Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday2022: Hope

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF.

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice.

We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ:

‘First Advent Sunday- Hope’

© November 27, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF: November 28, 2021, November 29, 2020, December 2, 2018, and November 22,  2015 

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

BLCF Bulletin December 2, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Tithing and Prayer; Prayers; Praise God – Lauren Daigle – Music Special:

Lauren Daigle – “To God Be All Glory” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/u9kMP_F1Asw

Responsive Reading #610: Christ in Prophecy (Isaiah 11 and 42, Jeremiah 23, Malachi 4)

The lighting of the First Advent Candle (Hope):

At this time, let us light the First Advent Candle to signify our Hope in the Lord:

Light of the World – [Lyric Video] Lauren Daigle – https://youtu.be/dCRunZGYBi4

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less Worship Video – Buller, Balzer and Aichelehttps://youtu.be/3n5w_2IXvuA

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where on this glorious Sunday morning, being the last Sunday of November and the first Sunday of Advent 2022. Today, we shall signify Advent’s arrival by lighting the first of four Advent candles. Our lesson, today, is entitled: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday: Hope’, we begin by exploring the significance of the related events described in the Bible, that describe Advent as the arrival of people, things, and events around the time of our Savior’s birth.

To add to today’s celebration, BLCF Church would like to give each member of the congregation a personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers). We will be using this songbook for today’s Advent Service and for the following four Sunday Services. So please remember to bring your Songbook back for the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. Later in the service, we will  put the songbook to good use by singing a couple of selections accompanied by music on the overhead projector.

Let us continue with today’s Advent message, let us begin our lesson by looking at some definitions of terms regarding Advent. For this we shall check our Wikibits:

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/noun

noun: advent; plural noun: advents

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

E.g. “the advent of television”

synonyms:arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development; More

 

approach, coming

“the advent of a new school year”

antonyms:disappearance
    
  • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

noun: Advent

  • Christian Theology; the coming or second coming of Christ.

noun: Advent

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day. St Andrew was born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was the younger brother of St Peter. Both he and his brother became disciples of Jesus. He is said to have died bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras in Achea in Greece. This shape is now reflected in the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. St Andrew has been recognized as the patron saint of Scotland since at least the ninth century. St Andrew’s Day falls on November 30, according to many Christian churches. St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday in Scotland. However, the bank holiday falls on Monday, December 1 or 2 if November 30 is a Saturday or Sunday.

The church year begins on September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similar to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/first-day-advent

In our first Scripture Verse, Isaiah 11:1-10 (ESV), we find a prophecy of the Advent of the arrival of the “shoot from the stump of Jesse”, a descendant of Jesse, the father of King David;

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Our second Scripture Verse, Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV), where the Lord describes the prophecy in terms of the Advent of fulfillment of His Eternal Covenant:

The Lord’s Eternal Covenant with David

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

In our third Scripture, Romans 15:12 (ESV), the Apostle Paul, indicates the significance for believers today, and for all generations, of the Advent of Christ:

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

We find that in Advent, not just the anticipation of the birth of Christ, and the “Good News” that our Lord brought to humanity: salvation by way of the cross, sanctification through the Holy Spirit, and the hope in the promise of eternal life.

Advent describes the events of the arrival of travelers: a nation of Chosen People, to a Chosen Land, to receive a Chosen or Anointed Saviour. In their travels, the people travel in and out of bondage, to Egypt, the wilderness, and to land that was promised.

We also see the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men, who reveal that Christ’s arrival was also significant to the Gentiles, as well as to the people of Israel.

We see the arrival of shepherds, who come to see the arrival of Jesus, to signify that Christ arrived for the benefit of both, the high and meek, alike.

We see the advent of angels, who are sent to inform Mary and Joseph of the arrival of a child, who is both the son of man and the Son of God. Angels had arrived to announce to the shepherds the arrival of the Christ child. We observe the advent of angels who warned both the Magi, Joseph, and Mary of King Herod’s plot to kill the child, Jesus. And by lighting a candle today, we mark the advent of a star over a manger in Bethlehem, to signify the arrival of the “Light of the World,” that is the advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the living Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: 

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

At this time let us sing a couple of selections from your personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied by the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing-Along Favorites:

#22 O Little Town of Bethlehem – O Little Town Of Bethlehem – Instrumental with Lyrics – verses 1,2,3, and 5 – https://youtu.be/UdGhYxV9vlc

#25 – The First Noel – Christmas Lyric Video – Reawaken Hymns – https://youtu.be/LnN27CB9h9s

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.

Romans 15 -13

Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is peter-love-me-more-2.jpg

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’

© November 20, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on April 18, 2021,and May 6, 2018

BLCF Bulletin May 6, 2018 

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Announcements and Call to Worship, Prayer

Music Special – Cochren & Co. – Church (Take Me Back) lyrics – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns8lIG6cLc8

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk4p3rihONU&t=1s

Opening Hymn #192: Joys Are Flowing Like a River (Blessed Quietness)

Blessed Quietness – Zawnd Pro – (lyrics) – 24/7 Christian Radio:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2XaeuGRfmk

Responsive Reading #620 (The Church – Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1)

Message by Steve Mickelson: Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service this Sunday at BLCF Church. Next week will mark the first Sunday of Advent when many Christian Churches observe the birth of the Word Made Flesh, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’. Your bulletin today contains a series of verses from the Bible which give us a good idea of both the gifts and personality of this disciple of our Christ, Jesus, our Lord, and Saviour.

Just as significant we may learn that as disciples of the Resurrected Christ, our doubts and faith insecurities or lack of trust can play havoc with our relationship with the Lord. But God is patient, loving, and willing for us to restore ourselves in a renewed righteous walk with Him. He will never leave nor forsake His children.

In the graphic above the Lord extends his hand to Peter, who sank into the water while attempting to walk with Jesus upon the sea. Peter was the only disciple who showed an inclination to attempt this supernatural miracle.

Let us begin with Peter’s initial calling to the ministry of the Lord.

We have three different verses, which at first blush give different and contradictory descriptions of how and when Peter was called by Jesus, to serve the Lord. In his commentary, Charles Spurgeon gives a good explanation of these verses that some critics cite as examples of inconsistencies in the Gospels of Matthew and John.

I have taken the liberty of expanding the verses used by Spurgeon, in order to give a clearer context to his commentary and have inserted the verses after each passage. So John 1:37 is replaced with John 1:35-42; Matthew 4:18-19 with Matthew 4:18-22; and Matthew 10:1-2 with Matthew 10:1-4.

Later, towards the end of the lesson, I would like to suggest a fourth passage from the Scriptures, in the 21 Chapter of John’s Gospel, where a resurrected Jesus reconciles with his disciple for the sins of denying Christ three times, and Peter, again, is called to follow Jesus

.

Three Contradictory Calls to Peter by Charles Spurgeon posted on the  Web Page, www.Jesus.org :

Three Contradictory Calls to Peter? Charles Spurgeon

Three Contradictory Calls to Peter – Charles Spurgeon

John tells us that Peter was called by Christ through the preaching of John the Baptist, who bore witness that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah (John 1:37). Matthew, on the other hand, tells us that Peter and his brother were fishing, that Christ was walking by the lake of Galilee, and that as He passed by He saw these men fishing, called them by name, and said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:18-19). Now, the key to the whole may be found in the fact that there was yet a third call, and that afterwards Jesus called not Peter and Andrew alone, but the whole twelve of His disciples and set them apart to be Apostles (Matthew 10:1-2).

And so we gather from this last call that the other two might have been different and distinct from each other. Coming to look at the subject we find that the first call was the call at Peter’s conversion, which called him to be a disciple while still at his daily work as a fisherman. The second was the call of Peter, not to be a mere disciple, but to be an evangelist. And the third was the call of Peter, not to be an Evangelist or a common servant of the Master, but to be a leader, to take a yet higher grade, and to become one of the Twelve who should be associated with Christ as the founders of the new system of religion and witnesses of the life of Christ Himself.

I want you, then, just for a moment, to bear in mind the three calls:

  1. The first is that which Christ gave to Peter when He called him out of darkness into marvelous light, a blessing to him at first the testimony of John, and then by manifesting Himself to him.
  2. The second is the call by which the servant, already converted, already willing, is bid to put himself into a closer relationship with his Lord—to come out and be no longer a servant whose allegiance is true but not manifest—but to show that fealty by following his Master.
  3. And the third call is that which the Savior gives only to a few whom He has picked out and chosen to do some special work—who shall have fellowship with Him more closely still.

Adapted from Spurgeon’s Sermons, Peter’s Three Calls (No. 702), by Charles Spurgeon. http://www.jesus.org/life-of-jesus/disciples/three-contradictory-calls-to-peter.html

John tells us that Peter was called by Christ through the preaching of John the Baptist, who bore witness that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah (John 1:37):

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John 1:35-42 (ESV): Jesus Calls the First Disciples

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.[a]40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[b] was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter[c]).

Footnotes: a. John 1:39 That is, about 4 p.m. b. John 1:40 Greek him c. John 1:42 Cephas and Peter are from the word for rock in Aramaic and Greek, respectively

Matthew, on the other hand, tells us that Peter and his brother were fishing, that Christ was walking by the lake of Galilee, and that as He passed by He saw these men fishing, called them by name, and said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:18-19).

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Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV): Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[a]20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 4:19 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women

Spurgeon contends that there was yet a third call and that afterward, Jesus called not Peter and Andrew alone, but the whole twelve of His disciples and set them apart to be Apostles (Matthew 10:1-2):

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Matthew 10:1-4 (ESV): The Twelve Apostles

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[a]Simon the Zealot,[b] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 10:3 Some manuscripts Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus b. Matthew 10:4 Greek kananaios, meaning zealot

We gather from this last call that the other two might have been different and distinct from each other. Coming to look at the subject we find that the first call was the call at Peter’s conversion, which called him to be a disciple while still at his daily work as a fisherman. The second was the call of Peter, not to be a mere disciple, but to be an evangelist. And the third was the call of Peter, not to be an Evangelist or a common servant of the Master, but to be a leader, to take a yet higher grade, and to become one of the Twelve who should be associated with Christ as the founders of the new system of religion and witnesses of the life of Christ.

To recap, the three accounts of Peter’s calling may be viewed as describing the progression of his faith walk from believer to follower, and then to becoming an Apostle or messenger of the Lord.

Even as a disciple, Peter showed signs of Devine insight and awareness as he identifies Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV): Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar b. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades

While Jesus usually demonstrated an example of humility by calling himself “the Son of Man”, the Lord blesses Peter for recognizing Him as the Son of God by telling the disciple will be the foundational leader, whom He intends to build His church. A church which shall prevail against the gates of hell.

But the road to establishing Christ’s church is not fraught with a bump or two, or even three. Jesus predicts that Peter’s faith will falter and the disciple will deny knowing the Son of God.

Luke 22:31-34 (ESV): Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 22:31 The Greek word for you (twice in this verse) is plural; in verse 32, all four instances are singular b. Luke 22:33 Greek He c. Luke 22:34 Greek He

You will note in Verse 32, that Jesus, also indicated that Peter’s loss of faith will not be complete, as the disciple will turn back to the Lord and become a source of strength and encouragement to the other disciples.

Luke 22:54-62 (ESV): Peter Denies Jesus

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.”57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.”60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter wept bitterly, for he realized just Jesus had indicated that though Satan would have his way with the disciple, like Job, the Lord would not allow Satan to take his soul. The challenge to Peter’s faith continued, and the disciple who first perceived Jesus as the Messiah, could not understand that the power that allowed Jesus to perform supernatural miracles, such as walking on water, healing the infirm, and raising Lazarus from the dead, would be able to overcome death.

John 20:1-10 (ESV): The Resurrection

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’[a]head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Footnotes: a. John 20:7 Greek his

We see that Simon Peter and John had a footrace to investigate Mary Magdalene’s report that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. While John had arrived first at the tomb, the disciple hesitated at the entrance. But when Simon Peter reached the tomb, he entered without hesitation in a bold manner, not unlike the way he decided to join Jesus for a walk upon the sea. We see that John followed Simon Peter inside and both disciples could not understand that the empty tomb was another fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy.

Jesus would reveal himself in the Upper Room to his disciples, including Peter, as the Resurrected Christ, on two occasions. The second time was eight days after the first, for the benefit of Thomas, who was absent from the first revelation of the Lord and to allay the skepticism and doubt expressed by the disciple.

The third revelation of Jesus happened as the disciples were fishing, without success, at the Sea of Tiberias. When Simon Peter recognized the Lord, he dove into the sea. Following Jesus’ directions as to where to cast their nets, they were rewarded with a bountiful catch. Peter climbed aboard the boat to help his fellow disciples haul in the nets bearing their great catch.

After Jesus and the disciples had breakfast together which included the freshly caught fish, the Lord and Peter had a conversation together, where he offered the disciple an opportunity to be forgiven and reconciled, by stating his love for the Lord three times. One acknowledgment for each denial Simon Peter made on the night that Jesus was arrested. I consider this passage found in Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel to be the fourth calling of Peter by Jesus that I mentioned earlier in the lesson.

John 21:15-19 (ESV): Jesus and Peter

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

With the reconciliation of Simon Peter and Jesus complete, the Lord charges his disciple with the care of his church.  The church would be established on the Day of Pentecost, when Jesus sent the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of God, to all who respond to the call of God by repenting their sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins.

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV)

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

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

The gifts of salvation and reconciliation to God, the Father, through His Son Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God, are available to all people and for all generations. We need to acknowledge the gifts of salvation and reconciliation, the promise of our own resurrection, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, by sharing the Gospel of Christ Jesus unto the ends of the earth, until the day Christ Jesus returns.

The other instruction given by Jesus is: to eat and drink the elements of communion on a regular basis, as a church, in order to recognize how death, which is God’s judgment upon humanity for our sin was removed through the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross. Like sharing the Gospel of Christ, communion must be observed until the day that Christ, Jesus returns, to judge the living and the dead.

Just like Peter, any sin we have committed may be forgiven if we acknowledge our faith and love in the Lord, so that we may enjoy fellowship with the Lord and each other, as members of the Family of God, through Christ, Jesus!

Let us pray…

1Peter5_10

Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine

Leaning On the Everlasting Arms – piano instrumental hymn with lyrics Kaleb Brasee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxPgfNsRdws

In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – (Lyric Video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn5rBZgF1os

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Go in Peace! Amen.

Sailing the Storm, Safely, with the Peace of the Lord – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sailing the Storm, Safely, with the Peace of the Lord’

© November 13, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on ‘Sleeping Safely through the Storm, Calmed, by the Peace of the Lord’ Shared at BLCF on November 18, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 18, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Opening Hymn #84: Come and Praise the Lord Our King (Tune of Michael Row the Boat Ashore) – https://youtu.be/IaUbJ209Z7w

 In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) – Adrienne Liesching  – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/rn9-UNer6MQ

Michael Row The Boat Ashore – (Lyrics) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9piLVnExYc4  

Responsive Reading #603: Divine Providence (- from Psalm 34)                         

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘Sailing the Storm, Safely, with the Peace of the Lord’

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service at BLCF Church, where in today’s lesson, we will examine two of Jesus’ miracles performed in order to prove to his disciples his identity as the Son of God. Both miracles occurred as the disciples struggled to overcome wind-generated storms on the Sea of Galilee in order to reach their appointed destination. However, as we shall see, as often happens in the Scriptures, the lessons taught from the journey are more important than the destination. One example would be Saul’s conversion experience while he journeyed on the Road to Damascus.

I would like to present the first miracle for today’s lesson, from three points of view found in the Synoptic Gospels, each bearing the common title of Jesus Calms a Storm, while mostly containing the same elements, do have some slight variances. This is what one might expect from three different points of view telling what they observed of a common event. The first example comes from the gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV):

Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew gives an account where Jesus goes aboard a boat, followed by the disciples. While Jesus is sleeping, a great storm comes upon the vessel. Fearing for their lives, the disciples wake the Lord, asking him to save them from harm. Jesus asks them why they fear and then rebukes them for their lack of faith. Having rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, Jesus then rebukes the wins and the sea. The resulting change from a great storm to a great calm prompts the disciples to ask what sort of man is their Lord, who is able to change the wind and the sea by the mere words of his commands?

Our second account of this miracle of the Lord comes from the gospel of Mark 4:35-41 (ESV):

 Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark’s account gives us additional information from Matthew’s gospel. We learn that it is the evening when the disciples join Jesus aboard a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Though we also learn the group sails in the boat, leaving behind a crowd. It seems that some of the crowd decided to follow the boat containing Jesus and the disciples, as we learn that other boats were with him. Mark gives additional details, indicating Jesus was at the stern of the boat, where had fallen asleep on a cushion. Mark indicates that Jesus rebukes the storm and then his disciples, whereas Matthew has the order reversed. It could be because Mark felt the Lord rebuking the sea was more significant than his personal rebuke of the disciples. We also learn that this miracle which prompted the disciples to question the identity of their Lord came out of fear, at least from Mark’s point of view.

Now let us look at Luke’s take on these events, taken from the gospel of Luke 8:22-25 (ESV):

Jesus Calms a Storm

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Luke’s account of events is more succinct, but we learn that the storm came as they fell asleep. It seems that Jesus was not the only disciple who had fallen asleep, which might explain the brevity of Luke’s account. As Jesus and Luke slumbered, perhaps Matthew and Mark kept watch, giving a possible explanation for the latter two’s more lengthy and detailed description of events. While Luke agrees with Mark that the disciples experienced fear at witnessing this miracle over nature, the former indicates that he marveled at the events.

All three Synoptic accounts end with the disciples questioning the identity of the man whom they follow and call their Lord.

This leads us to the second miracle involving the disciples aboard a boat in a stormy sea. Only this time Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him, while he dismissed the crowd, and later went up a mountain to pray alone. Let us look at the account of events found in the gospel of Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV):

 Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night[c] he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d]he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:25 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. d. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

Similar to Ontario’s Lake Nipissing, near North Bay, the Sea of Galilee’s dimensions and orientation makes it a prime candidate for sudden unpredictable storms caused by the prevailing winds. Needless to say, I am sure that Jesus, having been blessed with the Holy Spirit, and by virtue of being the Divine Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), knew that the disciples would encounter a storm on their journey.

So why did He allow them to go in the boat without Him? And why did He wait so long before joining them?

Do not forget that Jesus wanted to go up the mountain to pray. As Christians, we need to take time to pray, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in order to clear our slate of thoughts, actions, and feelings that distance us from God.

Jesus was a good teacher not only to the multitudes but to the twelve who followed him. The journey from Heptapegon, also known as Tabgha, el-Oreme, or ‘En Sheva to Bethesda was about seven miles distance and would have taken the disciples maximum of 3-4 hours under normal conditions. Because of extreme headwinds and waves, the disciples’ boat had covered only half the distance in about 12 hours’ time or about 1/6 of the normal rate of travel.

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about the challenges his disciples were encountering, but he allowed them to go for some time before he set out to tread across the sea. Until Jesus arrived, the disciples had to work persistently and together to keep their boat on course, against the storm. The disciples would need the same persistence and cooperation, in the not-too-distant future, to share the Gospel with people who knew nothing of God, or worse, had drifted away from God in the pursuit of a religion devoid of the Holy Spirit.

This account gives us a combination of three of Jesus’miracles: walking upon a stormy sea, Paul joining the Lord by walking on the troubled water, and then again commanding the storm to cease. Jesus again rebukes the disciples for their doubt and lack of faith.

This miracle differs from the previous miracle as the disciples no longer doubt the identity of Jesus, as all on the boat worshipping him as the Son of God.

The lesson from Matthew’s account is that we should seek the light of Jesus, as only the Lord can provide us with the safety that allows us to lie down and sleep in peace, as is indicated in Psalm 4:6-8 (ESV):

Answer Me When I Call

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we are justified by our faith and reconciled so that we have peace with God, through His Son, Christ Jesus, as we read in  Paul’s gospel, Romans 5:1 (ESV):

 Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special – Hymn #401: When Peace Like a River Attendeth (It Is Well With My Soul) – Chris Rice – lyric video – https://youtu.be/VbNm_Kdez8o

Benediction – (Colossians 3:15):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. – Know Jesus, Know Peace!

Remembrance: By Poppy and the Cross 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Opening Music Special – Tom Croley: Yesterday He Died for Me – https://youtu.be/Bo3st1qEwhc?t=14

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Remembrance: By Means of the Poppy and the Cross’

© November 6, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based On Messages Shared at BLCF on November 10, 2019, November 11, 2018, November 8, 2015, August 10, 2014, November 10, 2013, and  November 11, 2012

 BLCF Bulletin November 10, 2019

BLCF Bulletin November 11, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 8, 2015

BLCF: Bulletin August 10, 2014

BLCF Church Bulletin-Program November 10, 2013

  

BLCF: lest_we_forget

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

Our Father – Lyric Video – Don Moen – https://youtu.be/CTty0omDeJI

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special: We Believe – Lauren Daigle (with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/bzmWnIHsohI

Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Love – John 3 & 1 John 4)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘’The Poppy and the Cross: Remembering the Sacrifice’

Let us pray…

The lesson for this Sunday is a study of two symbols of remembrance of sacrifice on our behalf: the poppy and the cross.

I stand before you with one of these symbols, the poppy, pinned above my heart, while illuminated behind me is the other, which is the cross.

Today we have the opportunity to observe, with the aid of the poppy, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, signifying the anniversary of  Armistice Day, which is the day that the Armistice was signed in 1918 to end World War I, ironically called “the war to end all wars”. Sadly, over 100 years after the signing of the 1918 Armistice wars still happen around the world.

Today, the date is called Remembrance Day in Canada and Britain and Veterans Day in the United States. For us, Remembrance Day is a day where we remember all who died not only in this war but in all other conflicts, to both preserve and protect our democratic freedom and way of life in Canada.

Lest We Forget BLCF Cafe November 19 2020 John 15_13

This Friday, is Remembrance Day, a day when many Canadians wear a poppy on their lapels; possibly recite the poem In Flanders Fields; and then at 11AM, observe a moment of silence. For many of us who had a relative or friend who experienced war firsthand, Remembrance Day is a time to acknowledge the sacrifice of men and women who served their country in wartime, including the millions who never survived to celebrate the peace. The phrase lest we forget is spoken, to which the reply is made they will not be forgotten. At the back of this very sanctuary, we have a plaque commemorating the names of those from this church who served in the Second World War.

And some may ask what significance does the Poppy has to the Remembrance Day observances?

What is so special about a poppy on Remembrance Day? Why not use a pansy? Scarlet poppies grow naturally in conditions of the disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century, transformed the bare land into fields of blood-red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as the First World War raged through Europe’s heart.

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realized by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem, In Flanders Fields. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in the First World War and later conflicts. Here are the words to that poem:

I had read a posting reprinted from a BLOG in the Huffington Post, where a young lady even though her grandfather served in the RCAF in WWII, wrote an article listing the reasons why she refused to wear a poppy on November 11. Some of the reasons for refusing the poppy included: that it was a symbol that glorifies war or that it illustrates how politicians yield to public demands that they wear this blood-red symbol of battle.

The article describes how the poppy is worn is not a real flower, but a commercially manufactured item, made for corporate profit. In her rant, she complains of a message from a Canadian Legion urging to wait to put up Christmas decorations until after November 11. And the author speculates that if Canada were defeated by the Nazis that we would still celebrate Christmas, seemingly to imply that Christ, the Prince of Peace, was really a Lord of War that condoned war! There is no mention of instead of honoring many who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms often taken for granted.

History of the Poppy

Each November, Poppies bloom on the lapels and collars of millions of Canadians. The significance of the Poppy can be traced back to the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, over 110 years before being adopted in Canada. Records from that time indicate how thick Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France. Fields that had been barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. During the tremendous bombardments of the war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing the “popaver rhoeas” to thrive. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the Poppy began to disappear again.The person who first introduced the Poppy to Canada and the Commonwealth was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War. John McCrae penned the Poem “In Flanders Fields” on a scrap of paper in May, 1915 on the day following the death of a fellow soldier. Little did he know then that those 13 lines would become enshrined in the hearts and minds of all who would wear them. McCrae’s poem was published in Punch Magazine in December of that same year, and the poem later served as inspiration three years later for Moina Michael, an American teacher. Moina Michael made a pledge to always wear a Poppy as a sign of Remembrance.

During a visit to the United States in 1920, a French woman named Madame Guerin learned of the custom. Madame Guerin decided to make and sell poppies to raise money for children in war-torn areas of France. The Great War Veteran’s Association in Canada (our predecessor) officially adopted the poppy as its Flower of Remembrance on July 5, 1921.

Today, the Poppy is worn each year during the Remembrance period to honour Canada’s Fallen. The Legion also encourages the wearing of a Poppy for the funeral of a Veteran and for any commemorative event honouring Fallen Veterans. It is not inappropriate to wear a Poppy during other times to commemorate Fallen Veterans and it is an individual choice to do so, as long as it’s worn appropriately.

Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear the Legion’s lapel Poppy each November, the little red flower has never died, and the memories of those who fell in battle remain strong.

In Flanders Fields – John McCrae 

John McCrae in uniform circa 1914

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
~ May 3, 1915

(As published in Punch Magazine, December 8, 1915)

https://www.legion.ca/remembrance/the-poppy/history-of-the-poppy

Recently, Canadian soldiers who have fallen in battle have had their sacrifice acknowledged along Canada’s Highway of Heroes:

Canada’s Highway of Heroes: The patriotic tradition lives on after Afghanistan

By  Dan Lamothe, a Washington Post Reporter covering the Pentagon and the U.S. military

March 11, 2015, at 2:38 p.m. EDT

It was 2007 when the Canadian government renamed the freeway stretching from Trenton, Ontario, to the city of Toronto the Highway of Heroes. Also known as Macdonald-Cartier Freeway or Highway 401, it meanders more than 100 miles, most of it along Lake Ontario, a member of the Great Lakes that is fed by the Niagara River and its iconic waterfalls.

 The highway’s name was coined unofficially in 2002 after the first of Canada’s soldiers killed in Afghanistan were repatriated. The remains were flown into Canadian Forces Base Trenton, and then taken southwest to Toronto, where a coroner awaited them. People young and old lined the highway, waving the red and white Canadian flag emblazoned with the maple leaf in tribute.

 Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan has mostly ended, but the patriotic tributes to its fallen soldiers have not.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/03/11/canadas-highway-of-heroes-the-patriotic-tradition-lives-on-after-afghanistan/

My father, Harry Mickelson, served in WWII as a medic and military band member. He preferred to recall the funny incidents of the war. But between enlisting in the Rainbow Division of the 42nd Infantry of the US Army reserves in December 1940, then being called to active duty by executive action of FDR in January 1941 in anticipation of the USA being drawn to the war, crossing through the battlefields across France and Germany, ending in Austria by 1945, Dad’s remembrance of the horror of war was relegated, according to Mom, to the nightmares he had for years after they married in 1946.

Although Dad felt fighting in this war was necessary, he had little use for John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and many other actors who glorified a war that they never saw or experienced firsthand. He cared not to join Legion Halls to relive events, though necessary, were often filled with grief and pain. Though Dad did step forward to testify at the trial of Ernst Zündel, who taught that the Holocaust never happened, providing an eyewitness account of the Dachau Concentration Camp as a first responder, along with photo evidence of the camp. It was for this reason he wore a poppy, so as not to forget, then ignore, and ultimately deny the real importance of the sacrifice given and end up in idle speculation about whether or not a Nazi victory would end Christmas in Canada!

In Christian circles, there are movements to sanitize worship, removing the cross as it symbolizes the brutality of the crucifixion of Jesus. Yet, as Christians, we are expected to serve the elements of communion to remember the blood and body of Christ given as a sacrifice for all our sins.

We often hear in memorial services for those who gave their lives in war, a quote from John 15:13 (ESV):

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

But such a quote seems to imply that the Lord approved of war. However, let us read this verse in its full context: John 15:12-17 (ESV):

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.      13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.                                                 

Footnotes: a. John 15:15 Greek bondservants b. John 15:15 Greek bondservant; also verse 20

Pray for Peace

And what does the Lord say about the conflict in general? We may find our answer in James 3:13-18 and in Matthew 5:9:

James 3:13-18 (ESV): Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Matthew 5:9 (ESV)

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.      

 Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface

We know from experience, that the sacrifices remembered in ceremonies on November 11, no matter how dear and noble may help to win a battle and war, but do not put an end to war and conflict which seem to be intertwined in human nature because of sin.

But God did provide a solution to the sinful nature of men and women, which is the underlying root cause of war. God allowed the battle against sin and sin’s progenitor, Satan, by allowing the sacrifice of one innocent man: his only son, Jesus on the cross. And by way of the cross, all who believe and admit to sin; who desire to change to the way of the Lord receive the gift of salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life.

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship - BLCf Church Way of the Cross

We, in the Christian Church, also have a symbol no less important. It’s the Cross of Jesus. One of His great sayings is:

‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’            – John 15:13 (ESV).

And that is what Christ did for us.

The poppy reminds us of the sacrificed lives in battles over the years past, present, and future. By contrast, the cross reminds us of the Lord’s single act of sacrifice and love for all generations, past, present, and future, John 15:10-13 (ESV):

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

The cross symbolizes not only how Jesus sanctifies us from sin, but it is also a symbol of God’s New Covenant of eternal life and is an emblem of His love for us. We are implored to take heart and find joy in the Lord’s gift to us, which are the rewards for our faith, John 16:23-33 (ESV):

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

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

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

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

In addition to the cross, we are instructed by the scriptures to remember the sacrifice of Jesus through the act of communion, until Jesus returns. This points to the main difference between the soldier’s sacrifice to give us freedom as Canadians and Jesus’ sacrifice to give us freedom from sin, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the resurrection. It is our responsibility as members of Canadian society to honour the soldier’s sacrifice for peace from a war that is temporary, as long sin exists, we will continue to have war. As believers in the resurrected Christ, our trust and faith in our Savior’s sacrifice which does not end sin, but the consequences of sin: judgment and death, Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

In addition to the cross, we are instructed by the scriptures to remember the sacrifice of Jesus through the act of communion, until Jesus returns. This points to the main difference between the soldier’s sacrifice to give us freedom as Canadians and Jesus’ sacrifice to give us freedom from sin, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the resurrection. It is our responsibility as members of Canadian society to honour the soldier’s sacrifice for peace from a war that is temporary, as long sin exists, we will continue to have war. As believers in the resurrected Christ, our trust and faith in our Savior’s sacrifice which does not end sin, but the consequences of sin: judgment and death, Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Closing Music Special: Katy Nichole (ft. North Point Worship) – In Jesus’ Name (God Of Possible) (with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/zn5rBZgF1os

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21):

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Light In The Darkness: The 34th Crew Member of Copiapo – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Light In The Darkness: The 34th Crew Member of Copiapo‘ 

© October 30, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages  Published at BLCF on July 6, 2014, and October 31, 2010

BLCF: Bulletin July 6, 2014

BLCF_Christ_with_miners

 Service Prelude: Here I Am To Worship | Maranatha! Music (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/03G52K9X2hQ

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Tithing & Prayer Requests; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings                                                                   Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Today’s Scriptures: Isaiah 7:11, Colossians 1:13, Psalm 139:1-12 

Opening Hymn: Send the Light – Live worship from FBC Glencoe – https://youtu.be/TqSN_QZ_VD4

Light of the World – [Lyric Video] Lauren Daigle – https://youtu.be/dCRunZGYBi4

Lauren Daigle – Rescue (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/KRCqkgE4p-Y

Responsive Reading # 608 (God’s Omniscience – Psalm 139)

BLCF" God'shelping_hand

Colossians 1:13 (ESV)

 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

BLCF: i-will-hold-your-right-hand-and-i-will-help-you-isaiah-41_13

                                                           

Psalm 139:1-12 (ESV) Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;     

you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down     

and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue,    

 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before,     

and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;     

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?     

Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!    

 If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!   If I take the wings of the morning     

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,   even there your hand shall lead me,     

and your right hand shall hold me.    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,    

 and the light about me be night,”    

even the darkness is not dark to you;     

the night is bright as the day,    

 for darkness is as light with you

BLCF: Joe Castillo - Face of Christ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service for the last Sunday of  October here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF.Church.  Next Sunday falls on the weekend when we set our clocks back an hour to transition time from Daylight Savings Time in order to return to Standard Time. We find that to accommodate Daylight Savings and Standard Time changes it is often necessary to want to mark our calendars in order to live a safer, more comfortable life twice a year.

The website, timeanddate.com, indicates that as described by its name, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.

When Germany first set the clocks forward on April 30, 1916, it became the first country in the world to use DST on a national level. However, the town of Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada implemented DST as far back as 1908.

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/

Saving Daylight by changing the time is not the only reason we find it beneficial to change our hours of operation, as we have done something similar to accommodate the waves of infection during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

If you look at the disclaimers indicating the hours of operation for BLCF Church and its ministries over the past two and a half years, you find a number of changes we had to make during the waves of infection of the COVID-19 Pandemic, including closing our doors and restricting activities from time to time.

Politicians may have announced that the Pandemic has ended, but seems that the virus did not get the memo, as we witness the continued weekly count of infections and deaths as reported by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington:

COVID-19 Results Briefing: Canada, October 24, 2022
This document contains summary information on the latest projections from the IHME model on COVID-19
in Canada. The model was run on October 21, 2022, with data through October 18, 2022.

Daily reported cases in the last week increased to 3,000 per day on average compared to 2,900 the week
before.
• Daily hospital census in the last week (through October 18) increased to 6,800 per day on average
compared to 6,700 the week before.
• Reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week increased to 39 per day on average compared to 33
the week before.
• Total deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week increased to 62 per day on average compared to 53 the
week before.

This makes COVID-19 the number three cause of death in Canada this week. Estimated total daily deaths due to COVID-19 in the past week were 1.6 times larger than the reported number of deaths. 

https://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/covid_briefs/101_briefing_Canada.pdf

But that is not the subject of today’s lesson. The event which is the topic of today’s lesson had in some regards, engaged more worldwide public interest than the current state of infections and deaths due to COVID-19, as it had dominated the media around the world for over two months.

It was just twelve years ago this month, on October 13, 2010; that 33 Chilean Miners were rescued from their underground mine, where they were trapped on August 7, 2010, some 69 days previous. Wikepedia.org indicates that twice as many people observed the rescue operation than the moon landing:

After winching the last trapped miner to the surface, the mine rescue paramedics, the best available drawn from multiple national agencies and military services, all still underground, held up a sign for the TV cameras reading “Misión cumplida Chile” (English: ““Mission accomplished Chile”), which was seen by a TV/Web audience estimated at more than 1 billion viewers around the world watching the rescue live.                                                                                               

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Copiap%C3%B3_mining_accident

BLCF: Miner_Miracle

The lesson I would like to share with you this morning has several elements that are important to the Christian walk: trusting God in times of danger and adversity; faith in the Scriptures when tempted by Satan; and why God allows believers to be placed in harm’s way in order to convict others in faith.

It is interesting that as with Job in the Old Testament, God allowed Jesus to be tempted by Satan, an account recorded in Luke 4:1-13:

BLCF: the_temptation_of_Jesus

Luke 4:1-13(ESV): The Temptation of Jesus

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

We studied this verse on a previous Sunday when we spoke of temptation, where I highlighted several aspects of the story of Jesus’ temptation and compared it to what we may face today. You may recall that Jesus, having been baptized by John, known as John the Baptist, received the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit to a place in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. When you think about it, this is not quite the path or journey you would expect from one who has just received the Holy Spirit.

When Satan tempted Jesus, he appealed to three things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

First, he challenged Jesus, after a 40-day fast, to use his powers to make food and satisfy His needs of the flesh. Then he challenged Jesus to look at the world from a high place and offered Him dominion over all He saw. Finally, he tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from a tower, saying that surely, as God’s son, He would be saved – an appeal to pride. We find to each challenge, not only did Jesus resist Satan, but in fact, Jesus rebuked the devil with the Holy Scripture.

Interestingly enough, we read in Luke 4:13 that the devil departed from tempting Jesus until an opportune time, indicating that Satan would return again when he had the opportunity. We see that even the Son of God may be subject to temptation and testing by Satan. Just like Jesus, we may defeat the devil by way of a determined faith and the appropriate use of Scripture. We must trust that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

BLCF: creation-of-33

Romans 8:38-39 

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

The 33 miners were rescued in the middle of the month of October, just a couple of weeks before the eve of Dia de Los Muertos or des Los Difuntos in Hispanic countries, known as Dia de Finados in those that speak Portuguese. In English, we translate both as Day of the Dead. Because this day happens to occur on the calendar shortly after Halloween or All Hallows Eve, many mistakenly believe the two are similar or related, while the two have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating are common. In Spain, there are festivals and parades and, at the end of the day, people gather in cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches observe the day as All Souls’ Day, though the Eastern Orthodox celebrate it on a Saturday because of Jesus’ resting in the tomb on a Saturday. In Lebanon, Israel, and Syria, the observance is called Yom el Maouta. Unlike its Hollywood portrayal, the Day of the Dead is a day to commemorate departed loved ones, and pray for the day of the Rapture when all believers will be reunited.

By all expert calculations, in Chile’s northern Atacama desert, near the town Copiapo, the Day of the Dead should have been a day of mourning for 33 miners trapped 700 meters, 2300 feet below the surface, about 5 kilometers or 3 miles from the entrance of the San Jose, an old gold and copper mine. For two massive cave-in, had seemed to seal the fate of any survivor. All that could be done was to pray for the 33 lost souls. Chile is a mineral-rich country, approximately the size of the U.S. state of California in North America, Chile stretches along the western portion of the South American continent, bordered by mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. And like California, Chile is located on an active earthquake belt.

Unlike Chile’s larger, newer mines, the San Jose Mine where the miners were trapped was very old having been opened in 1889, and lacking many of the safety features of more modern mines, such as an alternate entrance that could allow a means of escape for those surviving a cave-in. Since the year 2,000, about 34 miners die each year in Chilean mines. In the past 12 years, 8 miners had lost their lives at the San Jose mine. Chile is the world’s leading copper supplier. Because of the demands for copper by emerging industrialized nations such as China, such mines as the San Jose were kept open and offered an appealing livelihood in an otherwise sluggish world economy. Several of the miners trapped in San Jose had migrated from other regions after losing jobs in a worldwide recession. In spite of the risks, San Jose offered the miners the means to put food on the table and a better life. That is until that fateful day in August when the miner’s world literally collapsed.

On the surface, news of the disaster and the fact that the miners were 700 meters below the surface seem to indicate that the fate of any survivors was sealed, as a ventilation shaft viewed as the only means of rescue had collapsed in a second cave-in. No rescue from such a depth had ever been contemplated, let alone attempted. It seemed that the 2010 Day of the Dead observances would include a visit to the San Jose tomb of the lost 33 miners.

This is where the tale took a turn. In their moment of profound loss and in spite of any real hope of rescue, the families of the 33 miners, showed uncommon strength of purpose; demanded that the Chilean government recover the bodies of their lost loved ones. This is where the next surprise occurred, as the government bowed to the families’ demands and began drilling pilot holes to locate the miners’ bodies. Over the next 17 days, seven 700-meter-deep holes were drilled without any success. On the eighth attempt, according to one report, the drill bit was deflected by some hard rock strata and then penetrated into a cavity deep beneath the earth.

“It was 75% engineering and 25% a miracle,” said topographer Macarena Valdes.

Ms. Valdes was speaking of her own role in the rescue, as she augmented science with a touch of gut instinct to help guide rescuers’ probe drills into the rock, in hopes of finding survivors, in the days after the miners’ disappearance.

Her method paid off after more than two weeks, when searchers sent one of their narrow probe drills down through the rock, punched it into the chamber where the men had taken refuge, and, from more than 2,000 feet above, and felt someone tap back. Even more astonishing was the note attached to the retracted drill bit to which a piece of paper was attached with the message:

“Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” (English: “We are well in the shelter, the 33 [of us]”).

BLCF: message los 33

It was a miracle beyond belief that all of the 33 missing miners were alive, but would anyone dare to hope for a rescue? No miners were ever rescued from 700 meters. Trapped miners had been rescued from a cave in Pennsylvania, but they were only one-tenth the depths of the 33 in San Jose. For 17 days the miners have survived on meager rations of two spoonfuls of tuna and half a glass of milk every 48 hours.

While still trapped in the mine, there emerged several stories of faith in God and how He sustained the entombed 33. In a letter to his brother, miner Jorge Galeguillos says he believes a white butterfly saved his life the day the mine caved. Mining consultant Miguel Fortt is not given to flights of fancy. He says white butterflies flutter around purple flowers that blossom in the desert early in the morning, but they rarely fly deep into a mineshaft. He says the two miners slowed down to observe the butterfly and that saved them from driving into rock falls triggered by the first cave-in. Fortt says:

“People who are religious would call this a miracle. From a scientific perspective, the butterfly may have flown into the mine on air currents. You can draw your own conclusions but that butterfly saved lives,”

Galeguillos’ brother, who is also a miner, can’t explain how a butterfly flew more than 500 meters deep into the mine. But like most of the miners there, he believes the butterfly was protecting his older brother’s life. The butterfly was a sign from God.

BLCF: aop3111.pmd

Isaiah 7:11

“Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

It is interesting that the butterfly is often used to represent the resurrected Christ freed from the chrysalis tomb.

BLCF: hebrews13_7

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 Above the miners, a rescue plan was formed, though chances of a successful rescue of the miners alive were calculated at a meager 2%. I would speculate that no politician in North America would even consider embarking upon planning any action that had a 98% chance of failure. I give kudos to the president of Chile for the bold and compassionate action of initiating a rescue plan. Three separate rescue holes were drilled, using technologies from Germany and the U.S.A.  NASA scientists were consulted and a rescue capsule was designed by engineers of the Chilean Navy.

The world watched, prayed, and waited as the drama of the trapped 33 unfolded. And more stories of God’s presence. Miners acknowledge that they survived thanks to a 34th member of the crew.

jesus-christ-arm-wrestling-satan-devil-lucifer-animated.gif

 Mario Sepulveda, the second miner rescued said: “I was with God, and I was with the devil,” he said through a translator. “But God won, I held onto God’s hand, the best hand, and at no point in time … did I doubt that God wouldn’t get me out of there.”

It was Sepulveda’s faith in God that assured him of his rescue. Satan used temptation and was defeated. And who other than the Son of God could understand and support those who are tested by temptation by Satan.

BLCF" Hebrews2_18

Hebrews 2:18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 Miner Ricardo Villaroel describes the incident as a moment of faith renewal:

 “I never use to pray. Here I learned to pray. I got closer to God.”

BLCF: Romans_8_38

Romans 8:38-39

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

Nineteen-year-old miner Jimmy Sanchez wrote in a letter sent up prior to his rescue:

 “There are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down there.”

isaiah_41_v_10j

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

It was reported that while trapped underground, three of the miners and one of the miner’s wives accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

BLCF: Isaiah_41_13

Isaiah 41:13

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Finally, the main drill punched through and one by one the 33 were brought out to safety. Faith is also a major theme of national rhetoric. At the beginning of the rescue Chilean President Sebastian Pinera stated, “When the first miner emerges safe and sound, I hope all the bells of all the churches of Chile ring out forcefully, with joy and hope. Faith has moved mountains.”The first action of several, as they emerged, immediately gave thanks to God for being delivered from the shadow of death.

BLCF: Col1_13-14

Colossians 1:13

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

There are a number of similarities between the plight of the 33 Chilean miners and Jesus’ temptation described in Luke 4. Both involved a confrontation between God and the devil while taking place in an isolated desert place. Both are examples of courage and faith in the face of adversity, where the devil tempted and was defeated. Finally, both teach Christian believers valuable lessons in the power of faith and trust in God and His Holy Word.

The Chilean story shows how God may allow the devil to tempt believers and how faith can defeat temptation. Without trust and faith, all of the miners would have perished. One can only ponder many aspects of this story that indicate God was the 34th Crew Member in the mine.

What if those drilling who sought the miners had given up after only seven attempts? What if on the eighth try, the bit wasn’t deflected by a stone, which is how it reached the miners? What if President Pinera had decided not to attempt a rescue with 2% odds? What if the miners had given up after the cave-in and not rationed food in the darkness and allowed death and Satin to have their way?

We know from Christ’s example, that as Christian believers, we will be tempted by Satan and that God will battle the devil on our behalf. I believe that the story of the faith and courage of the trapped miners is meant to show us all that the devil will tempt us and faith and trust in God will deliver us.

BLCF:Jesus-is-Light-Pic

BLCF: Chilean 33

Miner Mario Gomez’s wife, Lilianett Gomez, said her emotions had changed dramatically. She said, though, that people here had shown that they have the strength to weather the crisis, and now the whole world knows it:

“God put these 33 miners together,” she said. “It must have been for something, perhaps to send a message to the world.”

Perhaps God’s message that Lilianett Gomez alluded to can be found in the Scriptures, particularly in Hebrews 13:5 (NIV):

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,”Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

BLCF: Chilean_mine_disaster

Let Us Pray…

Closing Music Special: Phil Wickham – Living Hope (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w

 Benediction (Psalm 51:11-12): Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.   

    

BLCF: jesus_escobedo

BLCF: kNOw Jesus kNOw Peace animated

Guided by the Beatitudes’ – Part 2 – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends, Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:
  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. – Pastor Steve

BLCF: be_atitudes

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Guided by the Beatitudes’ – Part 2 – (Part 1 was shared Sunday, October 16, 2022)

© October 23, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on August 18, 2019, February 26, 2017, March 5, 2017, August 23, 2015, and October 18, 2009

BLCF Bulletin August 18, 2019

BLCF: bulletin-February-26-2017

BLCF: beatiful-atitudes

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer Hymn #204: There’s A Quiet Understanding

There’s a Quiet Understanding – (Lyrics) – Christian Music Artists – https://youtu.be/BJTj8CGjJbg

Tithing & Prayer Requests; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings                                             Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU Hymn #177: Rejoice, The Lord Is King

Rejoice The Lord Is King (Acoustic Song Leading Video) // Emu Music – https://youtu.be/oh0BYrdd-8o

Responsive Reading #617: (The Beatitudes – Matthew 5) Music Special: “Beatitudes” – Hillsong UNITED (cover by Wade Cambern with LYRICS) – https://youtu.be/oFGYzpqUD7E Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Guided By The Beatitudes’ – Part 2 (Part 1 Last Sunday) Let us pray… You may recall in our lesson last Sunday, we examined the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law, understanding that in spite of our sinful nature which began in the Garden of Eden, the Bible records that God has faithfully provided mechanisms for guiding believers along the “A Path of Righteousness”. Before the advent of Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross, subsequent resurrection, and ascension to Heaven, allowed those who believed to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. God gave the People of Israel the Ten Commandments, as described in Exodus 20:1-17. These laws gave a nation of former slaves rules to guide the people along God’s path. Over time, the Commandments have been expanded by the Jews into the Laws of Moses, comprising three Codes.

BLCF: 10-commandments-and-beatitudes

The first Code is the 10 Commandments. The second Code consists of the Ordinances, a set of Spiritual specifications which include: a description of the Tabernacle, Holy Days, acceptable offerings, and activities or responsibilities of the priesthood. The third Code may be described as a set of Social rules governing such things as diet, sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, marriage, slavery, etc. Many consider these comprehensive Mosaic Laws as the foundation or template of our modern legal system. While the first code was given by God to Moses, the second and third were a human attempt to expand or embellish the original ten by covering every possible facet of society. Most importantly, as the manmade Laws grow in number and complexity, in an attempt to address each new situation, there is a tendency to forget the importance of the original 10 Commandments and who authored them. Some mistakenly think that Jesus came to do away with the Laws of Moses, as we read in Mathew 5:17, Jesus said that not that he came to destroy the law or the prophets: but he came to fulfill them, and by his death and resurrection bring the Holy Spirit to those who believe. The Holy Spirit is the key to God’s plan for providing guidance to believers to keep along His path. You may also recall in last Sunday’s lesson that as believers in Christ, God has removed the old rules or laws and provided, through the Holy Spirit, provided a beautiful and simple way for us to grow and mature, by accepting the responsibility of our spiritual maturity. He has given us his Beatitudes which each of us may use to measure our spiritual growth on a personal level. By doing so we may grow and develop our fruit of the Spirit and draw closer to his presence with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Gifts of the Spirit given by faith in Christ’s act of salvation are free, and not of works, lest anyone should boast. To grow the fruit of the Spirit does require a conscious effort on our part as believers. For any of you who have grown fruit in a garden, you must realize that it takes time and you may not get fruit in the first season. You must wait for the trees and vines to mature. You must plant, water, prune, fertilize, spray, and protect a tree or vine. And you must provide the right soil and climate to allow the fruit to grow and prosper. Finally, you must be persistent and patient to see fruit grow and mature.

BLCF: Fruit_of_Spirit_Galatians_5_22-23

So now we are caught up on the lesson from last Sunday, let us examine Jesus’ message which describes a list of Beatitudes found in his Sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount

BLCF: Gustave-Dore-Jesus-Preaching-the-Sermon-on-the-Mount

You may ask: “What are some concrete evidence or expressions of these spiritual gifts and are these expressions truly an example of using the Spirit’s Gifts in a manner that is producing fruit?” Jesus gave us a list of expressions of Godly Gifts, which he described as Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount, the longest sermon recorded in the Gospels. The message was delivered from a place called The Mount of Olives, which is why the sermon, is also known as The Olivet Discourse, where Jesus gives emphasis the importance of who his disciples are over what his disciples do, as described in Matthew 5:1-16 and Luke 6:12-26:

Matthew 5:1-16: The Beatitudes 

BLCF: beatitudes
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

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13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface b. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that

Luke 6:12-26 (ESV): The Twelve Apostles

BLCF: The_Exhortation_to_the_Apostles_James_Tissot
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude

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17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

The Beatitudes

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20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
BLCF: beatiful-atitudes
We see that The Beatitudes come from activities motivated by a heart of love, humility, and compassion, rather than actions motivated by the expectation of rewards in this world. If the heart is right, then the believer will receive the blessings of a great reward in heaven. Question: “What are the Beatitudes?” Answer: The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12), each beginning with “Blessed are…” It is debated as to exactly how many beatitudes there are. Some speak of seven, nine, or ten beatitudes, but the number appears to be eight (verses 10-12 of Matthew 5 being one beatitude). The Greek word translated “blessed” means “happy, blissful” or, literally, “to be enlarged.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the word to refer to more than a superficial happiness; in this context, blessed refers to a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity. The happiness is a deep joy of the soul. Those who experience the first aspect of a beatitude (poor, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted) will also experience the second aspect of the beatitude (kingdom of heaven, comfort, inherit the earth, filled, mercy, see God, called sons of God, inherit the kingdom of heaven). The blessed have a share in salvation and have entered the kingdom of God, experiencing a foretaste of heaven. Another possible rendering of the beginning of each beatitude is “O the bliss [or blessedness] of . . . .” The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple and his rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still “outside the kingdom.” As a literary form, the beatitude is also found often in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms (1:1; 34:8; 65:4; 128:1) and in the New Testament as well (John 20:2914:22James 1:12Revelation 14:13). https://www.gotquestions.org/beatitudes.html But what do we mean by the terms blessing and beatitude? We can find several definitions to help us understand:
BLCF: blessings

Definition (from Google): blessing [bles-ing] noun

    1. The act or words of a person who blesses.
    1. A special favor, mercy, or benefit: The blessings of liberty.
    1. A favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
    1. The invoking of God’s favor upon a person: The son was denied his father’s blessing.
    1. Praise; devotion; worship, especially grace said before a meal: The children took turns reciting the blessing.
    1. Approval or good wishes: The proposed law had the blessing of the governor.
While we see in the above six definitions, some include examples, that are either secular or faith-related. Our lesson today will focus on the second and third definitions:
    1. A special favor, mercy, or benefit: The blessings of liberty.
    1. A favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
When we combine these two definitions, we a special favor, mercy, or benefit (through Jesus’ sacrifice), which gives the believer the God-given gifts of liberty from sin and joy to the heart. Augustine of Hippo comments on the Beatitudes listed in the first of today’s Scripture verses that is Matthew 5:1-16, posted within an article by Steven Rummelsburg published online at crisismagazine.com.

St. Augustine’s Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount

Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg

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The Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel are described as “perfect works emanating from virtues perfected by the gifts” of the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine orders and clarifies the relationships between the beatific precepts and their corresponding spiritual gifts:
    • Poverty of spirit corresponds with fear of the lord in which all wisdom begins.
    • Meekness corresponds with piety, honor for the sacred Scriptures and the restrained power to live them out.
    • Mourning corresponds with the gift of knowledge and facilitates the discernment of good from evil.
    • Hunger and thirst for justice corresponds with the gift of fortitude to be truly just.
    • Mercy coincides with the gift of counsel which exhorts us to forgive as we wish to be forgiven.
    • Purity of heart corresponds with the gift of understanding what the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard.
    • Peacemaking corresponds with the gift of wisdom.
St. Augustine explains that “for with peacemakers all things are in proper order, and no passion is in rebellion against reason, but everything is in submission to man’s spirit because that spirit is obedient to God.” http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/st-augustines-commentary-on-the-sermon-on-the-mount The Beatitudes, as listed in Matthew 5:1-16, are expressions of the believer’s faith and heart that can be viewed as the seasoning or ‘salt’ that enhances our faith activities, helping to illuminate or shed ‘light’ on the Lord’s Gospel. The ultimate purpose of the salt and light is to glorify our Father in heaven. The second of today’s Scripture verses, Luke 6:12-26, gives us a background to the events immediately prior to Christ’s Olivet Discourse, Jesus, gave the following prayer to God, called forth his disciples, selecting twelve Apostles or messengers of his Gospel. In Luke 6:13-16, the Lord names the twelve: 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

BLCF: beatitudes

Before Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount to the multitude, the Lord heals those afflicted with diseases and cures others troubled with unclean spirits, with others seeking to touch and be healed. The Lord shares his message of the beatitudes, but tempers the expectation of blessings by his disciples, with caution of woe to those whose appearance lacks the salt and light expected from a true disciple of the Lord, Luke 6:24-26 (ESV): 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
These warnings of woe are clarified in Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV), where Jesus describes how we may truly understand how a believer would be separated and judged, based not upon actions, but upon the love, humility, and compassion showed to others, In other words as disciples of Christ, we must focus upon the importance of who we are over what we do, as was described at the very beginning of today’s lesson:

The Final Judgment

BLCF: sheep-goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’ In order to receive God’s blessing and receive the favor of inheriting the kingdom of heaven, we need to first demonstrate our own favour to the least of our brothers and sisters. In order to receive God’s blessing and receive the favor of inheriting the kingdom of heaven, we need to first demonstrate our own favour to the least of our brothers and sisters. If we are made in His image, then our image must be an expression of His love. After all, God is Love.
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The Beatitudes remind us again that people work their entire lives to achieve wealth, fame, and power, which may bring material rewards. Christians believe, however, that those who live by the code of conduct outlined in the Beatitudes and pursue righteous lives will develop the quality of character that God wants His followers to have and will ultimately be blessed with the reward of an eternity in Heaven. Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: The Beatitudes Song – (Lyrics) – Provided to YouTube by Catapult Reservatory, LLC · Brook Hills Worship · Matt Mason · Mandi Mapes Kottas – https://youtu.be/5yxs5wFpnGg Benediction – (Philippians 4:19): And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: No Jesus No Peace

Guided by the Beatitudes – Part 1  (Part 2 – Sunday, October 23, 2022) – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Musical Prelude: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna -Dan Swanson – https://youtu.be/nQ8VmTNaQ94

BLCF: the-beatitudes-header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Guided by the Beatitudes’ – Part 1

 (Part 2 – Sunday, October 23, 2022)

© October 16, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on August 4, 2019, February 19, 2017, June 22, 2014, and October 18, 2009

BLCF Bulletin August 4, 2019

BLCF: bulletin-February-12-2017

BLCF: Bulletin June 22, 2014

BLCF Bulletin Sunday, October 18, 2009

BLCF: 10-Commandments

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

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

There’s a Quiet Understanding – (Lyrics) – Christian Music Artists – https://youtu.be/BJTj8CGjJbg

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #664: About Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12)

Music Special: “Beatitudes” – Hillsong UNITED (cover by Wade Cambern with LYRICS) – https://youtu.be/oFGYzpqUD7E

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Guided by the Beatitudes’ – Part 1

BLCF: beatitudes

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for Sunday, October 16, 2022. For our lesson today and next Sunday, we will examine how Christians, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, are guided along the Righteous Path, with the goal of a life that is best described as a beautiful expression of His gifts.

To understand this expression of God’s gifts of the Spirit, under His New Covenant through Jesus, let us look at the old Covenant, under the Old Law of what we refer to today as the Ten Commandments.

In spite of our sinful nature, which began in the Garden of Eden, the Bible records that God has faithfully provided mechanisms for guiding believers along the “Paths of Righteousness”.

Before the advent of Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross, subsequent resurrection, and ascension allowed those who believe to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, God gave the People of Israel the Ten Commandments, which we find in Exodus 20:1-17. These laws gave a nation of former slaves rules to guide the people along God’s path.

Over time, the Commandments have been expanded by the Jews into the Laws of Moses, comprising three Codes. The first Code is the 10 Commandments. The second Code consists of the Ordinances, a set of Spiritual specifications which include: a description of the Tabernacle, Holy Days, acceptable offerings, and activities or responsibilities of the priesthood. The third Code may be described as a set of Social rules governing such things as diet, sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, marriage, slavery, etc. Many consider these comprehensive Mosaic Laws as the foundation or template of our modern legal system.

While the first Code was given by God to Moses, the second and third were a human attempt to expand or embellish the original ten by covering every possible facet of society. Most importantly, as the man-made Laws grow in number and complexity, in an attempt to address each new situation, there is a tendency to forget the importance of the original 10 Commandments and who authored them.

Jesus came not to do away with the Laws of Moses, but to fulfill them, as we read in Mathew 5:17, Jesus said not that he came to destroy the law or the prophets: but he came to fulfill them, and by his death and resurrection bring the Holy Spirit to those who believe.

Jesus did not come to end sin in the world but to take upon himself the judgment for sin, which is death. And those who receive Christ’s Gift of Salvation, also receive the Gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and the Spirit brings believers Gifts of the Spirit which are characteristics that are expressed as beatitude.

The Holy Spirit is the key to God’s plan for providing guidance to believers to keep along His path.

What is the Holy Spirit? Let us go to wikipedia.org for our Wiki bits answer.

BLCF: What_the_Holy_Spirit_does

What is the Holy Spirit?

Within mainstream Christianity the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity. As such he is personal and also fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Son. He is different from the Father and the Son in that he proceeds from the Father (or from the Father and the Son) as described in the Nicene Creed. His sacredness is reflected in the New Testament gospels (e.g., Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:30-32, and Luke 12:8-10), which proclaim blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as unforgivable.

The Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church. These include:

  • Conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit acts to convince the unredeemed person both of the sinfulness of their actions, and of their moral standing as sinners before God.
  • Bringing to conversion. The action of the Holy Spirit is seen as an essential part of the bringing of the person to the Christian faith. The new believer is “born again of the Spirit”.
  • Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a righteous and faithful life.  The word Paraclete is specifically applied to the Holy Spirit in this regard. A paraclete is one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate.
  • Inspiration and interpretation of scripture. The Holy Spirit both inspires the writing of the scriptures and interprets them to the Christian and/or church.

The Holy Spirit is also believed to be active especially in the life of Jesus Christ, enabling him to fulfil his work on earth. Particular actions of the Holy Spirit include:

  • Cause of his birth. According to the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, the “beginning of His incarnate existence”, was due to the Holy Spirit.
  • Anointing him at his baptism.
  • Empowerment of his ministry. The ministry of Jesus following his baptism (in which the Holy Spirit is described in the gospels as “descending on Him like a dove”) is conducted in the power and at the direction of the Holy Spirit.

And most importantly the Holy Spirit is God’s way of pouring his love into our hearts Romans 5:5(NIV): And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

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

BLCF: fruit-of-the-spirit1

As a Christian, I believe that the Holy Spirit enables direct communication with God through the discernment of God’s will. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers. But what can a believer do to draw closer to our Lord, to facilitate or augment the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives?

God, through the Holy Spirit, makes available to us what is described as the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is described by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23:

“The fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

The Fruit of the Spirit which includes charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, is gifted by the Holy Spirit and is free, “not of works, lest anyone should boast.” To grow the fruit of the Spirit does require a conscious effort on our part as believers. For any of you who have grown fruit in the garden, you must realize that it takes time, you may not get fruit in the first season. You must plant, water, prune, fertilize, spray, and protect a tree. You must provide the right soil and climate to allow the fruit to grow and prosper. And you must be persistent and patient to see fruit grow and mature.

You may ask what are some concrete examples or evidence of Spiritual Fruit.

Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with eight statements, known as the Beatitudes, which may be considered overt expressions of the Spirit’s Fruit, as we read in Matthew 5:3-11:

Matthew 5:1-11 (ESV): The Sermon on the Mount

5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface

Some Biblical scholars consider the 9th Beatitude as part of the 8th one.

BLCF: LSS

I was fortunate to attend a high school in Richmond Hill which had no bells between classes. If you were absent you wrote your own notes to sign yourself in or out. The expectation was if a student were given responsibility, he or she would grow and mature if the rules of conduct were minimized.

BLCF: LSS-policy

The slogan of Langstaff Secondary School was and is “Maturity through Responsibility”. As believers in Christ, God has removed the old rules or laws and provided, through the Holy Spirit, a beautiful and simple way for us to grow and mature, by accepting the responsibility of our spiritual maturity. He has given us his Beatitudes which each of us may use to measure our spiritual growth on a personal level. By doing so we may grow and develop our fruit of the Spirit and draw closer to his presence with the help of the Holy Spirit.

However, the Fruit of the Spirit is given through salvation, which the gift of the Holy Spirit is free, not of works, lest anyone should boast. To grow the fruit of the Spirit does require a conscious effort on our part as believers. For any of you who have grown fruit in the garden, you must realize that it takes time, you may not get fruit in the first season. You must plant, water, prune, fertilize, spray, and protect a tree. You must provide the right soil and climate to allow the fruit to grow and prosper. And you must be persistent and patient to see fruit grow and mature.

People work their entire lives to achieve wealth, fame, and power, which may bring material rewards. Christians believe, that they must live by a code of conduct outlined in the Beatitudes and pursue righteous lives in order to develop the quality of character which God wants His followers to have so that they will ultimately be blessed with an eternity in Heaven.

Let us pray…

BLCF: be-the-church

Closing Music Special: The Beatitudes Song – (Lyrics) – Provided to YouTube by Catapult Reservatory, LLC · Brook Hills Worship · Matt Mason · Mandi Mapes Kottas – https://youtu.be/5yxs5wFpnGg

Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26):                                                                        

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Know Jesus – Know Peace!

BLCF: Peace through Jesus

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace – Thanksgiving 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: IT COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Thanksgiving Sunday:

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace’

© October 9, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on October 10, 2021, October 7, 2018, October 8, 2017, and February 8, 2015

BLCF Bulletin October 7, 2018

BLCF Bulletin October 8, 2017 

BLCF Bulletin February 8, 2015

Opening Music Special: Church (Take Me Back) Cochren & Co. Worship Video with lyrics – https://youtu.be/ns8lIG6cLc8

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Nockels, Hymn with Lyrics, Contemporary) – https://youtu.be/BNq0WtMSmIY

Give Thanks (Lyrics) – Janella Salvador – https://youtu.be/safmqbiGs7s

Responsive Reading #613 (from – Isaiah 55); Prayer

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.  Before we begin our lesson today, I would like to wish all of you a happy and joyous Thanksgiving Sunday, and briefly share the origins of North America’s first Thanksgiving Celebration, which was celebrated here in Canada:

We find a historical account of the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada on the site, thecanadianencyclopedia.ca:

Origins and History of Thanksgiving in Canada

Indigenous peoples in North America have a history of holding communal feasts in celebration of the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. The Smithsonian Institute has noted that some First Nations “sought to insure a good harvest with dances and rituals.” The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies.

The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in Newfoundland. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places [sic].”

 In 1606, in an attempt to prevent the kind of scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Ste. Croix in the winter of 1604–05, Samuel de Champlain founded a series of rotating feasts at Port Royal called the Ordre de Bon Temps (“Order of Good Cheer”). Local Mi’kmaq families were also invited. The first feast was held on 14 November 1606 to celebrate the return of Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt from an expedition. Having attended the festivities, Marc Lescarbot remarked that they consisted of “a feast, a discharge of musketry, and as much noise as could be made by some fifty men, joined by a few Indians, whose families served as spectators.”           

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

It should be pointed out that in Canada, Thanksgiving was legislated not just a holiday day, as we see in this description of Thanksgiving, from kidsworld.com, that Parliament correctly applied the designation of Thanksgiving as a day when Canadians are encouraged to give thanks to God:

Official Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31st, 1957, the Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th!

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

Shopeasefoods.com  helps answer the question, “Did Canada invent Thanksgiving?” with the following:

Thanksgiving in Canada originated purely as a harvest festival. On Jan 31, 1957 Canadian parliament proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest Canada has been blessed with and was to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. English Explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Thanksgiving held in what is now Newfoundland in 1578 to mark their safe arrival to the new world.

The first American (US) Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. They thanked God and the Wampano for teaching them how to grow crops that enabled them to have a plentiful harvest in time for winter.

http://www.shopeasefoods.com/blog//did-canada-invent-thanksgiving

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Now back to today’s lesson, GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace, which is the title of our message.

To better understand what it is like to walk in the light of GOD’s glory and grace, it might be better to understand when we are not walking in the “light of the Lord”.

In our lives, we have a choice between following two paths: the path of the world or the path of the Lord.

The path we follow is sometimes not directed by our hearts or our minds, but by our eyes. For those of you who drive a vehicle, you are likely aware that where the eyes stray, there is a tendency to steer the vehicle in the same direction. That is why traffic officers try to clear the scene of an accident as quickly as possible, before the so-called “rubber-neckers” steer their vehicles off the road, after being distracted by the scene of an accident. Until a traffic accident is cleared, the officers will slow the speed of vehicles down to a speed that allows passing drivers enough reaction time to avoid becoming part of another accident scene. Still, some drivers will let their vehicle follow their eyes, and another accident ensues.

Our first Scripture passage, which is: Genesis 3:1-7, describes how Eve and Adam were tempted by the appearance of the forbidden fruit in the garden, seeing the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV): The Fall

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 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,[b] 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 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

The visual attraction of the forbidden fruit gave way to a desire to eat the fruit and become wise. Having eaten the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve had their eyes opened, and they saw their nakedness and became ashamed. We must give credit or discredit to crafty Satan, who tempted the pair by telling them that the fruit would open their eyes to good and evil, making them like GOD.  Satan was the distraction, appealing to a desire to be wise like GOD, leading Eve and Adam, who was with her, away from the righteous path to disobey GOD’s commandment.

The temptation caused by a vane desire to be like GOD, and to question HIS authority, led to their downfall. This fall from GOD’s grace, by desiring that which appeals to our vanity and ego, is repeated over and over again, as we see in our next Scripture passage, Matthew 19:16-22, which tells of a wealthy young man, who approaches Jesus, and asks the Lord: what good deed must he do in order to obtain eternal life or righteousness with GOD?

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV): The Rich Young Man

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16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus then tells the young man to be good he must follow the Ten Commandments given by God, delivered to the people of Israel by Moses. The young man replies to the Lord that he has obeyed all the commandments, asking what else must he do? Jesus tells the young man that in order to be perfect he should sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow the Lord. I believe the Lord discerned that there remained one stumbling block, which was his wealth and possessions, that he valued more than following the path of GOD. The man became sorrowful, as he could not part with his great worldly possessions in exchange for the promise of treasure in heaven.

This is the problem with desiring and then acquiring something that appeals to our vanity that we value above anything else, it is the consequence that achieving the object of our desire usually results in shame, as was the case of Adam and Eve, or in sorrow, as happened to the rich young man who sought eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out this dilemma in 1 John 2:15-17, by admonishing us not to place our love and affection upon things of the world:

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV): Do Not Love the World

BLCF: darkness_vs_light

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 2:16 Or pride in possessions

We see how easily we, like Adam, Eve, and the rich young man, can be tempted by the desire for things of the world, which draw us away from GOD’s grace and the promise of eternal life. The path of the world, which is Satan’s road, leads to sin, our sin, which keeps all of us apart from the light of the Lord, HIS glory, and HIS grace.

BLCF: worship-spirit-truth

How,  then, do we discover the way back from a life of sin, and come back to worship GOD in truth and spirit? GOD gave us HIS son, Jesus not just to remove from all of us the judgment of sin, but to be our advocate in heaven. If we decide to abide in Christ and follow the illuminated path, which is the “Way of the Lord”, as we see in 1 John 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ Our Advocate

BLCF: Christ pleads as an advocate for his people_

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

BLCF: new-commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

BLCF: The-Greatest-Commandment

The Apostle John reaffirms Christ’s New Commandment in 1 John 2:1-11: By loving GOD and by keeping HIS word or commandment of loving GOD and loving our brother, is the only way to keep us on the path of light, provided by our Lord, Jesus.

We know that desiring worldly things is to follow the path of darkness, which leads to sin, shame, sorrow, and ultimately to death. The Lord’s path of light is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

In order to discern, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, to help us understand and value not worldly wealth and treasures, but that which is a true treasure: His Word and the path of the Spirit, as described in Paul’s epistle, Ephesians 1:16-21. What Paul wrote to the church, which are the believers in Ephesus, applies to any body of Christian believers, who see to worship GOD in spirit and truth:

Ephesians 1:16-21 (ESV):

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16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I would like to conclude our lesson today, by reading Psalm 119, verses 33-40, as a prayer for our own faith and understanding. May we seek to turn away from treasures of the world, seeking, instead, to find our heavenly treasure, which is eternal life by way of our Lord Jesus:

Let us pray…

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV){

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33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;     

and I will keep it to the end.[a]

34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law     

and observe it with my whole heart.

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    

 for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,     

and not to selfish gain!

37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;     

and give me life in your ways.

38 Confirm to your servant your promise,     

that you may be feared.

39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,     

for your rules are good.

40 Behold, I long for your precepts;     

in your righteousness give me life!

AMEN.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 119:33 Or keep it as my reward

at_the_end

Music Special: In Jesus Name (God Of Possible) – (lyrics) – Katy Nichole (ft. North Point Worship)  – https://youtu.be/zn5rBZgF1os

Benediction – Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

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The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor’

© October 2, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared with BLCF on February 28, 2021, March 26 17, 2017, and August 17, 2014 

BLCF Bulletin March 26, 2017

BLCF Bulletin August 17, 2014

 Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer – (Lyrics) – Based on Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV) – Memorize Scripture through Song – Valleybrook Kids Choir – https://youtu.be/kP29O6rILWc

Prayer and Tithing; Prayer Requests

Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Here I Am To Worship – Maranatha! Music (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/03G52K9X2hQ

In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) – Adrienne Liesching – LYRIC VIDEO – https://youtu.be/rn9-UNer6MQ

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus –  Lyrics – Original words and music by Helen H. Lemmel – Additional music/lyrics by Kevin Winebarger, Nic Trout, George Romanacce, and Nathan Stiff – https://youtu.be/lzCZnyquNnk?t=16

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome, to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service, here in the heart of Toronto, for the first Sunday of October 2022, a Communion Sunday at BLCF. An important part of a believer’s praise and worship is setting aside part of your day for prayer. In order to sense God’s presence, it is helpful to make that prayer time in the quiet of the day. Often that time is either early in the morning or late at night when it is quiet and free from distractions.  At times of particular need or concern, for oneself or for others, is another good time to converse with the Lord through prayer. And of course, don’t forget to praise Him at times of victory and to thank Him for answered prayer.

For the Mickelson family, prayer time came at the end of the day, at the very least. Sophie and I started this tradition after we were married, and carried it on with our children. With the kids, the prayer would be a time to remember everyone in the family and to remember those in the extended family, as well as prayer concerns for our friends. Often, prayer time included reading from the Bible. I am happy to see that my eldest child, Athena, now married with three children of her own carries on the tradition of prayer before bed.

The Scriptures indicate that for Jesus, the preferred time for prayer was the evening, in a quiet place, such as a mountain top or in a garden. In this morning’s scripture, in Luke 9, we see that Jesus went up on a mountain to pray.

On one occasion, the Scriptures record that Jesus brought along three of his disciples, Peter, John, and James, to pray on a mountain.  It was on this mountain, which many scholars believe to be Mount Tabor, an event described in Luke 9:27-36, that the three disciples bore witness to something more than just the Lord at prayer:

Luke 9:27-36 (ESV)

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,[a] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;[b] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Footnotes: a. Luke 9:31 Greek exodus b. Luke 9:35 Some manuscripts my Beloved

Jesus brought along with him Peter, James, and John, where it is described in verse 32 that the three became “heavy with sleep”. The scriptures do not say why they started to become drowsy. You might speculate that it was from the exertion of climbing the mount. A similar thing happened to those who joined Jesus when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, just before his crucifixion. I believe part of it may be the effect of being in God’s presence. Needless to say, the three awoke to see that Jesus’ appearance had changed: both his face and clothing were transfigured, and he seemed to be floating among the clouds. And Jesus was observed talking with Moses and Elijah.

Transfigured is an interesting word. It is the English translation from the Greek Scriptures of “metamorpho” meaning to transform, literally or figuratively, to metamorphose, or to change. It is a verb and therefore means to change into another form. Christ’s death and resurrection are often symbolized by the butterfly, which changes or metamorphoses in a chrysalis from a larva, then to a pupa, and then ends as a butterfly. These changes are similar to Christ began in human form before the crucifixion, then as the Resurrected Christ, and finally, as the Ascended Christ.

What a sight that must have been to behold! And then to actually hear the voice of God stating: “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!”

It is interesting to note that God appears to make this statement as a response to Peter’s impulsive suggestion that the three disciples should build three tents in honour of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. If you go back to verse 27, you will see that perhaps God’s words were spoken, not as a reaction to the comment by the disciple about building temples. More likely, God spoke in agreement with the statement made by Jesus, as we see recorded in John 9:27“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

This is not the first time that the disciples struggled to comprehend the meaning and significance of a miracle of Jesus that they had just witnessed. What they had observed was a glimpse of the glory of Heaven that Jesus alluded to in Luke 9, verse 27.

This miracle, like that where Jesus walked upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee, was another of the rare miracles in the Gospels, where Jesus was the object of the miracle.

Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration to be “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented the baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven.

Another instance in the Scriptures of God speaking occurred just after Jesus was baptized when the Father spoke from Heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, with who I am well pleased.” For Jesus, this was his own personal Pentecost, where the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is significant in that we have an account of the promise of Heaven and the Resurrected Life. In contrast to Christ’s baptism, the Holy Spirit is observed afterward descending, “like a dove”, upon him. In this passage of Scripture recorded in Matthew 3:16-17, we have a presentation of the trinity of God, God’s voice in Heaven, Jesus the son’s baptism, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. All three are distinct, each being the presence of God.

There is a third account in the New Testament, where a voice speaks from Heaven, which occurs during the conversion of Paul, known formerly as Saul of Tarsus. That account is given in the Book of Acts, Chapter 9, verses 1-7, when Saul of Tarsus hears the Son of God ask “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And Saul, whose job was to arrest the followers of Christ, asks who is speaking? To which Jesus replies “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” indicating that an offense against a believer of Christ is considered to be an offense against Christ. Jesus then instructs him to “rise and enter the city” and that he would be told what to do.

The significance of this passage is how God convicts non-believers of faith, and how even the most stubborn of non-believers can be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Paul sometimes referred to as the thirteenth Apostle, had his conversion after Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is interesting that before his conversion, Saul of Tarsus was a member of the religious order which had Jesus put to death, and stoned Stephen, the first martyr of the followers of Christ.

Going back to Luke 9 and the Transfiguration, one may question why John, James, and Peter, were privy to this Heavenly vision of seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus regarding his impending departure in Jerusalem. By departure, we are talking about the crucifixion as the Chosen One.

Though Jesus died for our sins, to redeem believers, so that they may become righteous and be acceptable unto God. All of the disciples, save John, died violent deaths because of their beliefs and their sharing of the miracles that Jesus performed, the most important being his resurrection, his ascension, and his gifting of the Holy Spirit. James was put to death by a sword, by order of King Herod. Peter, being a Roman citizen was not crucified; instead, he was beheaded in Rome, at the order of Nero. John, the first of the twelve disciples to follow Jesus, and the last to die, did not die a violent death. The Apostle John did live long enough to see Jesus, as well as the eleven disciples, including his brother, James, die violently because of their beliefs.

The disciple’s individual faith may have wavered at one time or another,  each disciple, save for Judas Iscariot, was put to death in a violent manner, because of the conviction of the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is Christ’s Gospel.

Further support for the notion is found in Luke 9 verse 27, “some standing here will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God” referring to Peter, James, and John, the three who witnessed the Transfiguration, and who later acknowledged having seen the Kingdom of Heaven.

For Peter, we read in 2 Peter 1:16-18 (ESV):

 16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

It seems quite clear that Peter refers to the Transfiguration on the mount as a view of the majesty of the risen Christ and the voice of God in Heaven.

With John, we read another acknowledgment of glory in the Transfiguration:

John 1:14 (ESV)

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

Most scholars of the Bible agree that in the vision of the Transfiguration of Jesus, that Moses represents the Laws or the Sacred Scriptures of God, as Moses had authored five of the book of the Old Testament, and he delivered God’s Ten Commandments to the Hebrew people. Elijah represents the Prophets of God. Jesus represents both the authority of God, and the fulfillment of both the Word and the Prophets.

The account of Jesus’ baptism records the presence of the Trinity of God. The Trinity is observed again in the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus, the son, was observed with Moses and Elijah. God’s presence is found when His words were heard. And the cloud that appears represents the presence of the Holy Spirit.

You may ask: Why were Peter, James, and John selected to witness Jesus’ Transfiguration?  Many scholars view that Moses and Elijah represent God’s Faith in the Prophets and the Laws that preceded Jesus. The three disciples represent aspects of God’s Faith after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension: Peter represents the Faith of the Church, James represents Hope of love (i.e. loving one’s neighbor as oneself), and John represents the application of Charity in the good works of man. Together, we have a symbolic representation of the Trinity the faith in the Holy Spirit, the Hope through the Salvation of Christ, and the Charity of God our Father in heaven who provided a means that we might be sanctified in spite of our sinful nature.

As often occurs in the Gospel accounts, the apostles while witnessing a miracle of Jesus, lose track of its significance. You may recall in a previous message about the miracle where Jesus walked across the Sea of Galilee, following the feeding of the multitude, also known as the “Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes”. The disciples had yet to conclude that this supernatural miracle not only proved that Jesus had the power of God, but that Christ was God.

Only after Jesus easily walked across a stormy sea, against which the disciples had struggled for hours, did he perform the miracle whereby Peter with Jesus trod water, so long as he had his eyes fixed on Jesus. When Peter does take his gaze from Jesus and looks upon the sea, he sinks. Jesus performs yet another miracle by raising Peter out of the water: “Oh ye of little faith!”

Eventually, Jesus boards the boat containing the disciples and calms the stormy weather, and transports the boat, according to John’s Gospel, instantaneously across the water. It takes a series of supernatural miracles before the twelve finally acknowledge that Jesus is truly the son of God.

Like the people of Israel who kept losing their faith, while being led from Pharaoh’s Egypt, through the desert, to the Promised Land, the disciples kept forgetting who they were following. Perhaps this was the real purpose of the excursion that Jesus made with Peter, John, and James on Mount Tabor:  to remind the disciples that they were following the Son of God. In one account of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructed the three disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until three days after His crucifixion.

As believers in the Gospel, what can you and I take home from the message of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor? There are four key points to today’s lesson:

First, we have hope, through our faith, just as Jesus was transfigured into another form in Heaven,  we, too, will be resurrected to heave, by faith in the resurrected Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Second, just like the disciples, in spite of lapses in judgment and though we may continue to sin, if we continue to confess our sins, God will forgive our sins and by His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, God has a place for us in Heaven. “Though we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sin.”

And third, in spite of our inequities, Christ does not give up on us. As many times as it takes, he will patiently take us to the holy places, to remind us that “He will never leave or forsake us!”

Finally, as was observed earlier in today’s message, as Christ was baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and then reborn, in spirit and transfigured into a new, that on this earth, as believers we may be transfigured through faith in the Word and the promise of the salvation of the lamb, Jesus. We, too, may have the same vision that what we do in this world in the name of Jesus has the promise and power to transfigure us into a creature that is Holy and Sanctified. However, since Jesus has already died and arisen on the third day, there is no expectation of death’s darkness and silence, but an expectation that we may share the promise of having a new body, transfigured by faith in the fulfillment of Word, now made flesh in Jesus our Savior.

The Scriptures, through the disciples’ accounts of their observation of the   Transfiguration of Jesus, give believers a glimpse of the glorious afterlife we may expect to see when we are resurrected on the day Christ returns in his glory. This will be a day when we will sing, along with the angels of Heaven praises of hallelujah to the glory of the Lord.

The Day that Jesus returns in all of his glory will be a day of judgment; a day of deliverance; a day of our transfiguration.

Until that glorious day that we, as resurrected, transfigured believers are united with the Lord, we are commissioned by our faith to share the truth of the gospel of Jesus that he died to make us holy and to believe the truth of his message will set others free.

Let me finish today’s message by reading from Transfigured by Jay C. Treat, as a prayer (found on the back of today’s Bulletin):

(Dear God in Heaven)

We went up the mountain with Jesus,    

but quite unprepared for a surprise.

We never expected to see him    

transform right in front of our eyes!

His face was as bright as the sunlight;    

his clothes were as bright as the skies.

He talked with Elijah and Moses,    

who stood right in front of our eyes.

We thought we could build them three temples:

one shrine for the giver of laws,

and one for Elijah the prophet,    

and one for this master of ours.

A bright cloud then covered the mountain.    

A Voice echoed deep from within,

Said, “This is my son, my beloved one!    

He pleases me! Listen to him!”

We came down the mountain with Jesus,    

now ready for any surprise.

We’re ready to listen and follow    

and change right in front of his eyes 

(In name of Jesus we pray – AMEN)

Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Phil Wickham – Living Hope (Lyrics)- https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w?t=4

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.

Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith? – September 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Jesus-walks-on-water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith?’

© September 25, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on March 6, 2022, March 13, 2016, and April 18, 2010

BLCF Bulletin March 13, 2016

BLCF: by-faith-we-grow-to-sonship

Music Special – Cochren & Co. – Thank God For Sunday Morning (Lyric Video) – https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=MfDBRfMRNU4

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=MfDBRfMRNU4

Announcements and Call to Worship:

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading # 660 (The New Way of Life – Luke 6); Prayer

Scripture Verses: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:51-52, and John 6:20-21

BLCF: exercise_faith

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Light Of The World (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/_cLhaZIBSpo 

Lauren Daigle – I Am Yours (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/2Bo7mDvQyeA

Let us pray…

Good Morning and welcome to our morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church on this, the last Sunday of September and the first Sunday of Fall.

This morning’s message is about the miracle of Jesus’ walking upon the Sea of Galilee.

But first, let us look what is the definition of a miracle, as described in the Bible? It’s very interesting that a common word used for a miracle in the New Testament can also be translated as “sign.” A miracle is a sign that God uses to point to Himself; the same way we follow signs to guide us along highways or city streets.

Most scholars agree that the Gospels record 37 supernatural miracles of Jesus or, 37 Devine interventions in nature.   There are 21 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Matthew, 3 of which are unique to Matthew. There are 19 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Mark, 2 of which are unique to Mark. There are 22 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Luke, 7 of which are unique to Luke. And there are 8 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in John, 6 of which are unique to John.

We do not have time this morning to go through all 37 of these miracles, which are by definition supernatural events. And when we say supernatural, we are not talking about ghosts, zombies, or things that go “bump in the night”, though the disciples did initially mistake the Lord treading across the sea for a ghost or apparition. A supernatural event can be described as something that is super or above and beyond nature or what is described as a natural event. Natural events follow the rules and laws of physics. The natural event can be predicted to follow these rules and laws. A supernatural event defies the rules because it was caused by the Lord, Who is supernatural, as He is part of the Trinity of God. God created the universe and therefore is not bound by the rules of nature.

This morning we will focus on the miracle of Jesus walking on water, which occurred the day after Jesus had performed the miracle of the “Loaves and Fishes.”

Matthew 14:22-32 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus walks on the sea

 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Mathew’s account of events records three miracles; Jesus walking on the water; Peter walking on the water; and the calming of the wind and waves. John’s account records the fourth miracle; and that the boat was instantly transported to their destination of Bethesda, some 3½ miles away. Only Luke’s Gospel does not give us an account of any of these miracles. Perhaps he was asleep in the cabin, having served an earlier watch? But, upon what body of water did these events take place.

Sometimes referred to as a lake, the Sea of Galilee, a lake described in this passage, from Britannica Online:

BLCF: Jesus walks on the water

The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake in the north of Palestine. It is 13 miles (21 km) long and about 8 miles (14km) across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 150 feet (46km). Lying 640 feet (195m) below sea level, it is surrounded by mountains 1,200-1,500 feet (365-460m) high, rising close to the shore except for short stretches on the south, southwest and northwest. The lake is fed from the north by the River Jordan and by numerous lesser streams, as well as by underwater springs, some of them hot, to which medicinal properties have been attributed. Emerging from the southern end of the lake, the Jordan carries the outflow to the Dead Sea.

Ancient Harbor of the Sea of Galilee

The area was very prosperous in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Early on, under the Ptolemies, the fort of Philoteria was built on the site of ancient Beth Yerah and served as the capital of a district, developing into a large Jewish city in the Roman period. The shores of the Sea of Galilee were the scene of the early ministry of Jesus. From Nazareth he went to preach in the synagogues, some of them in cities close to the sea, such as Capernaum and Chorazin. It was from these shores that he called the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, and James and John “to become fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-21), and at the water’s edge that he fed the multitude with two loaves and five fishes (Matthew 14:19-20). Tradition places the site of this miracle at Heptapegon, where the early Church of the Loaves and Fishes was built. Both Jewish and Christian communities flourished along the shores of the lake during the whole of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Excavations made on many sites round the lake, such as Beth Yarah, Tiberias, Hammath, Heptapegon and Capernaum, have revealed much evidence of the splendor and prosperity of the region in all periods.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/224050/Sea-of-Galilee

Similar to Ontario’s Lake Nipissing, near North Bay, the Sea of Galilee’s dimensions and orientation makes it a prime candidate to sudden unpredictable storms caused by the prevailing winds. Needless to say, I am sure that Jesus, having been blessed with the Holy Spirit, and by virtue of being the Divine Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), knew that the disciples would encounter a storm on their journey.

Canadian Hydrographic Services Key Map of Lake Nipissing

Canadian Hydrographic Services Key Map of Lake Nipissing

Callander Bay, the South Bay, Cache Bay, the Northwest Arm, the West Arm, the West Bay, the South River, the Sturgeon River and the French River can all be navigated safely in small skiffs. However, to venture to the Manitou or Goose Islands in such a craft would be foolhardy, except under the most favourable circumstances.

Lake Nipissing is notorious for the speed with which it can become treacherous when the weather turns foul – the combination of its shallow depth and low shoreline, its long fetch and orientation toward the direction of the prevailing winds, mean that it can become very rough in short order. It also exhibits a short wave interval, which makes it extraordinarily uncomfortable in windy conditions.

http://www3.sympatico.ca/jeffrey.froud/Cruising.html

So why did He allow them to go in the boat without Him? And why did He wait so long before joining them?

Do not forget that Jesus wanted to go up the mountain to pray. As Christians, we need to take time to pray, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in order to clear our slate of all the thoughts, actions, and feelings in our lives that may tend to distance us from God.

Jesus was a good teacher, not only to the multitude but to the twelve who followed him. The journey from Heptapegon, also known as Tabgha, el-Oreme, or ‘En Sheva to Bethesda was about seven miles distance and would have usually taken the disciples a maximum of 3-4 hours, under normal conditions. Because of extreme headwinds and waves, the disciples’ boat had covered only half the distance in about 12 hours’ time, or about 1/6 of the normal rate of travel.

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about the challenges his disciples were encountering, but he allowed them to go for some time before he set out to tread across the sea. Until Jesus arrived, the disciples had to work persistently and together to keep their boat on course, against the storm. The disciples would need the same persistence and cooperation, in the not-too-distant future, to share the Gospel with people who knew nothing of God, or worse, had drifted away from God in the pursuit of a religion devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Continuing with Mathew 14, verse 25:

BLCF: Jesus walking on water

25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Again there is the human tendency to forget their faith, as initially, none recognized Christ on the water, thinking instead that they saw a spirit or ghost on the water. If Christ had told them he would join them later, they would have likely forgotten the lesson Jesus had intended to teach them. If they had expected Christ to join them before they departed, they likely would not have understood that Jesus had the power to effortlessly cross a stormy sea that held the disciples’ vessel stationary for so many hours.

Now Peter, not sure if it was Jesus said, reading Mathew 14, verse 28:  

BLCF: Jesus-walking-on-water

28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

The disciples, who had already seen the power of Jesus, having personally witnessed several of His miracles, had not connected the dots to conclude that it was their Master Who approached their vessel.  At this time of the Worldwide Pandemic and the horror of war that Russia is currently inflicting upon Ukraine, we as Christian believers may suffer from an absence of faith in the face of such adversity. If for a second we take our eyes away from the Saviour, just like Peter walking on the sea, we can be distracted from our faith, by dwelling on our circumstances, just as Peter did, and in our fear and doubt, sink in the sea of our adversities.  In spite of the fleetingness of faith, Jesus still is there just waiting for us to call to Him to extend His hand and lift us from a sea of sadness and despair. He joins us and He calms the stormy sea and accompanies us to our destination. Up to this point, the disciples had shown a lot of religion and only a little faith. Their hearts had been hardened to the source of the miracles which they had witnessed up to this point, as was indicated in Mark 6:51-52:

BLCF: Lord-Jesus-animated

1And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Jesus had allowed the twelve disciples to suffer what they considered a possible life-threatening peril of the storm at sea and they had not recognized the supernatural Christ, who had dominion over all of nature, walking towards them on a violent sea. Instead, they saw a ghost. Peter allowed his vision of the stormy conditions around him to act as a distraction, causing him to be distracted momentarily, which resulted in him forgetting the presence of Jesus, whereupon the disciple promptly sank into the sea. It was not until Jesus had boarded the vessel, that the disciples finally understood just Who had performed the Miracle of the Loaves; feeding the multitude; Who had walked across and calmed the stormy sea; and Who had empowered Peter to walk the sea, In short, the disciples had forgotten just Who Jesus really was Matthew 14:33:

BLCF: Jesus_is_Lord_animated

33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I believe that this was the purpose of the exercise of the voyage to Bethany, the storm on the sea, and the subsequent miracles. The miracle was a sign to the disciples who their teacher was: the Son of God! This miracle established in the disciples a belief without question that Jesus was the Son of God, and from this belief comes faith that as Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to fulfill the scriptures.  As we read in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV):

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Now Christ did one more miracle that was not only for the benefit of the 12 disciples, but it was also for everyone, man, woman, and child, for all generations of the next 20 centuries, up to and including today. He died on the cross for our sins, to remove for us the tempest of God’s judgment. Jesus did the ultimate miracle by rising from the dead. Not finished with His miracles, he ascended to heaven to be our Advocate. Finally, He rewarded our faith by sending us a Comforter in the Holy Spirit, to join us on our travels through life; to assure us through the storms we may encounter; to calm of fears in our trials; to accompany us to our destinations, and to assist us in sharing the Gospel.

Our bodies are like clay jars, fragile, and easily shattered, but thanks to His miraculous power He is capable of transforming us from empty clay jars into vessels of the most valuable of treasures, which is the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:7:

BLCF: earthen_vessels_with_heavenly_treasure

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Just as the disciples set out in a vessel that can be destroyed by the raging sea, our bodies are subject to destruction by the natural forces of misadventure, disease, and age. But by faith in Jesus, we can remove the threat of natural death and supernaturally share the miracle of eternal life. But to make our bodies a proper vessel for the Holy Spirit, we must cleanse ourselves of unrighteousness, by confessing our sins and accepting the miraculous gifts of the sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf,  so that we may receive justification in God’s eyes. Only then, are our bodies sanctified to receive God’s Holy Spirit, as we read in  2 Timothy 2:20-21:

BLCF: Holy Work Earthen-Vessels

20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. 21Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house ready for every good work.

Disciples sail the stormy sea

It may appear, come from outside this church, that Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is like a vessel set upon by a great destructive storm. We are a relatively small congregation, with a large mission of sharing the Gospel of Christ. Still, God has rewarded our faith with what is necessary to achieve His purpose in our community: to feed and minister to a multitude of up to 150 souls each and every Wednesday evening. God continues to provide the means, including the funds, volunteers, and even the fridges and stoves, for workers in His house to do this good work.

While our work has been paused due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we may take this respite to reflect on the wonderous miracles the Lord has worked in our lives, in the life of His Church, and prepare to pick up the standard of faith so as to rededicate our commitment to continue His plan in our community!

Do we need a ghostly apparition in our midst to convince us from whom these miracles come? Dare we take our eyes away from Him to look at the storm around us, and in doing so, risk losing our precious faith to end up, only sinking into a sea of despair? Are we here to perform hollow religious worship or are we here to demonstrate our faith in our Savior, faith in the gift of Salvation, cleansing our bodies in faith, so that our vessels may continue to hold the Holy Spirit, in order to do the Lord’s work?

Let us conclude today’s message with the following characteristics of religion and faith:

Religion exists to control faith;

 Faith exists to keep religion in check.

Religion is man’s interpretation of God’s will,

Faith is its acceptance.

May our actions demonstrate our faith and trust in God, not a practice of religious ritual. Let us not question God’s will, but with the help of His Holy Spirit, accept and implement it to His glory!

Let us pray…

BLCF: faith_in_God

Closing Music Special: My Prayer For You (Official Lyric Video) – Alisa Turner – https://youtu.be/hj_0pvIGkks

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6):

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

BLCF: Faith - Hebrews 11_1