Resting with the Lord and a Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding

Come and Rest

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Resting with the Lord and a Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding’

© August 31, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 31, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship:                                                                                                            

Responsive Reading # 670 (The Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3); Prayer           

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine                                      

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

 Scripture Verses: Matthew 3:11-17, Matthew 11:1-30, Genesis 3:4-7, and Exodus 33:14

BLCF: Baptized

Matthew 3:11-17 (ESV) The Baptism of Jesus

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing  floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

BLCF: be-still-and-know_that_I_am_God

Matthew 11:1-30 (ESV) Messengers from John the Baptist

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man[b] dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet?[c] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,     

who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[d] and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear,[e] let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”[f]

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

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

Footnotes: a. Matthew 11:5 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Matthew 11:8 Or Why then did you go out? To see a man… c. Matthew 11:9 Some manuscripts Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? d. Matthew 11:12 Or has been coming violently e. Matthew 11:15 Some manuscripts omit to hear f. Matthew 11:19 Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35) g. Matthew 11:26 Or for so it pleased you well

BLCF: tree-of-knowledge

Genesis 3:4-7(ESV)

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So 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,[a] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

BLCF: Gods_presence

Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, ministering the Gospel in the heart of Toronto, on this, the last Sunday of August 2014. A day that falls in the middle of the Labour Day Weekend, where most Canadians traditionally mark the end of  their summer vacations and a return to work and school.

For additional background on our Labor Day, let us check our wikibits, from timeanddate.com:

BLCF: happy labour day

Labour Day Background

 

The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.

There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald. Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.

Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States of America. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day

BLCF: Labour-Day

For this morning’s message, I would like to talk about a different type of labour among the faithful, just prior to when Jesus gave the world his gift of salvation by way of his sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Before Calvary, sinners sought to be cleansed of their sins by sacrificial offerings at the temple and immersion in water, in an effort to be cleansed of their sins, as we read in following history from bible.ca:

BLCF:Understanding_Baptism

Baptism: A Pre-Christian History 

When John the Baptist came to the deserts of Judea “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” he was met with great success. Matthew 3:5 says, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” Luke adds that crowds were coming out to be baptized by him. And, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.” (Luke 3:7, 21).

The Jewish people to whom John’s ministry was directed were familiar with the concepts of repentance and forgiveness of sins (1 Kings 8:33-34; Isaiah 55:6, 7) even though complete forgiveness was not possible apart from the shed blood of Christ (Hebbrews 9:15). But what about baptism? What familiarity did the Jews of the first century have with the practice of baptism? The New Testament clearly points out that the baptism of John was from God. It came from heaven (Matthew 21:25). It was administered for the spiritual purpose of proclaiming repentance and receiving forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). But the act of baptism itself has a history beyond the Scriptures. The Greek World:

“The Greek word “baptizo” as used in Mark 1:4 ( “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region . . .” ) was very common among Greek-speaking people; it is used in every period of Greek literature and was applied to a great variety of matters, including the most familiar acts of everyday life. Greek speakers and hearers understood the word at the time John was preaching; it had no doubtful meaning. It meant what we express by the Latin word ‘immerse’ and kindred terms; no one could then have thought of attributing to it a different meaning, such as ‘sprinkle’ or ‘pour.'” (H. Leo Boles Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel Advocate Publication, Page 74). The Encyclopedia of Religion (McMillan, 1987, Page 59) continues by pointing out that the word baptism means to plunge, to immerse, or to wash; it also signifies, from the Homeric period onward, any rite of immersion in water. The baptismal rite is similar to many other ablution (the washing of one’s body or part of it as a religious rite) rituals found in a number of religions…”

Pre-Christian Religions:

The practice of baptism in pagan religions seems to have been based on a belief in the purifying properties of water. In ancient Babylon, according to the Tablets of Maklu, water was important as a spiritual cleansing agent in the cult of Enke, lord of Eridu. In Egypt, the Book of Going Forth by Day contains a treatise on the baptism of newborn children, which is performed to purify them of blemishes acquired in the womb. Water, especially the Nile’s cold water, which was believed to have regenerative powers, is used to baptize the dead in a ritual based on the Osiris myth. Egyptian cults also developed the idea of regeneration through water. The bath preceding initiation into the cult of Isis seems to have been more than a simple ritual purification; it was probably intended to represent symbolically the initiate’s death to the life of this world by recalling Osiris’ drowning in the Nile. In the cult of Cybele, a baptism of blood was practiced in the rite of the Taurobolium: where one was covered with the blood of a bull. At first this rite seems to have been to provide the initiate with greater physical vitality, but later it acquired more of a spiritual importance. A well-known inscription attests that he who has received baptism of blood has received a new birth in eternity. However, the fact that this baptism was repeated periodically shows that the idea of complete spiritual regeneration was not associated with it. The property of immortality was also associated with baptism in the ancient Greek world. A bath in the sanctuary of Trophonion procured for the initiate a blessed immortality even while in this world. The mystery religions of that period often included ablution rites of either immersion or a washing of the body for the purposes of purification or initiation. Other concepts said to have been associated with these forms of cultic baptisms included the transformation of one’s life, the removal of sins, symbolic representation, the attainment of greater physical vitality, a new beginning, spiritual regeneration. It is believed that all ancient religions recognized some form of spiritual cleansing, renewal or initiation that was accomplished through a washing or immersion in water.

Judaism:

The liturgical use of water was common in the Jewish world. The Law of Moses required ablutions (washings) on the part of priests following certain sacrifices and on certain individuals who were unclean because of an infectious disease (Numbers 19:1-22; Leviticus 14,15, 16:24-28). The natural method of cleansing the body by washing and bathing in water was always customary in Israel. The washing of their clothes was an important means of sanctification imposed on the Israelites even before the law was given a Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:10). The use of water for cleansing was used symbolically as well in such passages as Ezekiel 36:25 where God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities . . .”

We do not believe that the practice of baptism for the remission of sins as taught in the New Testament was based in any way on the Old Testament, however the Old Testament washings with or in water that were for the purpose of physical cleansing can be seen as a type or shadow of New Testament baptism, which is for the purpose of spiritual cleansing (1 Peter 3:21). Toward the beginning of the Christian era, the Jews adopted (as a custom unrelated to Divine guidance) the custom of baptizing proselytes seven days after their circumcision. A series of specific interrogations made it possible to judge the real intentions of the candidate who wished to adopt the Jewish religion. After submitting to these interrogations, he was circumcised and later baptized before witnesses. In the baptism, he was immersed naked in a pool of flowing water; when he rose from the pool, he was a true son of Israel. After their baptism, new converts were allowed access to the sacrifices in the Temple.

http://www.bible.ca/ef/topical-baptism-a-prechristian-history.htm

Prior to the baptism of believers in the Resurrected Christ by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, Jews practiced the rituals of  circumcision, sacrifice and baptism in an effort to cleanse themselves of unrighteousness. Early Christians continued these practices. Remember in Galatians 2:11-21, the Apostle Paul, with the help of the Spirit, convinced Cephas (Peter) that circumcision of the Gentile believer was an unnecessary requisite for conversion to the Way of Christ or the Christian Faith.

Galatians 2:11-21(ESV) 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.[a] 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

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] 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[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b. Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

And John the Baptist expressed the futility of these rituals in Matthew 3:11:

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

BLCF: Baptism-Online-Brochure

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we know that our salvation comes as a gift from God, not from ritual works, so that we may not become prideful and boast. This brings us to our second set of Scripture verses found in Matthew 11.

You may recall the Baptism of Jesus account that we read from Matthew 3, verses 16-17, where God acknowledges his son, Jesus, saying:

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Even though God acknowledges Jesus as His son, John the Baptist, who is now in prison, sends messengers to the Lord asking if he is the Christ, Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV):

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

The next verses, Jesus speaks of how several cities have not responded to or accepted the good news and miracles of Jesus, as a Gospel from God, (Matthew 11:11-24):

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

    we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Salvation comes not by way of mighty works of the Lord, but by  way of repentance or a change in attitude and a desire to stop a life of sin, as expressed in the last part of this Scripture passage, (Matthew 11:25-30):

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

What did the Lord mean by his comments, which were are couched in a prayer to the Father in Heaven, where he thanked the Father for revealing Himself and His Son, Jesus to children, but not to the wise? For the answer, let us look at Matthew 11:25-26 (ESV):

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

BLCF: garden-of-eden

The answer to this question as to who is wise mentioned in Matthew 11:25, let us look to our next Scripture, Genesis 3:4-7(ESV):

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So 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. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

The problem was the eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, which was desired by Eve (and Adam who was with her), to make oneself wise described in Genesis 3:6, a sin that resulted in a separation from God.

BLCF: garden_eden

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment of sin has been removed from all those who repent and approach God with the faith of a child. Thus believers are granted a reconciliation with God and are given rest from our futile toils made to remove sin’s stain. Hopefully, we have a better understanding of the rest from futile rituals of religion or wasted labours, as described in the Scripture verse written as banner along the wall behind me, Matthew 11:28 (ESV):

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And by trusting Jesus, by repenting our sin and seeking God by faith, we receive the gift of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, to comfort, console and guide us on the righteous way of the Lord. And by receiving the rest and peace of the Spirit, we may walk in a manner like that which God promised to Moses in Exodus 33:14 (ESV):

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

BLCF: rest-in-Him

 

With our surrender to the Lord, we are gifted with a salvation from judgment, sanctification from the stain of sin, and a rest in God’s Holy Spirit. For Jesus has taken upon himself the burden of our sins so that we may rest, unfettered by the burden of labouring in vain for our own salvation. Living for God begins with resting in Him in faith.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Finding rest in the Lord

Closing Hymn # 373: All to Jesus I Surrender

Benediction: ( Philippians 4:7):

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

BLCF: resting_in_Him

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The Sole Path to Spiritual Baptism: Confession, Trust and Obedience

BLCF:Not-by-might-nor-by-power-but-by-My-Spirit-says-the-Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Sole Path to Spiritual Baptism: Confession, Trust and Obedience’

©February 16, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin February 16, 2014 

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #669                                                                                                                                                              

 (The Lord’s Servant – 2 Timothy 2 and 3);  Prayer   

 Opening Hymn #255: Would You Be Free from the Burden; Choruses        

Scripture Verses: Scriptures: Deuteronomy 4:19 and Acts 8:4-25

Let us pray …

Within this  vale,
Of toil and sin,
Your head grows bald,
But not your chin.
Burma-Shave

BLCF: Burma_Shave

This little gem of philosophy in rhyme comes courtesy of a men’s shaving cream manufacturer, though unique in style, was widely found along the highways in Texas around the time of my youth. Typically written with a white font on a red background, each line of the Burma Shave jingle was displayed on its own individual sign and was spaced so that those travelling in the car at the posted speed limit, had enough time to process what they had viewed, before the sign displaying the next stanza came into view.

BLCF: billboard-advertisement

Rather than trying to place their message on a large, expensive billboard that might pass from view before being completely read or understood, the Burma Shave Company placed smaller sized signs, which could be mounted on fence posts along the roadside, requiring less time to be scanned by the driver. In a sense, they were less of a distraction than the large billboards that were typically erected at a significantly greater distance from the highway, and at a greater cost.

Each message contained an element of humor and truth as a subtle way to sell a product.  By buying in to the message, the reader is one step from buying the product.

Two Sunday’s ago, I discussed how some self-proclaimed prophets, have promoted the occurrence of a solar eclipse, along with what is described as four blood red moons over the next year or so as a portent from God to all people of the imminent return of Christ, to judge the world

BLCF: Four Blood Moons

Like the Burma Shave signs, these celestial signs come in sequence, but instead of closing with the words “Burma-Shave”, the final sign in the series might read “Armageddon” or “Final Judgment” and “buy my book”.

You may recall, from my last message, that God did place lights in the heavens to help illuminate the earth, mark the passage of time, days and years, so as to give signs of the seasons, as we read in Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV):

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[a] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.                                                                                                        

Footnotes: a, Genesis 1:14 Or appointed times

BLCF: Cycles of Days aand Years

But the time of Jesus’ return is not described in the Scriptures as a season or cycle of the earth. As his disciples, we have a commission to share the gospel of Jesus, not collect a commission. Most certainly we are instructed not to dwell upon the time the Lord returns, as there is a danger that by dwelling upon events in the celestial realm, could be viewed as a form of idol worship, as we see in Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV):

19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

BLCF: TETRAD of Blood Moons 2014-2015

Remember that Jesus stated no one knows the time of his return, Matthew 24:36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only.                                                                                       

Footnotes: a. Matthew 24:36 Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

The Apostle Paul, reiterated the warning from Christ that no one knows the hour or day of our Saviour’s return and the danger listening to false prophecy,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 (ESV):

The Man of Lawlessness

BLCF: 1-john

2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,[a] not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness[b] is revealed, the son of destruction,[c] who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

Footnotes: a. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 13, 15 b. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Some manuscripts sin c. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Greek the son of perdition (a Hebrew idiom)

The so called signs from God, of the four blood red moons and a solar eclipse, do not hold up well to scrutiny. While astronomers have provided NASA with observational DATA, which when processed through computers, allow a prediction of the date and time of every blood red moon and disappearance of the sun event over the last ten thousand years as well as the next ten millennia, NASA is quick to point out that that “blood red moon” is not a scientific term, preferring ,instead, to use the terms “partial lunar eclipse” for “blood red moon” and “solar eclipse” for the “disappearance of the sun”.

BLCF: 2nd-coming-dramatic

But these eclipses come and go in cycles, like the rising and setting of the sun and the passing of the seasons. The return of Christ is a singular event, not a cyclical or seasonal occurrence. The signs that God provides for the Day of Judgment, will most likely be miraculous and supernatural, like those witnessed by the people of Israel as they were led by Moses: the parting of the sea, a pillar of fire and manna from heaven. NASA has no such charts for such events.

 

BLCF: Exodus Numbers

Now the Lord did say there will be signs associated with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, as they preach his gospel, which was his final instructions before he ascended to heaven, as we read in Mark 16:14-20 (ESV):

The Great Commission

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Another way of reading Mark 16:17-18 would be:

17 And these signs will accompany:

Those who believe in my name they will cast out demons.

Those who believe in my name will speak in new tongues.

 Those who believe in my name will pick up serpents with their hands.

Those who believe in my name, if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.

 Those who believe in my name will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Remember, as Jesus was tempted by Satan from a high place in the desert, after he was baptised by John-the-Baptist, we are not to put God to the test by deliberately performing any of the acts described in Mark 16, as a public demonstration of faith. Miracles that come by the power of God are not intended to be part of  a  magician’s sideshow, or to sell books, Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

BLCF: Power Of The Spirit

The only signs we are to concern ourselves with, are those that come by way of our preaching of the gospel in the name of the Lord. Those signs not being celestial, but associated with true believers in verses 17 and 18 of Mark 16:    17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

BLCF_Ascension_Angels

 

In spite of the signs provided by God’s Holy Spirit for His disciples, as they shared the gospel, both in the time of Jesus and today, there are self-proclaimed prophets who present themselves as God’s messenger, using signs of magic to fool the people. The Scriptures provide an account of one self-proclaimed prophet and false disciple of the Lord, named Simon, (Simon Magus) who preached his false gospel in Samaria, in Acts 8:4-25 (ESV):

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Nucci,_Avanzino_-_Petrus'_Auseinandersetzung_mit_Simon_Magus_-_1620

 

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.           

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:5 Some manuscripts a city b. Acts 8:13 Greek works of power c. Acts 8:23 That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile

Wiki Notes on Simon Magus

Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of lawlessness.[1] According to Recognitions, Simon’s parents were named Antonius and Rachel.[2]

Surviving traditions about Simon appear in orthodox texts, such as those of Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often regarded as the source of all heresies. Justin wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and the sect of the Simonians.[3][4][5][6] Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter.

In apocryphal works including the Acts of Peter, Pseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will.

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

Upon reading the Scriptural account in Acts 8, carefully  you will see that the people of Samaria, including the false prophet Simon, were convicted by the miracles performed by the disciple Philip, as they were true signs from God. In verses 12 and 13, we read that the Samaritans, including Simon, were baptised in water, 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed. Now the tough part for some Baptists who hold the false belief that water baptism either follows or ensures baptism of the Spirit. We see that in verses 14 to 17: 14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

BLCF: SIMON MAGUS

Only by a profession of faith, may one receive His Holy Spirit, see Acts 8:17,  17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

However, the acts of observing God’s miracles, being baptised in water, and even after having received the touch by the hands of a disciple of the Lord does not guarantee one may receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not enter a heart that is not prepared. Let us continue reading Acts 8, from verse 17: 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Peter observed that Simon, was still a slave to sin, and therefore subject to the judgment of death, Acts 8, verse 20: 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Simon acknowledges that his heart is, as Peter had observed, “not right before God”, as he is in the “bond of iniquity”, that he was still a slave to sin. Unfortunately, Simon’s reply, is to ask Peter to “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me”, indicating a reluctance by Simon to surrender completely to God, preventing the magician from receiving the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the mistaken belief on the part of Simon, when he attempts to purchase, with money, God’s free gift that was already purchased by Christ on Calvary’s cross. And one can only receive the gift of the Holy Spirit of God through genuine faith in the gift of Jesus; by the confession of, as well as the turning away from a life of sin; and by following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

BLCF: Simon Sorcerer

It seems interesting to note that whenever money enters the picture, as with the offer to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit by Simon, or the sales of books claiming to reveal God’s purpose by way of observing celestial events, we see that God’s Holy Spirit is absent. Offering money in exchange for gifts of the Spirit, as Peter observed, indicates a heart that is not right with God and unworthy of the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit. There is no treasure on earth that can purchase a plan only to be revealed by God, in His chosen time.

FalseProphets

I want to close today’s message by posing a question to you, framed in the form of a metaphor, about your own spiritual journey, as the answer has life or death consequences for your soul’s salvation:

“Are you racing alongside a speeding celestial train, as it travels on a magical media tour, hoping to buy salvation in a can, or have you placed your trust in the assurance of salvation by following Jesus’ Way to heaven, being the only true way to avoid the judgement of death?”  After all, the choice is yours.

He tried To cross
As fast train neared
Death didn’t draft him
He volunteered
{Burma-Shave}

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

BLCF: Billboard

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Benediction – (Romans 15:13):                                                           

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF: Holy Spirt Power