Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF: John_7-8

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘

© January 16, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Messages Shared at BLCF on January 9, 2021, January 12, 2020 and January 26, 2014

BLCF: Bulletin January 26, 2014

A Deacons Prayer

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                

Opening Music Special: Lauren Daigle – How Can It Be – https://youtu.be/Wt5X91ciE6Y 

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

Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                                                          

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                      ‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘

Music Special: You Alone, by North Point Worship and Lauren Daigle, led by LWW – https://youtu.be/v-w8inS_Wx8

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘, where we will look at two aspects of the Gospel, which is the Gospel of Christ, Jesus. One aspect is how our sins are forgiven and forgotten, the death sentence removed by the sacrifice on the cross by Jesus, who gave his life as the final sacrifice and payment for humanity’s sins. The other is a new covenant that our Lord has established.

First, let us understand what is meant by a covenant, as described in the Bible:

Covenant (Dictionary.com) Definition

https://www.dictionary.com › browse › covenant

Covenant. Literally, a contract. In the Bible, an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them.

And in order to understand the old covenant, let us first see what the Bible says about the Old Covenant:

Exodus 34:27-28 (ESV)

27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.[a]

Footnotes: a. Exodus 34:28 Hebrew the ten words

This Sunday, we have in John, Chapter 8, the account of the women caught in adultery, who was brought to the Lord, as he taught in the temple.  I hope to conclude the topic, by looking at the involvement of the Pharisees, who sought the Lord’s opinion of a woman, who had committed the sin of adultery, as an opportunity to challenge Jesus and even have him arrested. But before we proceed further in examine the Scriptures, let us first look at who were those that were called Pharisees:

BLCF: Mark_7_6

                                         Pharisees – (wikipedia.org)                         

Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in Judea during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (commonly known as simply Judaism).

The Pharisees appear in the New Testament, engaging in conflicts between themselves and John the Baptist and with Jesus, and because Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3:1) with Joseph of Arimathea entombed Jesus’ body at great personal risk. Gamaliel, the highly respected rabbi and defender of the apostles, was also a Pharisee, and according to some Christian traditions secretly converted to Christianity. There are several references in the New Testament to Paul of Tarsus being a Pharisee.

The New Testament, particularly the Synoptic Gospels, presents especially the leadership of the Pharisees as obsessed with man-made rules (especially concerning purity) whereas Jesus is more concerned with God’s love; the Pharisees scorn sinners whereas Jesus seeks them out. (The Gospel of John, which is the only gospel where Nicodemus is mentioned, particularly portrays the sect as divided and willing to debate) Because of the New Testament‘s frequent depictions of Pharisees as self-righteous rule-followers (see also Woes of the Pharisees and Legalism (theology)), the word “Pharisee” (and its derivatives: “pharisaical”, etc.) has come into semi-common usage in English to describe a hypocritical and arrogant person who places the letter of the law above its spirit.  Jews today who subscribe to Pharisaic Judaism typically find this insulting and some consider the use of the word to be anti-Semitic.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees

Back to today’s lesson, let us begin by reviewing one of  today’s Scripture verse, taken from John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, verses 1-11:

BLCF: John_8

                                                      John 8:1-11 (ESV)                                                           

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

BLCF: John8-11

You may ask by what authority did the Pharisees, who were legalists with respect to the Scriptures, appear to choose to avoid any spiritual interpretation of the Mosaic Law. Those who claim to follow God’s Laws from a strictly legal perspective, without looking for God’s Spiritual intent, seem to seek to remove God’s involvement from the law. Without any Spiritual discernment or guidance, the Scriptures become only documents that can be best understood in a strictly literal way. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Pharisees took the rules found in the book of Leviticus 20, as their authority to be self-appointed judges, juries and executioners of anyone who violated any of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought to the People of Israel.

As for women caught in the act of adultery, the punishment was quite clear, as we see in today’s second verse, which is from the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 20; Verse 10.

                    Leviticus 20:10 (ESV): Punishments for Sexual Immorality                      

10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of[a] his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.                                                       

Footnotes: a. Leviticus 20:10 Hebrew repeats if a man commits adultery with the wife of

If you look at the end of Leviticus 20, you will see the prescribed punishment being death by stoning. But there is something about implementing the sin of one commandment, “thy shall not kill” as a punishment for another, “thy shall not commit adultery.” Does this make sense? Who is supposed to judge such sins?  What about God’s plan for forgiveness, through Jesus?

One may argue that Jesus had not yet died on the cross, and so the Pharisees were justified in expecting to kill the adulterous women, as forgiveness from sins would only be possible after Christ’s crucifixion. But wait a minute; there is a couple of “Old Testament” verses that we need to take into account.

 In Ezekiel, Chapter 33, verses 14-19, we read that the punishment of death can be commuted.

                                                  Ezekiel 33:14-19 (ESV)                                                      

14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.

17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this.

God judged the violation of any of His laws subject to the same penalty: death.  But He did provide a plan for forgiveness, called “The New Covenant”, which is described in Jeremiah, Chapter 31, verses 31-34. 

God's New Covenant Message at BLCF Church  

                        Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV): The New Covenant 

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Now playing the devil’s advocate, some may say that the Pharisees were able to implement God’s judgment against the adulterous women because they were without sin. Let me direct you to Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees in John 8:1-11; “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” As he spoke this, Jesus was able to avoid engaging a debate with the Pharisees or others in the crowd and tempered their anger by continuing to casually write with his finger in the ground.

God's Law

God’s Plan

One by one, the accusers realizing that they were not sinless, and therefore not in a position to judge or execute the women, left the scene. And in the end, no one remained. And we read in John 8, verse 10:

BLCF: Has no one condemned You

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus communicates volumes in just a few short sentences. By challenging the group that only the sinless may cast the first stone, Jesus points out that everyone is guilty of the sin, and therefore deserving of the same judgment: death. The older men left first, not necessarily because of the wisdom of their years. Because they were older they had accrued more sins in their respected lifetimes than the younger men.

BLCF: John_8_7

It is interesting that just as we have the image of God writing His laws on stone tablets in Exodus 34 reprised in John 8:10 by His Son as he writes in the sand while suggesting only the sinless are entitled to judge, and releasing the woman from the judgment of death for the sin of adultery.

Jesus statement in John 8:7 challenges the authority of the Pharisees to implement any judgment that is reserved solely to God. We see this expressed succinctly in James, Chapter 4, verses 11-12.

                                                James 4:11-12 (ESV)                                        

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?                                                                                                     

As followers of the resurrected Christ and believers in the Way of the Lord, we are implored to exercise the same compassionate heart of forgiveness towards each other that was expressed in Jeremiah 31, this time echoed in Colossians 3, verses 12-15.

BLCF: NO CONDEMNATION

                                               Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV)                            

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

And as a reminder, again, we see in Luke, Chapter 6, verses 37-42, what our judgement will be, if like the Pharisees, we are determine to judge and not forgive.  

                                   Luke 6:37-42 (ESV): Judging Others                                               

  37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

And we conclude today’s lesson with the Scripture taken from John 3, verses 31-36, with a reminder of God’s New Covenant, through His Son, Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit without measure and eternal life, by way of obedience and faith to God, by way of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we face God’s wrath and death described in Leviticus 20.

BLCF: Jesus Can

John 3:31-36 (ESV)    

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Acoustic) – https://youtu.be/3ch6eXkQWU8

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.

BLCF:john8_7

Divine Joy: A Reward Seasoned by His Grace, Illuminated by the Word 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
 
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is joy-in-heaven.jpg

Opening Music Special: Cochren & Co. – One Day (Official Lyric Video)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is beatitudes-image.jpg

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:

‘Divine Joy: A Reward Seasoned by His Grace, Illuminated by the Word’

© January 9, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based Upon Messages Shared at BLCF on May23, 2021, March 5, 2017, and on August 23, 2015

BLCF Bulletin March 5, 2017

BLCF Bulletin August 23, 2015

BLCF: be_atitudes

Announcements and Call to Worship – Responsive Reading #617: The Beatitudes (Matthew 3, 28; Acts 2; Romans 6)

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

Requests Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 5:1-16 and Luke 6:12-26

The Sermon on the Mount

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

Special Music: The Beatitudes Song Medium – Oskaloosa Christian School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrctouzIB0s&t=2s

Let us pray…

Good morning, our lesson today at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, we will examine Jesus’ sermon on The Beatitudes, which is the longest recorded in the Gospels, also known as The Sermon on the Mount. The message was delivered from a place called The Mount of Olives, which is why the sermon, also known as The Olivet Discourse,

Remember, to Jesus, who you are is more important than what you do.

In this sermon, Jesus gives emphasis on the importance of who his disciples are over what his disciples do, as we read in Matthew 5:1-16 (ESV):

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

BLCF: light_salt

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

BLCF: Sermon-on-the-Mount-Graphic

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

BLCF: beatitudes-meaning-and-structure

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.

But what do we mean by the term blessing? We can find several definitions:

BLCF: blessings

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

  1. The act or words of a person who blesses.
  2. A special favor, mercy, or benefit: The blessings of liberty.
  3. A favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
  4. The invoking of God’s favor upon a person: The son was denied his father’s blessing.
  5. Praise; devotion; worship, especially grace said before a meal: The children took turns reciting the blessing.
  6. 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 upon the second and third definitions:

  1. A special favor, mercy, or benefit: The blessings of liberty.
  2. 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

BLCF: Saint_Augustine

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-beatitudes-header.jpg

The Beatitudes, as listed in Matthew 5, 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.

Before Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount to the multitude, the Lord heals those afflicted with diseases, cure 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.

A reminder, to the Lord, who you are is more important than what you do.

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 favor 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 favor 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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Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: The Beatitudes – Hillsong (with lyrics)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kkjmXnIWow

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.

Philippians 4:19

Don’t put Him to the test!

BLCF Pastors trust

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”Luke 4:12 After all God saved the human race and the animals by instructing Noah to construct a man-made ark. Without it all would have perished!

God sent you masks

 

 

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday 2021: Love

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 Message for Sunday:

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

– Fourth Advent Sunday: Love

© December 19, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 20, 2020, December 23, 2018, & December 20, 2015 

BLCF Bulletin December 23, 2018

BLCF Bulletin December 20, 2015

Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Music Special: KAYLEE ROGERS AND LAUREN DAIGLE- NOEL – https://youtu.be/RKnjgZ85w1g

Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Luke 2:10-11, John 3:16-21, and Luke 2:10-11 (ESV):

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

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

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

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 Advent Sunday Services. So please remember to bring your Songbook back for the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

 

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

Responsive Reading #627: (The Saviors Advent – Luke 2)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday 2018: Love

Music Special: Lauren Daigle ~ Love Like This (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/U7eyU9EPGWo

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, for our Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Over the last several weeks, we have observed the Advent or coming of the birth of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, by lighting on each of the four Sunday’s a candle, part of the Advent wreath.

The candles represent the aspects of God’s plan to bring to humanity: hope, peace, love, and joy, through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Today’s candle called the ‘Candle of Love’, also known as the ‘Angel’s Candle’.

The significance of the ‘Peace Candle’ is how important love is to the faith walk of the Christian believer. We may get an understanding of love from the first of today’s Scripture Verses.

Jesus indicated that love is a key aspect of the ‘great commandment’ in the Law given to us from the Lord, Matthew 22:35-39 (ESV):

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is not only a key aspect of our relationship with the Lord and our neighbor, but it is also the most important gift given to us by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV):

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

We see the importance of love as both a Commandment and Gift of the Spirit. What is meant by love? For an answer, let us see what we may find in our Wikibits Sources:

How to Define Love

 “How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” — Albert Einstein

Love is difficult to define. How do you avoid confusing it with infatuation or lust? Philosophers and psychologists both have attempted to define love, or at least its difference from infatuation and lust. If you are looking to find love, the following observations may be helpful.

Love is much more than a risk but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions.

How can one truly define what love is? Not even an experienced person can truly grasp or explain love to its truest and deepest meaning. Its concepts are just a never-ending story of an open book of experiences. But love does lie in one’s heart, where memories are but shadows lingering in your soul.

Look at how the ancient Greeks broke down love into four categories. Think of which category of love you feel for the people you are close to.

  1. Agape is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults”.
  2. Philia is charity or brotherly love, guided by our likes or our healthy or unhealthy needs and desires. This is why Philadelphia is called the “City of Brotherly Love”.
  3. Storge is the word for family love and the physical show of “affection”, the need for physical touch. Sometimes it’s the love between exceptional friends (the movie Grumpy Old Men for example).
  4. Eros is the physical “sexual” desire, intercourse. It is the root word of erotic, and eroticism.

http://www.wikihow.com/Define-Love

The Bible adds to our understanding of love, by telling us that love is not only an expression of true Christian faith but describes a characteristic of God, God is love in1 John 4:7-21 (ESV):

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he

BLCF: God is Love

We see in this passage, that God is love; that God loves us; and through Jesus, God’s love becomes perfected in us. If we abide in God, we receive His Holy Spirit so that God abides in us.

What is stated in 1 John 4:10, is because God first loved us, Jesus provided an atoning sacrifice to appease or turn away God’s wrath against sinners.

We see that Jesus came because God loved us, not to remove or God’s Law, but to remove the judgment for our sin, which is the punishment for violating the Law.

When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, and confess that sin, we receive salvation from God’s judgement, as well as the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit: kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, which are bound together in perfect harmony through love, Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV):

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

This Christmas, let us reply upon the love through Christ. God is love and Jesus came because of His love. To the faithful, the Holy Spirit comes to us bringing to each believer the love of God. Let us be thankful that through the Resurrected Christ, the love from God binds us together in His grace as a single unified body of believers, so that we may bear witness of His love to a dark and sinful world.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Light of The World – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

Light of The World – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24): Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

BLCF Hours of Operation During the Pandemic

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

BLCF: Jesus-loves-you-blcf-smiley-face

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday 2021: Peace

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 Message for Sunday:

‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday: Peace’

© December 5, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 6, 2020, December 8, 2019, and December 6, 2015

Bulletin December 6, 2015

Music Special: Ryan Stevenson – Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayers 

Tithing and Prayer   

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

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 Advent Sunday Services. So please remember to bring your Songbook back for the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

At this time, let us light the Second Advent Candle, to signify the Peace from the Lord:

Lighting of the Second Advent Candle: Peace

Lighting Second Advent Candle (Peace) – 1 Thessalonians 5:13b-23 (ESV):

13b  Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

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

Footnotes: a. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Or disorderly, or undisciplined

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday:

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church on this the first Sunday of December 2021, which also happens to be a Communion Sunday.

Speaking of Advent, Christians today observe Two Advents of the Lord:

The first is Jesus’ birth, where he came to fulfill prophecy by his birth, his death, his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, and by his sending of the Holy Spirit to those who believe and accept him as Lord and Saviour.

We are observing the First Advent when we light candles, read Scriptures, sing hymns, say prayers and praises to commemorate God’s gifts through His Son, Jesus.

We observe the Second Advent or coming of the Lord, which has yet to take place, by observing Communion as a single Church or Body of Believers, taking the juice and bread elements of Communion.

As I mentioned before, today being the first Sunday of the month, and as the custom at BLCF Church on that first Sunday, we will like to invite the congregation to partake in the elements of Communion.

What Is Communion?

Communion began on the annual celebration of Passover when Jesus told his disciples to remember his sacrifice as they ate the bread and drank the wine. Just as Israel was celebrated the sacrifice of the Passover lamb when the angel of death passed over their homes, so believers in Jesus celebrate and remember his sacrifice of our sins when he died on the cross.

https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/communion-bible-verses/

Let us read from the Scriptures, 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 – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV):

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[b] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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

Let us continue with today’s lesson…

Tower of Babel

It was well over a year ago, before BLCF Church closed its doors due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had a Sunday lesson that included the Scripture’s account of the “Tower of Babel”, where a group of misguided people embarked on building a great tower towards heaven so that they might raise themselves to the same level as the Lord, as well as to elevate their own personal status among other people throughout both the world and in history. The offense of embarking upon building an edifice to their own glory instead of to their Father in heaven was so misguided and offensive to Him, that they were stricken by God with a multitude of languages, for their multitude of sins. The language barrier was so great, that the people discontinued their work on the tower and the communication differences caused the people to disperse and be scattered into obscurity.

In Secondary school, I had a Latin teacher, who often used a favorite line “non-sensibus” to comment upon a student’s error in translating a paragraph to English from Latin or Vice-Versa. We are told that Scripture is both Divinely inspired and Spiritually discerned.

Still, we find throughout the Bible numerous examples of individuals and groups performing foolish actions based upon a poor understanding of the meaning of prophecies, Commandments, Parables, and/or Covenants. Examples of such actions include: consuming forbidden fruit, building towers to access heaven, as well as many other examples of actions based upon a twisted understanding of God’s Word.

We see in today’s first Scripture verse, Micah 5:1-5 (ESV), we see, that contrary to common belief at the time, Christ Child, the newborn Messiah, shall arise from the humble town of Bethlehem, to bring an end to armies, sieges, wars, and violence, which are all sins and grievously offend God. Jesus will bring God’s peace, justice, and harmony to all the factions in and around Israel In a manner that will establish the security of peace by way of the power of the Lord. Let us review that Scripture:

     

          The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

[a] Now muster your troops, O daughter[b] of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 [c] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

Footnotes: a. Micah 5:1 Ch 4:14 in Hebrew b. Micah 5:1 That is, city . Micah 5:2 Ch 5:1 in Hebrew

There are many individuals and groups today who appear to have the misguided idea that the Father in heaven is somehow subject to the whims of extreme individuals or groups and that He can be manipulated into bringing the Final Judgement if they initiate a mighty conflict. This did not happen in either of the great World Wars and will not happen in any of the pseudo-religious conflicts around the globe today. It did not work, either, in the Crusades of the middle ages or today’s COVID-19 Pandemic.

What we do know is that Christ came humbly to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, not a mighty steed-drawn chariot of conflict. Before his birth in a humble stable, his mother traveled to a census upon the back of a donkey and that the King of Kings was born in the stable with a cattle’s hay crib as a bed. Before dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in order to show that battles will only be won when God’s Word is taught with love and humility.

We see God promises to fulfill His New Covenant again to another generation’s prophet in our second Scripture verse, Haggai 2:1-9 (ESV):

God's New Covenant Message at BLCF Church

God’s New Covenant: Jesus Christ

The Coming Glory of the Temple

2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

For those of you who may have forgotten the New Covenant that the Lord promised, let us look at the third of today’s Scriptures, which pre-dates the other two, Isaiah 9:6 (ESV):

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[b]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

This verse refers to the Godhead or Holy Trinity of our mighty God, Who as the Holy Spirit is a Wonderful Counselor; Who is the Maker, the Everlasting Father; and as Jesus our Savior, the Prince of Peace.

Let us pray.

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – O Come O Come Emmanuel (with Lyrics) https://youtu.be/LOBcuHaKQiU 

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7):        

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

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ: First Advent Sunday 2021: 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 Message for Sunday:

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

‘First Advent Sunday: Hope’

© November 28, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

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

BLCF Bulletin December 2, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Special:

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

Lauren Daigle – “To God Be All Glory” (Lyric Video)

 

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

Lighting of 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 – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where on this glorious Sunday morning, we mark the beginning of Advent. We signify Advent’s arrival by lighting the first of four Advent candles. For our lesson today, entitled: Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday: Hope’, we begin by understanding the significance of the events described in the Bible, which combine to cover the arrival of people, things, and events that comprise what we refer today as Advent.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

To add to today’s celebration, BLCF Church would like to give each member of the congregation apersonal 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 the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us continue with today’s Advent message:

Let us look at some definition 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

https://www.google.ca/search?q=advent+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=_gRbVobdA8O9eZb4tNgF

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 in 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 the fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly 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 a 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 son of man and 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 and 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.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less by Buller, Balzer and Aichele https://youtu.be/3n5w_2IXvuA

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

Staying on the Path to Salvation: Through Humility and Forgiveness

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 safely reopen 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:

‘Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness’ 

© November 21, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on lessons shared with BLCF on January 21, 2018, July 20, 2014 and February 28, 2010

BLCF Bulletin January 21, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2010

Announcements and Call to Worship:     

Opening Music Selections:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back) https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Lauren Daigle ~ Love Like This (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/U7eyU9EPGWo

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

Responsive Reading 667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23); Prayer

 

Let Us Pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for Sunday November 21, 2021. Next Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent, where we celebrate and remember the arrival of Christ the Messiah, the Word made Flesh. For the next four Sundays, we have planned to celebrate the arrival of Advent in a special way, stay tuned to find out how.

Recently, the Board of BLCF had to pay for some needed repairs to the church furnaces. And the Board is in the process of getting bids to effect repairs to the roof area above the Prayer Room and the adjacent office. The Board ask for your prayers and patience, during the repair process. Now, let us begin today’s lesson.

I would like to begin this lesson with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

If you picked up a newspaper recently, you may have read the following headline and news story:

Accused Florida school shooter pleads guilty in 2018 Parkland massacre

Oct 20, 2021 (Reuters) – Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest ever at a U.S. high school.

At a hearing, Cruz, 23, stood hunched over and entered one guilty plea at a time as the judge read off the charges. His lawyer, David Wheeler, Broward County’s chief assistant public defender, said last week Cruz intended to plead guilty in the Valentine’s Day attack.

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the “cold, calculated and premeditated” killings, Broward County’s State’s Attorney Office said in court documents.

After the pleas were entered, Cruz removed his COVID-19 mask and apologized to his victims.

“I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day,” he said. “And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others … I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Cruz wore a dark blue sweater vest above a blue shirt. He was thin and had on large glasses. His hands clutched the wooden podium he stood at while the judge spoke to him.

As a prosecutor read a detailed account of the incident, relatives and friends of the victims sat in the courtroom gallery, wiping tears from their eyes and holding each other.

Because prosecutors have vowed to seek the death penalty, his change of plea from not guilty opens the penalty phase. A jury would decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death. In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence. If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/accused-florida-school-shooter-set-plead-guilty-2018-parkland-massacre-2021-10-20/

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost or to quote a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

When my younger sister, Rhona, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore, it was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved) having won numerous awards for her work for the rights of the disabled:

RHONA MICKELSON (From Hansard Transcripts – Legislative Assembly of Ontario) 36th Parliament, 1st session, October 29, 1996:

RHONA MICKELSON

Mr. Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On October 22 the disabled community lost a very special friend. Rhona Mickelson, founder of Star Tracks Performing Arts Centre and Talent Agency for the Disabled, passed away from heart failure..

At the age of three, Miss Mickelson was playing with her dolls when an improperly constructed patio roof gave way at the family home at San Antonio, Texas, caving in on her. The resulting spinal injury left her a paraplegic and required the use of a wheelchair.

In university, she noticed during film studies that able-bodied actors were used to play the roles of people with disabilities; thus the idea for a talent agency for the disabled was born. Her efforts opened doors for people with disabilities in the world of film, advertising and employment. She found work for people with disabilities as models, in magazines, films and commercials. Rhona Mickelson lived on a disability pension and supported Star Tracks out of her own pocket.

Rhona was a personal friend who was always there for me, with a smile, with a laugh, with optimism abounding.

Whatever damage was caused from the accident, the spirit of a remarkable woman survived. There are examples of courage everywhere, from the tenacious desire of Terry Fox to the determined perseverance and courage of Rick Hansen. Rhona Mickelson personified all that and more. Her unfailing spirit and selfless concern for others is a remarkable legacy that will never be forgotten.

Rhona, you are among the leaves, the trees — you will always be among us.

Our deepest sympathies go out to her sister, Penny, brother, Stephen, and father, Harry.

https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-36/session-1/1996-10-29/hansard#P28_4668

14 Feb 1997, 102 - National Post at Newspapers_com Rhona Winifred Mickelson 1997 King Clancey Award

14 Feb 1997, 102 – National Post at Newspapers.com Rhona Winifred Mickelson winner of 1996 King Clancy Award

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality, but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone close to them with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter nor jokes. For a parent they sense a loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost, are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent had for the child.  Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes are often hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss may be hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006 and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family. Though the act of violence against the children in the Amish schoolhouse by this outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief and then grief, the reaction of the Amish community to the deaths was not what others had expected. Members of the Amish community sought to support all of the families who had suffered a tremendous loss; both Amish as well as Roberts’ family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends and family of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooters family, to show forgiveness towards the killer and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned both the public and the media.

Dr. Donald Kraybill co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

For all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship– BLCF Church, the strength to forgive is found through humility and by God’s grace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

C. Ryle on the subject of humility and love said: “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically-based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer, but actually incorporating the message of the prayer in their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

In order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; do not have any gas lines, phones, radios or televisions,  computers or internet. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is comprised of the community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.         

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

But you may ask: “Does God really command or require us to be humble”? We find the answer to this question in Micah 6:8 (ESV):

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?             

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest proponent of the faith in the Lord:

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer let us look to Matthew 25:31-45 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

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

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

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.                                                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So, we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path which we may walk as do the Amish, it is a way of life. The Scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the cripture, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity… is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes so as to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great. What we must sacrifice is relatively small, we must be humble, forgiven and receive the gift of salvation.

With respect to forgiveness and the Christian walk, author CS Lewis observed: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Over the last century alone, history bears witness to a host of inexcusable circumstances, a World War meant to end all wars” that failed in this purpose, a Spanish Flu Pandemic, a Great Depression, another World War which included a Holocaust that epitomised man’s inhumanity to man, the Atomic Bomb that drove Superpowers to a protracted cold war that nearly ended with a Missile Crises in Cuba, more wars, police actions, interventions, racial riots, mass shootings, terrorist attracts, and our current COVID-19 Pandemic. All of these have put people’s faith and trust in God to the test, as some deny war and Holocaust,  deny pandemics and vaccines, deny sin in general, preferring to hide the lies of their sins under a veil of fig leaves, oblivions to the truth. The human reaction to such horrific events is the adrenalin driven “flight or fight” syndrome, whereby they run away and hide from the horrors, pretending that it does not exist and if they deny it, and it will just disappear and go away. On the other hand, they could decide to put on the armour that God has provided for just such events and fight their own fears and frustrations, avoiding any denial of the truth, being confident that the Lord will bring them through the storm, safely to the other side.

Let us conclude this morning’s lesson with the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

O’ Lord w/ Lyrics (Lauren Daigle) https://youtu.be/K42bvpgimTg

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.

God Saved This Sinner

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 safely reopen 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:

‘God Saved This Sinner’

© November 14, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on July 2, 2017

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Specials:                                                           

Mighty To Save – Laura Story (w/lyrics) – https://youtu.be/6nrmb1WOkO0

Amazing Grace – Judy Collins (with lyrics) https://youtu.be/CDdvReNKKuk

Prayer and Tithing 

Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                        

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’

Saved

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF, where we celebrate the gift of salvation from sin, given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone says that: “God has saved me”?

Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had  interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

San Marcos River flash flood in Palmetto State Park, Texas

Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three year old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught as to how to use a wheel chair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of  civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.

The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive,  and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays.  We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.

The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high in Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.

Texas Hill Country

The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would  be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.

1955 Chevy Nomad

1955 Chevy Nomad

It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, the family embarked for a picnic in the park. The entrance  to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown or crest that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other side of the hill crest had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if  he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed to car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me that, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life or death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.

Lighthouse Skagen, Denmark

The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse was built on a peninsula that jutted well into the North Sea.

Denmark Map

Dad said that his grandfather remembered  exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil, up to top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.

Semaphore – Flag Signal Chart

Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have to man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen had to operate the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked on that occasion, “God had saved me.”

Pikes Peak, Colorado ( in the Background)

Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson and his whole family, were saved, while on a family outing, where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115-feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above the altitude of grandfather Mickelsons’s mile-high home town of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and lacked any guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and  the soundness of the vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.

Road up on Pikes Peak, Colorado

It was on one occasion, while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver speeding down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, the fall was stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”

It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for travelling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.

 

God Save The Queen (Bilingual) – Remembrance Day Canada 2021

God Save the Queen

Last Thursday, on November 11, I watched watched the Remembrance Day Ceremonies, broadcast from Ottawa, which included the Ottawa Children’s Choir singing of the British National Anthem, known in Canada as the Royal Anthem of Canada entitled God Save the Queen, or often refered to as The Queen. The performance led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.

Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits:

God save the Queen in Canada

Royal Anthem of Canada

The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.

 “God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.[1][2]The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.

The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible.[17] A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.[18] Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”.[19][20] He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.

Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada

By convention,[64] “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada.[65][66][67][68][69] It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[70][71][72][73][74] The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.[75]

“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[76] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[77] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II.[66] When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.[77]

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

It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s Grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):

King Solomon

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

By contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, the faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

 Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors seem to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author are of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):

The Message of Salvation to All

 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death, when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and that Jesus will intercede upon God’s judgement for our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice our Lord, Christ Jesus.

The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever, means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times

Let us pray…

Closing  Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Lyric Video) https://youtu.be/sr-3ExXX0VM

Benediction – (2 John 3):            

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

 

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson - All Rights Reserved).

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).