the love, grace and joy flow, even through tears of grief, like a river from the Lord, when the Holy Spirit is present.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #192: Joys Are flowing Like a River

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

 

BLCF: Come-Holy-Spirit