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.

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America’s First Thanksgiving: A Holy Day Not A Holiday

BLCF: animated-gifs-thanksgiving-

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘America’s First Thanksgiving: A Holy Day Not A Holiday’

© October 9, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on October 12, 2014 

BLCF-Bulletin-October-9-2016

BLCF: secular-thanksgiving

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – from Psalm 104); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn #440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me; Choruses                               

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

Scripture Verses: Colossians 3:17, 1 Chronicles 16:23-34, Luke 17:11-19

BLCF: thanksgiving-day-prayer

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Thanksgiving Sunday in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson this morning is appropriately on the subject of Christian Thanksgiving or ‘Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness’. This brings us to our first Scripture Verse, where we are implored to make all that we say or do in Jesus’ name, as an expression of thanks to God the Father:

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

BLCF: thanksgiving-christian

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.

Does this verse indicate that we should celebrate Thanksgiving in the name of the Lord? And if so, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday, which I shared in a lesson last Thanksgiving. Let me recapitulate from a message that I shared here at BLCF last Thanksgiving:

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com (updated on October 7, 2013):

America’s First Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day

Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

BLCF: frobisher_map_thanksgiving

The secular view 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!

How It All Began

BLCF: thanksgiving-history-canada-by-maria-montalvo

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!

BLCF: early-thanksgiving-in-canada

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 then on 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.

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

BLCF: martin_frobisher_thanksgiving

 

So, in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, 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 Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, as well as our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

But does the Bible indicate an expectation for us to give thanks to God? We find the answer in 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 (ESV):

BLCF: 1Chronicles_16_29

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!     

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24 Declare his glory among the nations,     

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,    

 and he is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,     

but the Lord made the heavens.

27 Splendor and majesty are before him;     

strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,     

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;     

bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a] 30     

tremble before him, all the earth;     

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,     

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;     

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy    

 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Footnotes: a. 1 Chronicles 16:29 Or in holy attire

While the Scriptures admonish us to praise God for the miracles and blessings in our lives, we know that everyone does not do so, as we read in the account where Jesus healed the ten lepers, in Luke 17:11-19 (ESV):

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

BLCF: Jesus_heals_10_lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

BLCF: Luke_17_10-leper-thanksgiving

 

It is ironic that only one of the ten lepers who were cleansed or healed of their affliction, gave thanks to the Lord, and he was a Samaritan! Though perhaps it is not surprising, when we see the behavior of some who claim to be believers in Christ are not followers of Christ, in that they often tend to put themselves before the Lord, when acknowledging who is responsible for their salvation.

And since we are part of Christ’s Church, which is the bride to Christ, we see how the Apostle Paul exemplified such an expression of gratitude in his letter to the Church in Rome:

Romans 16:1-16 (ESV) Personal Greetings

Thank You from BLCF Church

Thanking Fellow Believers

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. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

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

In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives thanks to fellow believers in Christ, whom he refers to as his ‘kinsmen’ with whom he was imprisoned. Paul equated fellow apostles and workers to brothers and sisters in Christ. The mother of Rufus was described like a mother to Paul. Paul continues to refer to others in terms of endearment, such as his ‘beloved’, worthy of a ‘holy kiss’.

How Christians thank the Lord for the gift of salvation, and the new covenant, which includes the promise of the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit is best expressed in the manner we treat others: as beloved members of our own family.

For when we behave towards one another in the Spirit of Christian love towards one another, we walk in the ‘Splendor of Holiness’ described 1 Chronicles 16:29, also described as wearing ‘Holy Attire’. And we can only be worthy donning Holy Attire through our Lord, Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

BLCF: jesus-founder-and-perfecter-of-our-faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy

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: canadian_thanksgiving

Whom Do We Seek to Edify: Ourselves or His Church?

BLCF: Towers - Aspire to Heaven or Inspired from Heaven

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Whom Do We Seek to Edify: Ourselves or His Church?’

© June 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 19, 2016

Based on a Message shared at BLCF Church on June 2, 2013

Confusion Of Tongues

Confusion of Tongues from the Tower of Babel

 

Announcements & Call to Worship:  Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1Peter1); Prayer                                                                                                            

Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone; Choruses                                                    

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

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 2:1-6; Genesis 11:1-9; 1 Corinthians 14:6-18

Tower of Babel

Confusion of Tongues

 

Let us pray…

At first blush it would seem that the topic of this Sunday’s message has something to do just with languages or tongues.  While the account of the Tower of Babel does explain how it is that we have such a diversity of languages and people over the face of the earth, there is much more to the story, which may sound familiar to a lesson we recently shared, that being how Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, Chapter 3.

You may recall that Satan appealed to Eve and Adam, who was with her, that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would be elevated to the same level as God in their understanding of good and evil. Fearing that they would next eat from the Tree of Life, God exiled Adam and Eve from the garden both as a punishment for their transgressions and to prevent them from committing another sin. Genesis 3:22-24 (ESV):

 

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Now, back to the tower. For centuries, the human race has aspired to be at a higher plane, as evident by the building of structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Empire State building, CN Tower, Burj of Dubai, and so on. Like the Tower of Babel, most of these towers afford an overview of relatively low nearby terrain.  I recall when the CN Tower was just completed in Toronto there was a three month wait for dinner reservations at the tower restaurant. We had some friends of my sister visiting from Sydney, Australia. My dad thought it would be nice to take them to restaurant and enjoy the view of the city and Lake Ontario, as far as Rochester, New York. On the evening of the reservation, a foggy cloud bank rolled in, and all you see from the tower were portions of Toronto Island.

The Tower of Babel was intended, by its builders, to be constructed both, to bring them closer to Heaven, and as a monument to those builders, so that they would not be forgotten from history or their descendants disappeared or were dispersed. Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV)

       The Tower of Babel

                                      BLCF: Tower-Babel                               

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

It is ironic that a tower built as a testimony to its builders, so that they would not be forgotten or dispersed, ended up being the reason God made them become no longer unified in language and they were dispersed throughout the world.  History indicates that the tower eroded so that the lower portions fell away. There were some writings that indicate that Alexander the Great had located the remnants of this tower and intended to rebuild it. This plan was abandoned after the untimely death of King Alexander. Which brings us to the next Scripture verse, Psalm 2:1-6 (ESV):  

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed

BLCF: You-Are-Anointed-for-Service

2 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

To aspire for something, is a desire to reach a higher plane, where, by definition:

as·pire  /əˈspī(ə)r/

Verb

  • Direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something: “we never thought that we might aspire to those heights”.
  • Rise high; tower.

People seek to achieve or they aspire, not to be confused with inspire, as in the works of the Holy Spirit. The definition of inspire is as follows:

in·spire /inˈspī(ə)r/

Verb

  • Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “his enthusiasm inspired them”.
  • Create (a feeling, esp. a positive one) in a person: “inspire confidence”.

Those who aspire seek to be filled with pride in self, while those who inspire, seek to have others filled with the Holy Spirit. An example of aspiration may be found in the sonnet, High Flight written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Portions of this poem appear on the headstones of many interred in Arlington National Cemetery, in the U.S., particularly aviators and astronauts. John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American Pilot Officer serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs. John Gillespie Magee; his father was an American and his mother was originally a British citizen.

Magee came to the U.S. in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF and was graduated as a pilot. He was sent to England for combat duty in July 1941.

In August or September 1941, Pilot Officer Magee composed High Flight and sent a copy to his parents. Several months later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, only 19 years of age, crashed to his death. His remains are buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

(Biography courtesy of the United States Air Force http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/highflig.htm)

High Flight – By John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

High Flight

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds

– and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of

– wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.

Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along

and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,

where never lark, or even eagle, flew;

and, while with silent, lifting mind

I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space,

put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

While the sonnet is beautifully worded, it is an example of the flesh’s desire or aspiration to reach God in a manner this is not in harmony with the Spirit of God. An irony here is that the author, a son of missionaries, composed prose that presumes the protagonist, a pilot, could fly high enough in something he built to touch the face of God.

To reach God and Heaven requires neither a tower, nor an aircraft, nor any other worldly means. To reach the Spiritual plane mandates us not to take actions that are the result of aspiration, but to follow inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit to achieve that state of Spiritual Grace which allows us to lead others to find His Grace, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (ESV):

 Mystery and Victory:           

BLCF: Witnesses-Taken-Up-Into-Heaven

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:             

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O death, where is your victory?     

O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God,

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ  

So we see in this passage, the mystery is to the flesh, which is of the world, and the victory goes to the Holy Spirit. And to achieve this state of Grace, we must replace our human impulses by our faith in Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

                                      Jesus the Great High Priest                                  

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

You may recall that after being anointed by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was taken to a desolate place, where he fasted and was tested by Satan. Jesus was brought to a high place and offered by Satan all authority over all that he saw from that great height. But Satan failed to tempt Jesus, as our Lord did not aspire to grow his own personal power and authority or to be placed upon an equal plane with God the Father. Instead, Jesus, in a perfect example of faith, replaced conceit and ambition with humility and obedience, Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ’s Example of Humility 

                   BLCF: Jesus washes desciples feet                            

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

And the confusion we still observe from Babel today, tends to interfere with not only building of towers of aspiration, but the building of the church body if we aspire to build the church in a worldly manner. Such confusion hampers both the health and growth of the church body, 1 Corinthians 14:6-18 (ESV):

BLCF: building-up-the-church-2

 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.

 

The body of members that compose any church are subject to a Spiritual standard where the mind and the spirit are in harmony. This facilitates an understanding among the members and eliminates confusion and misunderstandings which hamper growth of the church body through the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Hymn #355: Higher Ground (I’m Pressing on the Upward Way)

Benediction (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.

BLCF: Colossians_3_17

Worshiping the LORD in the Splendor of Holiness

BLCF: animated-thanksgiving-wallpaper

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness

© October 12, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 12, 2014

 BLCF: Psalm_104-33

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – from Psalm 104); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me; Choruses                               

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

Scripture Verses: Colossians 3:17, 1 Chronicles 16:23-34, Luke 17:11-19

 

BLCF: thank_God_trust_God

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Thanksgiving Sunday in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson this morning is appropriately on the subject of Christian Thanksgiving or ‘Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness’. This brings us to our first Scripture Verse, where we are implored to make all that we say or do in Jesus’ name, as an expression of thanks to God the Father:

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

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.

Does this verse indicate that we should celebrate Thanksgiving in the name of the Lord? And if so, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday, which I shared in a lesson last Thanksgiving. Let me recapitulate from a message that I shared here at BLCF last Thanksgiving:

 

BLCF: thanksgiving-Canada_-2014

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com updated on October 7, 2013:

          Thanksgiving Day

       Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

The secular view 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!

 

BLCF: animated-gifs-thanksgiving-

How It All Began

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!

BLCF: la-premire-jour-daction-de-grce-the-first-thanksgiving-3-638

 

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 then on 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.

BLCF: M_Frobisher_voyages1576_78

BLCF: early-thanksgiving-in-canada

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

 

So in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, 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 Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, as well as our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

But does the Bible indicate an expectation for us to give thanks to God? We find the answer in 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 (ESV):

 

BLCF: 1Chronicles_16_29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!     

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24 Declare his glory among the nations,     

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,    

 and he is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,     

but the Lord made the heavens.

27 Splendor and majesty are before him;     

strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,     

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;     

bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a] 30     

tremble before him, all the earth;     

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,     

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;     

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy    

 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Footnotes: a. 1 Chronicles 16:29 Or in holy attire

 

BLCF: Thanks_Unto_The_Lord

 

While the Scriptures admonish us to praise God for the miracles and blessings in our lives, we know that everyone does not do so, as we read in the account where Jesus healed the ten lepers, in Luke 17:11-19 (ESV):

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

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11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

 

BLCF: 10_leppers

 

It is ironic that only one of the ten lepers who were cleansed or healed of their affliction, gave thanks to the Lord, and he was a Samaritan! Though perhaps it is not surprising, when we see the behavior of some who claim to be believers in Christ are not followers of Christ, in that they often tend to put themselves before the Lord, when acknowledging who is responsible for their salvation.

BLCF: Luke_17_10-leper-thanksgiving

 

And since we are part of Christ’s Church, which is the bride to Christ, we see how the Apostle Paul exemplified such an expression of gratitude in his letter to the Church in Rome:

Romans 16:1-16 (ESV) Personal Greetings

BLCF: Church_bounty_of_Christ

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. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

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

In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives thanks to fellow believers in Christ, whom he refers to as his ‘kinsmen’ with whom he was imprisoned. Paul equated fellow apostles and workers to brothers and sisters in Christ. The mother of Rufus was described like a mother to Paul. Paul continues to refer to others in terms of endearment, such as his ‘beloved’, worthy of a ‘holy kiss’.

BLCF: dear-God

 

How Christians thank the Lord for the gift of salvation, and the new covenant, which includes the promise of the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit is best expressed in the manner we treat others: as beloved members of our own family.

For when we behave towards one another in the Spirit of Christian love towards one another, we walk in the ‘Splendor of Holiness’ described 1 Chronicles 16:29, also described as wearing ‘Holy Attire’. And we can only be worthy donning Holy Attire through our Lord, Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

BLCF: Hebrews_12_1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Cornucopia_Thanksgiving_animated

 

Closing Hymn  # 392: Take Time to Be Holy

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: Happy-Thanksgiving-