Following the Lord’s Steps, According to His Plan

BLCF: Does-god-care_wide

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Following the Lord’s Steps, According to His Plan’

© September 7, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 7, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship:                                                                      

 Responsive Reading #609 (Words of Wisdom – Proverbs 16); Prayer         

Opening Hymn #224: How Firm a Foundation                                                        

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

Scriptures: Proverbs 16:9, Exodus 3:1-12, John 14:1-14, John 16:1-15   

  BLCF:God's_blueprint_plan                       

Let us pray…

Good morning to you on this, the first Sunday of September, a Communion Sunday here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.

For our lesson this morning, I would like to dispel a couple of myths, even to some Christians.

The first, is that since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God has abandoned of us because of sin. The second misconception is that God has set everyone adrift, left without any influence or direction from Him.

I believe that the origins of both these myths come from the fact that God has granted to all of humanity something called “free will” or the choice in which direction to go in our lives.

This is not something new, as Adam and Eve were given a “free will” choice whether or not to listen to and follow’s God’s direction regarding eating the fruit from the “Tree of Life”. Unfortunately for humanity, with a little help from Satan, they chose to not follow His direction, and we know where this sin left us. And because we have inherited a birthright of sin and death, many people today behave as if there is no recourse, but to continue to defy God and continue to sin!

After all, many people behave as if they have no choice from a lifestyle that distances them from the Lord.

BLCF: God_reveals_Himself

Because of this common misconception many sinner are predestined to follow a path of abandonment, leading ultimately to death and judgment, which is quite a hopeless predicament. To those with this disparaging view, I say “take heart”, God is aware of your circumstance and has a plan just for you, as we see in the first of this morning’s Scripture Verses, Proverbs 16:9 (ESV):

The heart of man plans his way,     

but the Lord establishes his steps.

BLCF: Whats-The-Plan

The first step of God’s plan is found in Exodus 3:1-12 (ESV), where He reveals Himself to Moses from a burning bush:

The Burning Bush

BLCF: Moses_burning_bush

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Verse 12 is important in that God promised to be with Moses, as well as the Hebrew people rescued from Egypt, as either a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, as we read in Exodus 13:17-22 (ESV):

Pillars of Cloud and Fire

BLCF: Exodus_13-GodLedIsraelInPillarsOfCloudAndFire

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph[a] had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 13:19 Samaritan, Septuagint; Hebrew he

BLCF: answered_by_fire_by_rob_joseph

God had not abandoned his people, but revealing Himself first from a burning bush, then as a pillar of cloud, and as a pillar of fire. God also revealed a plan to free the Hebrew People from a life of bondage in Egypt by way of parting the sea, knowing the Hebrews had not rid themselves of a life or a mindset of captivity. By closing the sea behind them, God forced the Hebrew people to follow the path of rediscovering a free will choice for them, which had been lost and forgotten through generations of bondage and servitude in Egypt.

BLCF: pillarofcloud

Though the Lord did part the Red Sea and close the sea behind the Hebrew People, so that they could not flee back to servitude in Egypt at the first sign of adversity. This gave the Hebrews an opportunity to become reacquainted with the free will choice to  between either  following the Lord by faith or drifting away from God.

God had chosen Moses to lead the Hebrew people, out of bondage, through the desert to the Promised Land, as well from bondage to the life of free will. And throughout this trek, He made His presence known by the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire. And during this journey, the Lord restored the identity of His people by providing His Laws.

BLCF: map-egypt-sinai-exodus-route

We know that having restored the identity and free will of His people, God’s next step of His Plan, was to reveal Himself, through His Son, Jesus, as we read in John 14:1-14 (ESV):

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

BLCF: IAmTheWayTruthLife

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.

Footnotes: a. John 14:1 Or You believe in God b. John 14:2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you c. John 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know e. John 14:7 Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also f. John 14:14 Some manuscripts omit me

BLCF: God-says-trust-me-i-will-show-you-psalm126-6

We see in verse 3, that Jesus promised to prepare a place for us. This is not the Promised Land, but a place in Heaven. In the meantime, God has provided, as the next step of His plan, a Companion, in the form of the Holy Spirit, to help us follow His path, teach His Gospel, and avoid the influence of Satan, see John 16:1-15 (ESV):

16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Holy_Spirit-fire

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

In the place of the  Lord, Jesus, believers in the Resurrected Christ are promised a Helper, which is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise expressed in Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV):

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So from burning bush, to a pillar of cloud or flame, to His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the Companion of the Holy Spirit, God continues to reveal Himself to all people, giving us proof of His love to us, but to demonstrate the steps of His plan to restore us to His grace and reestablish what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Bible-says-quot-trust-God

Closing Hymn # 324: Be Still, My Soul

Communion: Responsive Reading #663 (- from: 1 Corinthians 11)                           

Benediction: (Psalm 121:7-8):

 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

BLCF: God_reveals

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God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus

Pentecost-by-Gustave-Dore

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:


‘God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus’


© April 7, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

(Easter’s passed but don’t head off too soon! Journey Emmaus Road this Sunday at BLCF Luke 24: 13-35)

http://data8.blog.de/media/874/6977874_eee9cda0d6_d.pdf

Let us pray…

Good morning. What a week that has passed – Holy Week! So we begin the message today with two of Jesus disciples leaving the city of Jerusalem on the third day after Christ’s Crucifixion and burial. And Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, is traveling incognito or disguised at least to the two travellers. The Lord, being fully aware of the conversation, asks what it they were talking about.And they replied, as we see starting with Luke 24, verse 18 (see bolded below):

Emmaus Road

Luke 24:13-35 (ESV) On the Road to Emmaus

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. We hear that having seen and heard Jesus, the expectation was that Jesus was not only a prophet, but the expected Messiah, as we read in verse 21:

21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

It is interesting that the two disciples have not put the two events together, preferring not to believe the women’s testimony that they saw Jesus and angels at the empty tomb. Instead, they accept the account of an empty tomb, but not of Jesus, because the other disciples did not see the Lord.

But what had happened was a fulfillment of the scriptures. And Jesus chastises the disciples for their lack of understanding that what had occurred being part of God’s plan of salvation and redemption not just for Israel, but for all people see Luke 24:
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

It is interesting that the resurrected Christ first revealed himself to the women and next to what might be referred to as minor disciples, not to the original eleven. This is a reflection of the new order of God’s Plan, the first shall come last and the last first. Also, interesting was the fact that Jesus revealed himself after the breaking of bread, as we read again Luke 24:

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Footnotes: a. Luke 24:13 Greek sixty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

Here we see in Luke 24, verse 34, the statement “The Lord has risen indeed”, which we commonly use as a reply to the statement made on Easter Sunday “The Lord is risen!” So let us review what was it that Jesus has done to complete the scriptures of the Prophets? I will now refer to the notes on the inside of today’s bulletin, which outlines the sequence of events that occurred during the Holy Week of Easter. We read of the prophet’s foretelling of how a chosen servant will bring forth justice in the earth in Isaiah 41, especially on verse 4:

Book of Isaiah
Isaiah 42:1-9 (ESV) The LORD’s Chosen Servant
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged[a]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5 Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:

Jesus was bruised but not broken in that while he suffered on the cross for our behalf, to the point of death. He rose from the grave, a proof that Jesus is the Lord foretold in the Scriptures by the Prophets, and that our Lord has provided a light for all nations in verses 6 and 7 of the same Isaiah 42, we read:
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you[b] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the LORD; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 42:4 Or bruised b. Isaiah 42:6 The Hebrew for you is singular; four times in this verse

Next, we see another example of God’s plan on Palm Sunday, where Jesus entered Jerusalem riding not on a horse, but a donkey colt on verse 15 of John 12:12-18:

Palm Sunday

John 12:12-18 (ESV) The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

This time the  disciples, initially, did not understand the reasons for requesting a colt and later realized that it to be a fulfillment of the prophecy in the scriptures. This was a very similar situation as was found with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, with respect to the scriptures.  The lesson behind Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem was reinforced, when the Lord washed the feet of the disciples. A task normally performed by servants, as we see in verse 18 of John 13:12-18:

John_13_12-18

John 13:12-18 (ESV)

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[a] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[b] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’

Footnotes: a. John 13:16 Greek bondservant b. John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled

The washing of the disciples’ feet was done to demonstrate that in teaching the Gospel, we should not forget our place with respect to God.  The one who ate bread, and lifted his heel against Jesus was Judas who betrayed the Lord after taking the bread at the Passover which was Last Supper of our Lord before His crucifixion. This was another fulfillment of the prophecy.
And speaking of the crucifixion and God’s plan, as prophesized in the Scriptures, we see this in verses 36 – 37 of John 19:31-37:

crucifixion

John 19:31-37 (ESV) Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

With the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, we could insert into our timeline of events the Emmaus Road encounter with Jesus. Which brings us to the prophecy found in Christ’s resurrection, as found in verse 9 of John 20:1-10:
Ressurected Christ

John 20:1-10 (ESV) The Resurrection

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus'[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Footnotes: a. John 20:7 Greek his

Baptism Spirit

But the Lord had not only planned to make available to all the people, the gift of forgiveness and redemption through the cross, He has provided the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe in and decide to follow Him. Following the infusion of the Holy Spirit upon all those believers in the Upper Room on the day referred to as Pentecost, Peter delivered a sermon, which addressed the appearance of the disciples, described by some unbelievers, as being drunk with wine. Let us read from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 14-24, paying attention to verses 17-21:

Come Holy Spirit

Acts 2:14-24 (ESV) Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

And in same Acts 2, we see a revelation of God’s Plan in verses 23 – 24:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

AscensionBw

This ‘Pentecost Event’, whereby the Holy Spirit alighted upon all believers is felt by most Biblical scholars to be the point whereby the Christian Church had its start, Not on Palm Sunday or Good Friday or even Easter Sunday, as these events were all elements of God’s Plan to Salvation and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. If we continue with Peter’s Sermon in Acts 2, we see the criteria for salvation to fulfill God’s plan in verses 38-40:

Ascension-of-Jesus
Acts 2:38-40 (ESV)

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Baptism-in-the-Holy-Spirit
Now to recap, we see that God had planned a series of events which lead to forgiveness and reconciliation with God to all who repent of their sins, believe and trust in Jesus. To those who believe is God’s covenant or promise of salvation, resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Last Supper
Part of our faith covenant with the Lord, is the observation and practice of Holy Communion, to remember Jesus sacrifice on our behalf, until His return. Interesting, how the breaking of bread is an important part of today’s message, starting with the communion served at the Passover or Last supper, continuing with the breaking of bread with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later to the eleven in Jerusalem. So it is quite fitting and appropriate that we observe communion in today ‘s service.

Let us Pray…
Communion – Responsive Reading 626 (Mark 14)

 

BLCF:Communion_Remember_Me

Benediction: Philippians 4:7:

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.