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

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: 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-

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Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Doing what Jesus would do!

Doing what Jesus would do!

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’                                             

©October 13, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 13, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #606 (Blessings from God – Psalm 103); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #37: Great is Thy Faithfulness

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 view as a strictly secular when compared to Christmas or Easter, both 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 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 error 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.

BLCF: Thanksgiving

 

You may have read the cartoon on the back 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:

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!

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: Early Thanksgiving in Canada

 Official Holiday 

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

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, our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

Many in today’s society seems to have found themselves wondering 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 quarrelled 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 quarrelling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

BLCF: Massah and Meribah

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 quarrelling.

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, in the early 1980’s, 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 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 both in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, as well as was legislated by our Parliament:

1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (ESV) 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!   

Glory in his holy name; et the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered

And finally, as God through Moses provided life by giving water from a stone, Jesus, the rock of our salvation provided spiritual life by his blood. Blood from a stone:

1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV):  4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: 1Peter 2_4-5

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows

Benediction (Colossians 3:15-17):        

“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.”