A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation

 

BLCF: FAITH

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation’        

 © March 23 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 23, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #592

(God, The Creator – Genesis 1 and 2, Psalm 33); r of Prayer)) Prayer

Opening Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less;Choruses                                                                                                                                    

Scripture Verses: Genesis 6:1-3, 2 Peter 2:4-10,1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV) Increasing Corruption on Earth

BLCF: Genesis6_5

 

6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

 

2 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV)

BLCF: fallen-angels

 

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains[b] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,[d] and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF" body is a temple for the Spirit

 

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

 

BLCF: flood-sign

 

Let us pray…

For the Call to Worship this morning, we read a Responsive Reading, which is an abstract of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as Psalm 33. This reading gives us an account of God’s creation, where we read that God saw His creation as being “good”.

BLCF: Adm and Eve

 

We fast forward to the Scripture verses, which describe a world where God’s creation becomes progressively corrupt. As the timeline is after Adam and Eve’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, we may conclude that the root of the corruption of the human race is sin.

Because of the corruption and sin, God comments that His Spirit will not abide or contend with man forever and limits the span of human life to 120 years. In fact, God is grieved so much by the sin that He contemplates the destruction of all life, (of all flesh), upon the face of the earth. However, there remained one good man named Noah, who God judged walked a righteous path. Therefore, Noah was blameless of sin and did not deserve the judgement of death that was due to rest of sinful humanity.

 

BLCF: Noah

Our first Scripture verse comes from Genesis, Chapter 6, where the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve the remnants of good from what He had created. That good remnant consisted of Noah, Noah’s family, and the animals that God had created.

We all know the story of the Great Flood, where God rendered His judgment upon the world by a massive flood, as we see that He instructed Noah to construct an ark in Genesis 6, verses 9-22:

 

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) Noah and the Flood

BLCF: Genesis6_8

 

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,[c] its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof[d] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.                                                          

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me b. Genesis 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew c. Genesis 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters d. Genesis 6:16 Or skylight

 

BLCF: Flash Flood Watch

 

A flood can be an extremely frightening and deadly experience. Now I am not talking about the Hollywood portrayal with Russell Crowe, as Master and Commander of the ark. If you have witnessed a flash flood, as periodically occurs in the southwestern United States, you have some idea of the deadly ferocity unleashed by a sudden deluge.

I recall when I was a young boy in Texas, my younger sister, Rhona, had at the age of 3 years, had suffered a traumatic spinal injury leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, San Antonio had no rehabilitation center for young children and so Rhona was sent to Gonzales Warm Springs, a rehabilitation center was built for polio victims, who were taught ways to cope with their disabilities that included: how to use  a wheelchair, how to walk with crutches and physical recovery by way of physiotherapy.

 

BLCF: Gonzales Warm Springs

Gonzales Warm Springs, Texas

 

Because Warm Springs was over two hour round trip drive from San Antonio and my dad was working two jobs, six days a week, to help pay the medical bills, our family were only able to visit with Rhona one day a week, Sunday.

Mom and Dad tried to make our Sunday visits an enjoyable a reunion for Rhona, my other sister Penny and me possible, by planning family picnic outings to the nearby local Pimento State Park. Pimento Park, adjacent to the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centre, had flora and fauna that was unique to the Texas region. The volcanic hot springs and sulphur pools raised the ambient temperatures from a semi-tropical to a tropical range, allowing the park to host a variety tropical plant and animal species typically found in Central America.

 

BLCF: Palmetto-SPr_U8E4159-opti

Palmetto State Park Texas Refectory

Palmetto State Park, Texas

 

Much of the park was located  well below grade, along the banks of the San Marcos River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River. Both waters merged some two miles south of the park. According to plaques and signs, most of the park’s buildings, outdoor bar-b-queue fireplaces and even park benches, which blended well with the natural park setting, were constructed from local fieldstone, by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC in the 1930’s. The CCC was a federal work project started by President Franklin Roosevelt to generate much needed jobs during the Great Depression. The work of the CCC included creating buildings, bridges, dams, roads, and other structures to improve the infrastructure across the United States.

 

BLCF: psp_san_marcos_luling_gonzales

Photos of Palmetto State Park, Texas:

https://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/palmetto

However, Palmetto Park’s rustic charm and natural beauty gave way to a scene of life-threatening danger, when one Sunday, following heavy thunderstorms further north in the Texas Hill Country had generated massive flash floods on the San Marcos River. That Sunday, as our car came over a rise or hill just before the entrance to the park, instead of driving down a steep incline of some thirty feet or ten meters, dad suddenly stopped the car, with the front bumper of the vehicle located just a meter or a few feet from a raging torrent of water.

 

BLCF: flash flood

 

The San Marcos, normally a gentle stream in the park had swollen to become a fast-flowing, massive rushing river that carried large picnic tables, tree trunks and other debris across our field of view and quickly downstream.

 

BLCF: PSP Wamr Springs

 

Dad’s car was a Blue 1955 Chevy Nomad Station Wagon, equipped with a column mounted standard transmission. Even though I was six, I was well aware, from watching dad drive the Chevy, that in a matter of seconds, he needed to take his right foot off the brake pedal and move it to the gas pedal. Then with his left foot on the clutch, dad needed to shift the car into reverse gear, all simultaneously, in order to keep us from heading into the raging river, now over 60 feet deep, in front of us. A slow shift or possible engine stall would likely mean certain death. Fortunately, dad did reverse the Nomad. Otherwise, I would not be sharing this story with you.

Link to video of recent flash flood at Palmetto State Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAfbF-eU2vI

BLCF: climb to safety

The quickly rising flood waters of the San Marcos River does give us some idea of the horror of the flood in Noah’s times. However, in Noah’s time, it was not just a flash flood and there was no higher ground where one could escape a watery demise. The only sanctuary or place of safety for Noah and his family was that afforded by the ark. Without the ark, all life would have been lost. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday message, the flood that God had leashed upon the earth, had reset God’s creation back to day number three, where the land was eventually parted from the waters, and the animals were created.

After the floods had receded, God promised Noah and humanity to never bring such a massive flood on a global scale, making the rainbow as a sign of His covenant or promise.

 

BLCF: noahs ark

 

The next Scripture I would like to share is 2 Pete 2, verses 4-10, which speaks of God’s casting those who have sinned against Him, including Satan and his followers, who will be cast into hell, enchained in the darkness until the time of their judgment. The passage tells of those who sinned in Noah’s time and suffered death from the flood, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must take hope in those who did not follow an ungodly path and were saved from destruction, including Noah and Lot, as well as the majority of the heavenly hosts or angels who did not rebel against God.

If you look on the back of today’s bulletin, let us now read the account where God instructed Moses to build another kind of an ark, The Ark of the Covenant:

 

Exodus 25:1-16 (ESV) Contributions for the Sanctuary

BLCF: ark-of-the-covenant

 

25 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

 

The Ark of the Covenant

BLCF: Exodus_25_8

1

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits[b] and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 25:5 Uncertain; possibly dolphin skins, or dugong skins; compare 26:14 b. Exodus 25:10 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

While Noah’s Ark provided for Noah, Noah’s family and the animals a sanctuary from a deadly worldwide flood, the Ark built by Moses served a different purpose. God had desired to have Moses construct a suitable sanctuary so that He might dwell in the midst of the people of Israel. And God instructed to place within the ark, the tablets upon which God wrote His Ten Laws or Commandments. The Ark of the Covenant would be a sanctuary for both God’s Laws and His Holy Spirit.

 

BLCF: 10_2_Commandments

 

But what is the definition of a sanctuary? Do we not call this very place of worship at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, a sanctuary, as well? Let us see what we mean by this term from an online dictionary:

Sanctuary sanc·tu·ar·y /ˈsæŋktʃuˌɛri/ Show Spelled [sangk-choo-er-ee] Show IPA

noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.

 1. a sacred or holy place.

 2. Judaism.

a. the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.

b. the holy of holies of these places of worship.

3. an especially holy place in a temple or church.

4. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.

5. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.

Remember, just before the flood in Noah’s time, God had distanced Himself from humanity, as we read in Genesis 6, verse 3, which is printed on the bottom inside left page of your bulletin:

 

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV)

BLCF: sin_seperates_us_from_God

 

 

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

 

After the flood, we read that God sought to draw closer to His creation see in Exodus 25, verse 8:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Eventually, after the Great Flood, sin returned, driving humanity from their Creator. And even God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant could not assure a sinless humanity. So God revealed His plan for reconciliation from sin, by dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as we see in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 19-20:

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: Gods_Temple

 

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

To conclude this morning’s message, I would like to read again from 1 Corinthians, but this time from Chapter 3, verses 10-17, which the Apostle Paul describes a new blueprint for a new temple, a new sanctuary, demonstrates God’s New Covenant through Jesus Christ. This new sanctuary, like Noah’s ark, provides life and freedom from God’s judgment of death. And like Moses’ Ark of the Covenant, all believers may keep both God’s Laws and the presence of His Holy Spirit:

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (ESV)

BLCF:Cchurch_Foundation

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 3:16 The Greek for you is plural in verses 16 and 17

 

BLCF: 1Corinthians_3_16

 

We read in this passage of Scripture, that the Apostle Paul explains that God has planned a way to reconcile humanity in spite of our sins. That through Christ, by our faith in his sacrifice, we may construct a Holy Temple within ourselves, suitable as a sanctuary for God’s Holy Spirit and His Law. And by way of our trust and obedience, through Jesus, we have become sanctified, living sanctuaries, within which the Holy Spirit may reside, with God’s Covenant of eternal life. Through Christ, God may no longer be absent from us as described in Genesis 6. We see now that God has returned to us, by way of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction (Hebrews 13:20-21): Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

BLCF: Hebrews-13-5

 

 

 

 BLCF: the-Lord-your-God

 

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Lacking Nothing, While Banking Your Treasure in Heaven

BLCF: Matthew_6_19-24

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Your Treasure in Heaven‘

©January 5, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin January 5, 2014 

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #618 (Heavenly Treasure – Matthew 6); Prayer

Opening Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Choruses

Today’s Scriptures: Exodus 2:1-14; Luke 16:19-31; Mark 10:17-25  

                 

    Exodus 2:1-14 (ESV) The Birth of Moses

BLCF Baby Moses

2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When
she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[
a] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”[b]

                        BLCF_Baby_Moses          

  Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.[c] 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”

Footnotes: a. Exodus 2:3 Hebrew papyrus reeds b. Exodus 2:10 Moses sounds like the Hebrew for draw out c.Exodus 2:11 Hebrew brothers

 

BLCF: RichManAndLazarus

               Luke 16:19-31 (ESV) The Rich Man and Lazarus

BLCF Gustave_Dore_Lazarus_and_the_Rich_Man

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers[b]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”                                             

Footnotes: a. Luke 16:22 Greek bosom; also verse 23 b. Luke 16:28 Or brothers and sisters

RichManInHades

                         Mark 10:17-25 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

BLCF: WealthYoungManAsksJesus

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 IsThisYourKing

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”                                            

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches

Let us pray…

Welcome to the house of the Lord in the heart of Toronto, on this – the first Sunday of the New Year 2014. In the service today we observe the Second Advent or the “return of Jesus” by way of Communion.  But before we partake in the Lord’s Supper, I would like to talk about today’s Scriptures, which give us a good idea what the Lord values in HIS children.

Our first verse, from Exodus 2, describes the circumstances of the birth of Moses, the son of a Levi, a Hebrew slave, was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, and raised as a Prince of Egypt. It turns out that the biological mother of Moses was hired to be nursemaid to the baby found in a basket amongst the bulrushes, which afforded Moses an opportunity to bond with his real mother. It is amazing how God works things out. It is likely that some of the compassion that Moses had for the Hebrews had its origins in the loving care he received from his nursemaid mother.

Eventually, Moses gave up his place as a son of Pharaoh and Prince of Egypt. However by acknowledging his true birthright as a Hebrew would likely result in his own enslavement. But before this happened, Moses killed an Egyptian whom he found beating another Hebrew. Moses fled Egypt to the land of Midian, eventually to have an encounter with God, in the form of a burning bush.  God had chosen Moses to lead the Hebrews out of servitude and enslavement, through the desert, to deliver HIS laws, and eventually to HIS promised land. Moses had the unique understanding of Egyptian Royalty which would be useful when dealing with Pharaoh in the assignment of freeing the Hebrew slaves.

Today’s second Scripture from Luke 16, known as Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus tells the story of an ‘rich’ man who dressed and ate well, while just outside the gate to his house lies Lazarus, a poor, starving man, who is covered with sores. Eventually both men die, with angels bringing Lazarus to join Abraham in heaven.

Lazarus is an interesting name for a character in this Parable, as it has the following meanings (sheknows.com):

Hebrew Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God will help.

Biblical Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Biblical baby name. In Biblical the meaning of the name Lazarus is: Assistance of God.

Greek Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God is my help.

http://www.sheknows.com/baby-names/name/lazarus

Also, this is the only Parable where Jesus gives a name to one of the protagonists, Lazarus. It is worth noting that the other main character remains nameless and, unlike Lazarus who dies and is brought to heaven by angels, is judged and is sent to Hades or Hell. To God, material wealth does not get you to Heaven. And there is a point when it is too late to repent and ask for forgiveness and avoid judgment. The rich man ended up in Hades and sought mercy for his thirst not unlike the compassion that Lazarus desired at the rich man’s doorstep. The man’s request is denied. Next, the rich man asks for the opportunity to notify his brothers who are still living, so that they may avoid the same fate. The man is told that it is unlikely that people who have ignored the words of Moses and the Prophets will be convinced if someone such as Lazarus were raised from the dead.

This is very interesting, as the Parable tells us that there are people who will never believe or have faith, even if the messenger is raised from the dead. From this, we may conclude some people will embrace faith, even if the messenger is known to have been raised from the dead, which is precisely what our Lord Jesus Christ did. It is interesting, though sad, for those who refuse to believe. But we as believer must continue to witness to those who do not have faith, until it is too late. For we never know whether or when a person may change his heart and embrace faith so as to be saved before it is too late.

Our third Scripture teaches the same lesson as the parable, is an account where a young rich man approaches Jesus and asks how he may inherit eternal life. In contrast to the rich man in the ‘Lazarus Parable’, the young rich man seeks from Jesus what is necessary to enter God’s Kingdom. The outcome for the young man seems to be more hopeful than the rich man who ends up suffering in Hell after death. In addition to seeking God’s Kingdom before death, the young man has some knowledge of religion and awareness of God, as he has observed all of God’s commandments from the youth. It appears that this rich man will not end up in the same place as the rich man in the Lazarus Parable. But wait, there is one stumbling block.

Jesus perceives that the young rich man’s religious practices are tainted by something the young man values more highly than he should. Jesus instructs the young man to sell all that he has and give all the proceeds to the poor. In other words, the Lord has perceived that young man values his own personal wealth over the welfare of the poor. In spite of a desire for eternal life, the young man is unable to relinquish his material wealth in exchange for heavenly treasure received by demonstrating love and compassion for the poor.

Jesus uses the exchange with the rich man to teach how difficult it is for those who are preoccupied with worldly values to enter he kingdom of God or to follow the Way of Jesus. This gives us some insight to how Moses was able to establish a relationship with God, as he had already surrendered all his worldly wealth and power associated with the position of an Egyptian Prince, and he had demonstrated compassion for the vulnerable: the Hebrew Slaves in Egypt.

But you may say how much does a preoccupation with acquiring and maintaining one’s wealth and worldly possessions interfere with faith? What would happen if our fortunes are reversed? Let me share with you a short article I recently came across which gives just such an account. It was untitled, so I gave it the title: ‘Switched at Birth’:

                       ‘Switched at Birth’ – Julian Ryall

  Switched at Birth

Subtitled: ‘Japanese man accidentally switched at birth grew up in poverty while other baby lived life of privilege’

Julian Ryall, The Daily Telegraph | November 28, 2013 7:01 PM ET
(Republished by the National Post)

TOKYO — A Japanese man born to wealthy parents grew up in poverty after being given to another couple in a hospital six decades ago, while the infant who took his place went on to live a privileged life of private tutoring and university, and is today head of a property firm.

The 60-year-old man – who has declined to give his name – was raised reliant on handouts from the state after the man he thought was his father died when he was just two. The woman he considered his mother had to support his three older brothers, and there were few comforts in their one-room apartment as he grew up.

The man had to study at night school while working day shifts in a factory before finding steady employment as a driver with a transport company. He did not marry, and now helps take care of three men who are not his brothers, including one who has suffered a stroke.

The infant who was given to the man’s biological parents was born 13 minutes later at the San-Ikukai Hospital, in Tokyo’s Sumida ward, and grew up in relative affluence.

This boy had a personal tutor, went to university and is the head of a successful property company. His three brothers work for major companies, according to media reports.

‘It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer’

Questions were only raised when those brothers recently realized that he bore little resemblance to any of his relatives.

In 2011, the family requested access to hospital records and DNA tests subsequently confirmed the mistake.

The error apparently happened when a midwife took the newborn babies to be bathed and then returned them to the wrong mothers.

Speaking to media in Tokyo, the man condemned to a life of hardship described his shock at learning the people he grew up believing to be his parents and brothers were unrelated to him.

“I wondered how this could have happened,” he said. “I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it.”

The Tokyo District Court this week ordered the hospital to pay the man 38 million yen ($393,000) in damages as a result of the mix-up, significantly less than the 250-million yen ($2.6-million) the plaintiffs had been seeking.

“The links between the man and his real parents were severed and the man was forced to grow up in a poor home,” Judge Masatoshi Miyasaka said in his ruling. “The mental anguish he went through was enormous.

“There were far-reaching differences between the two family environments and the plaintiff suffered an unreasonable loss as a result,” the ruling said.

“It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer, as they were deprived of opportunities to enjoy their parent-child relationship forever.”

‘I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it’

The man’s biological parents both died before the error came to light and he is still coming to terms with the impact of the events of 60 years ago.

“I might have had a different life,” he said. I want [the hospital] to roll back the clock to the day that I was born.”

He is particularly angry at never having the opportunity to meet his real parents.

“As I saw picture of my parents, I wanted to see them alive,” he said. “For months, I could not hold back the tears every time I saw their pictures.”

He added that the woman who raised him may have suspected something was amiss. “I think my foster mother may have sensed it,” he admitted, pointing to the physical differences between himself and his brothers.

The hospital initially attempted to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the 10-year statute of limitations had run out. The court dismissed that claim and ruled that the statute of limitations only began when the results of the DNA tests were confirmed.

The hospital has not confirmed whether it will appeal against the ruling.     http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/28/japanese-man-accidentally-switched-at-birth-grew-up-in-poverty-while-other-baby-lived-life-of-privilege/

BLCF: Matthew_6_21

We have in this story, the account of two babies: one born of wealthy parents and the other whose parents lived in poverty. After 60 years, the impoverished man, a caretaker for three ‘brothers’ who are not even related to the man, has one main regret: that he never had an opportunity to meet and talk to his biological parents, now deceased.  There did not seem to be any regrets for lost or missed opportunities  or wealth that were afforded to the man whose place he had exchanged with, through a mistake made some six decades before.

It is also interesting, according to the story, that the wealthy man, who should have been raised in poverty in his place, seemed to show a callous disregard towards his true biological parents, his true siblings, or the man took in his place to live a life of poverty. Perhaps he was too busy running the property company to care. And the man who lived in poverty gave no indication of abandoning brothers who really are not related to him, from a family that a fateful mistake had been given to him.

In this story, it is not difficult to speculate which of these two men would have difficulty finding God’s Kingdom if both were presented with Christ’s Gospel of salvation, and which would not.  One may live a life of extreme poverty and still have more to share, than someone who is raised in wealthy circumstance. We find a good conclusion to today’s lesson in Luke 12:32-33 (ESV):

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

BLCF Living our values

Let us pray…

At this time, as believers in the resurrected Christ, let us take a moment to reflect upon the act of Communion, whereby we acknowledge the gift and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ made on behalf, so that we may be judged sinless before God and have confidence of the New Covenant that promises us eternal life upon his return.

Communion: Luke 22:14-23 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[a] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.[b] 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

Footnotes: a. Luke 22:16 Some manuscripts never eat it again b. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given… in my blood)

Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Happy New Year

Baptized with the Holy Spirit and the Refiner’s Fire

God revealed as a Burning Bush

God revealed as a Burning Bush

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Baptized with the Holy Spirit and the Refiner’s Fire’                        

   © July 28, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin July 28, 2013

 

1 Kings 18:20-40 (ESV) The Prophets of Baal Defeated

20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 

28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs[a] of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lordfell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

Footnotes: a. 1 Kings 18:32 A seah was about 7 quarts or 7.3 liters

Let us pray…

The invention of fire had a profound effect upon our world. Fire brings us heat to counter the cold, cook our food and to illuminate our surroundings. Fire enabled members of society to work through the night and led to the advancement of the civilization of mankind.

The first use of fire is lost in prehistory and the subject of much conjecture and speculation. According ancient mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. Fire was likely first discovered by accident event, as a result of natural causes, such as volcanic eruption, ignition of marsh gas or more likely from a lightning strike.

There are numerous references in the Bible to the use and significance of fire. In most scriptures that associate fire, we observe a manifestation of the power and presence of God. We find a clear example of His power and presence in this morning’s Scripture from 1Kings 18.

A severe drought and famine in region of Samaria led to God’s Prophet Elijah facing off against some 450 prophets of the god Baal. Elijah was critical of the people wavering between this god and the true Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.

Elijah proposes to the people the building of two altars, each with its own sacrificial bull. To one, the prophets of Baal will call upon the god Baal to ignite the wood of the altar. And with the other, Elijah will call upon God, Jehovah, to ignite to wood. The people and the 450 Baal prophets accept the challenge.

For hours, the prophets of Baal called in vain, upon their god, Baal to ignite their altar.  The prophets even resorted to cutting themselves to illicit a response from Baal. And no fire came; Baal did not reply.

Now it was Elijah’s turn. But to make things interesting, Elijah instructed the people to douse the offering and wood with four jars of water, not once, not twice; but three times!

I recall camping this summer and trying to ignite some wet wood. It was not easy. Just when you have some flames, the fire dies out.

The wood on the altar constructed by Elijah wasn’t just damp, being soaked by a dozen jars of water to the point that excess water collected in a trench surrounding the altar. But this did not deter Elijah’s faith, not deter him from calling upon God. Elijah had proceeded as the Lord instructed. He acknowledged the soveirnty of the Lord saying “I am your servant”. He asked that God would start the fire not as a response to a request to do the bidding of Elijah. Instead Elijah implored the Lord to start the fire to change the hearts of those who had turned away from God and to restore their faith.

God’s response was to send a fire of such intensity, that it not only consumed the offering, wood and stones, so all that was left was dust. And all the water, including that in the trench, had evaporated. God’s response was clear and definitive, leaving no doubt in the minds of the people of Israel. The people fell on their knees, acknowledging that “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

And the 450 prophets of Baal were executed. Such was the judgement of God. And afterword, the Lord kept His promise by bringing rain to end the drought.

If you look at the back of today’s bulletin, you will see a list of several instances in the Bible, where the power and glory of God is expressed in some form of flame or fire.

Most of us are acquainted with the Prophet Moses’ encounter with the Lord, who revealed Himself as a Burning Bush.

 

Moses and the Burning Bush

Moses and the Burning Bush

 

Exodus 3:1-6 (ESV): The Burning Bush       

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

At the time of this account, Moses was 80 years of age. Having been expelled to die in the dessert by Pharaoh, Moses had lived the next 40 years as a shepherd, and had seen most that the dessert had to offer. But something had caught his eye. The English translations translate what Moses saw as a bush, but a more accurate translation of the Hebrew word seneh is brambles. While we could spend the rest of today’s sermon debating the inaccuracy of the translation and the merits of the original Hebrew over inaccuracies of English translations, such discussions have no real bearing on the lesson our Lord is trying to convey and only act as a distraction from the main theme of the passage. Now back to Moses.

Moses noted that while the bush or brambles burned, it was not consumed by fire. And when he drew close to the bush, Moses saw an angel in a flame of fire in the midst of the bush. And when the Lord had seen that Moses turned aside to see, God admonished Moses to not come closer and to remove his sandals, as the ground that Moses stood upon was Holy ground. And the Lord identified himself as the God of Moses father, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God reveals Himself to Moses as a burning bush, the flames burning supernaturally without ceasing.

After God used Moses to deliver the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt, He did not forsake them, Exodus 13:21-22 (ESV):

21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

We must remember that that light is not just a tool of mankind, but an expression of the presence of the Lord, Exodus 24:17 (ESV):

17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

But the fire and flame of the Lord is not only a source of comfort to the faithful, but will be an expression of God’s judgment upon those who are not of value to His Kingdom, considered to be like thorns and brambles, Isaiah 10:17 (ESV):

17 The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day.

This same fire is as an expression of God’s ability to refine and cleanse us of impurity and filth, Malachi 3:2 (ESV):

2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Refiners use fire to melt and separate precious metals such as silver and gold from non-precious metals found in the ore. Each stage extracts purer metal. And fuller’s soap is used in a process to wash and clean raw wool of impurities and odors.

We find a more direct description of the Lord’s fire, by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 (ESV):   

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.   

You will note that the Prophet’s indicates that water baptism is an act we do for repentance, but only the Lord can baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. So when the believer receives the Holy Spirit, the same fire which is an expression of God, also is received, Acts 2:1-4 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit:

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.   

Pentecost

 

So the followers of Jesus Christ are given the Holy Spirit as a Comforter and the gifts of fire which is the glory of God, Hebrews 1:7 (ESV):                

7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

To better understand Hebrews 1:7 let us back up to the first four verses of Hebrew 1, Hebrews 1:1-4 (ESV):

The Supremacy of God’s Son

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

In the above passage, we see that Jesus is described as the radiance of glory of God, and like a refiner purifying precious gold, He purifies us from sin, through His son, Jesus Christ.

In Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, we see that Christ is talking with two prophets, Moses and Elijah, who had experienced the power and presence of God by fire and flame. And we have an idea of this radiance in the description of Jesus in the account, in Matthew 17:1-8 (ESV):

The Transfiguration

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

 Footnotes:  a. Matthew 17:5 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

 

The Transfiguration of Jesus

The Transfiguration of Jesus

 

I believe Matthew’s of Transfiguration of Jesus gives us some idea as to how it will be with Jesus after our own resurrection. Just like Moses and Elijah, we will be able to see our Lord, present in all His glory; radiant and full of light, bright like the fire of the sun. May this vision ignite a fire of passion and faith to share with all those around us the love of God as is expressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, for this is the Savior’s final commandment our Lord gave to us. For it only takes a spark of faith, to ignite the fire that is found in the presence and power God’s love.

Let us pray…

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

Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26): The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.