Sleeping through the Storm, Safely with the Peace of the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sleeping through the Storm, Safely with the Peace of the Lord’

© November 18, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 18, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                   

Opening Hymn #84: Come and Praise the Lord Our King (Tune of Michael Row the Boat Ashore); Choruses                                                                                                   

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

Responsive Reading #603: Divine Providence (- from Psalm 34)                         

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘Sleeping Safely through the Storm, Calmed by the Peace of the Lord’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service at BLCF Church, where our lesson will examine two of the Jesus miracles performed in order to prove to his disciples his identity as the Son of God. Both miracles occurred as the disciples struggled to overcome wind-generated storms on the Sea of Galilee in order to reach their appointed destination. However, as we shall see, as often happens in the Scriptures, the lessons taught from journey are more important than the destination. One example would be Saul’s conversion experience while he journeyed on the Road to Damascus.

I would like to present the first miracle for today’s lesson, from three points of view found in the Synoptic Gospels, each bearing the common title of Jesus Calms a Storm, while mostly contain the same elements, do have some slight variances. This is what one might expect from three different points of view telling what they observed of a common event. The first example comes from the gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV):

Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew gives an account where Jesus goes aboard a boat, followed by the disciples. While Jesus is sleeping, a great storm comes upon the vessel. Fearing for their lives, the disciples wake the Lord, asking him to save them from harm. Jesus asks them why do they fear and then rebukes them for their lack of faith. Having rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, Jesus then rebukes the wins and the sea. The resulting change from a great storm to a great calm prompts the disciples to ask what sort of man is their Lord, who is able to change the wind and the sea by the mere words of his commands?

Our second account of this miracle of the Lord comes from the gospel of Mark 4:35-41 (ESV):

 Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark’s account gives us additional information from Matthew’s gospel. We learn that it is evening when the disciples join Jesus aboard a boat to cross Sea of Galilee. Though we also learn the group sails in the boat, leaving behind a crowd. It seems that some of the crowd decided to follow the boat containing Jesus and the disciples, as we learn that other boats were with him. Mark gives additional details, indicating Jesus was at the stern of the boat, where had fallen asleep on a cushion. Mark indicates that Jesus rebukes the storm and then his disciples, where Matthew has the order reversed. It could be because Mark felt the Lord rebuking the sea was more significant than his personal rebuke of the disciples. We also learn that this miracle which prompted the disciples to question the identity of their Lord came out of fear, at least from Mark’s point of view.

Now let us look at Luke’s take on these events, taken from the gospel of Luke 8:22-25 (ESV):

Jesus Calms a Storm

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Luke’s account of events is more succinct, but we learn that the storm came as they fell asleep. It seems that Jesus was not the only disciple who had fallen asleep, which might explain the brevity of Luke’s account. As Jesus and Luke slumbered, perhaps Matthew and Mark kept watch, giving a possible explanation for the latter two’s more lengthy and detailed description of events. While Luke agrees with Mark that the disciples experienced fear at witnessing this miracle over nature, the former indicates that he marveled at the events.

All three Synoptic accounts end with the disciples questioning the identity of the man whom they follow and call their Lord.

This leads us to the second miracle involving the disciples aboard a boat in a stormy sea. Only this time Jesus has sent his disciples ahead of him, while he dismissed the crowd, and later went up a mountain to pray alone. Let us look at the account of events found in the gospel of Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV):

 Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night[c] he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d]he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:25 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. d. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

Similar to Ontario’s Lake Nippising, near North Bay, the Sea of Galilee’s dimensions and orientation makes it a prime candidate to sudden unpredictable storms caused by the prevailing winds. Needless to say, I am sure that Jesus, having been blest with the Holy Spirit, and by virtue of being the Divine Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), knew that the disciples would encounter a storm on their journey.

So why did He allow them to go in the boat without Him? And why did He wait so long before joining them?

Do not forget that Jesus wanted to go up the mountain to pray. As Christians, we need to take time to pray, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in order to clear our slate of thoughts, actions, and feelings which distance us from God.

Jesus was a good teacher not only to the multitudes but to the twelve who followed him. The journey from Heptapegon, also known as Tabgha, el-Oreme or ‘En Sheva to Bethesda was about seven miles distance and would have taken the disciples maximum of 3-4 hours under normal conditions. Because of extreme headwinds and waves, the disciples’ boat had covered only half the distance in about 12 hours’ time or about 1/6 of the normal rate of travel.

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about the challenges his disciples were encountering, but he allowed them to go for some time before he set out to tread across the sea. Until Jesus arrived, the disciples had to work persistently and together to keep their boat on course, against the storm. The disciples would need the same persistence and cooperation, in the not too distant future, to share the Gospel to people who knew nothing of God, or worse, had drifted away from God in the pursuit of a religion devoid of the Holy Spirit.

This account gives us a combination of three miracles, Jesus walking upon a stormy sea, Paul joining the Lord by walking on the troubled water, and then again commanding the storm to cease. Jesus again rebukes the disciples for their doubt and lack of faith.

This miracle differs from the previous miracle as the disciples no longer doubt the identity of Jesus, as all on the boat by worshipping him as the Son of God.

The lesson from Matthew’s account is that we should seek the light of Jesus, as only the Lord can provide us with the safety that allows us to lie down and sleep in peace, as is indicated in Psalm 4:6-8 (ESV):

Answer Me When I Call

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we are justified by our faith and reconciled so that we have peace with God, through His Son, Christ Jesus, as we read in  Paul’s gospel, Romans 5:1 (ESV):

 Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #401: When Peace Like a River Attendeth                                                                                                                                                                                Benediction – (Colossians 3:15):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. – Know Jesus, Know Peace!

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A Secure Faith That Sustains Through Trial and Temptation

BLCF: Faith3

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Secure Faith That Sustains Through Trial and Temptation’

© October 18, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 18, 2015

BLCF: building_a_secure_faith

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer                                      

Opening Hymn #224: How Firm a Foundation; Choruses                                          

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

Today Scriptures: Genesis 3:8-24, Job 1:1-12, 1 Peter 2:18-23   

BLCF: Faith

 

 Let us pray…

Our lesson today looks at how we are able to deal with the suffering caused by life’s tests and temptations depends upon how well prepared we are.

When I was a young student in school, I used to dread tests and exams. This dread was usually directly proportional to the importance of the test to the final mark in the subject.

My problem with tests and exams was resolved by how I prepared for them. The first step in my preparation was to understand what the purpose of test, which was often related to subject, involved.

For example, tests in subjects such as spelling, basic arithmetic and history usually required a simple memorization, or learning by rote, of  terms, tables, events, dates, peoples, and places. I found that with these subjects requiring memorization of facts and figures, that repetition is the key to being prepared, and a review the night before was often beneficial.

Higher levels of related subjects would call an understanding and application of the rules of grammar, mathematical equations and formulae, and understanding the effects of ethnic, social, political, and economic change upon various peoples on a national or global scale. Exercises that included the application of the rules throughout the term helped me to understand and prepare for tests in these subjects.

The true test of our education comes with the practical application of what we have learned to address the challenges and problems that we face in reality. How successful we are meeting these real life tests and resolving our problems often depends how faithful we were in our preparation before we are tested.

In our faith walk, we find that there are many accounts of people being tested and suffering throughout The Scriptures. In order to understand these tests and how we may apply them to resolving our own tests and sufferings, we must first understand their purpose.

In our first Scripture, we encountered the suffering that came as a result of God’s judgement upon Adam and Eve, as well as all of humanity, because of sin,

Genesis 3:8-24 English (ESV):

BlCF: AdamEveCastOut

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[a] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[b] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,     

cursed are you above all livestock     

and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly you shall go,     

and dust you shall eat     

all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,     

and between your offspring[c] and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,    

 and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;     

in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be for[d] your husband,     

and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife     

and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,     

‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you;     

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;     

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face     

you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,     

for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,     

and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.[e] 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:8 Hebrew wind b. Genesis 3:9 In Hebrew you is singular in verses 9 and 11 c. Genesis 3:15 Hebrew seed; so throughout Genesis d. Genesis 3:16 Or against e. Genesis 3:20 Eve sounds like the Hebrew for life-giver and resembles the word for living

God decreed that Adam and Eve, as well as all generations their offspring would be separated from the paradise of Eden, no longer having a close relationship with God, and subject to hard labour, pain of childbirth, shame, self-loathing, and ultimately, death. These judgements and sufferings come as a punishment for sin.

We find another account of challenges and tests, this time when God permitted the devil to inflict tests and suffering upon Job, the Lord’s faithful servant. The testing was meant to show whether faith comes from prosperity and when prosperity is removed, faith will also disappear. Satan was permitted to bring suffering upon Job, to the point of death. Job 1:1-12 (ESV):

Job’s Character and Wealth

BLCF: Job2

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed[a] God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Satan Allowed to Test Job

BLCF: Satan Before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, c. 1750

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Footnotes: a. Job 1:5 The Hebrew word bless is used euphemistically for curse in 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9 b. Job 1:6 Hebrew the Accuser or the Adversary; so throughout chapters 1–2

We know that Job’s faith passed the tests and his trust in his Lord was rewarded with God restoring Job to being more prosperous than before when the testing began.

Which brings us to the third type of suffering found in the Bible,  which we find is described in 1 Peter 2:18-23 (ESV)?

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

As followers in Christ, we may expect to suffer unjustly for their faith. Like Job, we can expect Satan to bring testing and suffering upon us, though we do not deserve it. However, unlike Job, through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are graced with the company of the Holy Spirit to allow us to endure our suffering. Both Adam and Eve had to endure the shame and hardship wrought by their sin. And while Job kept his faith, he did not have the benefit of the presence of the Holy Spirit to help him endure the pain and suffering inflicted upon him by Satan.

On the front of today’s Bulletin you will read that while we may be accused and punished unjustly, we may take comfort and have peace that God is with us through the Spirit, Romans 5:1-5 (ESV):

Peace with God through Faith

BLCF: Romans-5-1-justified-by-faith-green_

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

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

As believers in the gift of Christ, we may rejoice in our pain and suffering, without the worry of Job or the shame of Adam and Eve, but with the comfort and hope brought to us by the Holy Spirit, secured in faith in the knowledge that we may endure any test we may endure. If we deserve it, faith in Christ makes it undeserved. The Sprit brings us comfort and joy having the understanding that God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us unblemished in His presence.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?

Benediction: – (1 Peter 5:8-10):

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

 

BLCF: 1Peter.5.8-SatanIsOurEnemy

Salvation through Faith and Trust

BLCF: faith-and-trust-in-God

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:

‘Salvation through Faith and Trust’

© July 19, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

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

BLCF Bulletin July 19, 2015

BLCF: assurance_of_salvation

Announcements and Call to Worship (Below), Prayer                                                              

Call to Worship, an Adaptation of Psalm 91:

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

People: “Lord, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God I will    

               trust forever.”

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

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

Leader: When we call out to the Lord,

People: We know that we are heard. Leader: God is with us in every trial and temptation,

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

               Amen!

 

BLCF: faith-trust

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

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

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

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

                          

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

 

BLCF: faith trust salvation

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

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

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

The Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[c]

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in c. Acts 1:14 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 15

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

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

 

BLCF: faith-is

 

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) By Faith

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

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

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

 

BLCF: Faith-Staircase-King

Acts 10:43 (ESV)

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

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

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

BLCF: FaithTrustGod

 Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

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

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

 

BLCF: believe

 John 3:16 (ESV)

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

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

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

 

BLCF: broken_sinned_forgiven_saved

Acts 2:38 (ESV)

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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

BLCF: love is hope

 Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

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

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

BLCF: Alan-Watts-faith-trust

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

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

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

BLCF:faith-trust-hope

 Matthew 17:20 (ESV)

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

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

 

BLCF: a-more-loving-person

 John 3:36 (ESV)

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

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

BLCF: faith from The Word of God

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

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

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

BLCF: Bible-verses-about-Restoration

Romans 5:2 (ESV)

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

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

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

 

BLCF: billy-graham

The Reverend Billy Graham said, recently:

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

 Let us pray…

 

BLCF: believe-have-faith-trust-God

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

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

 

BLCF: Gods Hand

Be Justified by Faith and Receive the Promised Spirit

BLCF: Romans-5-1-justified-by-faith-green_

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Be Justified by Faith and Receive the Promised Spirit

© June 23, 2013, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 23, 2013

Apostles Paul & Peter

The Apostles Peter and Paul

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church service on this the first Sunday of summer for 2013.  For today’s message, we will look at a verse that has been published on the front of the BLCF Bulletin for the last several years and how it impacts Christian faith and evangelism. If you look on the front of this morning’s bulletin, you will see below the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship banner head, below BLCF contact information, and to the left of the graphic of the church the verse, Galatians 3:14 (ESV):

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.   

For the Wiki bits on Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, we find that Biblical scholars agree that Galatians is a true example of Paul’s writing:

The main arguments in favor of the authenticity of Galatians include its style and themes, which are common to the core letters of the Pauline body of writings. Moreover, Paul’s possible description of the Council of Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10) gives a different point of view from the description in Acts 15:2–29, if it is, in fact, describing the Jerusalem Council.

The central dispute in the letter concerns the question of how Gentiles could convert to Christianity, which shows that this letter was written at a very early stage in church history, when the vast majority of Christians were Jewish or Jewish proselytes, which historians refer to as the Jewish Christians. Another indicator that the letter is early is that there is no hint in the document of a developed organization within the Christian community at large. This dates the Galatians Epistles to being authored within the lifetime of Paul.

No original of the letter is known to survive. The earliest reasonably complete version available to scholars today, named, dates to approximately the year 200 AD, approximately 150 years after the original was presumably drafted. This papyrus document is fragmented in a few areas causing some of the original text carefully preserved over the years to be missing, “however, through careful research relating to paper construction, handwriting development, and the established principles of textual criticism, scholars can be rather certain about where these errors and changes appeared and what the original text probably said.” Scholars generally date the original composition to c. 50-60 AD

Paul on the Road to Damascus

Saul (Paul) on the Road to Damascus

Paul’s conversion believed by scholars to have occurred after the crucifixion of Christ between 33-36AD. Prior to becoming a Christian, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus, a “zealous” Pharisee whointensely persecutedthe followers of Jesus.

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

As an Apostle of Christ, Paul is recognized to having authored half of the Epistles of the New Testament, including the Book of Romans which presents arguably the clearest and most concise explanation of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Initially, some Christians were skeptical of Paul’s ministry, as including Ananias, as we read in Acts 9:10-17 (ESV):    

 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,        12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”                          

Paul’s endorsement to by our Lord as a disciple of Christ by our Lord to Ananias gives no doubt as to his credentials. We learn about the degree of forgiveness afforded sinners, such as Paul, who by faith have been filled by the Spirit, when we read from Romans 5:1-5 (ESV):

                                Peace with God through Faith                      

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The focus of today’s message is that of the human tendency to be fallible, not to be confused with sin, can cause problems with our Christian faith walk. Everyone can make unintentional mistakes at one time or another, and often more than once in a lifetime.

Sometimes a small error can have huge implications. This brings me to share one of my minor mistakes as a weekend mechanic.

Over the years, I have owned a series of vans, each for ten or more years. The first van I owned was a full size 1972 GMC model, which had an extended wheelbase, powered by a small block 350 cubic inch V8 engine. I purchased the truck a couple of years before I was married, and it ran well for a couple of years until it developed a stalling problem, especially when accelerating on the highway. Several “knowledgeable” friends at work, as well as m brother-in-law, Arthur indicated that my problem sounded like a carburetor issue.

In those day’s vehicles were not controlled by computers and electronic ignition, so the idea of purchasing a kit to rebuild the carburetor seemed to cheap, viable solution. My brother in law, a driver, and roofer by trade, had grown up on a farm, where it was not uncommon to rebuild and repair tractor engines. As Arthur had experience rebuilding a few carburetors, I figured between his knowledge and my mechanical aptitude, we could follow the directions that came with the repair kit and truck’s service manual to repair the carburetor and eliminate the stalling problem. Not going to a mechanic is similar to not asking for directions when lost while driving in an unfamiliar area. It’s kind of a guy thing, as Sophie can attest.

It turned out that the van’s carburetor was a Holley 4-barrel type; very complex and intricate being composed of at least 80 individual components. The first step of installing the repair kit required disconnecting and removing the carburetor, disassembling an assortment of screws, springs, cams, washers, o-rings, needle valves, gaskets, linkages, nuts, bolts and other components. The next step required the cleaning and replacing gaskets, needle valves, o-rings, and gaskets. Finally, the components had to be reassembled back as a carburetor which had to be reinstalled into the van. After several hours of painstaking work, actually, we worked on it overnight, the kit was installed.

Holly 4bbl Carburetor

Holly 4bbl Carburetor

Now the moment of truth, I turned the ignition and the van would not start. After numerous tries, we decided to finally consult a local mechanic. As it was in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, we removed the carburetor and I brought it to a local mechanic the next morning.

72 GMC Van

72 GMC Van

A couple of hours later, the mechanic called to report that the carburetor had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. The bill for repairs was $20 labour and $20 for the kit, still only 1/2 the cost of a rebuilt carburetor. The mechanic indicated that we had assembled everything OK, except for one cam component that was reinstalled backward, causing the malfunction. Ironically, rebuilding the carburetor did not fix the problem. I later took the van to the garage, where the mechanic found that a plugged fuel filter was the cause of the stalling problem. As it happens, the carburetor kit would be the next step of repair, after the fuel filter, a $5 part, had been changed.

This story illustrates how a group may deviate from the proper path and go along a circuitous path to make an easy, simple process both difficult and complicated with unsatisfactory results. We find a similar example of people making something more complicated than intended in the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul had intervened with Peter, latter had deviated from the truth of the Lord’s Gospel path, as we read in Galatians 2 (ESV):

 Paul Accepted by the Apostles   

2 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised                                                                                                                  

10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. 

     Paul Opposes Peter                                                                                      

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

             

Justified by Faith

Justified by Faith

                                     

 Justified by Faith      

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.                                             

This Passage has much to teach us about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ had died, was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. The great commission had been given for all Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The day of Pentecost had taken place and the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God was freely available to guide the believers.

But we have an account where Paul found Cephas had mistakenly believed in order that a Gentile could convert to the Christian Faith only after first converting to the Jewish faith, by circumcision.  Cephas is more commonly known today as Peter. This was not how the Lord intended faith conversion. Paul had heard about this practice was led by the Spirit to confront, in a kind and gentle way, Cephas and the others. Paul pointed out that Christian conversion was only through faith, not by an act like circumcision. In the same way, baptism by the Spirit does not assure Salvation. We are baptized by faith, not of works such as water baptism or circumcision. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit convicted Cephas of the truth and stopped the practice.

So does the conversion by faith apply solely to Gentiles? Not really, as we read in Galatians 3:7-9; 23-29 (ESV):

3 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

So Cephas, through the Spirit, came to understand that through Christ, all believers are entitled to the inheritance promised to Abraham’s offspring who are the Chosen People of Israel. And making circumcision as part of the Christian faith conversion is to the Gospel as reversing a cam link is to a functioning carburetor. Neither will get the expected results because both do not belong to their respective processes.

Paul did not come to humiliate or discredit Cephas. Instead, Paul pointed out the error of substituting a faith practice with an act of works was not part of the Christian faith process. Such actions, while not considered a sin or transgression of the Law did nothing to justify the believer before God. In other words, it is not the actions of circumcision or water baptism which lead to our salvation, but faith that gives us the assurance of sanctification and the promise of the Spirit, as we read in Galatians 3:11-14 (ESV):

 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The keyword of today’s lesson is faith not works. As believers in Jesus, the resurrected Christ, we are provided a companion in the Holy Spirit which shows us the Way, and like Peter convicts us of His truth, so that we may lead other to light of salvation to God the Father in Heaven, who loves us, His children dearly in spite of our mistakes. May we honour Him with our trust and faith.

Let us pray…

   crucified-with-christ-Man-Cross                                                                                                                                                                                          Hymn #410: O What a Wonderful, Wonderful Day

Benediction (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17):

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.