It’s That Time of Year, Again!

Unless you plan on going to church an hour early Sunday morning!

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Do You Know the Definition of the Word or Whom Should You Thank Today?

Thanksgiving – noun (dictionary.com)
1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/thanksgiving

 

Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’

© July 23, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared at BLCF on October 4, 2015

BLCF Bulletin July 23, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                 

Opening Hymn #126: Amen, Amen! ; Choruses                                                  

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

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

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

                  

Let us pray…

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

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

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

My Help Comes from the Lord 

  

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.     

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,     

who made heaven and earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus the Great High Priest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

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

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

One Body with Many Members

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

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

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

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14):                                                                         

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

2015 in review for this BLOG

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Volunteer To Help Feed The Homeless Right In The Heart Of Toronto

BLCF Café  needs volunteers, (individuals or groups), to help at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, a weekly dinner that feeds over 150 homeless and marginalized people, every Wednesday Evening. Relying on fundraisers and private donations, BLCF Cafe receives neither government grants nor corporate sponsorship. BLCF Cafe does rely on the dedication of volunteers to serve over 7,500 dinners, annually.

 

Volunteers serve each guest a wholesome dinner, with dignity and respect. If you are able, why not contribute a couple of hours of your time for a great cause? You will be glad you did, when you see the smiles on the faces of the people we serve.For more information: Contact Sophie Mickelson at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca 416-535-9578 see us on facebook under BLCF Cafe: BLCF Cafe Facebook Link or our BLOG: BLCF Cafe BLOG. BLCF Cafe Community Dinner was established in January 2008 by, and is operated under, the auspices of, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church: BLCF Church Web Page

We would be happy to have you or your group help as a volunteer at the BLCF Cafe. Our volunteers help at various times of the day between 12PM and 8:30PM and help in all aspects of running the dinner, from food preparation, serving, setting up tables and chairs, and clean up.

To find out how you or your group may help the cause of feeding the homeless and marginalized right in the heart of Toronto, please contact us at BLCF on any Wednesday anytime after 12:00PM and before 5:00PM. Or call and leave a message.

Please use the side door, as we do not open the front doors until after 6PM and we need our volunteers to arrive by 5:30PM to be briefed before we serve dinner.

Sophie Mickelson

Director/Coordinator BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

416-535-9578

 

BLCF:ExtremeColdWeatherWB
brutally_cold_Torontof
BLCF: coldest_february_on_record

Now that the weather’s turning cold, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is asking for donations of socks, gloves, scarves and toques for our homeless and marginalized guests in the heart of Toronto at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

Donations may be brought to the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, (Wednesdays between 6 and 8 PM). To arrange delivery at a different time, contact Sophie by email: blcfcafe@yahoo.ca or call BLCF at 416-535-9578.

Not a bread line, food bank or soup kitchen, BLCF Café has been serving wholesome dinners to upwards of 150 of Toronto’s homeless every Wednesday evening since January 2008.

BLCF Cafe/BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, one block west of Lansdowne Avenue.

Help bring some warmth to those in need.

http://blcfcafe.blogspot.ca/

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Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace

BLCF: grace_and_glory

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’ 

© February 15, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on January 16, 2011

BLCF Bulletin February 15, 2015

BLCF: grace-unmerited-favor-by-luis-rivera-free-photo

 

Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses: Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13

 

BLCF: by-grace

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson for today explores; ‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’. It would be presumptuous of me, or anyone else, to claim to fully understand God. But by His grace we are able to perceive His plan that He provides for our forgiveness, reconciliation, sanctification, and edification, from our sins to His grace.

In bulletin today, is a list of characteristics of God, as revealed through the Scriptures:

God-is-

 

God is self-existent Exodus. 3:13–14

God is self-sufficient Psalm 50:10–12

God is eternal Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2

God is Infinite 1 Kings 8:22–27; Jeremiah 23:24

God is omnipresent Psalm 139:7–12

God is omnipotent Genesis 18:14; Revelations 19:6

God is omniscient Psalm 139:2–6; Isaiah 40:13–14

God is wise Proverbs 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17

God is immutable Hebrews 1:10–12; 13:8

God is sovereign Isaiah 46:9–11

God is incomprehensible Job 11:7–19; Roman 11:33

God is holy Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15

God is righteous and just Psalm 119:137

God is true John 17:3; Titus 1:1–2

God is faithful Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:1–2

God is light James 1:17; 1 John 1:5

God is good Psalm 107:8

God is merciful Psalm 103:8–17

God is gracious Psalm 111:4; 1 Peter 5:10

God is love John 3:16; Romans 5:8

God is spirit John 4:24

God is one Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Isaiah 44:6–8

God is a Trinity Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14                                            

(Chart by John Neely)

The attribute that I would like to focus upon is God’s  grace or graciousness, mentioned in Psalm 111:4 and 1 Peter 5:10, among other in the Bible. Psalm 111:4 (ESV) reads, as follows:

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;    

 the Lord is gracious and merciful.

And the second Scripture, from 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV), is:

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

While we may understand that when we talk about grace, we are not talking about a prayer, thanking the Lord for the bounty and asking for His blessing for a meal before we eat, (For the prayer before meals, see Grace (prayer)).

The grace we are talking about is that which God has gifted to those who have confessed their sins and have faith in Christ. Most Biblical scholars and theologians do agree on the definition of the nature of grace as:

Grace ɡrās/ noun (in Christian belief) – the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.                

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace

BLCF: Gods-grace-is-sufficient

But there is much debate and controversy among various Christian churches as to manner by which Christian believers are able to obtain God’s grace manifest in their lives:

Grace (Christianity) – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: grace-of-God

In Western Christian theology, grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to mankind — “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] — that take the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.

Christian orthodoxy holds that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God.

In Eastern Christianity too, grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity.

The question of the means of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern [theological] liberalism from [theological] conservatism.”[4]

The Catholic Church holds that it is because of the action of Christ and the Holy Spirit in transforming into the divine life what is subjected to his power that “the sacraments confer the grace they signify”: “the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through [each sacrament], independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.”[5][6] the Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) are seen as a means of partaking of divine grace because God works through his Church.

Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants agree that faith is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8

BLCF: Grace_Eugene-O-Neill-God

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

Protestants almost universally believe that grace is given by God based on the faith of the believer.

 Lutherans hold that the means of grace are “the gospel in Word and sacraments”.[7][8] That the sacraments are means of grace is also the teaching of John Wesley,[9] who described the Eucharist as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God”.[10]

Calvinists emphasize “the utter helplessness of man apart from grace.” But God reaches out with “first grace” or “prevenient grace” that each person may accept or reject. The Calvinist doctrine known as irresistible grace states that, since all persons are by nature spiritually dead, no one desires to accept this grace until God spiritually enlivens them by means of regeneration. God regenerates only individuals whom he has predestined to salvation.

Armenians understand the grace of God as cooperating with one’s free will in order to bring an individual to salvation. According to Evangelical theologian Charles C. Ryrie, modern liberal theology “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to initiate his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace.” He writes that theological conservatives maintain God’s grace is necessary for salvation.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_(Christianity)

But in the two Scripture verses featured in today’s Bulletin, Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13, we see that in the 1500 or so years between the time that the prophet Moses described in Exodus 34 and the Apostle Paul described in Romans 10, a significant change had taken place in the relationship between God and mankind.

 

BOOK            DATE                         AUTHOR

Exodus          1445-1405 B.C.        Moses                 

Romans          56 A.D.                      Paul
http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTAR125.htm

The first passage describes how God instructs Moses to construct a new set of God’s Commandments to replace the first set that Moses broke in anger upon seeing the behavior or should I say misbehaviour of the people of Israel in his absence on the top of Mount Sinai.

 Exodus 34:1-11 (ESV) Moses Makes New Tablets

BLCF: love-God-and-others

 1The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

 The Covenant Renewed

BLCF: God-Speaks

10And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Our second Scripture verse, Romans 10:1-13, describes a New Covenant and relationship with God. Not just forgiving sin without judgment, but providing both forgiveness and removing judgment from us, (as Jesus has taken our judgment upon himself), making salvation freely available to those who have faith:

Romans 10:1-13 (ESV)

BLCF: Christ-is-the-end-of-the-law-of-Moses

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

The Message of Salvation to All

BLCF: the-law-of-moses-was-abolished

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.”

Footnotes: a. Romans 10:4 Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified

BLCF: abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

By God’s grace, we find a description  of some of the key characteristics of the Lord, (Exodus 34:6-7):

6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

In Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV), we see that Paul urges us, as a body of believers, who are united through Jesus, to follow the Lord’s example in our behavior:

Unity in the Body of Christ

CLCF: grace_verses

1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

God provides, by way of Jesus, a path to grace before the Lord for all, Jew and Gentile alike, through faith. Under a New Covenant, we are promised a place in heaven, where Jesus is mediator of a purchased by his precious blood, Hebrews 12:18-24 (ESV):  

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

BLCF: 3_aspects-of_salvation

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.                                                   

 Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church

BLCF: dont-go-to-church-be-the-church1

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord

Benediction – Ephesians 6:2: Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

 

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