Demonstrating God’s Love by Actions, Not Just Words

BLCF: love_is_a_verb

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Demonstrating God’s Love by Actions, Not Just Words’

© June 26, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June-26-2016

 BLCF: Gods_love_for_the_Lost

Reading #645 (Christian Conduct – Galatians 5 and 6); Prayer  

Opening Hymn #512 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service; Choruses 

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

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 4:1-16, Matthew 23:29-35, Romans 6:1-14

BLCF: Love-all-serve-all-Mark

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for our Sunday Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson this morning, entitled Demonstrating God’s Love by Actions, Not Just Words’, where we will look at the importance of a  Christian’s actions as well as words while ministering the Gospel of Jesus as our Commission from the Lord.

Before the advent of Jesus, his ministry on earth, his sacrifice on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from the grave as proof of his supernatural powers, his ascension to heaven, and his gift of the Holy Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost, humanity was expected to make offerings to the Lord both as a demonstration of  faith and a sacrifice for sin.

With the advent of sin which began by the sin of Adam and Eve by eating the forbidden fruit, came a self-awareness of  their nakedness, a denial of their sin to their Lord, and a gradual widening of the gap between God and His children.

With the next generation, humanity’s sinful nature did not diminish as we read in the account of Cain and Abel:

Genesis 4:1-16 (ESV) Cain and Abel

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Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten[a] a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?[b] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for[c] you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother.[d] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.[e] 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 4:1 Cain sounds like the Hebrew for gotten b. Genesis 4:7 Hebrew will there not be a lifting up [of your face]? C. Genesis 4:7 Or against d. Genesis 4:8 Hebrew; Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate add Let us go out to the field e. Genesis 4:13 Or My guilt is too great to bear f. Genesis 4:16 Nod means wandering

God had asked Cain where his brother Abel, Cain replied, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”  This statement would become a key part of  Christ’s teaching that we love others as Christ loved us.

It is interesting that God does not bring the judgment of death upon Cain for the sin of killing his brother and lying to the Lord, but was to become a homeless refugee, bearing a mark from God less he be killed as well. Before he killed his brother, God had detected an anger and jealousy within Cain towards Abel and had warned Cain not to be consumed by sin which was crouching at his doorstep.

The sins of hatred and murder continued to plague the subsequent generations of humanity, including the actions of the scribes and Pharisees, whom the Lord singled out in Matthew 23:29-35:

Matthew 23:29-35 (ESV)

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29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[a] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

The Lord’s answer to the sins of hatred is contrary to Cain’s words, that we should act as our “brother’s keepers’ and demonstrate love towards our brothers and sisters as Christ loved us, as we see in 1 John 3:11-18:

1 John 3:11-18 (ESV) Love One Another

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11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Just the Lord admonished Cain to avoid the trap of sin, Christians are admonished to become “dead to sin” and at the same time “alive to God”, as indicated in Romans 6:1-14 :

Romans 6:1-14 (ESV) Dead to Sin, Alive to God

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What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Footnotes: a. Romans 6:6 Greek man b. Romans 6:7 Greek has been justified

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer 

Benediction – (Jude 24-25 – Doxology):                                                                         

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,  to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen

 

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Christ’s Church: It Speaks Boldly and Believes with Unity of Heart and Soul

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Christ’s Church: It Speaks Boldly and Believes with Unity of Heart and Soul’

©March 2 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 2, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #634

(Christian Unity – John 10 and 17, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4); r of Prayer); Prayer

Opening Hymn #171: Thine Is the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son; Choruses

Scripture Verses: Exodus 32:21-24 and Acts 4:23-33   

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Let us pray…

“The devil made me do it.” Any of us who lived through the 1970’s may recall the comedian Flip Wilson, who coined this popular catch phrase used whereby any mistake would be blamed upon the devil.

Psychologist use the term “projection” for a form of denial of the truth, by placing the blame or responsibility for an unacceptable attribute(s) upon others.

Here is our Wikibits explanation of the term:

Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) in the 1900s as a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.[1] For example, a person who is rude may accuse other people of being rude.

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

 BLCF: Flip-Wilson-Superstar

As to what may have inspired Flip Wilson in blaming the devil for actions or words which might offend others, we see this phrase strikes a harmonic chord among those familiar with the Scriptures. There are numerous examples in the Bible, which describe an individual attributing sinful or evil behaviour as being the fault of others. I have listed a few of the more familiar one in today’s bulletin.

The first example comes from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, verses 11-13:

Genesis 3:11-13 (ESV)

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11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

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God finds Adam and Eve have covered their nakedness, and asks: “Who told you that you were naked?” Such awareness could only come from eating from the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

Adam blames Eve, and even God for giving him Eve to be with him, by replying: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate”, also implying innocence on his part. If you read Genesis, Chapter 3, you will see that Adam was present when the devil, disguised as a serpent, and tempted Eve with eating the forbidden fruit by saying in doing so she would become wise as God. Adam heard the whole conversation between Eve and the devil, and knew that the fruit that Eve had given was from the tree that God said was forbidden to eat.

And when God asks Eve, “What have you done?” we see that Eve responds, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” In other words, “The devil made me do it.” Both Adam and Eve gave responses which betrayed their sin, since they had acquired an awareness of right and wrong, by the clothes they now felt compelled to wear, and by the blaming others for their transgression.

Our second example comes from Genesis, Chapter 4, where Cain, jealous over his brother, Abel’s offerings to God, slays him:

Genesis 4:9-11 (ESV)

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Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

Again, we see this sinful tendency in humanity demonstrated by the actions of Cain, who after killing his brother, hid from God and then falsely told God that he does not know where Abel is. He even makes the sarcastic rhetorical response to the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Our third example comes from Exodus, Chapter 32, verses 21-24, when Aaron tries to blame his actions of first blaming “the people”, indicating that “they are set on evil.”

Exodus 32:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: chagall golden calf

21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

Aaron does not acknowledge the sin or his involvement, indicating that “evil people made me do it.” Sounds a little like: “The devil made me do it.”

What make matters worse after committing, is to blame sinful behaviour upon someone else. Now we have two sins to confess: the initial sin and then the bearing false witness by blaming the sin someone else, even as n the case of Adam and Eve, the devil did his best to induce them into sin.

God not only wants us to avoid sin, but when sin happens to confess and acknowledge our sins. Remember, God has already projected the guilt of our sins upon His Son, Jesus, who paid the penalty for those sins, with his life. In effect, we have no excuse to not confess our sins.

And as in the account of the golden calf, God wants us to acknowledge Him for what he provides, whether it is freedom from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt or the gifts of the Spirit. By acknowledging the powers and gifts we receive from God, particularly through Jesus Christ: salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life, we are drawn closer to Him..

By accepting Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit, believers become united through the Spirit into a “body of believers.”

BLCF: the-body-of-Christ

An account that is in contrast the above accounts of sinners compounding their sinful behaviour by denying God’s authority and not confessing their sins,  is that involving  the apostles, Peter and John,   who used faith and the Spirit’s power to  heal a lame beggar, as described in Acts Chapter 3, verses 1-16:

Acts 3:1-16 (ESV) The Lame Beggar Healed

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3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.[a] And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico

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11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant[b] Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus[c] has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Footnotes: a. Acts 3:1 That is, 3 p.m. b. Acts 3:13 Or child; also verse 26 c. Acts 3:16 Greek him

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Not only is the healing by faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit, but it allows the lame man to join with the body of worshippers inside the temple. You see, in those times anyone with a physical impairment was not permitted to enter the temple, as their impairment was considered God’s punishment for a sin by the individual or by his or her ancestors. The beggar, having been healed of his affliction, is for the first time in his life to enter the temple and join the body of the church or body of believers and to worship inside the temple. Christ intended for all people to worship together in a unified Spirit, regardless of  their physical condition. For through Christ, all who believe and confess become acceptable unto God and become a part of His church.

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This healing, as well as others, where the disciples acknowledged  the resurrected Christ as Lord, by whom they had been given the power of the Holy Spirit, had angered the leaders of the temple,  resulting in the arrests of Peter and John not once, but twice!  On one occasion, the two are freed by the words of Peter as he is guided by the Spirit. And the second occasion, John and Peter are freed from prison by an angel of God, who instructs them to continue sharing the Lord’s gospel.

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After the two arrests, we see that the disciples pray not for their personal safety, but for the Spirit’s guidance and influence for courage to continue to praise and glorify God, and to acknowledge the gifts through his Son, Jesus. Acts, Chapter 4, verses 23-33:

Acts 4:23-33 (ESV) The Believers Pray for Boldness

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23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[a] said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’[
b]

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[c] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

BLCF: United by the Holy Spirit

They Had Everything in Common

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32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Footnotes: a. Acts 4:25 Or child; also verses 27, 30 b. Acts 4:26 Or Christ c. Acts 4:29 Greek bondservants

BLCF: Exodus-32

We see a choice between two contrasting paths that we may take.

One choice is to be like Adam, Eve, Cain and Aaron, is to drift away from God towards sin and then make matters worse by not confessing those sins, instead placing blame on others.

BLCF: Acts_3_19

The other choice is to draw closer to God, by confessing our sins and then accepting God’s path for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Then, we may pray that the Spirit will give us the courage to boldly witness the gospel of Jesus unto the ends of the world, which is our Commission as believers in the Resurrected Christ. For just in the days of Adam and Eve, Cain and Aron, and the disciples of Christ, we see that those without faith exhibit a Godlessness in their behaviour, 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 1-5:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV) Godlessness in the Last Days

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3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

BLCF: God's One Way

We should avoid the influence of Godlessness people, but we should be bold in our courage to witness the gospel of Jesus, for the sake of their salvation. Let us pray to God, as a body of the church of believers, united in Spirit, for a unity of purpose and boldness of Spirit, in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

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Communion: Responsive Reading #626 (The Last Supper – Mark 14)

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.

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