Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord’
© January 22, 2017 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #570: We Gather Together; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Responsive Reading #634: (Christian Unity – John 10 & 17, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord’
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Our lesson today, entitled ‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord’, will examine how the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit is most effective when more than one believer is present. Remember the Lord’s promise found in Matthew 18:20 (ESV):
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
You may recall that Jesus, after his resurrection and just before he ascended, to heaven, instructed his disciples to gather in the Upper Room so that together they may receive God’s Holy Spirit as one group on the Day of Pentecost.
But what was Christ’s reason for sending the Holy Spirit? The answer to this question is found in John 14:15-17 (ESV):
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.
Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is
The Spirit is described as the Spirit of truth, sent as a Helper, a companion forever, to those who believe in the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.
The Power of the Spirit is expressed by way of Gifts of the Spirit, which are described in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (ESV):
Gifts of the Spirit
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
You see that no one person receives all the possible Gifts of the Spirit, as collectively all of the gifts are empowers in everyone. That means that when the Spirit of God arrived in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost to the group of believers, each believer received a gift for the common good. The gifts were not intended for the benefit of individual and all are only effective together in a group or gathering of individual believers, acting together in harmony as a single group.
Our Lord intended the Holy Spirit’s Gifts to be distributed amongst a body of believers, gathered as His Church. Together, Christ’s Church becomes the unified expression of His love and power.
It is expected that Christ’s Church expresses the Lord’s Commandments, which Jesus described in Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV):
Commandments of Jesus
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. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The Holy Spirit’s presence helps the Church, the collective group of believers, to best express God’s Gifts.
It is Christian Unity that assures that all of its members are acting in harmony, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This brings us to Paul’s letter to the members of the Church in Corinth, who demonstrated a disharmony or absence of unity of mind and judgment, expressed and quarrels and disagreement between Church members, as described in the verses in 1 Corinthians 1:10-31 (ESV):
Divisions in the Church
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters; also verses 11, 26 b. 1 Corinthians 1:21 Or the folly of preaching c. 1 Corinthians 1:26 Greek according to the flesh d. 1 Corinthians 1:29 Greek no flesh e. 1 Corinthians 1:30 Greek And from him
Paul implied that the disharmony of the Spirit in Church in Corinth resulted when the church’s members attempted to apply worldly standards and values to matters and actions related to the Spirit.
In this regard, Paul felt that this disharmony acted as a “stumbling block” to the church achieving full Spiritual health.
We see a similar expression of this Spiritual disharmonious behavior among Christian churches today, when our attendance and activities within the church are focused on upon other people and not the Lord. Our service and commitment should be focused solely on Jesus, as we read in Ephesians 4:1-8 (ESV) :
Unity in the Body of Christ
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There 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. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men and women.”[a]
Footnotes: a. Ephesians 4:8 The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women
The other cause of ineffectiveness and disharmony within the body of the church miss attending gatherings or services within the church.
We see this affect described in the following poem by an anonymous author poem someone wrote about people who miss church:
You missed the fellowship that’s there,
You missed the handshake, missed the prayer.
You missed the Word of God when read,
You missed the things the preacher said.
You missed the worship’s wondrous hour,
You missed the Holy Spirit’s power.
Not only did you miss the chance
Your life in Jesus to enhance,
You missed your chance to do your share,
To build His church, the house of prayer.
And so the loss is yours indeed,
God had no chance to meet your need.
We are reminded of both the importance and benefit of meeting as a church body in Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV):
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding
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.