God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Pentecost-by-Gustave-Dore

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus’

© May 29, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on April 7, 2013

(Easter has passed, but do not head off too soon! Journey Emmaus Road this Sunday at BLCF)

God has a plan for you

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God (Doxology); Prayer Requests

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – The Church at Clawson Medina – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special:

Amazing Love by Newsboys with lyrics – https://youtu.be/nwjTT2bqKk0

When We Walk with the Lord (Tune: Trust and Obey – 4vv+refrain) [with lyrics for congregations] – https://youtu.be/nVNyfEav3GU

Message by Steve Mickelson: God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus

Gods Plan 1

Let us pray…

Good morning. Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church on this, the last Sunday of May 2022.  For those of you who utilize a pocket calendar or a virtual calendar on your phone, let’s look at some significant dates found in the Scriptures used for today’s lesson that falls around today, May 29.

Next Sunday, being the first Sunday of June, will be a Communion Sunday at BLCF. As Easter Sunday this year was on April 17, Jesus’ Ascension came some 40 days later, or May 27 on this year’s calendar. In addition, we will observe Pentecost, where the Lord sent believers God’s Holy Spirit on June 6, some 50 days after Easter.

We begin the lesson today with two of Jesus’ disciples, leaving the city of Jerusalem, on the third day after Christ’s Crucifixion and burial. Moreover, Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, is traveling incognito or disguised, at least to the two travelers. The Lord, being fully aware of the conversation, asks about what it was they were talking about. Their reply is recorded in 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 beginning with 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 in 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 was 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 the 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 has risen!” So let us review what was it that Jesus has done to complete the scriptures of the Prophets? We see in Isaiah 41, especially in verse 4, that the Scriptures indicate that the prophets foretell of a chosen servant will bring forth justice on the earth:

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 on our behalf, to the point of death, he rose from the grave, as a proof that Jesus is the same 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: 

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, happening on Palm Sunday, where Jesus entered Jerusalem riding not on a horse, but on a donkey colt in 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 was 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 the 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. This 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, but He has also 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 that lead to forgiveness and reconciliation with God to all who repent of their sins and believe and trust in Jesus. To those who believe in God’s covenant or promise of salvation, resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Let us Pray…

Music Special:

Because He Lives (I Can Face Tomorrow) – Mike Manor (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/FZj9rf-bvTs

He lives (I Serve A Risen Savior) – https://youtu.be/KFz_jHPJh-g

Benediction: Philippians 4:7:

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

BLCF: kNOw Jesus kNOw Peace animated

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor St. West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:            

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

© April 24, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

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

BLCF: Bulletin November 23, 2014

BLCF: Ephesians_2_19-22

Music Special: Andrew Peterson – Risen Indeed – Graphic Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/pUvlvekat2w

Church (Take Me Back) Cochren & Co. Worship Video with lyrics – https://youtu.be/ns8lIG6cLc8

Announcements and Call to Worship:

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

Prayer and Tithing; Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Everything (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/0roew1qa3pM

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

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

 BLCF: Christs-church-jax-fl

 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (ESV): One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

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

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

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

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

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

BLCF: Christ_chief_cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)

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

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

Happy Greek Easter animated

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.  I would like to wish a Happy Orthodox Easter to all our friends who celebrate their Easter today!

I have included a photo, taken pre-pandemic, of me helping with the Easter lamb taken a few years back at my in-laws. The electric rotisserie’s motor failed and everyone took a turn with a manual crank. In this case, it takes a village to cook the lamb or a large extended family. Needless to say, the lamb turned out fine, thanks to the dozen or so cooks.

Greek Easter lamb

And though most of you know your neighbors here at BLCF, I would like to invite each of you to take a moment to participate in the old tradition of shaking hands and saying hello to one another. But because we still have COVID floating around I ask that you say hello to your neighbour by way of a friendly wave, and in doing so become reacquainted with God’s Church in the heart of Toronto. His local church is not composed of the wood, brick, and mortar that make up the building at 1307 Bloor Street West, but the people, who are Christ’s Body of Believers

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

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

ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation

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

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

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

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

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

BLCF: Christ Church

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

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

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

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

BLCF: heart-of-Jesus

 The Way of Love

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

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

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

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

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

BLCF: God is Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLCF: 1_Corinthians_12_27

 Personal Greetings

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

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

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

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

BLCF: the_church_is

Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV): 

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

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

We, at Bloor Lansdowne Christ Fellowship, receive as Christ’s Church a New Covenant, which is: the gift of salvation, the promise of the resurrection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – all through Christ Jesus, who fulfilled God’s plan, as an expression of His Way, the Way of God’s Love, on a cross, to rescue us from death, which is the penalty for sin. All of us have sinned and would fall short of God’s Glory if it weren’t for the fact that Christ died for our sins and paid the price for our sins by the Power of the Cross.

Let us pray…

Music Special: Casting Crowns – The Power of the Cross (Lyrics) | Now I am living in the power of the cross – https://youtu.be/cQEUWbFRimE 

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: Christ-head-of-church-body

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF: GoodSamHands

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan’

© February 6, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF by, May 2, 2021, August 19, 2018, June 8, 2014, and on May 2, 2010

BLCF Bulletin August 26, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin June 8, 2014

BLCF:Good_Samaritan

Music Special: Because He Lives – Cochren & Co. [Live Green Room Session] – https://youtu.be/F7a5Idd8Dhg

Cochren & Company – Man From Nazareth (Official Music Video) – https://youtu.be/IfLAZl58Zw8

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Responsive Reading #653 (Love and Discipleship – John 13 and 1 John 1 and 3)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of the Good Samaritan

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Rescue (Official Lyric Video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PugD11k3JU

Let us pray…

Today’s message is entitled ‘The Lessons of Good Samaritan’, also known as The Good Samaritan, referring to one of the parables Jesus used to teach and give insight into God’s will in our lives. The word “parable” comes from the Greek “παραβολή” (parabolē), the name given by Greek rhetoricians to any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed. A parable is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. The dilemmas presented in Jesus’ parables often mirrored the real-life situations faced by those with whom the parable is presented. As God has provided us with the Bible as a lamp to guide us through life, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was written for all who read His word.

BLCF: good-Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV): The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Therefore, we may consider the Good Samaritan Parable was written expressly for both you and me. Any lessons learned from the parable are lessons given by God to us, for our benefit, and are just as relevant today, as they were in the time of Christ.

1964 of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in Queens, New York

BLCF: kitty-genovese

The story of Kitty Genovese In March 1964, a New York City woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was raped and stabbed to death as she returned home from work late at night. According to a newspaper report published shortly after her death, 38 people had witnessed some or all of the attack, which took place in two or three distinct episodes over a period of about a half-hour — and yet no one did anything to stop it; no one even reported it to the police until the woman was already dead. Although the murder itself was tragic, the nation was even more outraged that so many people who could have helped seemingly displayed callous indifference. And so the failure of bystanders to intervene became known as “Kitty Genovese Syndrome”—or, sometimes, just “Genovese Syndrome” or “Genovese Effect.” Social psychologists sometimes call it the “bystander effect.”

So what is it we may learn from the Parable of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25, Jesus was tested by a lawyer who wanted to know how he may inherit eternal life. In Luke 10:26 Jesus answered this question with a question of his own: “What is written in the Law?” and tested the lawyer’s understanding of the scriptures by pairing with his first question, with a second question: ”How do you read it?”

The lawyer’s reply was: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In Luke 10:28, we have Jesus acknowledge the lawyer’s reply as having answered correctly, telling him that by doing what he said he will live.

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

The Parable of the Good Samaritan starts with a lawyer, Greek nomikos, who is a “legal expert, or a jurist, or a lawyer, and a man who is skilled in interpreting the Jewish Torah testing Jesus on a point of law.” The Jews often called upon a lawyer or jurist of the scriptures to settle legal issues. The purpose of using this question to test Jesus was not intended to reaffirm the lawyer’s faith in Christ, but more likely an attempt to find a flaw in His understanding of the scriptures. Jesus was quite astute by turning the question back to the lawyer and giving him the test, instead. Another interesting aspect of Jesus response was to allow the lawyer to answer his own question and to follow it up by advising the lawyer to show the love of God and love to others, indicating that the attempt to trap Jesus implied motives absent of love for either, but more of an earthly desire based on distrust or fear.

The priest and Levite in the parable represent the religious elite. These people were characteristically arrogant and hypocritical, treating others they considered to be of a lower class, such as Samaritans, with contempt. Samaritans, in particular, were looked down upon. Though holding claims on Judaism, they were not pure Jews. They were half-breeds both genetically and theologically, a mixture between the Jews of captivity and the Samaritan people of the land they were captive in. Jews typically held Samaritans in contempt. The Samaritans were not gentiles and were still bound to the same law as the Jews. The parable illustrates Jesus’ characteristic trait to humiliate the proud and lift up the humble, and thus he used a Samaritan in his illustration.

Jerusalem and Jericho are connected by a 27 Kilometer road. This road is quite steep, dropping over 4800 KM in altitude. In the times of Jesus, this road was notorious for robbers and thieves. The prospect of traveling this route and encountering a victim as described in the parable is well within reason.

While the reaction of the priest and Levite could be rationalized that both avoided the half-dead man on the road because they feared the man to be not a victim but bait for a trap set by thieves. The fact that neither returned with help really shows how self-absorbed these two were. The other rationalization for their reaction might be the fear that the victim was already dead and touching a dead body, if not a Jew, would defile particularly the priest to the point that he would not be able to collect, distribute or consume sacrifices presented to priests as tithes. Levites were descendants of Levi, but not of Aaron. Levites assisted priests, who were descended from Aaron, in the temple. The same expectation of non-defilement would apply. Whatever the reason for the journey of the priest and the Levite, each felt their business more important than the life a wretched victim found half-dead on the road, without help left to die.

So if the priest and Levite had decided to not stop to help this man, we would not be surprised if Samaritan had decided to do the same. Instead, we see in Luke 10:33 that the Samaritan shows compassion and acts on his compassion by stopping and treating his wound, then taking the man to an inn on his own animal, and paid in advance for the man’s room and board; promising to return and pay for any more spent for the care of the man.

Another example of a modern-day Samaritan left to die by individuals with “more important” priorities is found among the elite mountain climbing community and their treatment of climber Lincoln Hall, who was rescued by Dan Mazur and Mazur’s team of fellow climbers, as described in summitclimb.com.

BLCF: dan_mazur_

Dan Mazur is most widely known for his discovery and assistance in the rescue of Lincoln Hall, an Australian climber on Mount Everest on 25 May 2006. Lincoln Hall had been ‘left for dead’ by another expedition team the previous day at around 8700m on Everest after collapsing and failing to respond to treatment on the descent from the summit. Mazur and his fellow climbers – Andrew Brash (Canada), Myles Osborne (UK) and Jangbu Sherpa (Nepal) – in abandoning their own attempt on the summit in order to save Hall’s life epitomised the noblest traditions of mountaineering. Their sacrifice was underscored by the death of a British climber; David Sharp, who died a few days before Hall, lower down on the same route. Approximately 40 people said they saw Mr. Sharp in distress, and walked past him, but no one rescued David Sharp, and he subsequently died. Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the first ascent of Everest in 1953 with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, spoke out against those 40 people, and said that nothing like that would have happened in his day.

BLCF: mt_everest

What was Mazur’s opinion of his team’s actions in contrast to the inactions of other climbing teams with respect to helping a climber left to die on the route to the peak of Mount Everest? The website uwpexponent.com provides us with Mazur’s view on the subject:

In May 2006, Mazur made headlines when, while leading a small group of climbers on Everest, he discovered an injured climber named Lincoln Hall.  Hall had been left for dead by his own climbing group a day prior. Mazur and his group risked their lives to save Hall’s.

“When the story became international news, I was really surprised,” Mazur said.  “I didn’t do anything different on that climb than I normally would have in that type of situation.”

During the rescue, Mazur attempted to flag down two passers-by for help.  The climbers claimed they did not speak English and continued on their journey to the top. Mazur later discovered that they did in fact speak English.  Mazur explained that the urge to reach the top often effects the decision making of mountain climbers.

“They said they didn’t stop because they were working on a research project and didn’t have the time to,” Mazur said.  “I then asked them in a non-confrontational way what they thought about people who climb to the top and can’t make it down on their own.”

Mazur further explained that the two hinted that if people are not strong enough to get back down on their own, they essentially deserve to die at the top.

“Every one of us has the ability to stop and help someone out, every last one of us,” said Mazur.  “However, every last one of us also has the ability not to stop.”

http://uwpexponent.com/features/2013/03/21/mazur-speaks-about-everest-climb-rescue/

BLCF: good_samartin_trditional_view

According to John Welch’s Commentary, this parable is an allegory of the Fall and the Redemption of Mankind:

“This parable’s content is clearly practical and dramatic in its obvious meaning, but a time-honored Christian tradition also saw the parable as an impressive allegory of the Fall and Redemption of mankind.

“This allegorical reading was taught not only by ancient followers of Jesus, but it was virtually universal throughout early Christianity.”

In this allegorical interpretation of the parable, perhaps Jesus was hinting in this parable of the fact that he was going to pay the price for our salvation.

BLCF: Good_Samaratin

I would like to offer another interpretation of the parable; that this parable is an allegory, but with a different paradigm or point of view from the traditional. With all due respect to John Welch and others, I would like to offer a different allegory, wherein Christ is represented not by the Samaritan, but instead, Christ is the fallen victim, avoided by the quote “Corporate Religious Groups”,  or modern-day Pharisees whose focus is upon achieving their self-serving goals. They would find nothing worthwhile to the corporate group’s interests in helping a half-dead wretch on the road or any other poor individual unable to contribute financially to their organization’s bottom line or financial growth. Such groups would deem it not only advantageous to themselves to not stop and help; better to give misery a wide berth, as stopping would only impede its self-serving financial objectives.

It is surprising that I have been asked on occasion by people associated with Christian Groups: “Why do we at BLCF Church bother wasting resources and time hosting the BLCF Café Community Dinner in the heart of Toronto for the homeless and marginalized? After all, what could they contribute financially to our church in return?

My response is: “Really! I mean really!

BLCF: isaiah_582

Members of such large misguided religious corporations are represented in the parable by the Priest and Levite. They find that the dying individual does not fit into their corporate schedule. Besides, they are already late for some important meeting, and anyway, it’s contrary to their business plan to assume the liability or risk of helping a relatively insignificant individual. After all, it’s all about numbers and corporate sponsorship.

In the parable, it appears for the Priest and the Levite and the Levite, their focus was more upon themselves, their position in the church, and the fact that there was nothing to be personally gained, by stopping to help this man; a viewpoint which flies in the face of the Lord’s expectation of the practice of believers, as we see in Proverbs 14:31.  Now, it is popular among some Christian circles to portray Jesus as a radical with a totally different view from the Scriptures, which we refer to today as the Books of the  Old Testament. But what Jesus taught in Matthew 20 about helping the least of our brothers and sisters was totally in sync with the Old Testament. It was Pharisees, Scribes, and other Jewish leaders who twisted the interpretation of the Scriptures to suit their own worldly priorities instead of the Lord’s, not unlike some so-called Christian churches today. Fortunately, there are those who hold close to the Lord’s intended purpose in the Scriptures. Just below the graphic illustration of the Lord’s Commandments in Luke 10, we find the verse from Proverbs 14.

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)

31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,     

but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.

By their motivations and actions in not showing compassion and helping the least of these, they have brought upon themselves the same treatment for their souls, condemning death upon them, by putting their own interests first. The same could be said for individuals and organizations that focus on their own growth and make no provision for caring for those in need who cannot contribute to their bottom line. The Apostle Paul authored numerous letters to Christian churches whose membership had drifted away from the path given to them by the Lord’s gospel and word.

Now think back on the Good Samaritan Parable, where the traditional interpretation holds that the Samaritan in the parable represents Jesus. My belief is that the penniless, naked, beaten, half-dead man on the road to Jericho is not the fallen Adam, but Jesus who was beaten, naked, abandoned, left to die. And how did I come to such a different conclusion? The answer is from Jesus own words, as we read in Matthew 25:31-40, where Christ tells us  exactly who the beaten (sick), the naked stranger on the road is:

BLCF:TheBystanderEffectByBenRoffelsenPhotography

Matthew 25:31-40: The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

BLCF: Change-the-World

So if we walk by a beaten, naked, half-dead, penniless man left to die on the road, for whatever excuse we choose to rationalize our behavior, we have violated the rule stated in Luke 10:27b: “love… your neighbor as yourself.” And since God states that how to treat or mistreat others, particularly the less-fortunate shows to God how we love him, Luke 10:27a.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

By violating these two rules, that is, by not demonstrating love to our neighbor who is in need, God says you are treating Him the same way and you condemn your soul to death.

But the keyword in Luke 10, is love, which the Apostle Paul describes for us as the “The Way of Love”, in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV): The Way of Love

BLCF: just_for_jesus

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

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

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

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

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

BLCF: EvilThrives

In conclusion, the next time you see an opportunity to help others and choose to walk around or go the other way, from someone in need, you have brought upon yourselves a heavy judgment by the Son of Man on the Day of Judgment. You have in all likelihood denied yourself a place in God’s Kingdom.

As believers in the resurrected Christ, we are considered to be “Born again” in God’s Holy Spirit, and if given an opportunity to be a “Good Samaritan” to demonstrate love and compassion to someone who is distressed, we would do so without hesitation. Otherwise, as we read in Mathew 25:31-40, we can expect to be judged, accordingly.

Let us pray…

BLCF: do_something

Closing Music Special: Cochren & Co. – For My Good (Official Music Video)https://youtu.be/4_TX-Ty263Q

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:23-24):

Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

BLCF: God is Love

Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is suspended for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve
BLCF: John_7-8

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘

© January 16, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Messages Shared at BLCF on January 9, 2021, January 12, 2020, and January 26, 2014

BLCF: Bulletin January 26, 2014

A Deacons Prayer

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                

Opening Music Special: Lauren Daigle – How Can It Be – https://youtu.be/Wt5X91ciE6Y 

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

Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                                                          

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                      ‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘

Music Special: You Alone, by North Point Worship and Lauren Daigle, led by LWW – https://youtu.be/v-w8inS_Wx8

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Sin Forgotten and Forgiven through God’s New Covenant‘, where we will look at two aspects of the Gospel, which is the Gospel of Christ, Jesus. One aspect is how our sins are forgiven and forgotten, the death sentence removed by the sacrifice on the cross by Jesus, who gave his life as the final sacrifice and payment for humanity’s sins. The other is a new covenant that our Lord has established.

First, let us understand what is meant by a covenant, as described in the Bible:

Covenant (Dictionary.com) Definition

https://www.dictionary.com › browse › covenant

Covenant. Literally, a contract. In the Bible, an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them.

And in order to understand the old covenant, let us first see what the Bible says about the Old Covenant:

Exodus 34:27-28 (ESV)

27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.[a]

Footnotes: a. Exodus 34:28 Hebrew the ten words

This Sunday, we have in John, Chapter 8, the account of the women caught in adultery, who was brought to the Lord, as he taught in the temple.  I hope to conclude the topic, by looking at the involvement of the Pharisees, who sought the Lord’s opinion of a woman, who had committed the sin of adultery, as an opportunity to challenge Jesus and even have him arrested. But before we proceed further in examine the Scriptures, let us first look at who were those that were called Pharisees:

BLCF: Mark_7_6

                                         Pharisees – (wikipedia.org)                         

Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in Judea during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (commonly known as simply Judaism).

The Pharisees appear in the New Testament, engaging in conflicts between themselves and John the Baptist and with Jesus, and because Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3:1) with Joseph of Arimathea entombed Jesus’ body at great personal risk. Gamaliel, the highly respected rabbi and defender of the apostles, was also a Pharisee, and according to some Christian traditions secretly converted to Christianity. There are several references in the New Testament to Paul of Tarsus being a Pharisee.

The New Testament, particularly the Synoptic Gospels, presents especially the leadership of the Pharisees as obsessed with man-made rules (especially concerning purity) whereas Jesus is more concerned with God’s love; the Pharisees scorn sinners whereas Jesus seeks them out. (The Gospel of John, which is the only gospel where Nicodemus is mentioned, particularly portrays the sect as divided and willing to debate) Because of the New Testament‘s frequent depictions of Pharisees as self-righteous rule-followers (see also Woes of the Pharisees and Legalism (theology)), the word “Pharisee” (and its derivatives: “pharisaical”, etc.) has come into semi-common usage in English to describe a hypocritical and arrogant person who places the letter of the law above its spirit.  Jews today who subscribe to Pharisaic Judaism typically find this insulting and some consider the use of the word to be anti-Semitic.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees

Back to today’s lesson, let us begin by reviewing one of  today’s Scripture verse, taken from John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, verses 1-11:

BLCF: John_8

                                                      John 8:1-11 (ESV)                                                           

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

BLCF: John8-11

You may ask by what authority did the Pharisees, who were legalists with respect to the Scriptures, appear to choose to avoid any spiritual interpretation of the Mosaic Law. Those who claim to follow God’s Laws from a strictly legal perspective, without looking for God’s Spiritual intent, seem to seek to remove God’s involvement from the law. Without any Spiritual discernment or guidance, the Scriptures become only documents that can be best understood in a strictly literal way. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Pharisees took the rules found in the book of Leviticus 20, as their authority to be self-appointed judges, juries and executioners of anyone who violated any of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought to the People of Israel.

As for women caught in the act of adultery, the punishment was quite clear, as we see in today’s second verse, which is from the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 20; Verse 10.

                    Leviticus 20:10 (ESV): Punishments for Sexual Immorality                      

10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of[a] his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.                                                       

Footnotes: a. Leviticus 20:10 Hebrew repeats if a man commits adultery with the wife of

If you look at the end of Leviticus 20, you will see the prescribed punishment being death by stoning. But there is something about implementing the sin of one commandment, “thy shall not kill” as a punishment for another, “thy shall not commit adultery.” Does this make sense? Who is supposed to judge such sins?  What about God’s plan for forgiveness, through Jesus?

One may argue that Jesus had not yet died on the cross, and so the Pharisees were justified in expecting to kill the adulterous women, as forgiveness from sins would only be possible after Christ’s crucifixion. But wait a minute; there is a couple of “Old Testament” verses that we need to take into account.

 In Ezekiel, Chapter 33, verses 14-19, we read that the punishment of death can be commuted.

                                                  Ezekiel 33:14-19 (ESV)                                                      

14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.

17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this.

God judged the violation of any of His laws subject to the same penalty: death.  But He did provide a plan for forgiveness, called “The New Covenant”, which is described in Jeremiah, Chapter 31, verses 31-34. 

God's New Covenant Message at BLCF Church  

                        Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV): The New Covenant 

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Now playing the devil’s advocate, some may say that the Pharisees were able to implement God’s judgment against the adulterous women because they were without sin. Let me direct you to Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees in John 8:1-11; “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” As he spoke this, Jesus was able to avoid engaging a debate with the Pharisees or others in the crowd and tempered their anger by continuing to casually write with his finger in the ground.

God's Law

God’s Plan

One by one, the accusers realizing that they were not sinless, and therefore not in a position to judge or execute the women, left the scene. And in the end, no one remained. And we read in John 8, verse 10:

BLCF: Has no one condemned You

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus communicates volumes in just a few short sentences. By challenging the group that only the sinless may cast the first stone, Jesus points out that everyone is guilty of the sin, and therefore deserving of the same judgment: death. The older men left first, not necessarily because of the wisdom of their years. Because they were older they had accrued more sins in their respected lifetimes than the younger men.

BLCF: John_8_7

It is interesting that just as we have the image of God writing His laws on stone tablets in Exodus 34 reprised in John 8:10 by His Son as he writes in the sand while suggesting only the sinless are entitled to judge, and releasing the woman from the judgment of death for the sin of adultery.

Jesus statement in John 8:7 challenges the authority of the Pharisees to implement any judgment that is reserved solely to God. We see this expressed succinctly in James, Chapter 4, verses 11-12.

                                                James 4:11-12 (ESV)                                        

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?                                                                                                     

As followers of the resurrected Christ and believers in the Way of the Lord, we are implored to exercise the same compassionate heart of forgiveness towards each other that was expressed in Jeremiah 31, this time echoed in Colossians 3, verses 12-15.

BLCF: NO CONDEMNATION

                                               Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV)                            

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

And as a reminder, again, we see in Luke, Chapter 6, verses 37-42, what our judgement will be, if like the Pharisees, we are determine to judge and not forgive.  

                                   Luke 6:37-42 (ESV): Judging Others                                               

  37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

And we conclude today’s lesson with the Scripture taken from John 3, verses 31-36, with a reminder of God’s New Covenant, through His Son, Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit without measure and eternal life, by way of obedience and faith to God, by way of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we face God’s wrath and death described in Leviticus 20.

BLCF: Jesus Can

John 3:31-36 (ESV)    

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Acoustic) – https://youtu.be/3ch6eXkQWU8

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:john8_7

Jim Carrey on homelessness

Jim Carrey on homelessness

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service at 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON. will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice.

We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will subside sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. Please watch for postings here and on BLCF social media for an announcement of when the church will re-open.

Have a Blessed New Year 2022 and keep safe,

– Pastor Steve                                                                                                                   

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church

Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ

Dear BLCF Friends,

 
Important Notice: Due to the current explosion of infections of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus and in order to minimize exposure to vulnerable members who depend on public transit to get to and from church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021, we regretfully announce that BLCF Church Sunday Worship Service is cancelled for the time being. Please monitor our social media for the date that BLCF will resume our Sunday Worship Services.
 
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
 
God’s Blessings for this Christmas and for the 2022 New Year. May you, your family, and your friends have a safe and blessed Holiday Season and throughout the New Year! Though we will be closed on December 26, I believe you would enjoy the lesson that I have prepared for that Sunday.
 
– Pastor Steve

Happy New Year 2022 Animated

Ben Hur (1959) – The First Scene – https://youtu.be/b654a_u474Q

Mandy Harvey – What A Beautiful Name (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/O0x-2lJuXU4

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

© January 2, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at the BLCF Cafe on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, and at BLCF Church on  January 28, 2014, and on December 29, 2013 

BLCF Bulletin December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                

Opening Music Specials:

Noel – Lauren Daigle Nativity Story video – https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw

Prayer and Tithing: Prayer Requests                     

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church on this first Sunday of 2022. Unfortunately, due to the explosive infectious nature of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus, we have temporarily closed BLCF Church for in-person worship and communion. Out of an abundance of caution during this current Pandemic Wave, the Board has chosen to close our doors temporarily. Stay tuned to BLCF Social Media for the date we will reopen. Stay safe, keep the faith, and God Bless you. Let us continue with today’s lesson.

This Sunday marks the first Sunday of the year, the day that many Churches observe Epiphany which the Christian Church observes the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, who is our Lord Jesus. as recorded in the Scriptures.

When I talk about Epiphany, we should not confuse it with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

By contrast, the Epiphany which is the subject of today’s lesson is spelled with a capital “E”, a term Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested or expressed to all. We have a little more background from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                       

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Depending upon which scholar that you talk with, the passage in the Bible that describes the event of Epiphany of our Lord could be any or all of three different events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The first is the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem.

The second is the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

While the third is the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as, unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 716 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The next manifestation of the Lord takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother, his brothers, his sisters and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic of how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

Epiphany marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesized in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Divine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as a child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Saviour and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died on the cross, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Divine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

Light of The World – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) – https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

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.

Epiphany greetings dont leave Jesus in the manger by remembering only Christmas

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: GoodSamHands

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of the Good Samaritan’

© May 2, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF by, August 19, 2018,June 8, 2014, and on May 2, 2010

BLCF Bulletin August 26, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin June 8, 2014

BLCF:Good_Samaritan

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee; Choruses 

Responsive Reading #653 (Love and Discipleship – John 13 and 1 John 1 and 3)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of the Good Samaritan

Let us pray…

Today’s message is entitled ‘The Lessons of Good Samaritan’, also know as The Good Samaritan, referring to one of the parables Jesus used to teach and give insight to God’s will in our lives. The word “parable” comes from the Greekπαραβολή” (parabolē), the name given by Greekrhetoricians to any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitiousnarrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed. A parable is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moraldilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. The dilemmas presented in Jesus’ parables often mirrored the real-life situations faced by those whom the parable is presented. As God has provided us with the Bible as a lamp to guide us through life, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was written for all who read His word.

BLCF: good-Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV) The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Therefore, we may consider the Good Samaritan Parable was written expressly for both you and me. Any lessons learned from the parable are lessons given by God to us, for our benefit, and are just as relevant today, as they were in the time of Christ.

1964 of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in Queens, New York

BLCF: kitty-genovese

The story of Kitty Genovese In March, 1964, a New York City woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was raped and stabbed to death as she returned home from work late at night. According to a newspaper report published shortly after her death, 38 people had witnessed some or all of the attack, which took place in two or three distinct episodes over a period of about a half hour—and yet no one did anything to stop it; no one even reported it to the police until the woman was already dead. Although the murder itself was tragic, the nation was even more outraged that so many people who could have helped seemingly displayed callous indifference. And so the failure of bystanders to intervene became known as “Kitty Genovese Syndrome”—or, sometimes, just “Genovese Syndrome” or “Genovese Effect.” Social psychologists sometimes call it the “bystander effect.”

So what is it we may learn from the Parable of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25, Jesus was tested by a lawyer who wanted to know how he may inherit eternal life. In Luke 10:26 Jesus answered this question with a question of his own: “What is written in the Law?” and tested the lawyer’s understanding of the scriptures by pairing with his first question, with a second question: ”How do you read it?”

The lawyer’s reply was: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In Luke 10:28, we have Jesus acknowledge the lawyer’s reply as having answered correctly, telling him that by doing what he said he will live.

BLCF: heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

The Parable of the Good Samaritan starts with a lawyer, Greek nomikos, who is a “legal expert, or a jurist, or a lawyer, and a man who is skilled in interpreting the Jewish Torah testing Jesus on a point of law.” The Jews often called upon a lawyer or jurist of the scriptures to settle legal issues. The purpose of using this question to test Jesus was not intended to reaffirm the lawyer’s faith in Christ, but more likely an attempt to find a flaw in His understanding of the scriptures. Jesus was quite astute by turning the question back to the lawyer and giving him the test, instead. Another interesting aspect of Jesus response was to allow the lawyer to answer his own question and to follow it up by advising the lawyer to show love of God and love to others, indicating that the attempt to trap Jesus implied motives absent of love for either, but more of an earthly desire based on distrust or fear.

The priest and Levite in the parable represent the religious elite. These people were characteristically arrogant and hypocritical, treating others they considered to be of a lower class, such as Samaritans, with contempt. Samaritans, in particular, were looked down upon. For though holding claims on Judaism, they were not pure Jews. They were half-breeds both genetically and theologically, a mixture between the Jews of captivity and the Samaritan people of the land they were captive in. Jews typically held Samaritans in contempt. The Samaritans were not gentiles and were still bound to the same law as the Jews. The parable illustrates the Jesus’ characteristic trait to humiliate the proud and lift up the humble, and thus he used a Samaritan in his illustration.

Jerusalem and Jericho are connected by a 27 Kilometer road. This road is quite steep, dropping over 4800 KM in altitude. In the times of Jesus, this road was notorious for robbers and thieves. The prospect of traveling this route and encountering a victim as described in the parable is quite within reason.

While the reaction of the priest and Levite could be rationalized that both avoided the half-dead man on the road because they feared the man to be not a victim but bait for a trap set by thieves. The fact that neither returned with help really shows the how self-absorbed these two were. The other rationalization for their reaction might be the fear that the victim was already dead and touching a dead body, if not a Jew, would defile particularly the priest to the point that he would not be able to collect, distribute or consume sacrifices presented to priests as tithes. Levites were descendants of Levi, but not of Aaron. Levites assisted priests, who were descended of Aaron, in the temple. The same expectation of non-defilement would apply. Whatever the reason for the journey of the priest and the Levite, each felt their business more important than the life a wretched victim found half-dead on the road, without help left to die.

So if the priest and Levite had decided to not stop to help this man, we would not be surprised if Samaritan had decided to do the same. Instead, we see in Luke 10:33 that the Samaritan shows compassion and acts on his compassion by stopping and treating his wound, then taking the man to an inn on his own animal, and paid in advance for the man’s room and board; promising to return and pay for any more spent for the care of the man.

Another example of a modern day Samaritan left to die by individuals with “more important” priorities is found among the elite mountain climbing community and their treatment of climber Lincoln Hall, who was rescued by Dan Mazur and Mazur’s team of fellow climbers, as described in summitclimb.com.

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Dan Mazur is most widely known for his discovery and assistance in the rescue of Lincoln Hall, an Australian climber on Mount Everest on 25 May 2006. Lincoln Hall had been ‘left for dead’ by another expedition team the previous day at around 8700m on Everest after collapsing and failing to respond to treatment on the descent from the summit. Mazur and his fellow climbers – Andrew Brash (Canada), Myles Osborne (UK) and Jangbu Sherpa (Nepal) – in abandoning their own attempt on the summit in order to save Hall’s life epitomised the noblest traditions of mountaineering. Their sacrifice was underscored by the death of a British climber; David Sharp, who died a few days before Hall, lower down on the same route. Approximately 40 people said they saw Mr. Sharp in distress, and walked past him, but no one rescued David Sharp, and he subsequently died. Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the first ascent of Everest in 1953 with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, spoke out against those 40 people, and said that nothing like that would have happened in his day.

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What was Mazur’s opinion of his team’s actions in contrast to the inactions of other climbing teams with respect to helping a climber left to die on the route to the peak of Mount Everest? The website uwpexponent.com provides us with Mazur’s view on the subject:

In May 2006, Mazur made headlines when, while leading a small group of climbers on Everest, he discovered an injured climber named Lincoln Hall.  Hall had been left for dead by his own climbing group a day prior. Mazur and his group risked their lives to save Hall’s.

“When the story became international news, I was really surprised,” Mazur said.  “I didn’t do anything different on that climb than I normally would have in that type of situation.”

During the rescue, Mazur attempted to flag down two passers-by for help.  The climbers claimed they did not speak English and continued on their journey to the top. Mazur later discovered that they did in fact speak English.  Mazur explained that the urge to reach the top often effects the decision making of mountain climbers.

“They said they didn’t stop because they were working on a research project and didn’t have the time to,” Mazur said.  “I then asked them in a non-confrontational way what they thought about people who climb to the top and can’t make it down on their own.”

Mazur further explained that the two hinted that if people are not strong enough to get back down on their own, they essentially deserve to die at the top.

“Every one of us has the ability to stop and help someone out, every last one of us,” said Mazur.  “However, every last one of us also has the ability not to stop.”

http://uwpexponent.com/features/2013/03/21/mazur-speaks-about-everest-climb-rescue/

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According to John Welch’s Commentary, this parable is an allegory of the Fall and the Redemption of Mankind:

“This parable’s content is clearly practical and dramatic in its obvious meaning, but a time-honored Christian tradition also saw the parable as an impressive allegory of the Fall and Redemption of mankind.

“This allegorical reading was taught not only by ancient followers of Jesus, but it was virtually universal throughout early Christianity.”

In this allegorical interpretation of the parable, perhaps Jesus was hinting in this parable of the fact that he was going to pay the price for our salvation.

BLCF: Good_Samaratin

I would like to offer another interpretation of the parable; that this parable is an allegory, but with a different paradigm or point of view from the traditional. With all due respect to John Welch and others, I would like to offer a different allegory, wherein Christ is represented not by the Samaritan, but instead, Christ is the fallen victim, avoided by the quote “Corporate Religious Groups”,  or modern-day Pharisees whose focus is upon achieving their self-serving goals. They would find nothing worthwhile to the corporate group’s interests in helping a half-dead wretch on the road or any other poor individual unable to contribute financially to their organization’s bottom line or financial growth. Such groups would deem it not only advantageous to themselves to not stop and help; better to give misery a wide berth, as stopping would only impede its self-serving financial objectives.

It is surprising that I have been asked on occasion by people associated with Christian Groups: “Why do we at BLCF Church bother wasting resources and time hosting the BLCF Café Community Dinner in the heart of Toronto for the homeless and marginalized? After all, what could they contribute financially to our church in return?

My response is: “Really! I mean really!

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Members of such large misguided religious corporations are represented in the parable by the Priest and Levite. They find that the dying individual does not fit into their corporate schedule. Besides, they are already late for some important meeting, and anyway, it’s contrary to their business plan to assume the liability or risk of helping a relatively insignificant individual. After all, it’s all about numbers and corporate sponsorship.

In the parable, it appears for the Priest and the Levite and the Levite, their focus was more upon themselves, their position in the church, and the fact that there was nothing to be personally gained, by stopping to help this man; a viewpoint which flies in the face of the Lord’s expectation of the practice of believers, as we see in Proverbs 14:31.  Now, it is popular among some Christian circles to portray Jesus as a radical with a totally different view from the Scriptures, which we refer today as the Books of the  Old Testament. But what Jesus taught in Matthew 20 about helping the least of our brothers and sisters was totally in sync with the Old Testament. It was Pharisees, Scribes and other Jewish leaders who twisted the interpretation of the Scriptures to suit their own worldly priorities instead of the Lord’s, not unlike some so-called Christian churches today. Fortunately there those who hold close to the Lord’s intended purpose in the Scriptures. Just below the graphic illustration of the Lord’s Commandments in Luke 10, we find the verse from Proverbs 14.

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Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)

31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,     

but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.

By their motivations and actions in not showing compassion and help the least of these, they have brought upon themselves the same treatment for their souls, condemning death upon them, by putting their own interests first. The same could be said for individuals and organizations that focus on their own growth and make no provision for caring for those in need who cannot contribute to their bottom line. The Apostle Paul authored numerous letters to Christian churches whose membership had drifted away from the path given to them by the Lord’s gospel and word.

Now think back on the Good Samaritan Parable, where the traditional interpretation holds that the Samaritan in the parable represents Jesus. My belief that the penniless, naked, beaten, half-dead man on the road to Jericho is not the fallen Adam, but Jesus who was beaten, naked, abandoned, left to die. And how did I come to such a different conclusion? The answer is from Jesus own words, as we read in Matthew 25:31-40, where Christ tells us  exactly who the beaten (sick), the naked stranger on the road is:

BLCF:TheBystanderEffectByBenRoffelsenPhotography

Matthew 25:31-40 The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

BLCF: Change-the-World

So if we walk by a beaten, naked, half-dead, penniless man left to die on the road, for whatever excuse we choose to rationalize our behavior, we have violated the rule stated in Luke 10:27b: “love… your neighbor as yourself.And since God states that how to treat or mistreat others, particularly the less-fortunate shows to God how we love him, Luke 10:27a.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

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By violating these two rules, that is, by not demonstrating love to our neighbor who is in need, God says you are treating Him the same way and you condemn your soul to death.

But the keyword in Luke 10, is love, which the Apostle Paul describes for us as the “The Way of Love”, in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV) The Way of Love

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

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

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

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

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

BLCF: EvilThrives

In conclusion, the next time you see an opportunity to help others and choose to walk around or go the other way, from someone in need, you have brought upon yourselves a heavy judgment by Son of Man on the Day of Judgment. You have in all likelihood denied yourself a place in God’s Kingdom.

As believers in the resurrected Christ, we are considered to be “Born again” in God’s Holy Spirit, and if given an opportunity to be a “Good Samaritan” to demonstrate love and compassion to someone who is distress, we would do so without hesitation. Otherwise, as we read in Mathew 25:31-40, we can expect to be judged, accordingly.

Let us pray…

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Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:23-24):

Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Cristos Anesti! – Christ Has Risen!

Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary, Mother of Jesus

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice.Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary Mother of Jesus’

© April 25, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on May 11, 2014, May 8, 2016, May 12, 2019, December 27, 2020

BLCF Bulletin May 12, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin May 11, 2014

BLCF Bulletin May 8, 2016

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Hymn #158: I Serve a Risen Savior; Choruses                                                                   

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

Responsive Reading #628: The Child Jesus (– Luke 2)

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                    

‘Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary, Mother of Jesus’ 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on a Sunday. Intertwined within the story and gospel of Jesus is the impact of a woman, who carried, gave birth, raised, and followed as a disciple to the beloved Son of God, also a son of a Godly woman, Mary.

As the world continues to face the scourge of a COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, people go on, keeping the hope and anticipation of all taking life-saving vaccinations. This anticipation, to a lesser degree, is similar to the anticipation of the birth of God’s Savior, Jesus whose advent brought the hope of life eternal, by the removal of humanity’s judgment for its sins.

Our lesson today will include an examination of Jesus’ arrival, its impact upon the life of one woman who pondered the birth of her son in her heart. It is Mary’s perspective recorded in the Scriptures, both as  a parent and disciple, to her son Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, gives us insight as to how she pondered Jesus, as her son and her Lord.

There are many special things a mother may ponder in her heart with regards to the actions of her children, so I would like to begin today’s lesson by sharing a personal mother’s story from the Mickelson family.

Although our other children have their respective graduations, I would like to share with you a memory from the graduation ceremonies of our oldest child, Athena which occurred several years ago a. Presiding over the Sashing Ceremonies for graduates at the University of Guelph, was the Chancellor, the late Lincoln Alexander, who you may know, had served as lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, and as Lieutenant-Governor for the Province of Ontario.

Lincoln Alexander
                        Lincoln Alexander

The sashing ceremony itinerary listed Athena’s group of Honors Bachelor of Science Degree graduates near the end of proceedings on a warm afternoon. I was impressed that Mr. Alexander did not hurry the proceedings, taking a few moments to exchange remarks with each graduate before the sashing. His conversation with our daughter brought a broad grin to Athena, lasting throughout the ceremony and even afterward. I wondered what special words of advice or wisdom were spoken to Athena by the Chancellor. When Athena walked to over to us, I asked her what Lincoln Alexander had said to her and Athena replied that Mr. Alexander had asked her: “Is your momma here today?” To which Athena replied, “Yes she is.” Then the Chancellor said, “Well give her a big smile, this is an important day for your momma!” Athena wore that smile for the remainder of the day, as Mr. Alexander’s comments were right on point.

Now for today’s lesson, I would like to examine Mary, the mother of Jesus, a special mother recorded in the Scriptures, including today’s selected Scripture verses. These verses are listed in our lesson in their chronological order.

Let us begin begin with reading Luke 1:26-35, where Mary received some special news from God, by way of the angel, Gabriel:

Luke 1:26-35 (ESV): Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b]29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

Not only does Mary, who is betrothed or engaged to marry Joseph, find out that she will become pregnant, but she has been chosen by God, to be the mother of a holy child, the Son of God, whom she is to name “Jesus”.

Luke 2:15-20 describes the visit to Bethlehem by shepherds of the field after they were informed by God’s angels of the birth of the Christ child.

Luke 2:15-20 (ESV)

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

After the shepherds departed, Luke indicates that Mary treasured up or pondered these things in her heart.

Our next Scripture passage gives us an idea of how Mary raised her son, Jesus, and the mother-son relationship Luke 2:41-51.

Luke 2:41-51(ESV): The Boy Jesus in the Temple

Young Jesus In The Temple Hofmann Painting by Frans Schwartz.jpg

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[a] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b]50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:48 Greek they b. Luke 2:49 Or about my Father’s business

We have in this Scripture, an indication of the love and concern Mary had for her son. In an account that sounds a little like the film, Home Alone, Jesus is left behind in Jerusalem, or should I say elected to remain in Jerusalem, following a Passover Feast. The young twelve-year-old Jesus is assumed to be with others in a group from Nazareth. However, after a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph then realize that Jesus is missing from the group. Jesus’ parents return to Jerusalem to look for their son. Three days later, Jesus who was missing for five days, was found in the temple, talking to the elders. Those present were amazed at young Jesus’ understanding of the Scripters, and his parents were astonished. This did not deter Mary, who was worried for her son’s safety, from chastising the boy, verses 48 – 50, of Luke 2:

48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

We also see that though the Son of the Most High must be in his Father’s house, Jesus did not forget his place with respect to his parents, as we read in verse 51 that:

51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.

And we read, again that Mary treasured up all these things in her heart. And though Jesus was raised to honor his parents, he obviously was instructed well with regard to the Scriptures, as he had demonstrated in the temple in Jerusalem.

The relationship between Mary and Jesus is described further in what I would like to refer as a Wiki bits reference, though found at the Web site, biography.com:

According to the Gospel of John 2:1-11, as Jesus was beginning his ministry, he and his disciples traveled with his mother, Mary, to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The wedding host had run out of wine and Jesus’s mother came to him for help. At first, Jesus refused to intervene, but then he relented and asked a servant to bring him large jars filled with water. He turned the water into a wine of higher quality than any served during the wedding. John’s gospel depicts the event as the first sign of Jesus’s glory and his disciples’ belief in him.

After the wedding, Jesus, his mother Mary and his disciples traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. At the temple, they saw moneychangers and merchants selling wares. In a rare display of anger, Jesus overturned the tables and, with a whip made of cords, drove them out, declaring that his Father’s house is not a house for merchants.                                                              

http://www.biography.com/people/jesus-christ-9354382#jesuss-ministry&awesm=~oDNPn11WRqG16j

We see that Mary was more than a mother traveling with her son; she was traveling with Jesus and his disciples. And isn’t it just like a mother to ask her son to help provide the host with wine? You will note that though Jesus had begun his ministry, that this time he and his disciples accompanied his mother to a wedding. This indicates the human side of Jesus, who on more than one occasion honored his mother, by referring to himself as the “son of man” rather than the “son of God”. And not to disparage his Father, Christ honored his Godly side by chasing the money changers from the temple.

But being both the son of Mary and the Son of God did not confuse Jesus with respect to the importance of his ministry, as we see in Luke 11:27-28. (ESV):

True Blessedness

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Jesus used the woman’s remark to emphasize that God’s blessings do not come by birthright, but by honoring and keeping the word of God. This statement is reinforced by Jesus’ remarks n Matthew 12:46-50.

 Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.[a]48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 12:46 Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you”

At first glance, it seems that Jesus disavowed his mother and siblings, indicating that the designation of a mother, brother or sister, in his view, should apply only to those who do the will of the Father in heaven.

But you may ask, “Did Mary not demonstrate obedience to God’s will by bearing and raising His Son?” For the answer to this question, let us look at John 19:5-30:

John 19:25-30 (ESV)

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

The Death of Jesus

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Just before giving up his spirit on the cross, Jesus saw his mother and John, who is referred to as the disciple who he loved. He then told Mary to behold her son, the disciple John. And to the disciple John, he said to behold your mother, Mary. Jesus was not talking about Mary as his birth mother. In accordance with what he had spoken to the people in Matthew 12:46-50, he was acknowledging the faith and discipleship of Mary.  In this regard, Mary was his mother by birth and by Spirit.

We have confirmation of this observation, when we read in the next Scripture verse, that Mary was again with the disciples in the Upper Room, after Jesus Ascended to heaven, obediently praying and awaiting the arrival of the promised Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:6-14 (ESV): The Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[c]

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in c. Acts 1:14 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Mary was special, not only because God had chosen her to give birth, and to raise His only Son; unlike most woman of the day, Mary choose not to stay at home and maintain a household. We see Mary as a loving, caring parent and as a disciple of faith and obedience, to the Father in heaven.

The Scripture’s account of Mary’s journeys with Jesus and the disciples indicate how she was involved with the first miracle where Jesus turned water to wine and her presence at Jesus’ cleansing of the temple of the merchants and money changers. Mary continued to follow Jesus and demonstrated both her love for her son and obedience to her God. Mary understood that she had been favored by God to be a mother to God’s Son, Jesus, and was present at many of the important events in the life and ministry of her son.

Mary was present at his birth, his death; witness to his resurrection; and present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and believers that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the true Son of God. To Jesus, Mary was his mother, not just because she gave birth to him, but as an obedient woman of faith who heard God’s word and kept it. Mary is an example to Christians, both as a loving parent and follower of God’s word, by taking care of Jesus, the son of man, who was also the Son of God.

As we continue through the test and trials of COVID-19 and other challenges of, 2021, let us reflect upon the challenges of the past year, 2020, with hope in the anticipation of getting our vaccination for COVID-19, while embracing  the gift of spiritual salvation currently available by the sacrifice of Jesus, Who was both the Son God and son a woman, Mary. God’s blessings for a safe and happy year in 2021 and beyond.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark (Pass It On)                                                     

Benediction – (Galatians 1:3-5):

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Important Announcement to the BLCF Community

Sadly, for the first time since we first opened January 2008, the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner will suspend operations due to the threat of the COVID-19 Virus, in order to protect the vulnerable.

BLCF Cafe has suspended operations as we are not equipped for take-out service and are unable to safely serve a eat-in dinner involving a group of some 100-150 guests and volunteers during the pandemic.

Please follow our social media channels for postings of when BLCF would be able to safely reopen in accordance to the guidelines set forth by Public Health Agency of Canada and local health officials allowing for operations within current social-distancing guidelines. Our goal is providing a safe environment for all.

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COVID-19: Letter to faith community leaders from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer

April 3, 2020

Dear Faith Community Leaders

I am reaching out to you today to thank you for your efforts to date in helping Canada delay the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Over the past few weeks, we have seen the number of COVID-19 cases increase in Canada. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in communities across the country, governments and health officials have asked the public to practice social distancing. This means staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from common social greetings like handshakes. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

I am asking you to follow the advice of your local, provincial, and territorial public health authorities with regards to social distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings, which likely includes suspending all regular services for the time being.

Social distancing involves creating a two-metre zone of protection around ourselves—the distance that infected droplets can spread from a cough or sneeze. It is only through social distancing that we can protect our communities, including older adults and medically vulnerable Canadians, who are most at risk of severe illness.

Many community members may want to use this opportunity to host small gatherings in their homes, apartments, and multipurpose rooms. I urge you to use your leadership role to discourage these gatherings, in order to protect the safety and health of your congregants and community.

I know this is not easy. It is an uncertain and difficult time for many and people in your communities are likely turning to their faith for support. I ask that you continue to provide leadership and encourage all of your community members to stay home. I have been encouraged seeing many stories of faith leaders across Canada who have adopted innovative alternative options to reach their communities, from offering services online to using social media. I hope to see more of this as we stay the course in our collective efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the community level.

We can only respond to the challenge COVID-19 places on our country with your support and leadership.

For more information on Canada’s response to COVID-19, including awareness resources and guidance documents, visit Canada.ca/coronavirus.

Thank you,

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/covid-19-letter-faith-community-leaders-from-canada-chief-public-health-officer.html

 

Luke 4:12 (ESV)

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’