Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:           

‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

© September 23, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Message Shared with BLCF on August 9, 2015

 Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                    Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Choruses                             Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests                     Responsive Reading #667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23)                                                                                                                               Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

Let us pray…

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

Our lesson this morning is entitled:Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’, where we will have an opportunity for some self-reflection upon our personal walk with the Lord. We will look at the pitfalls of hypocrisy in our faith practices when we reflect upon God’s Word, primarily using today’s Scripture verses, .

It is through the Bible, along with the Spirit’s guidance, that we may understand not only the path God has set for us but examine our behavior as a true reflection of God’s grace. Let us first look at Psalm 119:57-64, which happens to take from not only the longest of the Psalms but also happens to be the longest chapter of Scripture found in the Bible, comprised of some 176 verses:

Psalm 119, verses 57 to 64 indicate the importance of attitude over actions as an expression of our faith which is pleasing to the Lord:

Psalm 119:57-64 (ESV)

Heth

57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

Our second Scripture verse contrasts that from Psalm 119, where Jesus gives a litany of failings in the faith practices of the Scribes and the Pharisees, Matthew 23:1-36 (ESV):

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear b. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8 c. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters d. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation e. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33 f. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

Henry’s Concise Commentary helps us understand the Lord’s concerns found in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 23:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: Matthew 23 Chapter Contents:

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees (1-12); Crimes of the Pharisees (13-33); The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39):

Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

(Read Matthew 23:1-12)

The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Exodus 13:2-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.

{The phylacteries are illustrated on the inside of today’s BLCF Bulletin.}

They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Numbers 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Commentary on Matthew 23:13-33(Read Matthew 23:13-33):

The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him…

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts’ lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39 (Read Matthew 23:34-39):

Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo… There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=40&c=23

The Bible refers to Christ, Jesus as the “Word made flesh.” But what is meant by this description of our Lord?

Question: “What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?”

Answer: The term word is used in different ways in the Bible. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated “word”: rhema and logos. They have slightly different meanings. Rhema usually means “a spoken word.” For example, in Luke 1:38, when the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word [rhema].”

Logos, however, has a broader, more philosophical meaning. This is the term used in John 1. It usually implies a total message, and is used mostly in reference to God’s message to mankind. For example, Luke 4:32 says that, when Jesus taught the people, “they were amazed at his teaching, because his words [logos] had authority.” The people were amazed not merely by the particular words Jesus chose but by His total message.

“The Word” (Logos) in John 1 is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the total Message—everything that God wants to communicate to man. The first chapter of John gives us a glimpse inside the Father/Son relationship before Jesus came to earth in human form. He preexisted with the Father (verse 1), He was involved in the creation of everything (verse 3), and He is the “light of all mankind” (verse 4). The Word (Jesus) is the full embodiment of all that is God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). But God the Father is Spirit. He is invisible to the human eye. The message of love and redemption that God spoke through the prophets had gone unheeded for centuries (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37). People found it easy to disregard the message of an invisible God and continued in their sin and rebellion. So the Message became flesh, took on human form, and came to dwell among us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2: 5–11).

The Greeks used the word logos to refer to one’s “mind,” “reason,” or “wisdom.” John used this Greek concept to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the self-expression of God to the world. In the Old Testament, the word of God brought the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6) and saved the needy (Psalm 107:20). In chapter 1 of his Gospel, John is appealing to both Jew and Gentile to receive the eternal Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 20:9–16 to explain why the Word had to become flesh. “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

In this parable, Jesus was reminding the Jewish leaders that they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting the Son. The Logos, the Word of God, was now going to be offered to everyone, not just the Jews (John 10:16; Galatians 2:28; Colossians 3:11). Because the Word became flesh, we have a high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

http://www.gotquestions.org/Word-became-flesh.html

The Bible reminds us that God created us in His image. And while the sin of Adam and Eve separated us from the image of God spiritually, which removed from us the immortality of this Godly image, Jesus, by way of his death on the cross to remove the death penalty, which is the expected judgment for sin and restores in us the promise of immortality to those who are not fettered by condemnation of sin.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Having been freed of the judgment of sin, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit and born again into a new self, redeemed and sanctified by Christ, Jesus, being a new creation through him. No longer are we judged by the Law, but redeemed by the one who has fulfilled that judgment, by his own sacrifice on the cross.

                                   Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV): Put On the New Self

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[a] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[b] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10 b. Colossians 3:11 Greek bondservant

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction:  – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17): Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image

BLCF: Jesus_in_mirror

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:          

‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

© August 9, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 9, 2015

BLCF: atheists

 

Announcements and Call to Worship – Responsive Reading #667:                        

Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23)                                                      

Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Choruses                                  

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

Prayer Requests                                                                                                                       

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 119:57-64 and Matthew 23:1-36

BLCF: 1 Corinthians 1_18  

Let us pray…

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

Our lesson this morning is entitled:Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’, where we will have an opportunity for some self-reflection upon our personal walk with the Lord. We will look at the pitfalls of hypocrisy in our faith practices when we reflect upon God’s Word, primarily using today’s Scripture verses, and Matthew 23:1-36. Let us first look at Psalm 119:57-64, which happens to taken from not only the longest of the Psalms, but also happens to be the longest chapter of Scripture found in the Bible. It is through the Bible, along with the Spirit’s guidance, that we may understand not only the path God has set for us, but examine our behavior as a true reflection of God’s grace. Let us begin with the Wikibits on Psalm 119:

Psalm 119

BLCF: Psalm_119

Psalm 119 (Greek numbering: Psalm 118) is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is referred to in Hebrew by its opening words, “Ashrei temimei derech” (“happy are those whose way is perfect”). It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law. With its 176 verses, Psalm 119 has more verses than 14 Old Testament Books and 17 New Testament Books.

This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter.[1] The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times.

BLCF: Psalm_119_WesternWall

A Haredi Jew reading Psalm 119 at the Western Wall. – Wikipedia.org

Employed in almost (but not quite) every verse of the psalm is a synonym for the Torah, such as dabar (“word, promise”), mishpatim (“rulings”), etc.[1]

The acrostic form and the use of the Torah words constitute the framework for an elaborate prayer. The grounds for the prayer are established in the first two stanzas (alef and beth): the Torah is held up as a source of blessing and right conduct, and the psalmist pledges to dedicate himself to the law. The prayer proper begins in the third stanza (gimel, v. 17). Like many other psalms, this prayer includes dramatic lament (e.g. verses 81–88), joyous praise (e.g. verses 45–48) and prayers for life, deliverance and vindication (e.g. verses 132–134).

Eastern Orthodox

BLCF: Hebrew-alphabet-paleochart

The psalm (118 in the Septuagint) figures prominently in the worship of the Orthodox Church. There is a tradition that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet—but not just the alphabet for writing letters: the alphabet of the spiritual life.

The psalm comprises an entire Kathisma (division of the Psalter) in Orthodox liturgical practice. In Orthodox monasteries it is read daily at the Midnight Office: “At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness” (v. 62). It is read at Matins on Saturdays and is also chanted on many Sundays throughout the year. A major portion of Matins on Holy Saturday comprises chanting the entire psalm as a threnody, divided into three parts (stases) with Praises (Greek: Enkomia) interspersed between each verse. This chanting is done as all stand holding candles around a catafalque over which has been placed the Epitaphion (a shroud embroidered with the figure of Christ laid out for burial).

The psalm is also chanted with special solemnity at Orthodox funeral services and on the various All-Souls Days occurring throughout the year, with “Alleluia” chanted between each verse. Its use here is a reflection of the chanting done on Holy Saturday. “Alleluia” is chanted between the verses to signify the victory over death accomplished by Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the eternal reward promised to the faithful.

The Psalm contains several dozen prayers and several themes run through it. God’s goodness in the midst of affliction and delight in God’s law. God is seen sovereignly “inclining ones heart” and the Psalmist “inclines his heart” to the statutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_119

Psalm 119, verses 57 to 64 indicate the importance of attitude over actions as an expression of our faith which is pleasing to the Lord:

Psalm 119:57-64 (ESV)

Heth

Word is our foundation

57 The Lord is my portion;     

I promise to keep your words.

58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;     

be gracious to me according to your promise.

59 When I think on my ways,     

I turn my feet to your testimonies;

60 I hasten and do not delay     

to keep your commandments.

61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,     

I do not forget your law.

62 At midnight I rise to praise you,     

because of your righteous rules.

63 I am a companion of all who fear you,     

of those who keep your precepts.

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;     

teach me your statutes!

Our second Scripture verse contrasts that from Psalm 119, where Jesus gives a litany of failings in the faith practices of both the Scribes and the Pharisees. Henry’s Concise Commentary helps us understand the Lord’s concerns found in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 23:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: Matthew 23

BLCF: Jesus_scorned_hypocrites_not_sinners

Chapter Contents

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees. (1-12) Crimes of the Pharisees. (13-33) The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39)

Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

(Read Matthew 23:1-12)

The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Exodus 13:2-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21. They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Numbers 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Commentary on Matthew 23:13-33 (Read Matthew 23:13-33)

The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts’ lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39 (Read Matthew 23:34-39)

Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour’s tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=40&c=23

 Matthew 23:1-36 (ESV) Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

BLCF: Matthew_23_13

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Illustrated look at Phylacteries, two small black boxes with black straps worn by observant Jewish men. MCT 2010 12000000; krtcampus campus; krtfeatures features; krtreligion religion; krtworld world; REL; krt; mctgraphic; krt mct; 12011000; krtjudaism judaism jewish jew; arm; bible; bible verses; box; head; hebrew; jewish; leather; morning prayer services; observant; orthodox; phylacteries; phylactery; scripture; strap; tefillin; torah; hulteng; yingling; 2010; krt2010

Illustrated look at Phylacteries, two small black boxes with black straps worn by observant Jewish men. MCT 2010

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear b. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8 c. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters d. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation e. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33 f. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

 

Check out how this graphic looks on the actual Christian T-shirts Christian T-shirts can help to start a conversation with someone about the things of God. Would you know how to respond if someone looked at your Christian t-shirt and asked you why they should be a Christian? The Bible says that we should

Word became flesh – John 1:14

Question: “What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?”

Answer: The term word is used in different ways in the Bible. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated “word”: rhema and logos. They have slightly different meanings. Rhema usually means “a spoken word.” For example, in Luke 1:38, when the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word [rhema].” Logos, however, has a broader, more philosophical meaning. This is the term used in John 1. It usually implies a total message, and is used mostly in reference to God’s message to mankind. For example, Luke 4:32 says that, when Jesus taught the people, “they were amazed at his teaching, because his words [logos] had authority.” The people were amazed not merely by the particular words Jesus chose but by His total message. “The Word” (Logos) in John 1 is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the total Message—everything that God wants to communicate to man.

The first chapter of John gives us a glimpse inside the Father/Son relationship before Jesus came to earth in human form. He preexisted with the Father (verse 1), He was involved in the creation of everything (verse 3), and He is the “light of all mankind” (verse 4). The Word (Jesus) is the full embodiment of all that is God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). But God the Father is Spirit. He is invisible to the human eye.

The message of love and redemption that God spoke through the prophets had gone unheeded for centuries (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37). People found it easy to disregard the message of an invisible God and continued in their sin and rebellion. So the Message became flesh, took on human form, and came to dwell among us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2: 5–11). The Greeks used the word logos to refer to one’s “mind,” “reason,” or “wisdom.” John used this Greek concept to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the self-expression of God to the world. In the Old Testament, the word of God brought the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6) and saved the needy (Psalm 107:20). In chapter 1 of his Gospel, John is appealing to both Jew and Gentile to receive the eternal Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 20:9–16 to explain why the Word had to become flesh. “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

In this parable, Jesus was reminding the Jewish leaders that they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting the Son. The Logos, the Word of God, was now going to be offered to everyone, not just the Jews (John 10:16; Galatians 2:28; Colossians 3:11). Because the Word became flesh, we have a high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

http://www.gotquestions.org/Word-became-flesh.html

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27 So God created man in his own image,     

in the image of God he created him;    

 male and female he created them.

BLCF: dont_go_to_church_be_the_church

Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV) Put On the New Self

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[a] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[b] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10 b. Colossians 3:11 Greek bondservant

BLCF: mirror-image-of-Christ

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction:  – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17):                                                                        

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

BLCF: worship_a_homeless_man_on_Sunday

BLCF: honest_sinner

Be Justified by Faith and Receive the Promised Spirit

BLCF: Romans-5-1-justified-by-faith-green_

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Be Justified by Faith and Receive the Promised Spirit

© June 23, 2013, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 23, 2013

Apostles Paul & Peter

The Apostles Peter and Paul

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church service on this the first Sunday of summer for 2013.  For today’s message, we will look at a verse that has been published on the front of the BLCF Bulletin for the last several years and how it impacts Christian faith and evangelism. If you look on the front of this morning’s bulletin, you will see below the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship banner head, below BLCF contact information, and to the left of the graphic of the church the verse, Galatians 3:14 (ESV):

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.   

For the Wiki bits on Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, we find that Biblical scholars agree that Galatians is a true example of Paul’s writing:

The main arguments in favor of the authenticity of Galatians include its style and themes, which are common to the core letters of the Pauline body of writings. Moreover, Paul’s possible description of the Council of Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10) gives a different point of view from the description in Acts 15:2–29, if it is, in fact, describing the Jerusalem Council.

The central dispute in the letter concerns the question of how Gentiles could convert to Christianity, which shows that this letter was written at a very early stage in church history, when the vast majority of Christians were Jewish or Jewish proselytes, which historians refer to as the Jewish Christians. Another indicator that the letter is early is that there is no hint in the document of a developed organization within the Christian community at large. This dates the Galatians Epistles to being authored within the lifetime of Paul.

No original of the letter is known to survive. The earliest reasonably complete version available to scholars today, named, dates to approximately the year 200 AD, approximately 150 years after the original was presumably drafted. This papyrus document is fragmented in a few areas causing some of the original text carefully preserved over the years to be missing, “however, through careful research relating to paper construction, handwriting development, and the established principles of textual criticism, scholars can be rather certain about where these errors and changes appeared and what the original text probably said.” Scholars generally date the original composition to c. 50-60 AD

Paul on the Road to Damascus

Saul (Paul) on the Road to Damascus

Paul’s conversion believed by scholars to have occurred after the crucifixion of Christ between 33-36AD. Prior to becoming a Christian, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus, a “zealous” Pharisee whointensely persecutedthe followers of Jesus.

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

As an Apostle of Christ, Paul is recognized to having authored half of the Epistles of the New Testament, including the Book of Romans which presents arguably the clearest and most concise explanation of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Initially, some Christians were skeptical of Paul’s ministry, as including Ananias, as we read in Acts 9:10-17 (ESV):    

 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 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,        12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”                          

Paul’s endorsement to by our Lord as a disciple of Christ by our Lord to Ananias gives no doubt as to his credentials. We learn about the degree of forgiveness afforded sinners, such as Paul, who by faith have been filled by the Spirit, when we read from Romans 5:1-5 (ESV):

                                Peace with God through Faith                      

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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.

The focus of today’s message is that of the human tendency to be fallible, not to be confused with sin, can cause problems with our Christian faith walk. Everyone can make unintentional mistakes at one time or another, and often more than once in a lifetime.

Sometimes a small error can have huge implications. This brings me to share one of my minor mistakes as a weekend mechanic.

Over the years, I have owned a series of vans, each for ten or more years. The first van I owned was a full size 1972 GMC model, which had an extended wheelbase, powered by a small block 350 cubic inch V8 engine. I purchased the truck a couple of years before I was married, and it ran well for a couple of years until it developed a stalling problem, especially when accelerating on the highway. Several “knowledgeable” friends at work, as well as m brother-in-law, Arthur indicated that my problem sounded like a carburetor issue.

In those day’s vehicles were not controlled by computers and electronic ignition, so the idea of purchasing a kit to rebuild the carburetor seemed to cheap, viable solution. My brother in law, a driver, and roofer by trade, had grown up on a farm, where it was not uncommon to rebuild and repair tractor engines. As Arthur had experience rebuilding a few carburetors, I figured between his knowledge and my mechanical aptitude, we could follow the directions that came with the repair kit and truck’s service manual to repair the carburetor and eliminate the stalling problem. Not going to a mechanic is similar to not asking for directions when lost while driving in an unfamiliar area. It’s kind of a guy thing, as Sophie can attest.

It turned out that the van’s carburetor was a Holley 4-barrel type; very complex and intricate being composed of at least 80 individual components. The first step of installing the repair kit required disconnecting and removing the carburetor, disassembling an assortment of screws, springs, cams, washers, o-rings, needle valves, gaskets, linkages, nuts, bolts and other components. The next step required the cleaning and replacing gaskets, needle valves, o-rings, and gaskets. Finally, the components had to be reassembled back as a carburetor which had to be reinstalled into the van. After several hours of painstaking work, actually, we worked on it overnight, the kit was installed.

Holly 4bbl Carburetor

Holly 4bbl Carburetor

Now the moment of truth, I turned the ignition and the van would not start. After numerous tries, we decided to finally consult a local mechanic. As it was in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, we removed the carburetor and I brought it to a local mechanic the next morning.

72 GMC Van

72 GMC Van

A couple of hours later, the mechanic called to report that the carburetor had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. The bill for repairs was $20 labour and $20 for the kit, still only 1/2 the cost of a rebuilt carburetor. The mechanic indicated that we had assembled everything OK, except for one cam component that was reinstalled backward, causing the malfunction. Ironically, rebuilding the carburetor did not fix the problem. I later took the van to the garage, where the mechanic found that a plugged fuel filter was the cause of the stalling problem. As it happens, the carburetor kit would be the next step of repair, after the fuel filter, a $5 part, had been changed.

This story illustrates how a group may deviate from the proper path and go along a circuitous path to make an easy, simple process both difficult and complicated with unsatisfactory results. We find a similar example of people making something more complicated than intended in the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul had intervened with Peter, latter had deviated from the truth of the Lord’s Gospel path, as we read in Galatians 2 (ESV):

 Paul Accepted by the Apostles   

2 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised                                                                                                                  

10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. 

     Paul Opposes Peter                                                                                      

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

             

Justified by Faith

Justified by Faith

                                     

 Justified by Faith      

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.                                             

This Passage has much to teach us about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ had died, was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. The great commission had been given for all Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The day of Pentecost had taken place and the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God was freely available to guide the believers.

But we have an account where Paul found Cephas had mistakenly believed in order that a Gentile could convert to the Christian Faith only after first converting to the Jewish faith, by circumcision.  Cephas is more commonly known today as Peter. This was not how the Lord intended faith conversion. Paul had heard about this practice was led by the Spirit to confront, in a kind and gentle way, Cephas and the others. Paul pointed out that Christian conversion was only through faith, not by an act like circumcision. In the same way, baptism by the Spirit does not assure Salvation. We are baptized by faith, not of works such as water baptism or circumcision. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit convicted Cephas of the truth and stopped the practice.

So does the conversion by faith apply solely to Gentiles? Not really, as we read in Galatians 3:7-9; 23-29 (ESV):

3 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

So Cephas, through the Spirit, came to understand that through Christ, all believers are entitled to the inheritance promised to Abraham’s offspring who are the Chosen People of Israel. And making circumcision as part of the Christian faith conversion is to the Gospel as reversing a cam link is to a functioning carburetor. Neither will get the expected results because both do not belong to their respective processes.

Paul did not come to humiliate or discredit Cephas. Instead, Paul pointed out the error of substituting a faith practice with an act of works was not part of the Christian faith process. Such actions, while not considered a sin or transgression of the Law did nothing to justify the believer before God. In other words, it is not the actions of circumcision or water baptism which lead to our salvation, but faith that gives us the assurance of sanctification and the promise of the Spirit, as we read in Galatians 3:11-14 (ESV):

 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The keyword of today’s lesson is faith not works. As believers in Jesus, the resurrected Christ, we are provided a companion in the Holy Spirit which shows us the Way, and like Peter convicts us of His truth, so that we may lead other to light of salvation to God the Father in Heaven, who loves us, His children dearly in spite of our mistakes. May we honour Him with our trust and faith.

Let us pray…

   crucified-with-christ-Man-Cross                                                                                                                                                                                          Hymn #410: O What a Wonderful, Wonderful Day

Benediction (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17):

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.