Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings

BLCF: footprints-in-sand-following-Jesus

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings’

© August 21, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 21, 2016

BLCF: exercise your faith

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #662 (Freedom from Sin – Romans 5 and 6) Prayer; Prayer                                                                                           

Opening Hymn #553: Morning Has Broken                                                                 

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

Today’s Scriptures: Luke 19:1-10, Acts 22:6-21, 1 Timothy 1:12-20

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson, I would like to examine the similarities and differences between the accounts in the Scriptures of two individuals, Zacchaeus and Saul, whom were called by the Lord.

Our first account, about the conversion a tax collector named Zacchaeus, is found in Luke 19:1-10.

Luke 19:1-10 (ESV) Jesus and Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus_and_Jesus

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

You will note that in order to satisfy the old Mosaic Law, Zacchaeus had to commit to give a fourfold restitution to those whom he had defrauded and give half of his material wealth to the poor.

In the above passage, Zacchaeus finds salvation through Jesus, and Christ acknowledges that he came to seek and save sinners, whom he calls “the lost.” Another example of Christ seeking to save a sinner is the account of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the Apostle Paul, we see described in Acts 22:6-21.

 Acts 22:6-21 (ESV) Paul’s Testimony

Paul on the Road to Damascus

Paul on the Road to Damascus

 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[a] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Footnotes: a. Acts 22:9 Or hear with understanding

Both Zacchaeus and Saul worked as a tax collector and a persecutor of Christians, respectively. Zacchaeus was called by Jesus, before the Lord was crucified on the cross.

By contrast, Saul was called by the Lord, after Jesus had ascended to heaven, following the Lord’s resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And Saul, now known as Paul, not only received salvation from the Lord, he was baptized in Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit provided Paul, and other believers baptized in the Spirit, with the means of sharing the Gospel of Christ and defending the faith from those who oppose or reject the Word of God.

In his letter to Timothy, (1 Timothy 1:12-20), Paul explains why God chose to demonstrate the power and perfection of His love grace at work in his own life, as a proof and testimony to other sinners.

1 Timothy 1:12-20 (ESV) Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners

BLCF: devil_says_Jesus_says

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.[a] Amen.

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Footnotes: a. 1 Timothy 1:17 Greek to the ages of ages

Paul’s conversion, from a life of sin to an Apostle of Christ, is significant because it impacts an individual, but how the Spirit empowers a believer to minister to an Empire and plant seeds of faith that impact the world. Here is a Wikibits biopic of the Apostle Paul, courtesy of about.com.

Apostle Paul

Get to Know the Apostle Paul, Once Saul of Tarsus

(From: christianity.about.com – Updated August 08, 2016)

BLCF: San_Paolo_St_Paul

The Apostle Paul, who started as one of Christianity’s most zealous enemies, was hand-picked by Jesus Christ to become the gospel’s most ardent messenger. Paul traveled tirelessly through the ancient world, taking the message of salvation to the Gentiles. Paul towers as one of the all-time giants of Christianity.

Apostle Paul’s Accomplishments

When Saul of Tarsus, who was later renamed Paul, saw the resurrected Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road, Saul converted to Christianity. He made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians.

Of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is credited as the author of 13 of them. While he was proud of his Jewish heritage, Paul saw that the gospel was for the Gentiles as well. Paul was martyred for his faith in Christ by the Romans, about 64 or 65 A.D.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/Apostle-Paul.htm

Let us pray…

 Closing Hymn #484: Pass it On

 Benediction – 2 Peter 1:2-3 (ESV):

 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence

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Advent: Filled with the Joy and Peace in Believing

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Advent: Filled with the Joy and Peace in Believing’  

©December 1, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin December 1, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Lover of Prayer – From John 3 and 1 John 4); Prayer                                                                      

 Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Today’s Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2-6; Romans 15:12-13

Isaiah 9:2-6 (ESV)

2 [a] The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[b] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[c]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:2 Ch 9:1 in Hebrew b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon c. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

Romans 15:12-13 (ESV)

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

Let us pray…

December 1, 2013 marks a day of two observances. The first being first Sunday of Advent, where the Christian Church observe the first of the four Sundays before Christmas Day, or the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the author of our salvation. The second observance comes because today is also the first Sunday of the month, where the BLCF congregation will partake in the elements of Communion, an observance mandated by the Lord until the Second Advent, which will occur on the day he returns to the world.

For our lesson today, let us look at the first Advent observance.  In Isaiah 9, verses 2 to 6, we have an account by Isaiah, a Prophet of God, written some seven centuries before the events took place. The prophecy describes a world not too different from our world today, some twenty seven centuries after Isaiah’s time. In both times, people walk and dwell in darkness. Darkness being both sin and sin’s judgment thanks to the influence of Satan, who after all, is the Prince of Darkness.

But Isaiah had predicted that into the darkness, there will come a great light. You may remember a message I shared a few months ago, where light and fire indicate the power and presence of God. And we see that the light that comes will be a child, called Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Mighty God. Isaiah describes the advent of Jesus Christ some 700 years in his future.

Between the time of Isaiah and the birth of Christ, there were centuries of darkness: sin, suffering and death. Like today, where people of faith wait for Christ’s return, generations have waited with anticipation for the fulfillment of a prophet’s vision from God.

Even the people of Israel, who were delivered from the bondage of slavery in Egypt to God’s “Promised Land” which was not a land of milk and honey, but a land where the people would see Promise of a new Covenant, through Jesus Christ come to past.

In our second Scripture Verse for today, Roman’s 15, verses 12-13, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah, pointing out that root of Jesse a ruler will come, who gives hope to the Gentiles. You may recall that Jesse was the father of David and only after 600 years does a king arise among the descendants of David.  And how will this new king rule? For the answer to this question, let us look at Isaiah 11:1-5 (ESV):

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Both of today’s Scripture verses offer the promise of peace. Isaiah 9:6 states:

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   

And Paul echoes this message of peace in Romans 15:13 where we read:

 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

But who is the first to witness the fulfilment of a 700 year old prophecy that describes the advent of a new king who is also God?

The Bible tells us that for important messages, God often relied upon one of His angels to inform Mary of God’s plan, particularly when the message may bring worry or fear to the recipient. We find an example of this in Luke 1, verses 30-35, which is found on the back page of your bulletin:

Luke 1:30-35

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

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

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

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man b. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

Mary is informed by God’s angel that she has been chosen to be mother of the Son of the Most High or the Son of God, who will be a descendant of King David, who you recall, was the son of Jesse. And this be King shall reign forever.

The angel’s message to Mary causes her to ask the angel how she can have a child, since she is a virgin. The angel then explains to Mary that by power of God she will become pregnant to the Son of God.

Just as God had breathed life into a lump of clay to make Adam, and use a rib fro Adam to form Eve, God will bring forth His only begotten son through Mary. Mary was the only person to witness all of these important events in the Life of our Lord:

  1.         Mary is first to find out how God fulfills His New Covenant as mother of Jesus. Mary is present at the birth of the Son of God. 
  2.         Mary is the first person to ask Jesus to perform a miracle, which is turning the water into wine for a wedding as described in John 2,  verses 1 to 11:

John 2:1-11  (ESV) The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

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

            3.     Mary was present at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, as we read in John 18, verses 26 to 27:

 John 19:26-27 (ESV)

26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

          4.    Mary was also present in the Upper Room at the day of Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit, the comforter Jesus sent after his resurrection, read in Acts 1, verse 14:

Acts 1:14 (ESV)

14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[a]

Footnotes: a. 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

Our study today gives a perspective of an event from three different people, in three different time frames. Isaiah tells of the birth of Jesus as a prophetic vision some 700 years in the prophet’s future. Next, Luke tells the same story as a visitation by an angel to Mary in her present time. And in the verse from Romans, Paul gives a perspective of Isaiah’s vision and Mary’s angelic message reaching fruition as an event in Paul’s historical past that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to bring hope to humanity, salvation to all people and light into the darkness of the world. We see that the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus’ mother Mary and the Apostle Paul are people of great faith. Their faith being a product of  the revelation and understanding of God’s purpose by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Hymn #102: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Lighting the First Advent Candle: Prophecy and Peace

Inside today’s bulletin is a few paragraphs from Wikipedia giving a synopsis of the Christian practice of lighting candles on the four Advent Sundays just prior to Christmas Day. I would like to direct you to the second paragraph, which reads as follows:

In Protestant churches it is more common to use four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations) because rose vestments and decorations are not commonly used in Protestant churches. Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This is in keeping with the liturgical seasons; blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent. Other variations of the Advent wreath add a white candle in the center to symbolize Christmas, sometimes known as the “Christ candle.” It can be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. White is the traditional festal color in the Western church. Four red candles with one white one is probably the most common arrangement in Protestant churches in Britain.

So in anticipation of the advent Isaiah’s prophecy, and Mary’s revelation of the birth of the Messiah, we light the first Candle of Advent, which is called the candle of prophecy and peace.

BLCF Communion

Communion: (Matthew 26:26-29): Institution of the Lord’s Supper

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

  Footnotes: a. Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

 

Benediction – (Romans 15:13)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

advent-candles