Salvation through Faith and Trust 2019

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:

‘Salvation through Faith and Trust 2019’

© February 3, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 3, 2019

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF Church on August 1, 2010, and July 19, 2015

BLCF_Aug_1__2010_Bulletin

BLCF Bulletin July 19, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

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

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

Responsive Reading – (Adapted from Psalm 91):

Leader:  Let we who live with faith in God proclaim,
People: “Lord, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God I will trust forever.”
Leader:  Let we who trust in the Lord know that holy love surrounds us.
People:  God’s protection will follow us throughout our days.
Leader:  When we call out to the Lord,
People:  We know that we are heard.
Leader:  God is with us in every trial and temptation,
All:         Therefore we will rejoice in the salvation of the Almighty!

               Amen!

Message by Steve Mickelson: Salvation through Faith and Trust 

                             

Let us pray…

Good morning, the lesson I would like to share bring today, Salvation Through Faith and Trust, begins with a Scripture taken from the Book of Acts, that deals with Faith and trust in the Lord. The message deals with why faith and trust are required to receive God’s gift of Salvation, and the rewards for our faith and trust in the Lord.

Acts 1:1-14 (ESV): The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

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; also verse 15

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place!

What is faith or belief? The Greek word translated faith or belief is pistis, which Strong’s defines as persuasion, moral conviction, assurance, or belief. The word for trust is elpidzo, meaning to expect, or to have confidence in.

The three terms, faith, belief, and trust then, basically mean the same thing: to be persuaded of something, to hold something to be true, or to have confidence in something.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV): By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

When each of you entered the church this morning, you walked in the Sanctuary, perhaps greeted a friend or two and took a bulletin and proceeded to sit down in a pew or chair of your choosing. When you approached the pew, you became seated. I am sure before you took your seat you didn’t inspect the pew for structural integrity. You didn’t test the pew to see whether or not it would support you. You likely didn’t give a second thought as to whether the hidden dowels and screws which hold the pew together, the unseen components would keep their structural integrity and not collapse under your weight. You just acted in faith that the pew would support you, without tipping or collapsing. Yours was an act of faith. The only conscious decision might be whether the pew had a hymnal and Bible, whether its location provided a good view of the service, perhaps you may have given conscious as to its location with respect to a fan or an easy exit at the end of the service.

That same faith-based decision is needed as Christians. We may give some thought as to which church we attend, whose sermon we would like to hear, but the act of faith in God is made on an unconscious level, just like our decision to sit in the pew. We may stand to sing or pray, but we then resume our seat again without a thought.

Acts 10:43 (ESV)

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. We had a friend of the family, name Earl D., who became known by many as Elder Earl, a sign of respect for his service in his church. Earl had known Sophie’s family for years, often dropping by for a visit. Though he was never married, I believe Earl felt a part of the family. I remember on one occasion, the extended family was having a bar-b-cue at my mother in law’s house and Earl dropped in for a visit. Around the back yard were a number of old wooden folding chairs, not unlike the deck chairs portrayed in the movie Titanic. The chairs were made from oak and were almost the same shade as the pews in this church, which are also made of oak. They looked much sturdier and were much more comfortable than the nylon and aluminum folding lawn chairs that were popular at the time.

Earl was a large man, both in height and girth. I remember that he chose an empty oak chair for his seat. As Earl dropped his frame in the chair, it promptly collapsed and disintegrated into a pile of broken pieces under him. It was quite a funny moment, and luckily Earl suffered no injuries, except to his pride. My mother-in-law had only two of those folding wooden chairs and one was broken beyond repair. The other chair suffered the same fate, when a couple of years later at a back yard function, when. The perpetrator of its demise was the same Earl who again escaped unscathed, except for a bruised pride.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

A man is drowning in the sea, and a lifeline is thrown to him from a passing ship. The man grasps for and clings to that lifeline believing that it is his salvation. He has faith that it will hold him. He trusts in it. Like that drowning man, by ourselves, we are doomed to die from our sins. Alone our fate seems hopeless. But God loves you and me so much that He has thrown us a lifeline that we may use to save ourselves. That lifeline is Jesus Christ, who has taken the burden of our sins, has taken our doom, our death upon himself. He is our hero, our lifeguard, our Saviour. He died so we may live.

 John 3:16 (ESV)

 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This verse tells us that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.

But how does one qualify in the easy of God to receive the gift of salvation and the comforter in the Holy Spirit? What does the Lord expect us to do?

Acts 2:38 (ESV)

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.

After confessing our sins, what else is expected to become justified to God?

Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Salvation is God’s gift, given under His terms.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

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

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place!

Matthew 17:20 (ESV)

 If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

The Bible does record miraculous achievements, when God is allowed to guide the way, whether it is surviving the Great Flood, the Exodus from Egypt, the Crossing the Red Sea, being sustained by manna from Heaven, the tearing down the walls of Jericho, the feeding the multitude, and Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee, that none of these miracles would have happened without faith in the power of the Lord and trust that He has power over everything in Heaven and Earth.

John 3:36 (ESV)

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life. Sadly, Satan often uses as obstacles, our lack of faith and trust, to try to keep us at arm’s length from believing or having faith that Jesus had died for our sins, or if we do believe, keep us from trusting in Him. Satan wants to keep us from God’s glory. For, as believers in the Gospel, not only do we receive redemption in God’s eyes, we are given the gifts of power and comfort in through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV): Peace with God Through Faith

5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:1 Some manuscripts let us b. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith c. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 e. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

Romans 5:2 (ESV)

Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

By faith, we are justified and have access to grace. How much power and comfort we receive is directly proportional to how much we trust we have in Him in our lives. For many, Sunday worship is a time where we attempt to renew and replenish our faith, so that we may coast through the rest of the week. Our faith should be sustained through the week by daily prayer, reading of Scripture, fellowship and witnessing to others by our thoughts, words, and deeds. Sunday’s should not only be a day of worship but a day of praise and celebration of the achievements of the previous week, with a renewed recommitment to continue Our Christian walk in faith and trust.

The disciples showed their faith and trust the Lord by remaining in Jerusalem as instructed by the Lord. And that is the Lord’s expectation for us at Bloor Lansdowne, so that we may have salvation. He wants us to keep His faith and to trust in Him, in our thoughts, words, and deeds. What we do and how we act, must be motivated by faith and guided by the Spirit.

Reverend Billy Graham: On Faith

The late Reverend Billy Graham once said:

“Faith is essential for salvation. But we must be absolutely clear on what we mean when we speak of “salvation by faith.” There are various kinds of belief or faith, and not all are linked to salvation. In the New Testament, faith means more than intellectual belief. It involves trust and commitment. I may say that I believe a bridge will hold my weight. But I really believe it only when I commit myself to it and walk across it. Saving faith involves an act of commitment and trust, in which I commit my life to Jesus Christ and trust Him alone as my Savior and Lord.”

 Let us pray…

Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (- Mark 14)

Closing Hymn #287: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Benediction – (- from Romans 5:1-11):
May your faith give you peace and may God’s Spirit give you love. May the grace of God give you hope and may the love of Christ give you strength.

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Abiding in the Way of the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Abiding in the Way of the Lord’

©March 18, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin March 18, 2018

Based on a Messages Shared at BLCF on April 3, 2011 and January 25, 2015

BLCF Bulletin April_3_2011

BLCF Bulletin April 26 2015

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

Opening Hymn #204: There’s A Quiet Understanding

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

Handiwork I SeeResponsive Reading #597 (Gr of PrayerOD’s Attributes- Psalm 19)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Abiding in the Way of the Lord’

Let us pray…

For our lesson today, Abiding in the Way of the Lord, we have three Scripture Passages, two from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-8) and (Mark 12:18-33) and the third Scripture Passage comes from the 12 Chapter of John’s Gospel (John 12:19-26).

The Scriptures from Mark give us a glimpse of what it like in Heaven, by giving an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, as well what we may expect after our resurrection, as well as the most important of GOD’s Commandments, also known as HIS Great Commandment.

In today’s third Scripture passage, from John, the Lord instructs the Woman of Samaria on where and how to worship God.

The three Scriptures illustrate how easy it is to be misguided and confused when we attempt to seek GOD’s grace and presence, which is HIS spirit and truth, on an earthly plane, at some special sacred place, such as upon a Holy Mountain.

Such was the case where Jesus brought along three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, where the Lord’s appearance became transfigured into a radiant, intensely white figure as he spoke with the prophets, Elijah and Moses, as we read in Mark 9:2-8 (ESV):

The Transfiguration

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi,[b] it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

Footnotes: a. Mark 9:3 Greek launderer (gnapheus) b. Mark 9:5 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master c. Mark 9:7 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

The disciples were initially terrified by what they had witnessed. Then Peter suggested building, as temples; one each for Church of the Transfiguration. I do not think that is what the Lord had in mind when he brought his disciples up on the mountain. We read next that a cloud comes above them, and the disciples hear GOD’s voice speak: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him,” after which Moses and Elijah, who scholars view represent the Law and the Prophets, are no longer visible.

On Mount Tabor, today, we see that the Church of the Transfiguration has been erected to signify the place of the miracle, just as Peter had suggested to the Jesus. Peter, as well as those on who built the church, chose to venerate the sight of the transfiguration, rather than just focusing solely on the event. The Lord did not intend reveal the miracle of his transfiguration in order for people to plant a church on the mountain. Instead, Jesus’ miracle demonstrated the Divine nature of the Lord, giving us a glimpse of what heaven must be like. This interpretation of the vision is confirmed when the Heavenly Father identifies HIS son to the disciples and instructs them listen to him. .

Our second verse, offers another glimpse of life after our resurrection when a group of Sadducees ask the Lord about a hypothetical situation and the resurrection.In short, the Sadducees focused on the letter of the law, in contrast to the Pharisees, who seemed to construct the law on the fly. Both groups sought to serve themselves and their own authority over the authority of GOD.  Let us now look at, Mark 12:18-33 (ESV):

The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

18And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man[a] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

24Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

In this glimpse of life after the Resurrection, we see that we are no longer in human form, but appear as the angel in heaven. No longer are we under the laws of this world. Like Jesus, Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor, we will be transfigured, being radiant and glowing bright as the sun.

Having answered the Sadducees’ challenge to the resurrection, by reminding them that God revealed himself to Moses from a burning bush, when he spoke in Mark 12:26-27, saying:

26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Having heard the Lord answer the question of the resurrection in a satisfactory manner, one of the scribes or experts of the law asked the Lord a question with respect to the law, or the Law of Moses which consisted of some 613 Commandments, as well as additional instructions and interpretations derived from the original Ten Commandments. All of these Laws and Commandments could be distilled down to two, which Jesus gave in response to the question of which was the Greatest Commandment,  is found in Mark 12:28-33:

The Great Commandment

The Royal Commandment

 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 12:19 Greek his brother

We see that the both loving God and loving our neighbor are keys following and worshipping GOD.

Does GOD expect us to undertake a pilgrimage to Holy places such as Mt. Tabor, in order to meet HIS expectation of our expression of faith? Let us look at three places considered to be important to the descendants of Abraham, The Wailing Wall, Mecca and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

Wailing Wall

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small western segment of the walls surrounding the area called the Temple Mount (or Har Habayit) by Jews, Christians and most Western sources, and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Al-Haram ash-Sharīf).

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever larger Temple compound to be built at its top.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall

The Hajj

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated as Calvary (Golgotha),[1] where Jesus was crucified,[2] and also contains the place where Jesus is said to have been buried. The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre

As Christians who see a relationship with God the Father, by trusting in the Gospel of Jesus, we at some time or other face the question: “Is undertaking a pilgrimage to any or all of these sites an important expression of our faith in GOD?”  We find the answer in today’s third Scripture verse, John 4:19-26 (ESV):

The Woman of Samaria

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Jesus responded to the woman of Samarian’s comment that her fathers worshipped GOD on a mountain top, in Jerusalem, or any other place is not as important as how we worship HIM, in spirit and truth, that matters. It because the Christian’s identity is to not dependent upon any physical or geographic location, but upon a faith in God’s love, the sacrifice of His only Son Christ Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, our beliefs are not constrained to physical constraints or controls. This is why Napoleon concluded:

 “I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant – Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.”                                                                                                                                                 Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)   

I have listed a series of verses on the back of today’s bulletin, where the Lord spoke GOD’s Great Commandment over and over again:

Hol;y Bible

Holy Bible

John 3:16 (ESV)

 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 John 15:12-14 (ESV)

 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 

John 15:17 (ESV)    

17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

John 15:4-5 (ESV)

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 John 14:21 (ESV)

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

 John 15:10 (ESV)

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Rather than embarking upon pilgrimages and building glorious cathedrals, our best and purist expression of Christian worship is truth and love, as defined by the Lord. In this manner, we have an opportunity to share with others a true glimpse of heaven.

Let us pray…

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

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.

 

Advent: Angels Announcing the Good News of Peace, Salvation and Glory of Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Advent: Angels Announcing the Good News of Peace, Salvation and Glory of Christ’

© December 17, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin December 17, 2017

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on December 15, 2013

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Lighting the Third Advent Candle: The Shepherds’ Candle, also called: The Candle of Joy (Luke 2:8-20):

    

Today we celebrate the Third Advent Sunday prior to Christmas Day, where we will light the Third Advent Candle, which is referred to as The Shepherd’s Candle, or the Candle of Joy.

Two weeks ago, we lit the First Advent Candle, commonly called The Candle of Hope or The Prophecy Candle. Last Sunday, the Second Advent Candle know as The Candle of Faith or Bethlehem Candle was lit.

As we Light the Third Advent Candle ‘, let us read from Isaiah 52:7 (ESV), as found on the inside of today’s bulletin:

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Though the birth of Christ child is prophesized in numerous verses of the Old Testament, God would sent one of His angels to ensure that the individual or individuals understood the purpose of an event, typically a Supernatural miracle, as part of His Devine plan for the persons visited as well as the rest of humanity. Which brings us to today’s second Scripture, also found inside today’s bulletin, Luke 2:8-20 (ESV), entitled:

    The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[
a]

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.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

Opening Hymn #104: It Came upon the Midnight Clear; Christmas Hymns

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

Responsive Reading #602 (God’s Divine Deliverance – Psalm 33)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Advent: Angels Announcing the Good News of Peace, Salvation and the Glory of Christ’

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Before we begin today’s lesson, I would like to invite all of you to join us for an Advent Potluck Lunch here at BLCF, following the Service. It will be an opportunity for all to enjoy a good meal and fellowship.

To begin this morning’s lesson, I would like to reflect upon two verses from today’s fourth Scripture passage, which describes the angels, who were known to express themselves in song, singing praises to God, celebrating the Savior’s birth as described  Luke 2: 13-14:

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[
a]

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

This passage made me recall an incident that occurred several years ago, at the annual Christmas Cantata presented at the last church Sophie and I had attended.  The choir, of which Sophie was a member, gave a professional performance that attracted many visitors from the community, and it grew the congregation to more than double the average number.

This particular performance was of the oratorio, Handle’s Messiah. I sat in my usual pew located in the church’s right alcove, which provided a view of Sophie in the choir. In the pew in front of me sat another member of the congregation, a young lady with her month old son, whose husband sang in the choir. A well-dressed man, whom I had never seen at the church before, sat in the pew located in front of the mother and child.

It was during the first movement of the Messiah, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, the young baby in the pew in front of me began to cry. Being a father of four, a crying baby did not phase my enjoyment of the performance, as I had experienced a similar situation on more than one occasion when our children were babies. I thought it interesting that Handle was describing in song Luke 2, the birth of the baby Jesus, and the crying child added a sense of realism to the musical narrative.

I was shocked and dismayed, when I observed the well-dressed man two pews ahead turned around in a loud, angry voice told the mother, “Can’t you shut that baby up! It is spoiling the mood for me.”

This points out how many view Christmas, selfishly, as a time of personal self-gratification, not as a celebration of God’s love and compassion towards all of humanity, including little children. Imagine the shepherds or Magi, walking away from the stable, if the baby Jesus had been a little fussy.

(see link below – a composite of the visits by the shepherds and Wise Men)

http://youtu.be/SWHeWUzXkeY

To her credit, the young mother did not leave her pew, and gently rocked her child back to sleep for the remainder of the concert.  Meanwhile, our well -dressed moody critic, left at the conclusion of the concert, not bothering to stay for any of the refreshments served after the performance.

At the refreshment table, everyone had an opportunity to fuss over the baby and really, and demonstrate the true mood of Christmas and the love of Christ.

Now back to today’s lesson.

According to Scripture, the year of the birth of Jesus, the Christ child, was a busy tine for Angels, God’s Heavenly Hosts, particularly the angel known as Gabriel. The angel, Gabriel’s name appears numerous times in the Bible, as we find in our Wiki bits:

In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavri’el Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl, God is my strength; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl) is an angel who typically serves as a messenger sent from God to certain people.

In the Bible, Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, he appeared to the prophet Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel’s visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel appeared to Zecharias, and to the virgin Mary foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38). In the Book of Daniel, he is referred to as “the man Gabriel”, while in the Book of Luke, Gabriel is referred to as “an angel of the Lord” (Luke 1:11). Gabriel is not called an archangel in the Bible, but is so called in Intertestamental period sources like the Book of Enoch. In the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel are also referred to as saints.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel

If you look at the back of today’s bulletin, you will see one of several accounts recorded in the Bible, of angels bringing word of the birth of Jesus. One of these Scripture passages tells of how the angel Gabriel visits Mary, to deliver an important message from God, Luke 1:26-35 (ESV),  with the sub-heading:

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 e. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

Our next Scripture gives an account of an angel bringing word from God, this time to Joseph, is also listed in  of today’s bulletin, comes from, Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV) with the title:

   The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 1:18 Some manuscripts of the Christ b. Matthew 1:18 That is, legally pledged to be married

The birth of Jesus was foretold in several verses of the Old Testament, including the first of today’s Scripture verses found on the inside of our bulletin, Jeremiah 23:5-6 (ESV):

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

I find it interesting that all of heaven, including God’s angels celebrate, when a sinner accepts the gift of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Lord the Lord explained at the conclusion of his ‘Parable of the Lost Sheep’, as we read in Luke 15:7 (ESV):

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

I believe it is fair to conclude that the heavenly expressed joy at the birth of the Christ child, because the angels understood that Jesus came to sacrifice himself as an expression of his love for us and provide for the reconciliation between God and all people. He would assume humanity judgment for all our sins, and give us the promise of a New Covenant for all who have faith and trust in His Devine plan. Thus, sinners who repent receive His forgiveness, because He loves us, John 3:16 (ESV), entitled:

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

Finally, with the birth of Jesus, let us reflect upon the message and joy of the angels witnessed by the shepherds, as well as the love of God, who gave us through His only son Jesus, a path to reconciliation and salvation as demonstrated by the third Advent Candle.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #106: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Join us after the service, for a time of fellowship and joy, as we enjoy a special Advent Potluck Meal provided by fellow members of our congregation.

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 4:6):

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

“May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ Child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.” 

 – John Armstrong

Anticipating the Love of Christ

BLCF: Romans-8_38-39

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Love of Christ

© December 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin-December-18-2016

BLCF: 4_advent-candle_wreath

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where over the last four Sundays, including today, we lit four Advent Candles to honor four of the virtues brought to this world by the birth of Jesus, as son of Mary and son of God. The four virtues: hope, peace, joy, and love. As we light the Advent Candle, representing the Lord’s love, we have a Scripture passage which includes His four virtues:

Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Romans 5:1-8 (ESV):

BLCF: animation_candle_flame-free

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.                                                                                                                   

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:1 Some manuscripts let us b. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith c. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 d. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #632:                                             God’s Redeeming Love (John 3, 1 John 4); Prayer                                                    

Opening Hymn #137: What Wondrous Love Is This?; Christmas Hymns          

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

Scriptures: Isaiah 54:10, Psalm 107:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 15:13,                                      1 John 3:1, John 3:16

BLCF: love-one-another-feet-washing

Let us pray…

The title of today’s lesson is Anticipating the Love of Christ’. The Bible says that we are created in God’s image and those good characteristics reflect those good virtues of God.

So how important is the virtue of Love, represented by the fourth candle of Advent? For an answer, let us look at the Scripture passage 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV), found on the back of today’s Bulletin, entitled:

The Way of Love

BLCF: greatest-is-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 arrogantor 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

Today’s featured Scriptures give us a better idea of the greatest virtue, love, beginning with  Isaiah 54:10 (ESV):

 10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

BLCF: isaiah-54-10

 

While the virtues of hope, peace and joy may grow and diminish, for believers the virtue of love endures, as we read in our next Scripture, Psalm 107:1-3 (ESV), entitled:

BLCF: his-steadfast-love-endures-forever

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble[
a]
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 107:2 Or from the hand of the foe

And if love is the greatest virtue, the greatest example of love by the sacrificial love that the Lord demonstrated when he gave up his life on Calvary’s Cross, in order to pay for the sins of humanity, John 15:13 (ESV):

 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

BLCF: nogreaterlove

Our faith in Christ’s love and sacrifice not only separates us from the world, which does not understand His love or our faith, 1 John 3:1 (ESV):

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

BLCF: child-of-God

But why did God have His son come as a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. We find the plan and the purpose of Jesus’ birth in John 3:16 (ESV), which has the title:

For God So Loved the World

BLCF: John_3_16

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

And remembering the Lord’s commandments to love God and love our neighbors, we find God has prepared more than we have seen, heave heard of, or even imagined as a reward, 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV):

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”

BLCF: 1-corinthians-2-9

 

The greatest virtue, the Lord’s Love, transcends or surpasses all obstacles that could separate us from His love and His presence, Romans 8:38-39 (ESV);

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

BLCF: Romans-8_31-39

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #120: Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: do-everything-in-love

Christian Stewardship: Cherishing the Godly Gift

BLCF: STEWARDSHIP

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Christian Stewardship: Cherishing the Godly Gift’

© November 1, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based On a Message Shared at BLCF September 6, 2009

BLCF Bulletin November 1, 2015

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #600 – Christian Stewardship (Psalm 24 and 50, Haggai 2, Leviticus 27, Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 22, 2 Corinthians 9, 1 Peter 4); Prayer                                  

Opening Hymn #58: This Is My Father’s World; Choruses                                            

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

Today’s Scriptures: John 3:16, Luke 10:27, Luke 16:1-13, Luke 4:1-13  

Let us pray…

As we conserve daylight by changing our clocks for daylight Savings Time, today’s lesson is about conserving and stewardship of God’s gifts to us.

A wise man once said: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion.” This is quite a profound statement. But what is meant by the statement: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion”, especially with respect our faith, our walk with Jesus?

In World War II, we have the account of a wine steward who was responsible for caring for the finest collection of wine in all of Europe, which was kept in the wine cellar at the Chateau of Monaco.  At that time in history, the chateau was well known for its vintage, rare wines.  But the Nazis had overrun the city and now lived and dined in the chateau, expecting and wanting to drink the world’s finest vintage wines.  The wine steward resented those “slime Nazis” and cleverly and carefully hid all the rarest of wines deep in the cellar, serving his enemy only the cheapest and youngest wines, pretending that those wines were the best.  Stewards are people who care for precious property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster. Though we may criticise the steward for not being lack of candor with the Nazi invaders, we can commend his desire to protect the valuable possessions with which he was entrusted.

Luke 16:1-13 (ESV) The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

BLCF: stewardship-are-managers_of_Gods_gifts

 1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Footnotes: a.Luke 16:6 About 875 gallons b.Luke 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels c. c.Luke 16:8 Greek age d. d.Luke 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13

So what is the message given to us here? It is a message of stewardship, a message of trust, and a message of care for something valuable which has been entrusted to your care.

Author Jack Kelley, in an article written for Grace Through Faith, helps us to better understand what Jesus wants us to understand. Kelly states:

The key in understanding the parable is to know whether the manager is acting on behalf of his master (The Rich Man) when he reduces the debts that the debtors owe his master. Luke 16:3 indicated he was. The manager says this, “My master is taking away my job.” Note the tense of the verb. The Rich Man did not fire him on the spot! He was in the period of time his master gave him to “give an account of your management” (Luke 16:2). The creditors were under the impression that the Rich Man was the one being generous with them and lowering the amount they owed him.

The shrewd manager was hoping the creditors would welcome him into their homes and give him hospitality if and when he lost his job and was in need. He was hoping the creditors would honour the messenger who gives them good news. Notice that it is the Master who commends the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly (Luke 16:8). The Rich Man had two choices:

The first was that he could expose the dishonest manager for acting independently of his wishes and tell his creditors they still owed the full amount of their bills. If he does this he would appear selfish and greedy (even though it would be within his rights).

The second was to let the actions of the manager stand and receive the praise given him by his creditors (and no doubt others within the community) for his generosity. He would learn from his mistake of allowing the manager, of whom he was suspicious, to act on his behalf. Next time he would fire someone on the spot.

Jesus follows up the parable with a challenge to those who follow him to be creative in their use of worldly wealth for eternal purposes! He contrasts “worldly wealth” with “true riches” (Luke 16:11). Jesus does not confuse the two. He concludes with the warning that no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Money at the same time. You can only have one master. If money is your master then God cannot be. If God is your master then you should use your wealth in a manner that honors God. That is the point of this parable.

A manager is being fired by his master. Told to bring the books into balance before turning them over for a final accounting, he faces a serious situation. He’s too old for manual labour and too proud for welfare, so he asks his master’s debtors to come in and review their accounts with him. In private meetings he has the debtors write down their accounts to a more favourable amount. In so doing he earns points with both the debtors and his master. How could this be?

It was against Mosaic Law for Israelites to charge one another interest on credit extended, Deuteronomy 23:19 (ESV)

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.

Many merchants got around this restriction by overcharging for goods and services, taking excess profits in lieu of interest. (You can see a current example in the auto business. That 0% financing you got is really a loan whose interest is paid by the manufacturer out of excess profits added to the price of vehicles specifically for the purpose of funding such incentives.)

The manager had apparently dealt unfairly with the master’s debtors, tacking on excess profits in lieu of interest. From the story, there’s no indication the master either instigated or condoned any over-charging. Its discovery may even be one of the reasons for the manager’s sudden loss of position. Perhaps he was using these add-ons to compensate for the losses of which he was being accused.

Pretty Shrewd, Isn’t He?

Since the master commended the manager’s shrewdness in writing down the accounts, it’s hard to imagine he was being cheated in these dealings even though the Lord calls the manager dishonest. More likely, in settling with the debtors the manager was deducting the excess profits he himself had tacked onto their accounts, earning the gratitude of the debtors and the admiration of the master.

If so, his efforts resemble those of today’s Orthodox Jews during the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, frantically going around to right all the wrongs they’ve committed against others in the preceding 12 months. They’re working to retain their place in the Book of Life before it’s closed for another year, simultaneously reconciling themselves to their friends and neighbours while getting back into God’s Good Graces.

Christians don’t need to work to get back into God’s Good Graces. Our names cannot be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. But our willingness to ask forgiveness of someone we’ve wronged is more than an attempt at reconciliation. It’s an indication of the contrition in our hearts, a measure of our repentance for the sins that we have committed.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It is easier to make a dream a delusion if we are willing to sacrifice some of our integrity in the process, as was the case of the parable found in today’s lesson. The manager felt it was easier to deceive his master as well as those indebted to his master, than to confess to both, his wrong doing.

Jesus often told such parables to clarify a point of faith. The parable had faith based moral theme or lesson which can help us learn what God expect us to do in certain circumstances, as Stewards of God’s treasures, often in stark contrast to the way a non-Christian would behave under the same circumstance.

So what exactly what treasure has God entrusted us with?

1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

BLCF: Christian-stewardship

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

And let us not forget God’s most precious gift, His Son Jesus. Our faith in this gift is the reward of eternal life.

The Bible Says in, John 3:16 (ESV) – For God So Loved the World:

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

And how does Jesus want us to take care of his treasure? His instructions are clear, Luke 10:27 (ESV):

 BLCF: heart-of-Jesus

27And 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 neighbour as yourself.”

You and I are entrusted with God’s love. And God only asks that we freely accept his gift and faithfully give that love back to both God and to our neighbour. In order to make our gift acceptable, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins and make our faith acceptable in God’s eyes.

In the Parable in today’s lesson, Jesus said: “Turn in an account of your stewardship.  Give me a record of how you are handling the responsibilities that I have entrusted to you.” 

Jesus continues, “I have discovered that people who are faithful in the little things are faithful in the big things.  The person who is not faithful in the little things is not faithful in the big things.  The person who is faithful in both the little responsibilities and the big responsibilities, I will give even more to that person.  The person who is not faithful in the little things and not faithful in the big things, I will relieve that person of all responsibilities. To whom much is given, much is required. If you are not faithful with the little things of life, such as money, then who will entrust you with true riches?

When the Pharisees heard this, they scoffed at Jesus because they were lovers of money.

But stewardship is not about that narrow slice of life we call offerings to the church or that narrow slice of our time, talents and treasures that we give to church.  Stewardship is taking care of the precious gifts and people that God has entrusted to us and that is what I would like to talk about today.

The root of steward is the Greek word, oikos”, which means house.  Stewardship is taking care of household matters. A related word is oikonomics” from which we get the word, “economics:” Stewardship is taking care of money matters that God has entrusted to us. Still another related word is “oicology” from which we get the word “ecology”.  Stewardship is taking care of the earth that God has entrusted to us.

None of what you own truely belongs to you:  your clothes, house, furniture, pets, toys, plants, or family.  None of it belongs to you.  Can you take it with you when you die?  Of course not!  It’s not yours.  Everything in life belongs to God who entrusts you and me to care for these precious possessions.

Each of us has been made stewards of Gods treasures.

A Pastor who is hired by the Board and Members of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is expected to minister to the needs of the congregation through preaching, teaching, visitation and leadership that is both glorifying to God and which nurtures the spiritual growth of the congregation in a Christ-like manner.

Most churches entrust the care of their properties to trustees of the Bloor Lansdowne church properties. It is their responsibility to protect the church properties from those who may seek to use the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church and St. Helen’s properties for their own glorification and not for the glorification of God.

It is the responsibility of the Church Board at Bloor Lansdowne to see that the money spent is spent wisely and in a manner that glorifies God’s by building or edifying the faith and spirit of those who believe or seek God in the community of Bloor Lansdowne. The Board must ensure that God’s funds are not for the glorification of any person or group of people. Our church is facing hard financial challenges, which may require hard financial decisions to ensure that our church continues to exist, let alone be relevant in this community.

Your Church Elders are responsible to ensure that what is said, what is planned, and what is acted in the name of B.L.C.F., is said, planned and acted in a manner that is glorifying to God as well as showing love and respect to others within the church. For like that manager in the parable if any of what we say, plan, or  act is done in a manner to deceive God, who is the Master, cannot be tolerated and must be acted upon by the Elders. And so in the same manner anything said, planned or done which is hidden from others in the church is viewed with the same contempt by our Father in Heaven.

And as a congregation, we are stewards of our faith to God, this church (which is God’s house and His people), and to each other, as Jesus had commanded in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27. As stewards of God’s gifts, each of us are responsible to grow in faith to God, by trusting God, and showing Gods love by the way we treat one another. We are expected to demonstrate our support the church, both spiritually and financially.

But you may ask: why do the Pastor, the Trustees, the Board, the Elders, and the Congregation not just have faith and pray to God to provide for the means to take care of the church? My answer is while it is true that as Christian believers we must practice our faith through prayer, understanding His Word, and trusting God. We must remember what happened to Jesus immediately after he was convicted by the Holy Spirit:

Luke 4:1-13 – The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)

 

 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered him, “It is written,     “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,     “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’                        

11and

 “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”

 12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 13And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The lesson from this passage from Luke is no matter what our position and line of responsibility as stewards of Gods church here at Bloor Lansdowne, we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan into putting the Lord our God to the test in matters that God has entrusted us to take care of. Each of us should think, speak and act as faithful and trustworthy stewards providing for the church in a manner that is honourable and glorifying to God and loving and respectful to one another. Just as Christ had a mission to be the Word Made Flesh, we have a mission to be good and faithful Stewards of the Faith.

Let us pray…

That is how we keep the flavor of our salt and project the light of Lord to others, to His glory so that we may be blessed, be happy in the Lord!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

 Communion

BLCF: Communion_Sunday                                                                                                                                              

Benediction – (1 Peter 4:10-11): As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

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

Salvation through Faith and Trust

BLCF: faith-and-trust-in-God

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:

‘Salvation through Faith and Trust’

© July 19, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin July 19, 2015

Based on a Messaged Originally Shared with BLCF Church on August 1, 2010

 

BLCF: assurance_of_salvation

Announcements and Call to Worship (Below); Prayer                                                             

Call to Worship, an Adaptation of Psalm 91:

Leader: Let we who live with faith in God proclaim,

People: “Lord, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God I will trust forever.”

Leader: Let we who trust in the Lord know that holy love surrounds,

People: God’s protection will follow us throughout our days.

Leader: When we call out to the Lord,

People: We know that we are heard.

Leader: God is with us in every trial and temptation,

All:         Therefore we will rejoice in the salvation of the Almighty!

               Amen!

 

BLCF: faith-trust

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

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

Today’s Scriptures: Scripture Verses: Acts 1:1-14, Hebrews 11:1, Acts 10:43  

BLCF: d-elton-trueblood-faith-trust-belief-proof-meetville

                          

Good morning, the lesson I would like to share bring today, Salvation Through Faith and Trust, begins with a Scripture taken from the Book of Acts, that deals with Faith and trust in the Lord. The message between deals with why faith and trust are required to receive God’s gift of Salvation.  And the rewards for our faith and trust in the Lord.

 

BLCF: faith trust salvation

Acts 1:1-14 (ESV) The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

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; also verse 15

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place!

What is faith or belief? The Greek word translated faith and belief is pistis, which Strong’s defines as persuasion, moral conviction, assurance, belief. The word for trust is elpidzo, meaning to expect, to have confidence in. The three terms, then, basically mean the same thing: to be persuaded of something, to hold something to be true, to have confidence in.

 

BLCF: faith-is

 

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

When each of you entered the church this morning, you walked in the Sanctuary, perhaps greeted a friend or two and took a bulletin and proceeded to sit down in a pew or chair of your choosing. When you approached the pew, you became seated. I am sure before you took your seat you didn’t inspect the pew for structural integrity. You didn’t test the pew to see whether or not it would support you. You likely didn’t give a second thought as to whether the hidden dowels and screws which hold the pew together, the unseen components would keep their structural integrity and not collapse under your weight. You just acted in faith that the pew would support you, without tipping or collapsing. Yours was an act of faith. The only conscious decision might be whether the pew had a hymnal and Bible, whether its location provided a good view of the service, perhaps you may have given conscious as to its location with respect to a fan or an easy exit at the end of the service.

That same faith-based decision is needed as Christians. We may give some thought as to which church we attend, whose sermon we would like to hear, but the act of faith in God is made on an unconscious level, just like our decision to sit in the pew. We may stand to sing or pray, but we then resume our seat again without a thought.

 

BLCF: Faith-Staircase-King

Acts 10:43 (ESV)

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. We had a friend of the family, name Earl D., who became known by many as Elder Earl, a sign of respect for his service in his church. Earl had known Sophie’s family for years, often dropping by for a visit. Though he had never married, I believe Earl felt a part of the family. I remember on one occasion, the extended family was having a bar-b-que at my mother in law’s house and Earl dropped in for a visit. Around the back yard were a number of old wooden folding chairs, not unlike the deck chairs portrayed in the movie Titanic. The chairs were made from oak and were almost the same shade as the pews in this church, which are also made of oak. They looked much sturdier and were much more comfortable than the nylon and aluminum folding lawn chairs that were popular at the time.

Earl was a large man, both in height and girth. I remember that he chose an empty oak chair for his seat. As Earl dropped his frame in the chair, it promptly collapsed and disintegrated into a pile of broken pieces under him. It was quite a funny moment, and luckily Earl suffered no injuries, except to his pride. My mother-in-law had only two of those folding wooden chairs and one was broken beyond repair. The other chair suffered the same fate, when a couple of years later at a back yard function, when. The perpetrator of its demise was the same Earl who again escaped unscathed, except for a bruised pride.

BLCF: FaithTrustGod

 Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

A man is drowning in the sea, and a lifeline is thrown to him from a passing ship. The man grasps for and clings to that lifeline believing that it is his salvation. He has faith that it will hold him. He trusts in it. Like that drowning man, by ourselves, we are doomed to die from our sins. Alone our fate seems hopeless. But God loves you and me so much that He has thrown us a lifeline that we may use to save ourselves. That lifeline is Jesus Christ, who has taken the burden of our sins, has taken our doom, our death upon himself. He is our hero, our lifeguard, our Saviour. He died so we may live.

 

BLCF: believe

 John 3:16 (ESV)

 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 This verse tells us that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.

But how does one qualify in the easy of God to receive the gift of salvation and the comforter in the Holy Spirit? What does the Lord expect us to do?

 

BLCF: broken_sinned_forgiven_saved

Acts 2:38 (ESV)

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.

After confessing our sins, what else is expected to become justified to God?

BLCF: love is hope

 Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Salvation is God’s gift, given under His terms.

BLCF: Alan-Watts-faith-trust

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

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

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place!

BLCF:faith-trust-hope

 Matthew 17:20 (ESV)

 If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

The Bible does record miraculous achievements, when God is allowed to guide the way, whether it is surviving the Great Flood, the Exodus from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, being sustained by manna from Heaven, tearing down the walls of Jericho, feeding the multitude, walking on the Sea of Galilee, none of these miracles would have happened without faith in the power of the Lord and trust that He has power over everything in Heaven and Earth.

 

BLCF: a-more-loving-person

 John 3:36 (ESV)

 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life. Sadly, Satan often uses as obstacles, our lack of faith and trust, to try to keep us at arm’s length from believing or having faith that Jesus had died for our sins, or if we do believe, keep us from trusting in Him. Satan wants to keep us from God’s glory. For, as believers in the Gospel, not only do we receive redemption in God’s eyes, we are given the gifts of power and comfort in through the Holy Spirit!

BLCF: faith from The Word of God

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Peace with God Through Faith

5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:1 Some manuscripts let us b. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith c. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 e. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

BLCF: Bible-verses-about-Restoration

Romans 5:2 (ESV)

Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

By faith, we are justified and have access to grace. How much power and comfort we receive is directly proportional to how much we trust we have in Him in our lives. For many, Sunday worship is a time where we attempt to renew and replenish our faith, so that we may coast through the rest of the week. Our faith should be sustained through the week by daily prayer, reading of Scripture, fellowship and witnessing to others by our thoughts, words, and deeds. Sunday’s should not only be a day of worship but a day of praise and celebration of the achievements of the previous week, with a renewed recommitment to continue Our Christian walk in faith and trust.

The disciples showed their faith and trust the Lord by remaining in Jerusalem as instructed by the Lord. And that is the Lord’s expectation for us at Bloor Lansdowne, so that we may have salvation. He wants us to keep His faith and to trust in Him, in our thoughts, words and deeds. What we do and how we act, must be motivated by faith and guided by the Spirit.

 

BLCF: billy-graham

The Reverend Billy Graham said, recently:

 “Faith is essential for salvation. But we must be absolutely clear on what we mean when we speak of “salvation by faith.” There are various kinds of belief or faith, and not all are linked to salvation. In the New Testament, faith means more than intellectual belief. It involves trust and commitment. I may say that I believe a bridge will hold my weight. But I really believe it only when I commit myself to it and walk across it. Saving faith involves an act of commitment and trust, in which I commit my life to Jesus Christ and trust Him alone as my Savior and Lord.”

 Let us pray…

 

BLCF: believe-have-faith-trust-God

Closing Hymn #287: My Faith Has Found a Resting place

Benediction:  (Based on Romans 5:1-11) May your faith give you peace and may God’s Spirit give you love. May the grace of God give you hope and may the love of Christ give you strength.

 

BLCF: Gods Hand

Abiding in the Way of the Lord

“I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant – Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.”                                                                                                                                                Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)     

BLCF: abiding in Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Abiding in the Way of the Lord’

© January 25, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Originally Shared at BLCF on April 3, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin January 25, 2015

 BLCF: faith hope and love

Responsive Reading #597 (Gr of Prayerod’s Attributes- Psalm 19); Prayer

Hymn #204: There’s A Quiet

Understanding; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses:  Mark 9:2-8, Mark 12:18-33 and John 4:19-26

BLCF: to-love-is-to-receive-a-glimpse-of-heaven

Let us pray…

For our lesson today, Abiding in the Way of the Lord, we have three Scripture Passages, two from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-8) and (Mark 12:18-33) and the third Scripture Passage comes from the 12 Chapter of John’s Gospel (John 12:19-26).

BLCF: glimpse_of_heaven

The Scriptures from Mark give us a glimpse of what it like in Heaven, by giving an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, as well what I may expect after our resurrection, as well as the most important of GOD’s Commandments, also known as HIS Great Commandment.

In today’s third Scripture passage, from John, the Lord instructs the Woman of Samaria on where and how to worship God.

The three Scriptures illustrate how easy it is to be misguided and confused when we attempt to seek GOD’s grace and presence, which is HIS spirit and truth, on an earthly plane, at some special sacred place, such as a Holy Mountain.

Such was the case where Jesus brought along three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, where the Lord’s appearance became transfigured into a radiant, intensely white figure as he spoke with the prophets, Elijah and Moses, as we read in Mark 9:2-8 (ESV):

The Transfiguration

BLCF: the transfiguration

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi,[b] it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

Footnotes: a. Mark 9:3 Greek launderer (gnapheus) b. Mark 9:5 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master c. Mark 9:7 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

The disciples were initially terrified by what they had witnessed. Then Peter suggested that they erect some tents to be used as temples marking the place of this miracle; one each, for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. I do not think that is what the Lord had in mind when he brought his disciples up on the mountain. We read next that a cloud comes above them, and the disciples hear GOD’s voice speak: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him,” after which Moses and Elijah, who scholars view represent the Law and the Prophets, are no longer visible.

BLCF: Church-of-the-Transfiguration-Mount_of_transfiguration_is

Church of the Transfiguration

On Mount Tabor, we see that the Church of the Transfiguration has been erected to signify the place of the miracle, just as Peter had suggested to the Jesus. Peter, as well as those on who built the church, chose to venerate the sight of the Transfiguration, rather than just focusing solely on the event. The Lord did not intend to reveal the miracle of his transfiguration in order for people to plant a monument or a church on the mountain. Instead, Jesus’ miracle demonstrated the Devine nature of the Lord, giving us a glimpse of what heaven must be like. This interpretation of the vision is confirmed when the Heavenly Father identifies HIS son to the disciples and instructs them to listen to Him.

BLCF: God-Speaks

Our second verse offers another glimpse of life after our resurrection when a group of Sadducees asks the Lord about a hypothetical situation and the resurrection.

Wikibits on the Sadducees

Sadducees_Pharisees

The Sadducees (/ˈsæəˌsz, ˈsædjə/; Hebrew: צְדוּקִים Ṣĕdûqîm) were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees are historically seen as antitheses of one another. Josephus, the author of the most extensive historical account of the Second Temple Period, gives an extensive account of Jewish sectarianism in both Jewish War and Antiquities. In Antiquities, he describes “the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their father, which are not written in the law of Moses, and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them and say that we are to esteem those observance to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers.”  The Sadducees rejected the Pharisaic use of the Oral Law to enforce their claims to power, citing the Written Torah as the sole manifestation of divinity.

The New Testament, specifically the books of Mark and Matthew, describe anecdotes that hint at hostility between the Jesus movement and the Sadduceean establishment. These disputes manifest themselves on both theological and social levels. Mark describes how the Sadducees challenged Jesus’ belief in the Resurrection of the Dead.

BLCF: Sadducees_vs_Pharisees

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadducees

In short, the Sadducees focused on the letter of the law; in contrast to the Pharisees, who seemed to construct the law on the fly, with the temple being key to their worship. Both groups, while opposite in their respective focus of the Scriptures and the Temple, to the point that their worship seemed to exclude GOD. The Law and Temple became treated like idols. This faith practice not only to be self-serving but tended to focus more upon their own authority over the authority of GOD.  Let us now look at, Mark 12:18-33 (ESV):

The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

18And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man[a] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

  24Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”      

In this glimpse of life after the Resurrection, we see that we are no longer in human form but appear as the angels in heaven. No longer are we under the laws of this world. Like Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on Mt. Tabor, we will be transfigured, being radiant and glowing bright as the sun.

Having answered the Sadducees’ challenge to the resurrection, by reminding them that God revealed himself to Moses from a burning bush, when he spoke in Mark 12:26-27, saying:

26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Upon hearing the Lord answer the question of the resurrection in a satisfactory manner, one of the scribes or experts of the law asked the Lord a question with respect to the law, or the Law of Moses, part of some 613 Commandments, as our Wiki bits describe:

BLCF: The-Bible-is-not-God-Gomes

The content of the instructions and its interpretations, the Oral Torah, was passed down orally, excerpted and codified in Rabbinical Judaism, and in the Talmud were numbered as the 613 commandments. The ‘Jewish Law given to Moses at Sinai‘ (Hebrew Halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai הלכה למשה מסיני) is a halakhic distinction.

The Law of Moses or Torah of Moses (Hebrew Torat Moshe תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה, Septuagint Greek nomos Moyse νόμος Μωυσῆ) is a biblical term first found in the Book of Joshua 8:31-32 where Joshua writes the Hebrew words of “Torat Moshe תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה” (translated as “Law of Moses”, meaning “instructions of Moses”) on the altar at Mount Ebal. The text continues “And afterward he read all the words of the teachings, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the Torah.” (Joshua 8:34)

  • Moral laws – on murder, theft, honesty, adultery, etc.
  • Social laws – on property, inheritance, marriage and divorce,
  • Forward looking instructions for time when Israel would demand a king.

 The Lord’s answer as to which was the Greatest Commandment is found  in Mark 12:28-33:                                    

The Great Commandment

BLCF: Love-God-others

  28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”      

 Footnotes: a. Mark 12:19 Greek his brother  

 BLCF: chan-on-loving-god-and-others

We see that the both loving God and loving our neighbor are keys following and worshipping GOD.

BLCF: love-God-and-others

Does GOD expect us to undertake a pilgrimage to Holy places such as Mt. Tabor, in order to meet HIS expectation of our expression of faith? Let us look at three places considered to be sacred to many of Abraham, The Wailing Wall, The Hajj in Mecca and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew:  הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי (help·info), translit.: HaKotel HaMa’aravi; Ashkenazic pronunciation: Kosel; Arabic: حائط البراق‎, translit.: Ḥā’iṭ Al-Burāq, translat.: The Buraq Wall) is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small western segment of the walls surrounding the area called the Temple Mount (or Har Habayit) by Jews, Christians and most Western sources, and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Al-Haram ash-Sharīf).

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever larger Temple compound to be built at its top.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall

The Hajj in Mecca

The Hajj (/hæ/; Arabic: حجḤaǧǧpilgrimage“) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.[2][3][4] It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm. The gathering during Hajj is considered the largest annual gathering of people in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’aba, the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (sometimes spelled sepulcher; Arabic: كنيسة القيامة kanīssat al Qi’yāma; Hebrew: כנסיית הקבר הקדוש Knesiyat HaKever HaKadosh) also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan.

The site is venerated as Calvary (Golgotha),[1] where Jesus was crucified,[2] and also contains the place where Jesus is said to have been buried. Within the church are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of Jesus’s Passion. The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre

But does the Gospel of Jesus agree with the idea that a pilgrimage to any or all of these sites is an important expression of our faith in GOD? When we worship GOD, is all that matters is: location, location, location? We find the answer in today’s third Scripture verse, John 4:19-26 (ESV):

The Woman of Samaria

Samaritan_Woman

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

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Jesus responded to the woman of Samarian’s question where was more important: to worship GOD on the mountain or in Jerusalem? Jesus answers that it does not matter, whether you worship GOD upon a mountain top, in Jerusalem, or any other place.

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What is important is how we worship HIM, in spirit and truth. The best expression of this worship is love.  I have listed a series of verses on the back of today’s bulletin, where the Lord spoke GOD’s Great Commandment over and over again:

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John 3:16 (ESV)

 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  John 15:12-14 (ESV)

 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you.

  John 15:17 (ESV)  

17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

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 John 15:4-5 (ESV)

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 3:16 (ESV)

 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  John 14:21 (ESV)

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”          

  John 15:10 (ESV)  

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

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Let us review the key points of today’s lesson: Our GOD is a loving GOD  who exits in spirit and truth. We are to worship God in spirit and truth, through expressions of love to both God and to our neighbours. Through GOD’s son Jesus, we a provided a path to our own salvation and resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we are comforted and guided by the Spirit, until the day of Resurrection, where we will be transformed into a glorious, luminous form.

Until that day, God expects us to love HIM and others, in spirit and truth, sharing the Gospel of Christ, until the day the Lord returns.

Let us pray…

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

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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