What Is ‘God’s Mercy and Grace?’

BLCF: Gods Mercy is greater - animated

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

What Is ‘God’s Mercy and Grace?’

© January 17, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin January 17, 2016

Based on a Message shared with BLCF Church on Sunday July 11, 2010

 Ephesians1_7   

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 – Second Part Only (Living Psalms – Psalm 23 – Paraphrased); Prayer                                                                              

Opening Hymn #286: Years I spent in Vanity and Pride                                            

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

Scriptures Verses: Psalm 23, Romans 5:20-21, Ephesians 1:3-9

BLCF: Lord-Jesus-animated

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord Is My Shepherd

– A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord
forever.[g]

Footnotes: a. Psalm 23:2 Hebrew beside waters of rest b. Psalm 23:3 Or in right paths c. Psalm 23:4 Or the valley of deep darkness d. Psalm 23:6 Or Only e. Psalm 23:6 Or steadfast love f. Psalm 23:6 Or shall return to dwell g. Psalm 23:6 Hebrew for length of days

BLCF: the_Grace_of_God_will_lead_you

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson, we will be looking at ‘What is ‘God’s Mercy and Grace?’ Mercy and Grace, when referenced to God are usually used interchangeably by both believers and non-believers alike. We often speak of the God ‘s Mercy being involved when we avoid a catastrophe or disastrous circumstance in our lives. It is often used to describe a situation where we experience events that have good or positive outcome, when the anticipated outcome should be bad or negative, and no one can explain why this has occurred.

So what do we mean when we talk about grace? Let’s check our Wikibits:

Spiros Zodhiates, author of The Complete Word Study Dictionary:

New Testament defines Grace is the word most frequently used in modern Bible translations for the original Greek word charis. There is no simple English-language equivalent. Charis means “that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor [and] acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired . . . [and] a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver Charis is also translated as “favor,” “thanks” and “pleasure.” It comes from the Greek verb chairo, which means “to rejoice” (same source).   A simple way to define grace would be to think of it as God’s unearned, undeserved favor toward us—motivated by His love and concern for us, especially those of us who accept His invitation to enter into a relationship with Him. It encompasses all of the wonderful gifts God so graciously offers us.

Similar to the above scenario, when we see another who has fallen into circumstances, we use the expression, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”

BLCF: Gods-Grace-Mercy

There is a problem in using the two terms, Grace and Mercy, interchangeably. For while God’s Grace and Mercy, in some ways are not used not mutually exclusive of each other, that does not mean one is synonymous to the other.

Mercy is what grace offers. The grace of God comes to us in our poor sinful condition and offers us the mercy of God when we deserve His wrath. So grace comes to us giving us mercy.

Grace is most commonly called “unmerited favor”. Grace is what God offers to fallen sinners through the salvation obtained by the atonement of Jesus Christ. We call it grace because it is undeserved.

The forgiveness we receive in Christ is through no work we ourselves do, it is for this reason we call it “unmerited favor”. (Romans 3:24, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10, Titus 2:11)

Rolfe Barnard defines the relationship of the two as:

“Mercy is God’s favor that holds back from us what we deserve. Grace is God’s favour that gives us what we do not deserve.”

BLCF: Gods mercy and Grace

Thomas Goodwin puts it this way:

” ‘Grace’ is more than mercy and love, it super adds to them. It denotes, not simply love, but the love of a sovereign, transcendently superior, one that may do what he will, that may wholly choose whether he will love or no. There may be love between equals, and an inferior may love a superior; but love in a superior, and so superior as he may do what he will, in such a one love is called grace: and therefore grace is attributed to princes; they are said to be gracious to their subjects, whereas subjects cannot be gracious to princes. Now God, who is an infinite Sovereign, who might have chosen whether ever He would love us or no, for Him to love us, this is grace.”

Another way of describing God’s grace is calling it Divine grace. is found in the Wikipedia Encyclopedia:

Devine Grace is a theological term which is present in many and varied spiritual traditions. It is God’s gift of salvation granted to sinners for their salvation. However, there are significant differences between the ways people of different traditions use the word.

Within Christianity, there are differing conceptions of grace. In particular, Catholics and Protestants use the word in substantially different ways. It has been termed “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, and modern liberalism from conservatism”. Catholic doctrine teaches God may use the sacraments to facilitate the reception of His grace. Protestants generally do not hold that view.

Grace in this context is something that is God-given, made possible only by Jesus Christ and none other.

Romans 5:1-2 (King James Version) “1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…”

Galatians 5:4 (King James Version) “4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

The view that Christians have on grace is that it is undeserved mercy that God gave to us by sending his son to die on a cross to give us a way to be with him in for the balance of eternity.

However, the Greek word used in the Bible is Charis pronounced khar’-ece, in which Strong’s Concordance gives this interesting definition:

“The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.”[2] The Greek word charis is related to two other Greek/English words, which are charisma (a special spiritual endowment or influence) and character (an engraving, stamp or mark indicating the genuineness of something)[3] Therefore, grace is given by God in reference to developing characteristics in harmony with God’s character.

Non-Christians hold a markedly different definition of grace:

Hindu philosopher Madhvacharya held that grace was not a gift from God, but rather must be earned.

From a nontheistic, naturalist, and rationalist perspective, the concept of divine grace appears to be the same nonexistent concept as luck.

By contrast, Christian believers hold with the belief that grace comes from God, as an expression of His love, and is manifested by His mercy to those who confess their sins and accept Jesus Christ as savior and redeemer.

BLCF: Gods_grace

Grace reigns through righteousness. An excellent verse regarding God’s grace and which also addresses man’s role is Romans 5:20-21 (ESV):

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The expression “grace reign though righteousness” (charis basileuon dia dikaiosunes) reveals the climate in which grace is successful. “Righteousness” is an atmosphere of the presence of God’s commandments and man’s humble acquiescence to all that God had required of him   (Psalms 119: 172, Acts 10: 34, 35).

BLCF: God_is_Love

The apostle John summarizes God’s motivation and character in three simple words:

“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

His dealings with us are motivated by His love—His care, His concern and even His correction—so we can receive His gift of eternal life as members of His family.

Several of the apostles summarize God’s attitude and approach of loving care and concern for us with the term grace. Paul, Peter and John use the word quite often. What do they mean by it, and how can it help us better understand our Creator?

1Peter5_10

Paul typically starts his letters to the churches with the phrase:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In doing so he wanted to impress upon his audience God’s favor toward those who accept His calling.

BLCF: bible-verse-2-corinthians-my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-made-perfect-in-weakness1

If you look on the back of today’s Bulletin, you will see a list of Scripture Verses giving the many ways as:

How does God express His love for us through grace?
 
– Through grace God reveals Himself and helps us come to know Him and Jesus Christ His Son (John 1:14-16).
– God calls us through His grace (Galatians 1:15).
– Through grace God pronounces us “justified”, righteous and free of sin
– as a result of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7).
– God offers us salvation, His gift of eternal life through grace (Romans 5:15-18; Titus 2:11; 3:5; Acts 15:11).
– Through grace God allows us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Romans 5:1-2).
– God saves us through His grace (Ephesians 2:5, 8).
-Because of God’s grace, God offered Jesus Christ, and Jesus offered Himself, as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (John 3:16; Hebrews2:9).
– Through grace God gives us mercy and “help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
-Through grace God gives us not only what we need but enough for us to share with others (2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 9:8).
– God forgives us through His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
-Through grace Jesus Christ came in the flesh in the role of a servant so we could have a Savior and receive eternal life (2Corinthians 8:9; compare Philippians 2:5-11).
-God gives us consolation and hope through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
-Through grace God grants spiritual gifts to His people for the benefit of those in His Church (Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10).
-God’s grace: His dealings with humanity motivated by love are part of the true gospel (Acts 20:24). The gospel —the good news — is the message of God’s plan to offer eternal life in the Kingdom of God to all who have ever lived and will yet live. This is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in taking on Himself the penalty for our sins.

The Gospel of Jesus is the message of God’s plan to offer eternal life in the Kingdom of God to all who have ever lived and will yet live. This is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in taking on Himself the penalty for our sins.

And Jesus’ Gospel includes the wonderful news that God will intervene in human affairs to save us from ourselves and send Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

So what is the lesson, we as believers in the risen Christ, need to take home from so many expressions of God’s mercy and grace?

Grace is when you receive a good reward that you do not deserve. Mercy is when you spared from a bad judgment that you do deserve. God expresses His love by being generous with both His Grace and Mercy.

BLCF: Grace_Mercy

The lesson to us should be that of tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

We need to show tolerance to the words and actions of others which we find offensive to both God and to ourselves. If God is just to forgive us in spite of our sins, then who are we to condemn such behavior? Throughout His ministry on earth, Christ demonstrated tolerance to those who would commonly held in contempt by so called elders of the faith. Judge not lest ye be judged.

We need to forgive others who have wronged us. The Scripture passages found in both Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4 , commonly called the ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, where Jesus teaches how to pray, indicates that if we expect forgiveness from God, we need to forgive others first.

BLCF: Always_Pray

In the Bible we are asked the question: “How can we claim to love our Father in Heaven whom we do not know, when we hate our brother whom we do know? In other words, if we really know God, that is know Him in our heart, we would not have room there for contempt or resentment, to seek retribution or revenge.

I find it interesting that some people are more tolerant towards strangers, than they are to those whom they know.

Finally, we should not only just show tolerance and forgiveness, which are aspects of mercy; we need to demonstrate grace by reconciling ourselves to others by working to reestablish our relationships with those from whom we have distanced ourselves. For just as God has reconciled us through the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf at the cross at Calvary, we must be reconciled to those guilty of doing or saying the unforgiveable against us. It is an un-Godly self-indulgence to hold a grudge or express contempt towards those who have wronged us.

Grace should not be considered a form of mercy from God, but rather the state of tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, granted by God’s grace, an expression of love which gives us His mercy, in spite of our sins. It is manifest when we confess our sins to Him and accept Jesus as our personal Savior. We may not and should not assume that while God grants us grace freely by His own will, and because of His love for us; that we are automatically entitled the Lord’s grace. There is a prerequisite, which has been mentioned several times in this sermon, which I would like to repeat in a different way:

God does not grant us grace to make us faithful and believe in Him. God gives us grace because we do have faith and believe in Him.

And we demonstrate our faith by our words and deeds, particularly towards our enemies and those we do not hold in high regard. We show that we believe in Him, when we place our concerns in His hands and trust that He would grant us the grace to endure those challenges in life that we must endure and mercy and forgiveness for those things that we have done which are not of His liking.

BLCF: Ephesians_1_3-9

For our closing prayer, let me read the third of today’s Scripture Verses, Ephesians 1:3-9 (ESV), which is entitled: Spiritual Blessings in Christ.

Let us pray…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[a] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[b] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ .                                                                                                            

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 1:5 Or before him in love, having predestined us b. Ephesians 1:9 Or he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known…

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

Closing Hymn #49: Surely Goodness and Mercy                                        

Benediction: O God in Heaven, we thank you for your Mercy and Grace. We thank you for your love. We confess our sins and pray that the Holy Spirit guide our hearts so that they may be only for Him; to accept Him, to believe in Him, to praise and to worship Him for Who He is, the One who redeemed us by the sacrifice of Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ who is God. – Amen

BLCF: Trust Jesus - animated

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Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace

BLCF: grace_and_glory

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’ 

© February 15, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on January 16, 2011

BLCF Bulletin February 15, 2015

BLCF: grace-unmerited-favor-by-luis-rivera-free-photo

 

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

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

Scripture Verses: Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13

 

BLCF: by-grace

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson for today explores; ‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’. It would be presumptuous of me, or anyone else, to claim to fully understand God. But by His grace we are able to perceive His plan that He provides for our forgiveness, reconciliation, sanctification, and edification, from our sins to His grace.

In bulletin today, is a list of characteristics of God, as revealed through the Scriptures:

God-is-

 

God is self-existent Exodus. 3:13–14

God is self-sufficient Psalm 50:10–12

God is eternal Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2

God is Infinite 1 Kings 8:22–27; Jeremiah 23:24

God is omnipresent Psalm 139:7–12

God is omnipotent Genesis 18:14; Revelations 19:6

God is omniscient Psalm 139:2–6; Isaiah 40:13–14

God is wise Proverbs 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17

God is immutable Hebrews 1:10–12; 13:8

God is sovereign Isaiah 46:9–11

God is incomprehensible Job 11:7–19; Roman 11:33

God is holy Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15

God is righteous and just Psalm 119:137

God is true John 17:3; Titus 1:1–2

God is faithful Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:1–2

God is light James 1:17; 1 John 1:5

God is good Psalm 107:8

God is merciful Psalm 103:8–17

God is gracious Psalm 111:4; 1 Peter 5:10

God is love John 3:16; Romans 5:8

God is spirit John 4:24

God is one Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Isaiah 44:6–8

God is a Trinity Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14                                            

(Chart by John Neely)

The attribute that I would like to focus upon is God’s  grace or graciousness, mentioned in Psalm 111:4 and 1 Peter 5:10, among other in the Bible. Psalm 111:4 (ESV) reads, as follows:

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;    

 the Lord is gracious and merciful.

And the second Scripture, from 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV), is:

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

While we may understand that when we talk about grace, we are not talking about a prayer, thanking the Lord for the bounty and asking for His blessing for a meal before we eat, (For the prayer before meals, see Grace (prayer)).

The grace we are talking about is that which God has gifted to those who have confessed their sins and have faith in Christ. Most Biblical scholars and theologians do agree on the definition of the nature of grace as:

Grace ɡrās/ noun (in Christian belief) – the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.                

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace

BLCF: Gods-grace-is-sufficient

But there is much debate and controversy among various Christian churches as to manner by which Christian believers are able to obtain God’s grace manifest in their lives:

Grace (Christianity) – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: grace-of-God

In Western Christian theology, grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to mankind — “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] — that take the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.

Christian orthodoxy holds that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God.

In Eastern Christianity too, grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity.

The question of the means of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern [theological] liberalism from [theological] conservatism.”[4]

The Catholic Church holds that it is because of the action of Christ and the Holy Spirit in transforming into the divine life what is subjected to his power that “the sacraments confer the grace they signify”: “the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through [each sacrament], independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.”[5][6] the Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) are seen as a means of partaking of divine grace because God works through his Church.

Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants agree that faith is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8

BLCF: Grace_Eugene-O-Neill-God

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

Protestants almost universally believe that grace is given by God based on the faith of the believer.

 Lutherans hold that the means of grace are “the gospel in Word and sacraments”.[7][8] That the sacraments are means of grace is also the teaching of John Wesley,[9] who described the Eucharist as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God”.[10]

Calvinists emphasize “the utter helplessness of man apart from grace.” But God reaches out with “first grace” or “prevenient grace” that each person may accept or reject. The Calvinist doctrine known as irresistible grace states that, since all persons are by nature spiritually dead, no one desires to accept this grace until God spiritually enlivens them by means of regeneration. God regenerates only individuals whom he has predestined to salvation.

Armenians understand the grace of God as cooperating with one’s free will in order to bring an individual to salvation. According to Evangelical theologian Charles C. Ryrie, modern liberal theology “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to initiate his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace.” He writes that theological conservatives maintain God’s grace is necessary for salvation.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_(Christianity)

But in the two Scripture verses featured in today’s Bulletin, Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13, we see that in the 1500 or so years between the time that the prophet Moses described in Exodus 34 and the Apostle Paul described in Romans 10, a significant change had taken place in the relationship between God and mankind.

 

BOOK            DATE                         AUTHOR

Exodus          1445-1405 B.C.        Moses                 

Romans          56 A.D.                      Paul
http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTAR125.htm

The first passage describes how God instructs Moses to construct a new set of God’s Commandments to replace the first set that Moses broke in anger upon seeing the behavior or should I say misbehaviour of the people of Israel in his absence on the top of Mount Sinai.

 Exodus 34:1-11 (ESV) Moses Makes New Tablets

BLCF: love-God-and-others

 1The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

 The Covenant Renewed

BLCF: God-Speaks

10And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Our second Scripture verse, Romans 10:1-13, describes a New Covenant and relationship with God. Not just forgiving sin without judgment, but providing both forgiveness and removing judgment from us, (as Jesus has taken our judgment upon himself), making salvation freely available to those who have faith:

Romans 10:1-13 (ESV)

BLCF: Christ-is-the-end-of-the-law-of-Moses

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

The Message of Salvation to All

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For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Footnotes: a. Romans 10:4 Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified

BLCF: abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

By God’s grace, we find a description  of some of the key characteristics of the Lord, (Exodus 34:6-7):

6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

In Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV), we see that Paul urges us, as a body of believers, who are united through Jesus, to follow the Lord’s example in our behavior:

Unity in the Body of Christ

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1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

God provides, by way of Jesus, a path to grace before the Lord for all, Jew and Gentile alike, through faith. Under a New Covenant, we are promised a place in heaven, where Jesus is mediator of a purchased by his precious blood, Hebrews 12:18-24 (ESV):  

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

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18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.                                                   

 Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church

BLCF: dont-go-to-church-be-the-church1

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord

Benediction – Ephesians 6:2: Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

 

Grace_is_GODs_idea

Who is Jesus? What is Sin? What do they mean to me?

BLCF: Who_do_you_say_I_am

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Who is Jesus? What is Sin? What do they mean to me?’

© September 14, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 14, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship:                                                                     

Responsive Reading #633 (The Good Shepherd – John 10); Prayer                                                              

Opening Hymn #237: What Can Wash Away My Sin? ; Choruses                                             

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

Scripture Verses:                                                                                                                                   

Romans 3:23, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58   

                  

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Romans 3:23 (ESV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

BLCF: God_loves

Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

BLCF: sin_and_Christ

1 John 1:7-9 (ESV)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

BLCF: victory_through_Jesuus

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (ESV) Mystery and Victory

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.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:45 Greek a living soul b. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some manuscripts let us

BLCF: Gods_bridge

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. For the lesson today, I would like to pose a few questions: Who is Jesus? What is sin? What do they mean to me?

To answer these questions, we must first understand their relevance to each other and their mutual context, as found in the Scriptures. Jesus came to propitiate God for sin by his crucifixion on the cross. And what is meant by sin? Romans 3:23 indicates all of humanity have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Is sin the act By Adam and eve of disobedience to God’s ordinance, which was the command not to eat fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge”, as described in Genesis 3?

The Apostle Paul describes manifestations of sin as “works of flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV):

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Our hope comes from the blood that Christ shed on our behalf to cleanse us from the unrighteousness of sins which we confess or admit, as describe in 1 John 1:7-9 (ESV):

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

BLCF: Jesus_died_for_my_sins

And with salvation, by faith in Jesus, comes the promise of the resurrection from death and a life immortal, as described in our next Scripture passage, from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (ESV), entitled the Mystery and Victory:

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.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:45 Greek a living soul b. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some manuscripts let us

BLCF: I-AM-Jesus

But some might ask: “Who is Jesus, that he might be capable of removing sin’s stain from each and every believer’s life?”

For Jesus is more than a Saviour, as even Christ describes himself using more than a dozen distinct terms, which you will find on the back of today’s bulletin. In the passages, taken from various passages in John’s Gospel, are a set of descriptors, theologians refer today as the “I Am’s of Jesus”:

John 6:51 (ESV) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

John 8:23 (ESV) 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:12 (ESV) 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:58 (ESV) 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 10:9 (ESV) I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:11 (ESV) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:36 (ESV) 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

John 11:25 (ESV) 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 15:1 (ESV) 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 

BLCF: i_am

What does Christ mean when repeatedly exclaims that “I am”’? let us check an online dictionary:

Am – verb – 1st person singular present indicative of be.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/am?s=t

 

In other words, Jesus states that he describes himself as: living bread; not of this world; the light of the world; before Abraham (he existed before Abraham); the door; the good shepherd; one with the Father (God); Son of God; the resurrection; the life; the way; the truth; the true vine.

BLCF: I-AM

Jesus exists is multifaceted and multidimensional in relation to our needs.

If the verses above, containing a descriptor that is preceded by “I am” sounds familiar, you may recall Moses’ encounter with God, the latter appearing as a “burning bush” in Exodus 3:13-15 (ESV):

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord,[b] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Exodus 3:14 Or I am what I am, or I will be what I will be b.Exodus 3:15 The word Lord, when spelled with capital letters, stands for the divine name, YHWH, which is here connected with the verb hayah, “to be” in verse 14

BLCF: Jesus_is_Lord_animated

It is totally fitting that Jesus describe himself in the same manner in John’s Gospel as God described Himself in Exodus 3. After all, Jesus tells us in John 10:30 (ESV), that:

I and the Father are one                            

Both Christ and the Father are part of the Godhead, commonly called the Holy Trinity, with the third part being the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Romans_3_23_by_iomerp

So far we have answered the first two questions I raised at the beginning of today’s lesson: “Who is Jesus?” and “What is sin?” But what about the third question, referring to the previous two: “What do the mean to me?”

This question was answered within some the verses that we studied today. Each of us is guilty of sin, as indicated in Romans 3:23 (ESV):

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

BLCF: Gods_law

We only need to believe that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins, as we see in John 11:25 (ESV):

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

BLCF: only_blood_of_Jesus

As followers of the Resurrected Christ, we walk in the light, cleansed from all of sins unrighteousness, remember the Scripture passage from, 1 John 1:7-9 (ESV):

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

BLCF: grace_isnt

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn # 158: I Serve a Risen Savior

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21): 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Gods_grace

BLCF: the_great_commission

Are You Running from God’s Judgment or towards His Grace?

BLCF: run_race

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Are You Running from God’s Judgment or towards His Grace?’

© July 13, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Published September 19, 2010

BLCF Bulletin 13, 2014

BLCF: Cross_Runners

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading # 648 ( A Challenge to Faith – Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer                                             Opening Hymn #200: The Church’s One Foundation; Choruses                                                                                                                                                           Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings                                                                                                                        Scriptures: Hebrews 12:1-3,  1 Corinthians 9:24, Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7 

BLCF: MARATHON-RUN

Let us pray…

In this age of instant fast foods, instant bank tellers (a.k.a. bank machines), movies on demand, and instant access to a wealth of information via the internet, it is refreshing to slow the tempo of our surroundings and do something that requires more than just a few minutes of our time to complete. For some, such low tempo activities includean extended period of unstructured time, untethered to clocks, schedules or timetables. For others, it is the challenge of completing a goal that involves continuous effort for a protracted period of time, dedication, commitment and provides a goal worthy of the effort.

One such event is the marathon, a cross-country run, not run as a competition between individual participants, but as a vehicle for a group of people to raise awareness and funds, by its participants in order to recognize or help others who suffer from, are afflicted by or have died from a disease or affliction. An example of one such marathon for a cause is the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research, which occurs annually every around September 14.

BLCF: TerryFoxRun-banner-2014-EN

 

The Terry Fox Run dates for the next three years:

2014

September 14 34th Anniversary
2015 September 20 35th Anniversary
2016 September 18

36th Anniversary

 

Some people run in marathons for personal satisfaction of completing the challenge of the race. For others it is all about the cause.

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles and 385 yards), which is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race) to Athens. Upon completion of the run where Pheidippides reported a victory, he collapsed and died. While he had died he completed his task and gave the message which gave hope and joy to the people of Athens.

BLCF: gal_grk_oly_running

 

Today, many marathon races are run to commemorate a person or just cause. Often the person and the cause are inseparable, such as the Terry Fox Run. Though he never finished his race, the effort and idea of running across Canada to raise awareness of, and funding for, Cancer was a victory for him.

We have with the Terry Fox Run, no individual winners; only a common desire amongst the runners to defeat Cancer. In our race as Christians, we run together to defeat Satan, to defeat death and win victories for God.

BLCF: running_the_race

 

While Paul and other authors of the Scriptures speak of running or winning a race, I think the God was not speaking of a short sprint or even a middle or long distance event. God was talking of a long endurance race, such as the marathon. A life-long marathon.

And how do we prepare ourselves for in the long run, (if you excuse the pun)? God does provide us with a “Runners Handbook” in His Word. Here are a few of the important verses to prepare us for the race of life, beginning where the Bible describes ways of preparing the believer for the challenges encountered along the way of a lifelong “Christian Walk:

BLCF: armour_of_God

 Ephesians 6:10-20, describes them as wearers of ‘The Whole Armour of God’.                  

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

And in 1 Chronicles 12:22, talks of the ‘The Army of God.’

22 For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God.

We are part of the “army of God”, engaged in battle, wearing the armour of God. But armour is not the only analogy given to our Faith Walk.

 BLCF:armyofgod

The Bible in 1 Corinthians 12:27, also, describes Christian believers as part of the “body of Christ”.

 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

BLCF: Body of Christ

 

Looking at 2 Corinthians 5:20,we are “Christ’s ambassadors”; His envoys, representing him in this world.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

BLCF: bride&groomt

Ephesians 5:22-33 describes the church of believers as “bride of Jesus”, with Christ being the groom, described similar to the relationship between a wife and husband.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 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. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Footnotes: a. Or holy and blameless

BLCF: temple-body

 

The Bible likens us in 1 Corinthians 3:17, to a “temple of God”.

17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

BLCF: john 15 5

 We are “healthy branches” and Christ is the vine, as described in John15:5.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

BLCF: salt_of_the_earth

 

Matthew 5:13-16, characterizes Christian believers as “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”.

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that

Each one of these is varied and each one is valid.  Each one could easily take a sermon to explain and understand.

However, let me simplify all of them by describing them an aspect of our personal relationship with God. As soldiers in God’s army, wearing God’s armor we battle both Satan and sin. God is our Commander-in-Chief; the Bible gives us both His strategy and the weapons to battle within the scriptures. However, the battle, that challenges both our determination and tests our endurance, is lifelong; but great are the victories won, if we stay faithful in serving the Lord. Victory is found in souls saved from the final judgment of death by receiving God’s love and avoiding the obstacles Satan places in our path. The gaol and reward is salvation and eternal life.

Once we have made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, having confessed our sins, and committing ourselves to God, we are immediately appointed His ambassadors. As ambassadors our passports are stamped by the precious blood of Christ who died for our sins. As so we carry the diplomatic immunity from judgment for our sins. But we are expected to represent the Kingdom of God in an appropriate and fitting manner. Our diplomatic mandate requires us to understand God’s purpose and policies, as outlined in the Bible. And as Holy diplomats, we must use the gifts given us by the Holy Spirit to walk, talk and act as messengers of truth. Otherwise, we lose credibility and do our appointed position a disservice and dishonor the One who sacrificed so much that we may be His representatives, unto the ends of the world.

BLCF: Jesus_meeting_bride

 

A bride and groom are joined together in marriage until death. That is until death bids them to part. But God expects married partners not to be unequally-yoked. Like a pair of oxen, of one we stronger than the other. Otherwise the cart or the plough, or whatever the team pull, would be drawn into circles. God wants us walking a straight path, with straight rows, not making crazy crop circles. A bride and groom are kept together because they share the same values, seek the same goals, and work together in harmony. Jesus, the groom, did His part to provide for his bride, which is the church, by fulfilling the scriptures and being the last and final sacrificial lamb for all of humanity. Every believer; man and woman, Jew and Gentile, adult and child, alike may be judged sinless forever in God’s eyes’ thanks to the sacrifice of Christ.

And the bride in this relationship, being the Church, has the responsibility to maintain and nourish the faith; to ensure all her children understand the message of the Gospel, as well as God’s unconditional gift of love. Not for only a day; not until the kids are grown; and not until retirement; but until death, which in God’s time frame, forever! Forever includes this lifetime, the next, as well as the hereafter.

BLCF: socil_media_scrapbook

 

A married couple may have a wedding album to mark that special day, with all the events of the day being recorded by the photos,  as well as by saved mementos which, when added to the photos, make the scrapbook a tapestry of a life event. This album is often followed by other albums to record other important events, such as: birthdays, vacations, anniversaries and other significant events of a whole lifetime bound within the albums’ collective pages. Today, tech savvy couples may post such images on social media pages, such as Facebook, Flickr, BLOGs and Instagram on the Internet for the whole world to see. To make a good impression, these social media albums are edited to show only the best images of what we do.

BLCF: BOOK-OF-LIFE

 

The Lord keeps an album too, sometimes referred to our “Book of Life”. Unlike our scrapbook albums, this one has a record of all that we do, say and think; the good as well as the bad. But like our album, all of the good and bad will be posted for all to see come Judgment Day. That is a daunting thought, for instead of warranting a title such as “The Highlights of My Life”, the title for such a Book might have one sounding like a spaghetti western title like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of My Life”! To the Lord the content of this Judgement Book that is important to Him includes: whether we have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; whether we have confessed our sins; and perhaps most importantly, have we embarked upon the race that the Lord has set for us as Christian believers: to spread the Gospel to others and whether we grew in faith and trust in His Way.

Before I get carried away, and attempt to comment on all of these examples of our Christian walk, let me address the topic of this Sunday’s message: ‘Are you running from God’s judgment or towards His grace’?  There is another analogy of the Christian walk, but the Apostle Paul describes it as a race, like a marathon. With a few exceptions, the runners of these races are not necessarily running the race as competitors against each other, but like the marathons for a just cause, as a group running with the common goal of just making it to the finish line by overcoming the challenges of obstacles, such as the wall of pain and exhaustion. They must find inner strength from within and demonstrate to the world that they can continue the race into to the end.

BLCF: Woman Running

 

I have a sister-in-law, Suuzie who is a triathlete. She does triathlons, which include three endurance races combined in a single marathon race. Part of the race is in the water; part is like the original marathon is on foot; and part is on bicycle. One of Suuzie’s first races took place in Hamilton, early in the month May, with the first leg to be swum in Hamilton Harbor. My brother-in -law recorded that race with over three hundred participants at the starting line.  At the start of the race,  we  see that the starting gun goes off and the triathletes run into water. In the next scene of the video, about half of the participants doing a 180 – turnaround and run right back out of the water.

BLCF: cold water swim

 

If you are curious as to how cold the water of Lake Ontario can be in early May, ask Sophie as she was baptized in Lake Ontario at Sunnyside Park in the month of May.

I believe Suuzie was one of those who ran in, then out of the lake. She and the other runners were not prepared for the conditions of the lake. Eventually Suuzie re-entered the lake and eventually finished her race.

BLCF: kangaroos

 

Recently, Suuzie lived in Australia for a couple of years, and while on the road had her training run interrupted by a gang of kangaroos, which surrounded Suuzie on the roadside. This kangaroo encounter, while somewhat bizarre and sounding humorous could have had a very serious outcome, as the hopping marsupials are well known for their aggressive and combative behavior. Fortunately, Suuzie escaped from the encounter, unharmed. After she escaped the kangaroo threat, Suuzi actually returned to the same location with her husband, camera in hand, hoping to take a photograph the ‘roos. Come to think of it, it is likely that Suzie’s photo albums, at least those documenting her runs, are likely to be quite different from the norm.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, those running the ‘Race of Christian Faith’, we must be prepared for the unexpected, which is Satan’s way of distracting us from our goal of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 BLCF: 15km_kangaroo_sign

 

 

In school I used to like running to middle distance races. A middle distance was 880 yards before metrification or 800 meters today. I recall during one practice run, where I knew none of my opponents. I had taken, and was maintaining, a lead over the rest of the pack for most of the race, with one pesky runner, whose name was Alan, maintained a pace beside and behind me for most of the race.

At one point of the race, near the last thirty yards of the finish line, Alan looked at me with a show of apparent concern saying, “You look tired! Are you OK? Maybe you should take it easy, as it is only a practice.”

For me that was I all I needed to hear. My legs and arms were burning, my lungs bursting at my efforts and Alan’s words spoke to me of everything that my body felt. I was done, as Alan had effectively broken my focus enough to pass me and win the race.

BLCF: hebrews-12-what-makes-the-course-worth-running

 

In our race on the Glory Road, we too have someone like Satan whispering in our ears that the water is too cold to swim or that we have reached an insurmountable wall. Even something as innocuous as “Oh look a bunch of kangaroos”. Whatever it is, we must resist the temptation to stop or quit the race. For in quitting, we hand the garland of victory to Satan!

We must not be diverted from our route or distracted from the goal in our race. Satan loves to chill the water in which we swim or throw a kangaroo or two in our path. He will do anything to make us lose our focus and ultimately to stop us from running God’s race. Remember, that Jesus, immediately following his baptism and having received the Holy Spirit, was taken into the desert, where he fasted and was repeatedly tested by Satan. But Jesus, through faith in His Father, and by his knowledge of the scriptures, stayed on track and defeated Satan. Jesus’ victory was our victory. Jesus did not allow himself to be detoured from his appointed path to defeat sin on our behalf.

BLCF: rooted_in_faith

 

Having prepared ourselves for the race, let us review the race set before us:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)

1Therefore, 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, 2looking 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.

 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

BLCF: 1Corinthins_9_24-27

 

         1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) 

4Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  

BLCF: the-race-of-faith-Hebrews_12_1-2

 

The goal of our race is testify to the Gospel of Christ and to keep the faith:                                                  

  Acts 20:24 (ESV)  

24But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 

BLCF: FinishTheRace

           

  2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

And if we set upon the marathon of our life, intent to share, without distraction, the Gospel of Christ and keep our faith in the Lord, then when our race is run. We may claim for ourselves the rewards of our efforts to draw closer to the Lord’s “Throne of Grace”, so that we may receive His mercy and, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, find the grace to help those who have not yet found it.

BLCF: runner

BLCF: Phillipians_313

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

 14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For 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.                                                                                          

Let Us Pray…

BLCF: Christian_Faith 

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 BLCF: hebrews12_1_new