Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’

© November 5, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 5, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                            

Opening Hymn #288: Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me                                                   

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

Responsive Reading #624: The Great Commission                                                                                                   (-from Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, and Mark 16)                 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                               ‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service in the heart of Toronto, at BLCF. This Saturday is Remembrance Day, where at the 11th hour of the 11th day of 11th month we will take a moment of silence and reflection to honor the sacrifice of those men and women who fought to give us the gifts of democracy and freedom in Canada.

While the sacrifice of brave soldiers gave us a period of peace and freedom, the ‘war to end all wars’ has been followed by other wars and conflicts, demonstrating that the rewards of these battles are fleeting at best. While a war may end a conflict, the sinful nature of humanity is such we have but a brief reprieve from the next conflict we find ourselves involved in. Unfortunately, it seems that eventually in time another conflict comes along, and we are called again to defend the freedom and principles that we hold so dearly.

Our lesson today, entitled ‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’,  we will look at a different type of sacrifice made on our behalf, by Christ Jesus, to rid ourselves permanently of the death penalty, which is humanity’s judgment for sin. We will examine an example how the account of Peter’s denial of the Lord demonstrates the Lord’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us, sometimes in spite of ourselves.

Let us look at how fear and the instinct for self-preservation can cause us to act quite contrary to the way we think we would, under certain circumstances where our own health and safety are threatened, as was the case with the disciple, Peter, in Matthew 26:31-35 (ESV):

31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Though Peter is quite adamant about his loyalty to the Lord, fear can displace the courage of his convictions, Matthew 26:69-75 (ESV):

Peter Denies Jesus

 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

It is interesting that Jesus knew that Peter, the disciple who Jesus had described as the rock upon which he would build his church, would deny Christ three times. The denials would occur immediately after Jesus had instructed the disciples in the practice of communion, an observance that was to be maintained after his crucifixion, until the day he returned from heaven. Though Peter’s denials threatened the establishment of the church with the cloud of sin, it appeared that Jesus would give the disciple an opportunity to atone and reconcile with the Lord,  at a future time.

Fortunately, the Lord knows the true nature of our hearts, and Jesus’ capacity to grant us unconditional love and forgiveness, when he died for our sins on the cross. God has a plan for us, and He will not allow our fears and doubts to dissuade us from achieving His intended goal. Though the disciples’ fear had caused them to lock themselves in the Upper Room, Jesus returned to bring them the Peace of the Spirit and hope, so that they may have the courage to undertake the Great Commission of bringing the truth of the Gospel of Christ to the world, as we see in John 20:19-29 (ESV):

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[b] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

It should be noted that while Peter displays fear by his denial of any knowledge of Christ, all of the disciples show a similar fear by locking themselves in the Upper Room.

While the disciples are visited by their Lord, now resurrected, and have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus, Thomas, who was absent from the Upper Room when Jesus first visited, refuses to believe the testimony of his fellow disciples. Eight days later, the Lord returns to restore Thomas with the same peace and belief in seeing his Jesus resurrected, bearing the marks of his crucifixion.

Jesus revealed that he knew of his impending death and predicted that Peter would three times deny knowing the Lord would fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 13:7 (ESV):

The Shepherd Struck

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
    against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts.

“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
    I will turn my hand against the little ones.

Jesus spoke to Peter, (in Matthew 26:31-35), of his pending betrayal, death, and resurrection, Peter wept bitterly, no doubt guilty and ashamed at his inability to stand at the side of his Lord on the evening of his arrest. By using  some table fellowship, Jesus wanted to give Peter the opportunity to confess and be forgiven of his denial of  having known Jesus, as described in John 21:4-19 (ESV):

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

When Peter heard that Jesus had arrived to visit the disciples for a third time since his resurrection, the disciple threw himself into the sea, an indication of the disciple’s guilt and shame.

The Lord  demonstrates his love for Peter, by asking the disciple three times whether or not he has love for Jesus, one for each of the three times Peter had denied Christ. Peter responds three times to Jesus by confessing his love for the Lord. It is after hearing the third acknowledgement from Peter, that Jesus indicates all is forgiven, by telling Peter the nature of the disciple’s death, which would be to the glory of God. The Lord then instructs the disciple to follow him. Peter is now ready to resume the role of being the rock of Christ’s Church, which will come on the Day of Pentecost, along with the arrival of God’s Holy Spirit to the faithful assembled in the Upper Room.

Jesus who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, knew Peter would deny him, but the Lord gave the disciple the prediction immediately after instructing the disciples on the significance of the observance of Communion. Not only did the Lord know Peter, who was to be the foundation rock of the Church, Jesus knew the disciple would show contrition by acknowledging his love for Jesus three times.

We see that at Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples, Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me”, once for each time Peter had denied the Lord, to which the disciple replied, “Yes”. And after the affirmations Jesus spoke, “Feed my lambs” after the first; “tend my sheep” after the second; and “feed my sheep” after my sheep” after the third, indicating that Peter was forgiven and reinstated to assume the responsibilities of rock of Christ’s church, who Jesus describes as lambs or sheep. Peter is to tend or take care of and feed with The Word, the body of believers, whereby the Lord concludes by instructing the disciple to “follow me’”

After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared three times to the disciples, each for a specific reason. The first was a proof of his resurrection and to restore peace to the ten disciples locked in the Upper Room. The second was to revisit the locked Upper Room in order to restore faith of Thomas. And the third visit was to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to Peter. Truly, Jesus will never leave of forsake us!

Let us pray…

Communion – Matthew 26:30-35 (-see Lord’s Supper, below)

Matthew 26:26-35 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn #180: Jesus Is Coming to Earth Again

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.

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Rewards of Grace: A Faith Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established through Christ Jesus

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Rewards of Grace: A Faith Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established through Christ Jesus’

© April 23, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 23, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                             Opening Hymn #449: I Feel the Winds of God Today; Choruses                          Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #605: Prayer of Penitence (Psalm 51)                                     Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Rewards of Grace: A Faith Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established through Christ Jesus’

Holy Week in the heart of Toronto at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship

Let us pray…

Welcome to Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service in heart of Toronto, here at BLCF Church.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the close of Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, where we studied the elements of Gospel of Jesus which included:

  • Jesus arrival at Jerusalem while riding a young donkey on Palm Sunday
  • Jesus washes the feet of the disciples as an example of humble ministry
  • Jesus serves bread and wine to the disciples as an example of how the disciples should remember his sacrifice until he returns on Judgement day
  • Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday to pay the debt of the sins of humanity
  • Jesus’ resurrection from death and emergence from the tomb, proof of his Lordship and His’s New Covenant

 

HOLY WEEK AT BLOOR LANSDOWNE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

Our lesson this morning, we will examine the similarities and differences between the experiences of the disciple Peter and the accounts of the testing of Job by Satan.

We will also contrast and compare the betrayals of our Lord by the disciples Judas Iscariot and Peter.

To begin our lesson, let us read the first of today’s Scriptures, taken from

Luke 5:1-11 (ESV), where Jesus calls his disciples:

 Jesus Calls the First Disciples

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which were Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, and “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men and women.”[A] 11 and when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Footnotes: a. Luke 5:10 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women

In this account, Jesus encounters the disciples Simon, James and John, as they had just completed a fruitless night of fishing. The Lord enters one of the two boats and asks the fishermen to go a short distance from the shore; so that he may teach the people gathered nearby and he could be better heard by the people.

At the conclusion of speaking to the crowd, Jesus instructs the fishermen to cast their nets into the water and the nets are brought up filled to the breaking point with fish. The fishermen and crowd are astonished at the great catch of fish.

It is then that Simon Peter tells Jesus to depart from him as he is a sinner.

Jesus tells the fishermen not to be afraid, that he intends to make them fishers of men and women. The three fishermen abandon their boat and fishing equipment to follow the Lord.

Our next Scripture passage comes from Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV), where Simon Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ:

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 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. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar b. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades c. Matthew 16:19 Or shall have been bound… shall have been loosed

Jesus praises Peter’s perception as being a divine gift from God. The Lord designates Peter to be the foundation for his living church, a foundation that will prevail against Satan’s domain, which is hell. Peter is chosen by the Lord as the one who will inherit the keys to God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

But the Satan, the devil, is not pleased with Jesus’ plan for the establishment of his kingdom on earth. Since the devil had unsuccessfully tempted and tested the faith of Jesus, Satan demands to test Peter, whom he had selected as leader of the disciples and his future church.

Jesus warns Peter of the threat from Satan and foretells of how Peter will falter and deny his Lord not just once, but three times before the rooster crows in the morning, as we read in Luke 22:31-34 (ESV):

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 22:31 The Greek word for you (twice in this verse) is plural; in verse 32, all four instances are singular b. Luke 22:33 Greek He c. Luke 22:34 Greek He

In spite of Peter’s declaration of his faith to Jesus being so great that the disciple is willing suffer both prison and death as proof of his faith.

However, the prophecy of Jesus is true as we see in Luke 22:54-62 (ESV):

Peter Denies Jesus

 54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter weeps just as Jesus had predicted, he betrays the Lord three times and in doing so commits sin against the Son of God three times. Jesus is taken away based on the false testimony of Judas Iscariot and then abandoned by his beloved disciple, Peter.

After his resurrection, Jesus seeks his disciples and finds them in the same circumstances as his first encounter with Peter, John and James, being unsuccessful in fishing the night before, John 21:1-19 (ESV):

 Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

So great was Judas Iscariot despair over his surrender to Satan’s temptation to sin and betray Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, the former disciple had chosen to take his own life.

Though Peter had sinned against Jesus, unlike Judas Iscariot, the disciple had not chosen to abandon faith in Jesus and to follow Satan. And Jesus’ death on the cross had provided a path to reconciliation and restoration to Peter for his sins, provided he demonstrated his penitence to the Lord for the three times he sinned against Jesus by denying him, as we continue reading from John 21, beginning at verse 15:

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

Three times Jesus asks Peter to declare love for his Lord and three times Peter complies, one for each of the three times Peter sinned against Jesus. And each time Peter acknowledges his love for his Lord, Jesus instructs Peter: “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep”, and “feed my sheep”.

After foretelling the manner of his death by which the disciple would glorify God, Jesus instructs Peter to “follow me”. Peter’s foundation of faith in grace of God, through Christ Jesus, has been restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established. Finally, on the Day of Pentecost, the Lord’s church will be born.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #403: Walking In Sunlight All of My Journey

Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10):                                                                                        And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel

BLCF: John-11-25-header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

© September 20, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 20, 2015

BLCF: hat trick weather

Responsive Reading #635 (Comfort from Christ – John 14); Prayer                                       

Opening Hymn #365: I Am Weak but Thou Art Strong; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: John 18:15-27, John 21:14-19, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18

John 18:15-27 (ESV) Peter Denies Jesus

BLCF: Peters-denial

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants[a] and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

BLCF: Jesus-trial

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

BLCF: Peter_denies_Christ

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Footnotes: a. John 18:18 Greek bondservants; also verse 26

John 21:14-19 (ESV) Jesus and Peter

BLCF: feed my lambs

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

2 Corinthians 12:1-18 (ESV) Paul’s Visions and His Thorn

BLCF: my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-make-perfect-in-weakness

12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Concern for the Corinthian Church

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11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Or hears from me, even because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited

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Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

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For those of you who do not follow sports, particularly hockey, a hat trick is a term that refers to when a player scores three goals during the course of a game. The fans of the player’s team will mark this rather rare event by throwing their hats onto the ice; hence the term “hat trick.” This hockey tradition has recently found its way to other sports. Those who follow baseball, and the Blue Jays quest to return to the post season after a draught of some 22 years, may recall recently that Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnación recently achieved the milestone of three home runs in one home game. The Canadian Blue Jay fan’s showed their appreciation by throwing hats onto the playing field. Encarnación, who hails from the Dominican Republic, could be excused for being puzzled by the hat trick accolade. But his team mates, familiar with hockey, filled Edwin in with the significance of the rain of hats. Later, the media posted a photo of Edwin proudly posing with a huge bag full of hats.

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Back to today’s lesson, in which I hope to talk about a few of the trios found in the gospel of Christ, by referring to the Scripture verses listed in today’s Bulletin. But, let me first direct you to the verses at the bottom inside of the Bulletin, just below the order of service:

John 13:36-14:4 (ESV) Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

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36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In John 13:36-14, we read the Lord’s response to his disciple, Peter’s promise to lay his life for Jesus, in verse 38: 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In the second part of the Scripture passage, Jesus tries to assuage his disciples’ concern his prophecy of betrayal and absence, with a promise to return to them, in John 14:1-4, with the sub-heading, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c]

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

 

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The Scriptures read today began with John’s Gospel account where Simon Peter denies knowing Jesus, not once or twice, but three times, (John 18:15-27). This illustrates, how well the Lord understands each of his children’s failings, even in the realm of our faith. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 26:75) we see Peter’s visceral reaction to how accurately the Lord perceived Peter’s weakness: And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Fortunately, Jesus loves us in spite of our weaknesses and failings, which is why he surrendered to the cross, to remove our judgement and to forgive us. We see this illustrated in our next Scripture passage, John 21:14-19, where Jesus revealed himself for a third time to the disciples, following his resurrection. The first time was in the Upper Room on the evening of his resurrection and the second was eight days later in the same Upper Room, for the benefit of the disciple, Thomas. And just as in the two prior revelations, Jesus revealed himself with the breaking of bread.

After eating together, Jesus had a conversation with Peter, where the Lord asked the disciple three times whether Peter loved him. And three times, Peter affirmed his love for Jesus. It was as if the Lord forgave his disciple for each of the three occasions that Peter denied Jesus. And after each affirmation, the Lord gave an instruction to the disciple:

First the Lord said: “Feed my lambs”, followed by: “Tend my sheep”, and then: “Feed my sheep”; all references to his flock who comprised the body of Christ’s Church. Christ concluded by telling Peter to “Follow me”, indicating that Peter would end up following Jesus and surrendering his life for the Lord, as prophesized in John 13:36-37:

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

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Our third triad in the scriptures is found in the third of today’s Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18, which occurs after Pentecost; the Apostle Paul shares, in his letter to the Corinthian Church, his visions and his thorn. His vision speaks of a third heaven, a reference to Genesis 1:7-8, which you may find a graphic representation on the front of today’s Bulletin. The earth’s atmosphere is the First Heaven; above this is the vacuum of space, being the Second Heaven; then above this are the waters above the firmament; and finally above all is the Third Heaven, where God’s Throne is located. In addition to the privilege of having a vision of to harass the apostle and to keep him humble and not conceited by the importance of the revelation.

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Three times Paul pleaded with Jesus to remove this affliction and we see the Lord’s answer in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As Christians, we are consoled that not only is the lord’s grace sufficient for our needs, but Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Paul states when we are afflicted with the thorns of weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamites, we are strong in Christ.

Paul shares that he will return to the Corinthian Church, for the sake of the people, willing to surrender himself to save their souls.

From Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we understand the Lord’s expectation that his messengers have the same agape, or unconditional love, as Jesus had demonstrated for others. In return, the Lord promised never to leave or forsake us. This is faith’s reward to his flock that follows the Lord, in spite of the obstacles that are given to us, when we heed the calling of the Lord to follow him.
Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #232: I Hear the Savior Say

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.

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