Sleeping through the Storm, Safely with the Peace of the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sleeping through the Storm, Safely with the Peace of the Lord’

© November 18, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 18, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                   

Opening Hymn #84: Come and Praise the Lord Our King (Tune of Michael Row the Boat Ashore); Choruses                                                                                                   

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

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

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘Sleeping Safely through the Storm, Calmed by the Peace of the Lord’

 

Let us pray…

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

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

Jesus Calms a Storm

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

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

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

 Jesus Calms a Storm

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

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

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

Jesus Calms a Storm

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

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

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

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

 Jesus Walks on the Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answer Me When I Call

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

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

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

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

 Peace with God Through Faith

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

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #401: When Peace Like a River Attendeth                                                                                                                                                                                Benediction – (Colossians 3:15):

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

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Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’

 © September 2, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 2, 2018

Originally Published on October 9, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin October 9, 2011 Bulletin  

Blood from a Stone

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

  Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                  Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses                        Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings           Responsive Reading #606: (Blessings from God – Psalm 103)                                       Message by Stephen Mickelson:  ‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Happy Labour Day Weekend to each and every one of you. And since today happens to be the first Sunday of the month we give thanks to the Lord’s gifts of Salvation, Sanctification, and the Holy Spirit by taking the elements of communion. This leads us to the following questions:

What Is Communion And Why Do We Do It?

(Courtesy of the New Spring Network)

 Have you ever wondered why Christians eat a small piece of bread and drink a sip of wine (or grape juice) in some church services?

You’re not alone.

 For thousands of years, the Church has continued a practice called communion, or depending on different church traditions, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.

Communion uses bread as a symbol for Jesus’ body and wine as a symbol for His blood. Yes, it sounds strange. But why do Christians talk about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood? Are we cannibals?

Where Did Communion Come From?

Jesus started the tradition of communion. He instructed His followers to use bread and wine to remember the sacrifice He was going to make when He died for our sins on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 Jesus called Himself “the bread of life,” which means that we’re nourished by Him, we survive because of Him, and He satisfies us when everything else leaves us empty (John 6:48-51). There’s a connection between our nearness to Jesus, believing in Him, and being fulfilled by Him (John 6:35).

The early Church celebrated Jesus by taking communion, sometimes every day (Acts 2:42-46). They saw that every time they gathered around a table to eat and drink, it was a chance to recognize Jesus and thank God for all He’s done.

Reasons Not To Do Communion

Taking communion doesn’t make you a Christian. It doesn’t save your soul or get you to heaven.

God actually warns us about taking communion without considering what it means and why we’re doing it. The intent is not for us to mindlessly perform a ritual, but to intentionally set aside time to remember what Jesus has done and why He did it (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).

Why Christians Do Communion?

It’s not about the bread and wine; it’s about the body and blood of Jesus.

It’s not about the ritual or the method; it’s about listening to Jesus and doing what He says.

Communion is not an obligation, but a celebration.

Communion celebrates the Gospel: Jesus was broken for us so that we can be fixed by Him.

Celebrating communion marks the story of Jesus, how He gave Himself completely to give us a better life, a new start, and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It’s not about a ritual to revere, but a person to worship. Jesus is less concerned about the method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it.

 As often as we remember Jesus, we should celebrate Jesus.

Communion is important because it’s a command to remember. Jesus wants us to remember every time we taste bread and wine, and even when we sit at the tables in our own homes, that He is the one who provides all we need. He gives us the physical food that we need to survive and the spiritual nourishment we need to keep taking our next steps with Him.

https://newspring.cc/articles/what-is-communion-and-why-do-we-do-it

What does the Bible indicate the importance of giving thanks to God? The following Scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, which is  Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colossae was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colossae had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including the worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading terror in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord.

And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV):

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

Colossians 3:17 –  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Many in today’s society seem to have found themselves wandering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                           

Water from the Rock 

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah [a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a]Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarreling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the Christian faith, I attended a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages per issue, with ten issues a year. In those days, computer technology lacked high-resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two-finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of a newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as, after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. Yet, in spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 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. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12:

David’s Song of Thanks

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,

 Let us pray…

Communion – An Act of Fellowship and Demonstration of Our Faith:

1 John 1:3 (ESV): Fellowship

 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Communion

Communion began on the annual celebration of Passover Supper when Jesus told his disciples to remember his sacrifice as they ate the bread and drank the wine.

Just as Israel celebrates the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, when the angel of death passed over their homes, so believers in Jesus celebrate and remember his sacrifice for the judgment of all of our sins when he died on the cross.

Communion uses bread as a symbol of his body and juice as a symbol of his blood. The act of taking communion does not save us, it is an act of worship and remembrance our Lord, who instructed his followers to continue, until the day he returns.

Luke 22:14-20 (ESV): Institution of the Lord’s Supper

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[a] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.                                                                                                                                        

[b] Footnotes: a. Luke 22:16 Some manuscripts never eat it again b. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given… in my blood)

Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows

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.

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God

blcf: BeTheChurch

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

© January 29, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on November 23, 2014

BLCF: bulletin-january-29-2017

blcf: dont_go_to_church_be_the_church

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship; Choruses             Prayer and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #620 (The Church – from Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1)                                                                                   Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Preparing a Dwelling Place for God ’    

                                                                     BLCF: being-the-church                                                                                                                            

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. And though most of you know your neighbors, I would like to invite each of you to take a moment to participate in the old tradition of shaking hands and saying hello to your neighbor, and become reacquainted with God’s Church in the heart of Toronto. His local church is composed of the body of believers, not the wood, brick and mortar that make up the building at 1307 Bloor Street West.

Now that we have reacquainted ourselves with the local church, let us begin today’s lesson, which is about God’s church. Let us first look at the word church, its definition and origins. For this, we shall look at Strong’s Concordance and find the following:

BLCF: Church_bounty_of_Christ

 

The English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios). 1577 /ekklēsía (“church”) is the root of the terms “ecclesiology” and “ecclesiastical.”]

ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation

Original Word: ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: ekklésia Phonetic Spelling: (ek-klay-see’-ah) Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church Definition: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.

1577 ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.

http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

This body of Christian believers is an assembly or congregation of believers, who when combined together comprise God’s church. Two of the Scripture verses, found in today’s Bulletin, describe the body of the church being composed of parts or members, which are of equal importance, with even those parts which seem to be weaker are indispensable to God’s purpose. And that the body needs all of its parts working in harmony, fulfilling His plan as one unified body.

This Scripture passage is summarized by the verses found at beginning and end               1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-32 (ESV): 

BLCF: after_church

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 or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Together, as a body of believers, we are baptized into one body by God’s Holy Spirit. Remember no part of function of the church body that to God, no individual position is of greater importance than the others.  Remember the Lord stressed the importance of humility, when he washed the feet of his disciples, which applies to the work of the apostles in the church. If we were to read the next chapter of Ephesians, we would see that the “more excellent way”  is love, 1 Corinthians 13  (ESV):

 The Way of Love

BLCF: faith hope and love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

The body of believers, which is God’s church, is unified, functions and is expressed by love, which is the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us another description of the Lord’s unconditional love in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

BLCF: Love never fails

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Christ functions as the cornerstone of his church which has as its foundation  Peter and the other disciples, held together by the mortar of the Holy Spirit,  infused with Christian love, as we read in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

BLCF: Christ-head-of-church-body

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.                                                                                                                   

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

With Peter as the foundation for God’s church, you may recall that Jesus is its cornerstone, from today’s second Scripture passage from Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

BLCF: Dwelling_Places_of_God

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the various churches, being Christ’s followers, acknowledges the expressions of unconditional love demonstrated by various individuals who worked together for the betterment of the church, as we read in his Personal Greetings expressed in Romans 16:1-15 (ESV):

 Personal Greetings

BLCF: great-church-definition

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias d. Romans 16:7 Or messengers e. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

But how do we as members of Christ’s Church discern and understand God’s purpose for the church? It is by way of the Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened in the knowledge of why we are called and how we may best fulfill God’s purpose to prepare the church as a dwelling place for God, to His glory, as we see in Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV):

Thanksgiving and Prayer

BLCF: the_church_is

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 1:15 Some manuscripts omit your love

We, at Bloor Lansdowne Christ Fellowship, as Christ’s Church, receive a New Covenant, which is: the gift of salvation, the promise of the resurrection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – all through Christ Jesus, who fulfilled God’s plan, as an expression of His Way, the Way of God’s love.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #208: There’s a Church within Us, O Lord                          

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.

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church Bulletin May 15,2011

Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory

BLCF: Stewardship-Banner

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’

© September 6, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 6, 2015

BLCF: 1 peter 4_10

 

Announcements & Call to Worship, Prayer

Responsive Reading #652: Divine Judgment (2 Peter 3)

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

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

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Matthew 20:1-14

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV) Spiritual Gifts

BLCF: 1Corinthians_12_1-11

12 Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 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.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:1 The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1 b. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or spiritual persons c. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or brothers and sisters

 

Matthew 20:1-14 (ESV) Laborers in the Vineyard

BLCF: Laborers-in-the-Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[a] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.

Footnotes: a.Matthew 20:2 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

BLCF: Matthew_11_28-30

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday, and the day before Labour Day.

Our Lesson today, entitled: ‘Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’, where we will discuss the dilemma for Christians, who even though they are stewards of God’s grace, are often challenge to understand all that they think, say and do must be done solely to the glory of God. But what is meant a ‘steward of God’s Grace’? To find out more about a believer’s responsibility of stewardship of God’s Grace. Let us look at our Wikibits from gotquestions.org, to get a better understanding of the biblical definition of stewardship:

BLCF: 2Peter3-18

Question: “What is biblical stewardship?”                                                                               

Answer: In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.” The first word is epitropos which means “manager, foreman, or steward.” From the standpoint of government, it means “governor or procurator.” At times it was used in the New Testament to mean “guardian,” as in Galatians 4:1-2: “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” The second word is oikonomos. It also means “steward, manager, or administrator” and occurs more frequently in the New Testament. Depending on the context, it is often translated “dispensation, stewardship, management, arrangement, administration, order, plan, or training.” It refers mostly to the law or management of a household or of household affairs. Notably, in the writings of Paul, the word oikonomos is given its fullest significance in that Paul sees his responsibility for preaching the gospel as a divine trust (1 Corinthians 9:17). Paul refers to his call from God as the administration (stewardship) of the grace of God for a ministry of the divine mystery revealed in Christ (Ephesians 3:2). In this context, Paul is portraying God as the master of a great household, wisely administering it through Paul himself as the obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also significant in what Paul is saying is that once we’re called and placed into the body of Jesus Christ, the stewardship that is required of us is not a result of our own power or abilities. The strength, inspiration and growth in the management of our lives must come from God through the Holy Spirit in us; otherwise, our labor is in vain and the growth in stewardship is self-righteous, human growth. Accordingly, we must always remember the sole source of our strength in pleasing God: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NJKV). Paul also said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

( http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-stewardship.html

 

1Peter_4_10-11

This definition of a steward, by the Apostle Paul, of God’s Grace alludes to a sort of symbiotic relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we act “as instruments of the Lord” as His hands and feet, where the focus of our actions is to share the Gospel of Jesus in truth with the help of the Spirit, in order to build God’s Church, to His glory! This goal cannot be achieved without the abilities gifted to us by the Holy Spirit to achieve God’s plan.

Which brings us to the first of today’s Scripture verses; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which has the subtitle: Spiritual Gifts. We understand from verse 3 of this passage that no one who is truly with the Spirit would ever criticize or curse Jesus. By contrast, one can only say Jesus is Lord, if it acknowledged in the Holy Spirit. The passage continues to state that there is manifest among believers a variety of gifts, service and activities that are respectively associated with the same single Spirit, Lord (Jesus) and God, collective called the Godhead or Holy Trinity. The gifts are associated with the Holy Spirit, while service is related to the Lord Jesus, and other activities that are associated with God.

Any gift comes by way of the Spirit of God, who empowers believers with gifts, the nature and size of the gift is apportioned by the Spirit alone. All believers in the resurrected Christ, who having confessed their sin and claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour, will receive the same gift of salvation. Either you are saved or you are not. And if saved, then all are baptized by the same Holy Spirit to the same degree. But the number of gifts apportioned by the Spirit varies among the believers, according to the will of the Spirit. Each believer receives one or a combination of the gifts for the common good of the church, the body of believers.

 

BLCF: list-of-spiritual-gifts

If you look at the bottom of the inside page of today’s bulletin, you will see a graphic chart that list Spiritual Gifts as described in four places of the New Testament: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. Some gifts, (in Italics), are found in two or more of these passages.

The second of our Scripture verses, Matthew 20:1-14, entitled: ‘Laborers in the Vineyard’, we have an account whereby Jesus shares a Parable to help understand the nature of labour and the type of reward paid to those who chose to work in a vineyard. We see that idle workers are called by the Lord to work in a vineyard at various times of a twelve-hour day: 6AM, 9AM, 3PM, and 5PM. At the end of the day, the workers are called in to be paid in reverse sequence to when they began; those who started last being paid first, ending with first hired being paid last. All receive the same day’s wage of one denarius, regardless of how many hours they worked. When those who labored the longest grumble or complained that they received the same payment as those who were hired the last, the master reminds them that they had received the agreed payment, and master has the choice to pay all the workers the same wage, regardless of the number of hours worked.

We must remember that the Parable is not intended as a literal description of a worldly situation where laborers are hired to work in a vineyard. Instead the Vineyard Parable is intended to help us understand the nature of the spiritual labour performed by a body of workers or believers, who as members of the Church work for the common good of the Church. As workers, we should not preoccupy ourselves with how much labour we have performed or how long we labored, especially when compared to others. When we are called by the Lord and how long we work, and the conditions under which we labour, is determined by the Lord.

Salvation is the payment to those who honor and glorify the Lord. The goal of sharing the gospel of Christ is the same for the Body of Believers or the Church, even though the timing and distribution of the workload among the individual members of the Body varies according to the will of the Spirit, as does the number of gifts the Spirit given to each member of the Body. If we complain about not having the same amount of work or become jealous of the gifts of the Spirit given to another member of the Lord’s Church; the complaint is not of the Spirit. As stewards of God’s grace, how do we ensure that our actions and behavior honors and glorifies Him? We find an answer to this question in 1 Peter 4:1-11, found printed on the back of today’s bulletin:

1 Peter 4:1-11 (ESV) Stewards of God’s Grace

BLCF: True-Grace

4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes: a. 1 Peter 4:1 Some manuscripts add for us; some for you

At this time of the service, let us partake the elements of Communion together.

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

BLCF: Communion Sunday

 

Let us pray…

 

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory                                                                                

 

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: Grace_And_Glory_Header 

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God

 BLCF: Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:            

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

© November 23, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin November 23, 2014

BLCF: Ephesians_2_19-22

Announcements and Call to Worship:

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

Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbs9PhxeOCs; Choruses                                                   

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

Scripture Verses: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 2:19-22

 BLCF: Christs-church-jax-fl

 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (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.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Or servants; Greek bondservants b. 1 Corinthians 12:20 Or members; also verse 22

BLCF: Christ_chief_cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[b] the Spirit.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 2:19 Or sojourners   b. Ephesians 2:22 Or in

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. And though most of you know your neighbors, I would like to invite each of you to take a moment to participate in the old tradition of shaking hands and saying hello to your neighbor, and become reacquainted with God’s Church in the heart of Toronto. His local church is composed of the body of believers, not the wood, brick and mortar that make up the building at 1307 Bloor Street West.

Now that we have reacquainted ourselves with the local church, let us begin today’s lesson, which is about God’s church. Let us first look at the word church, its definition and origins. For this, we shall look at Strong’s Concordance and find the following:

The English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios). 1577 /ekklēsía (“church”) is the root of the terms “ecclesiology” and “ecclesiastical.”]

ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation

Original Word: ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: ekklésia Phonetic Spelling: (ek-klay-see’-ah) Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church Definition: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.

1577 ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.

http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

This body of Christian believers is an assembly or congregation of believers, who when combined together comprise God’s church. The two Scripture verses read just before the message today describe the body of the church being composed of parts or members, which are of equal importance, with even those parts which seem to be weaker are indispensable to God’s purpose. And that the body needs all of its parts working in harmony, fulfilling His plan as one unified body.

This Scripture passage is summarized by the verses found at beginning and end 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-32 (ESV): 

BLCF: Christ Church

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 or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Together, as a body of believers, we are baptized into one body by God’s Holy Spirit. Remember no part of function of the church body that to God, no individual position is of greater importance than the others.  Remember the Lord stressed the importance of humility, when he washed the feet of his disciples, which applies to the work of the apostles in the church. If we were to read the next chapter of Ephesians, we would see that the “more excellent way” is love, 1 Corinthians 13  (ESV):

BLCF: heart-of-Jesus

 The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

The body of believers, which is God’s church, is unified, functions and is expressed by love, which is the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us another description of the Lord’s unconditional love in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Christ functions as the cornerstone of his church which has as its foundation  Peter and the other disciples, held together by the mortar of the Holy Spirit,  infused with Christian love, as we read in Matthew 16:16-18 (ESV):

BLCF: the-church-of-the-lord-jesus-christ-2-638

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.                                                                                                                   

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

With Peter as the foundation for God’s church, you may recall that Jesus is its cornerstone, from today’s second Scripture passage from Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the various churches, being Christ’s followers, acknowledges the expressions of unconditional love demonstrated by various individuals who worked together for the betterment of the church, as we read in his personal Greetings expressed in Romans 16:1-15 (ESV):

 Personal Greetings

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16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias d. Romans 16:7 Or messengers e. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

But how do we as members of Christ’s Church discern and understand God’s purpose for the church? It is by way of the Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened in the knowledge of why we are called and how we may best fulfill God’s purpose to prepare the church as a dwelling place for God, to His glory, as we see in Ephesians 1:

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Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV) Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 1:15 Some manuscripts omit your love

We, at Bloor Lansdowne Christ Fellowship, receive as Christ’s Church a New Covenant, which is: the gift of salvation, the promise of the resurrection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – all through Christ Jesus, who fulfilled God’s plan, as an expression of His Way, the Way of God’s love.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #208: There’s a Church within Us, O Lord 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QktIufwCC9A                                                                   

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.

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Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Blood from a Stone

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

 

 Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Message Shared by Stephen Mickelson with BLCF on Sunday, © October 9, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin October 9, 2011 Bulletin  

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #606r of Prayer, Prayer 

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

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

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

Message by Stephen Mickelson: ‘Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Thanksgiving Sunday Service. Now how do we reconcile this morning’s service with a Holiday many have the view as a strictly secular celebration when compared to Christmas or Easter, both of which are acknowledged as faith holidays. Does the Bible mention Thanksgiving?  The following Scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colosse was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including the worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading terror in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord. And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV) The People of Israel Confess Their Sin:

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

You may have read the cartoon on the front cover of today’s bulletin, where the child at the table comments “We have so much to be thankful for. One day a year hardly seems adequate” in other words, we should give thanks daily, we read in Colossians 3:17 –  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

OK, but what about Canadian Thanksgiving, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer, we must look into the origins of this national holiday: (http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving)

The secular view for the reason for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey.

Historically, the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday.

But the final authority on the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday in October can be traced back to January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. So in a legal sense, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliament legislation not only acknowledges God, our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

Many in today’s society seem to have found themselves wandering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                           

                                                             Water from the Rock                                                                    

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a]Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarreling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the faith, attending a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages, ten months a year. In those days, computer technology lacked high-resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two-finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of a newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as, after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. In spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 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. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found both in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, as well as was legislated by our Parliament:         

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Let us pray…

Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows   

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.