Stewards of God’s Treasure

BLCF: Luke-12-34

 Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Stewards of God’s Treasure’ 

© November 16, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Updated Message Originally Shared at BLCF Sunday September 6, 2009

BLCF: Bulletin November 16, 2014

BLCF: who_do_you_serve

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #600 (Christian Stewardship – from Psalms 24 and 50, Haggai 2, Leviticus 27, Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 22, 2 Corinthians 9, 1 Peter4); Prayer                             

Opening Hymn #512 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service; Choruses                                                                                                                             

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

Scripture Verses: Luke 16:1-13, 1 Corinthians 2:14 , Acts 20:28-32

BLCF: integrity

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this, the third Sunday of November, 2014.

Before we begin today’s lesson, I would like to make a brief comment about a testimony shared just after Margaret’s message last Wednesday at our weekly community dinner which we serve here, in the heart of Toronto. One of our diners asked to share a testimony with everyone. This woman, whose name I leave anonymous, a single mother and her son were both regular attendees to the BLCF Café for at least six years. Her son, now about eight years of age, virtually grew up with us at the dinner; often playing rhythm with Terry as he played the guitar during the meal. Her testimony was to thank all the volunteers who provided meals, bread, clothing, care, and fellowship for both her and son in the safe and friendly space of the café.

Not being in her circumstance, we would never know how important the café became for her, as she found normalcy and joy at a time in life where she faced protracted financial and social challenges. She arrived at to the café at the time when we share the testimony and message with guests and volunteers, and shared the good news, that after years of unemployment, part time jobs and temporary employment, she had just landed a good job, with normal hours, so that she would have the means and time to prepare regular dinners for herself and her son at home.

Unless we have experienced the challenges of the homeless or working poor, we will never fully appreciate how important the financial security that comes from a regular job and paycheque, especially when raising a child.

BLCF_Cafe.

There are times when cynics ask why does the church instead of “wasting” funds on a community dinner, instead, spend those funds on new carpeting, updating the sanctuary with new lighting fixtures, and hire professional musicians? Or why not use café funds to make and serve smoothies and cappuccinos to the congregation after our service?

If you could see the joy and appreciation expressed on both the face and by the words of this woman Wednesday, you would know where the Lord expects us, as a church to place as our priority, which is to honour Christ by taking care of the least of our brothers and sisters. This woman could not afford to buy a loaf of bread for her son, let alone an ice cream treat from the local parlour.

I do not know which is sadder; someone who walks the streets of Toronto and is oblivious that such a need exists, or worse, does know and chooses to do nothing about it!

This was not the first testimony shared by a café guest at BLCF, who has given testimony of a restoration of dignity and spirit by the unconditional love of Christ shared every Wednesday at the BLCF Café. This January will mark the BLCF Cafe’s seventh anniversary. At an average of 150 per week, I calculate that some 7,500 guests pass through our doors annually. And with 15-20 volunteers, that is another 750. That is over 8,000 ministered to in a year! Obviously, this is where the Lord expects the church, which after all is the people of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, to invest their time and money.

By the way, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve both happen to fall on a Wednesday this year and we plan to serve Holiday Lunch instead of Dinner at the café, as we had done last Christmas Day and New Years Day, (which were also on a Wednesday). So if you are interested and available to volunteer to help at the café on either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve, please give Sophie a call at 416-535-9578 or at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca.

As far as the cynics are concerned, the Good Book says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV):

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

BLCF: 1Corinthians_2_14-NonChristiansCantUnderstand

Now back to today’s lesson.

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?

To begin today’s lesson, let me share with you a World War II story.  There was wine steward who was responsible for caring for the finest collection of wine in all of Europe, the wine cellar at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.  At that time in history, the palace was well known for its vintage, rare wines.  But the Nazis had overrun the city and now lived and dined in the palace, expecting and wanting to drink the world’s finest vintage wines.  The wine steward resented the invading soldiers, so he cleverly and carefully hid all the rarest wines deep in the cellar   choosing to serve his enemy only the cheapest and youngest wines, while pretending that those wines were the best.

Though the steward acted with the best of intentions by deceiving his “guests” in order to preserve that what he was entrusted with, he committed the sin of bearing false witness, albeit to his enemies.

The Prince's Palace in 1890

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco

But do the ends justify the means, and what is meant by the term “steward”?

Let us answer the latter first. From merriam-webster.com, we have the following definitions of a steward:

1stew·ard – noun \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd\

1:  one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts)

2:  shop steward

3:  a fiscal agent

4a :  an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers

b :  one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution

5:  one who actively directs affairs :  manager

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

BLCF: Stewardship_at_BLCF_Cafe

As Sophie is Director and Manager of the BLCF Café Community Dinner, and by definition is a Steward of the community dinner, a job which she does faithfully and with great integrity. Here is another definition for a steward:

 Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

This brings us to The Parable of the Dishonest Manager, from the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke 16:1-13 (ESV):

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

BLCF: stewardship-account

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.Luke 16:8 Greek age d.Luke 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13

Cross references: A.Luke 16:1 : Luke 12:42 B.Luke 16:2 : 1 Cor 9:17 C.Luke 16:8 : Matt 25:2 D.Luke 16:8 : Luke 20:34; Luke 10:6 E.Luke 16:8 : John 12:36; 1 Thess 5:5; Eph 5:8  F.Luke 16:9 : Luke 12:33; Matt 6:20; 19:21; 1 Tim 6:10, 17-19 G.Luke 16:9 : Luke 16:11, 13; Matt 6:24 H.Luke 16:10 : Matt 25:21, 23 I.Luke 16:10 : Luke 19:17 J.Luke 16:12 : 1 Chr 29:14, 16 K.Luke 16:13 : Luke 16:9

BLCF: Luke-1610

What is the message given to us here? It is a message of stewardship. In this parable, the manager was likely overcharging those who were indebted to his master, by charging them interest which he pocketed for himself.

The manager’s deception, has been discovered by his master, and facing being fired and dishonoured by the master for his bad business practices, he tries to mitigate the circumstances by returning what was overcharged back to the debtors. The manager reasoned that if he were to lose his job, he would generate some good will with the debtors.

Not only was the manager guilty of deceiving both his master and those in debt to the master, but by charging interest to the debtors, he was in violation of Mosaic Law. It is interesting to note that although the master had chastised his manager for being dishonest, he commended him for his business savvy.

The people of Israel were forbidden by law from charging interest to others on credit extended, as we read in 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.

BLCF: stewardship-gifts-from-and-to-God

As Christian stewards, what treasures has God entrusted us with? We may find the answer to this question in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27, which focus on unconditional love:

John 3:16 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

 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”

Luke 10:27 (ESV) Love God and Love Your Neighbour

 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.”

BLCF: real-riches

Each of us has been made stewards of God’s treasure. We are entrusted with God’s love. God only asks that we confess our sins, accept his gift and then return love back to both God and to our neighbour. In order to make any such gift acceptable, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins and make our faith acceptable in God’s eyes.

As Pulpit Preacher and Pastor here at BLCF, I have a responsibility to minister to the needs of the congregation through preaching, teaching, leadership and personal interaction with others in a manner that is both glorifies God and which nurtures the spiritual growth of the congregation in a Christ-like manner.

Our church trustees have been entrusted by our congregation of the Bloor Lansdowne  to oversee  and to protect the church property from those who may seek to use the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church property 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 BLCF community. The Board must ensure that God’s funds are not for the glorification of any person or group of people. Over the last few years, by God’s grace and provision, our church has faced and endured facing hard financial challenges, which frequently required hard financial decisions, in order to ensure that our church continues to exist, let alone be relevant to the Bloor Lansdowne community.

Your Church Elders are responsible to ensure that whatever is said, planned, and acted in the name of BLCF, is said, planned and acted in a manner that glorifies God as well as showing love and respect to others within the church. For like that manager in the parable if any of what is said, planned, or acted upon by anyone of the church, is determined to associated with an intention to deceive God, Who is our Master, cannot be tolerated and must be acted upon by the Elders. And so in the same manner, anything said, planned or done with the deliberate intention to deceive others in the church is viewed with the same contempt by our Father in Heaven.

As a congregation of believers, we are all stewards of our faith in God. We are managers of His gifts to us. Being His stewards, we need to acknowledge the Lord’s love by returning the same unconditional love to both Him and to our neighbours, as we had read earlier in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27.

BLCF: serving-others

The stewardship of God’s gifts comes with the Lord’s expectation that each of us undertake the responsibility to grow in faith to God, by trusting Him, sharing God’s love in the manner of how we treat one another and how we support our church, spiritually and financially.

But you may ask: why do the Pastor, the Trustees, the Board, the Elders, and the Congregation of BLCF 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, in understanding His Word, and by trusting God; still we must not put the Lord to the test. We are tasked with the mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus, without putting our Lord to the test. You may recall from last week’s lesson, what happened to Jesus just after he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, Luke 4:4 (ESV):

4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

BLCF: stewardship-are-managers_of_Gods_gifts

 Just as Jesus was tempted by the devil right after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his earthly ministry, and tempted again on the cross, by the exhortations of one of the thieves being crucified beside him he resisted putting God to the test. God did not bring His son on earth as a show, to entertain the Pharisees and other cynics of Christ, but to fulfill His new covenant with true believers. And as followers of Christ, we may anticipate that the devil try to tempt our faith and drive us away from the Lord. This is the warning brought to do the same, as described in this warning from the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-32 (ESV):

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[a] which he obtained with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Footnotes: a. Acts 20:28 Some manuscripts of the Lord b. Acts 20:28 Or with the blood of his Own

BLCF: walking_in_light_vs_darkness

The lesson from this passage from Luke is; that 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.

Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn # 476: O Christian, Haste, Your Mission High          

Benediction – (Romans 8:38-39):

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  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: Christian-stewardship

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Salvation through Faith and Trust

BLCF: Pentecost-Upper-Room

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Salvation through Faith and Trust’

© October 19, 2014, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 19, 2014

Message Originally Shared with BLCF on Sunday, August 1, 2010

BLCF Bulletin August 1, 2010

BLCF: Jesus_Loves_You_animated

BLCF: Pentecost,_Greco

 

Announcements and 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 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  

BLCF: fires_of_pentecost

      

Opening Hymn # 484: It Only Takes A Spark; Choruses                                                 

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

Scripture Verses:                                                                                                                    Acts 1:1-14 (Faith and Trust); Acts 2:1-41 (Salvation and the Holy Spirit)

Let us pray…

Good morning, the lesson I 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. The conclusion of the message deals with that Pentecost upper room gathering, where the Lord released the Holy Spirit to all who believe. All who have shown 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.”

BLCF: Jesus_Ascension

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.”

 

BLCF: Jerusalem

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!

 

BLCF: assurance_of_salvation

 

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. 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 your 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, named Earl D., who became known to 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 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 another back yard function, when our friend Earl, the perpetrator of the first chair’s demise, had the remaining chair collapse underneath him.

Earl again escaped unscathed, except for a bruised pride again, likely did not have the same trust and faith in folding chairs. While Earl was a man of strong faith in the Lord, who never lets us down, his faith in chairs, like anything the word, can lead to disappointments in life. 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):

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”

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, 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. John 3:36 (ESV):

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

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 5:2 (ESV):

Through him we have also obtained access by faith[a] into this grace in which we stand, and we[b] rejoice[c] in hope of the glory of God.

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

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.

 

BLCF: pentecost

 The Day of Pentecost

Which brings us to Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and you may ask what do me mean, when Christian believers refer to the day of Pentecost?

“Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word for “fifty”. The day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2, occurred 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and 10 days after His ascension. Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church. Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following Jesus’ ascension. It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter. Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church’s mission to the world.

The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is the way Christians understand God.

 Celebrating Pentecost

 Pentecost is a happy festival. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth. Hymns were sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme.

 Pentecost Symbols

 The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove.

 The first Pentecost

 Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. Now you may recall that on the evening of his resurrection, after appearing to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to the disciples, save Thomas who was away and gave the disciples the Holy Spirit. In a sense this way the first of a series of Pentecost experience which happens when believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, following faith conversion, even to this day. Following the Pentecost experience on the day of Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon believers in the same upper room  10 days following the Lord’s ascension.

BLCF: shavuot

 

Acts 2:1-41 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

BLCF: peter_preaching_pentecost

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants[c] and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[d] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,     or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life;     you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested b. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. c. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse e. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

BLCF: Feast-of-Holy-Pentecost-Fifty-Days-After-Pascha

 

On the 50th day after the Sabbath Passover week, the Jews celebrated a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest. Pentecost was known by a number of other different names:

 Feast of Weeks – (Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10):

Exodus 34:22 (ESV): 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

Deuteronomy 16:10 (ESV): 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.

Feast of Harvest – Exodus 23:16 (ESV): 16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.

 Day of First Fruits – Numbers 28:26 (ESV): Offerings for the Feast of Weeks: 26 “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work

The “Feast of Weeks” was the second-most important festival for the Jews. The most important Jewish festival is Passover. This explains why so many people from all over the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem on the day when the Holy Spirit was sent, who heard the Galatians speaking in various tongues.

The inspiration of the Spirit upon the disciples sounded like a mighty wind and looked like tongues of fire.

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

 

On the subject of salvation, the Reverend Billy Graham 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.”

Acts 1:8 (ESV) The Great Commission

“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.”

BLCf: Where-Gospel-Preached

It is sad that some Christians view Sunday as so different from the rest of the week, that they conduct their faith accordingly. We are expected to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ every day, not just one in seven. And some churches seem only to observe Pentecost solely on a Sunday some 50 days after Easter. Salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit may occur in any place, on any day, at any time.  It can occur anywhere inside or outside a church. There is no 10-day waiting period for the Spirit to arrive to the new Christian believer. So Pentecost is not limited to one Sunday or one day a year. The Great Commission was given to us by Jesus, as his apostles or messengers has unlimited boundaries, to everyone, unto the ends of the world.

 

BLCF: the_great_commission

 Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #581: There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit

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.  Amen.

 

BLCF: Acts 20_21

Hosanna: Our Cry; HIS Reply

BLCF: Psalm-Sunday_

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 Hosanna: Our Cry; HIS Reply’  

 © April 13, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 13, 2014

BLCF: hosanna_Jesus-is-coming

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #625 (The Triumphal Entry – Mark 11 and Matthew 21);  Prayer Opening Hymn (See back of Bulletin): Hosanna Scripture Verses: Zechariah 9:9-10, John 12:12-36, Psalm 92:12-15

BLCF: Galatians_6-8

BLCF: Hosanna_guitar Let us pray… Today is Palm Sunday, an important day on the Christian Calendar. For Catholics, who sometimes refer to today as ‘Passion Sunday’, it marks the last week of Lent, a period of self-sacrifice prior to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For all Christians, it marks the start of Holy Week, a time when Jesus, as fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah, triumphantly enters Jerusalem, riding upon a donkey:

BLCF: hosanna

 

Zechariah 9:9-10 (ESV)

The Coming King of Zion Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;      righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey,      on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim      and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off,      and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea,      and from the River to the ends of the earth.

BLCF: Hosanna Palm Sunday

 

We began today’s service, with a Responsive Reading, which paraphrased the accounts of Christ’s arrival that were recorded by the disciples Mark and Matthew. Though the reception given by the people for Jesus’ entry to the city was like that given to a king, the mode of transportation he elected to use was not what the world would expect of arriving royalty. Instead of a noble horse or stately chariot, Christ arrived by means of a donkey, the same mode of transportation that his mother Mary used to go to Bethlehem, when she and her husband Joseph travelled to respond to the Census call by Caesar Augustus, as told in Luke, Chapter 2. This is where the similarity ends, as our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem was in response to a higher calling, rather than a response to the Emperor of Rome. And our Lord intended to do more than what the disciples had expected, which was to go to the city to celebrate Passover. Jesus intended to glorify God, and restore the separation of the people from Him, which was the result of sin

.

BLCF: Matthew_21_Leullier

 

Let us, again review to account given by John, which he authored as an apostle of the Lord, rather than as a disciple. You may be aware that John’s Epistles were authored some 30 years after Passover, where the disciples, following the ascension of the Lord and the Day of Passover, had received God’s Holy Spirit, so that by the Great Commission of Christ, became Apostles of the Lord, no longer Disciples of Christ. That is why I elected to use John’s account of Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John had the advantage of knowing how, when and why Jesus would glorify the love and compassion of God towards a humanity who were facing the judgement of sin, which is death.

 

BLCF: Palm Sunday

John 12:12-36 (ESV) The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming,      sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” Some Greeks Seek Jesus 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.

 

BLCF: Hosanna-Bible

John was able to give us a better understanding of the purpose and plan for Christ’s entry into Jerusalem upon a humble donkey. Christ was aware that in order to remove God’s judgement upon the world, Jesus would have to take upon himself the punishment for all of humanity’s collective sin. In order to achieve this sacrifice, the Lord had to step down from his throne, like the seed of grain, and die in order to bear much fruit. Jesus is the grain; his death would be on the cross; and the fruit that he bears would be the gifts of salvation an eternal life. The other gift we see in verse 31, is that that Satan, who is ruler of this world, is cast out. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus simultaneously has conversations with the Father in heaven and with the people gathered around him. It is interesting to note, that some of the crowd thought that when God spoke, they thought it to be thunder, while others thought that an angel was speaking. And let us look again at verse 27 and 28: 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”   This brings us to the title of today’s message:

 

Hosanna: Our Cry; HIS Reply’

BLCF: Hosanna

 

To understand what is meant by this title, must first understand what we mean when we say, or as we had sung earlier, Hosanna. And for a definition, let us look at the Wiki bits from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Hosanna (/hˈzænə/) is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana. Christianity: “Hosanna” was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” It is used in the same way in Christian praise, especially on Palm Sunday which commemorates that event. Etymology: The word hosanna (Latin osanna, Greek ὡσαννά, hōsanná) is from Hebrew הושיעה־נא, הושיעהנא hôshia-nā’ which is short for hôšî‘â-nā’ from Aramaic הושענא meaning “save, rescue” (possibly “savior”). In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25). It is applied in numerous verses of the New Testament including “Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11.9), “hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:10); “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9). The old interpretation “Save, now!”, based on Psalm 118:25, does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels as a shout of jubilation, and this has given rise to complex discussions.

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

 

 BLCF: Hosanna_by_right__hand

 

So it appears that we have Hosanna, according to Wikipedia, described both as a shout of jubilation and a cry for salvation! Our opening hymn was the former, while in John 12:27, Jesus spoke of Hosanna as the latter. In a sense, Hosanna is both. Christ chose not to be saved from his death on the cross, in order to give humanity the celebration of victory over death, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for humanity’s sake. His loss was our gain. I think that it is safe to conclude that the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna’ to celebrate the Messiah’s arrival, while at the same time asking Christ for their salvation. Jesus had yet to die on the cross, and humanity was subject to God’s judgement and punishment for sin. So the Hosannas were a plea to God for His mercy. After Jesus died, the Hosannas that we sing are praises to Him, acknowledging His love and mercy, provided by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The next question we might ask is: Why was the palm branch used to carpet the path of the donkey which carried our Lord? Here is a portion of an article on the subject by André Roosma:

 

BLCF: Hosanna

 

The Palm Tree in the Bible: Full of Rich Symbolism

André H. Roosma 28 January 2012 (NL orig.: 11 Jan. 2012)

The Bible presents a lot of symbolism featuring the palm tree. God refers in His Word to a number of characteristic aspects of the palm tree:

  • an abundance of especially refreshing fruits;
  • its growth: rather fast, and straight up;
  • the ever-green leaves at its top;
  • with its raised branches/leaves (the official term is: fronds) at its top it seems to worship God the way it was done in Biblical times: with raised arms;
  • to that end, those fronds let themselves easily moved by the wind (compare: the Spirit of God);
  • by its example and by its fruits it stimulates men to look up and to listen to God.

The most widely used Biblical Hebrew word for ‘palm tree’ is תמרtamar. In the old pictographic scriptthis is: – literally: ‘the sign of water/abundance of the Other (God). The first time this wordtamarappears in the Bible is in Exodus 15: 27 and parallel in Numbers 22: 9. Then they came to Elim, where there weretwelve springs of waterandseventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the water. On their voyage from Egypt the people of Israel came in Elim, where, itsays, there were 70 palm trees. Now 70 is in the Bible the number of great fullness. Did one date palm in the desert already mean good news, a fullness of palm trees was extraordinarily refreshing for the people. Together with the twelve water wells, one for everytribe, this was typically a sign of God’s blessing and care forthem. He granted them to be refreshed and to receive new energy.

 

 

http://www.hallelu-yah.nl/thepalmtree2.html

 

 BLCF: hosanna_palms

 

And to those familiar with the Scriptures, the palm tree represented those who receive the righteousness of the God, by way of His righteous Son, Jesus. As believers and followers of the resurrected Christ, we may bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit by sharing the Gospel of Jesus unto the ends of the earth, which is the ‘Great Commission’ Christ gave to us. We are reminded of this, by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:

 

Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree     

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;      

they flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They still bear fruit in old age;      

they are ever full of sap and green,

15 to declare that the Lord is upright;     

He is my rock,

and there is no unrighteousness in him.

 

 

BLCF: Holy Week

 

Let us then consider our Hosanna, as our Palm Sunday prayer of praise to a God Who is merciful and kind, with a great love for us. And as a sinful world cries out for salvation from judgement; God replies by offering a path to salvation by way of his Son, Jesus:

John 3:16 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

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

BLCF:  hosanna

BLCF: God loves you this much

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #63: ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24):

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

BLCF: Christ-the-seed-that-dies

   BLCF: John_3-16