Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit

BLCF: rejoice-in-the-Lord

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:      

Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit

© June 21, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 21, 2015

BLCF: Come-Holy-Spirit

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #664:                             

About Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12); Prayer

Hymn #214: We Bless the Name of Christ the Lord; Choruses                        

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

Scripture Verse:  Acts 2:14-41

 

BLCF: Happy Fathers Day Summer Solstice                                                                                  

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Father’s day 2015, which also coincides with Summer Solstice, the day that the North Pole is closest to the Sun; Summer’s first day. Our lesson last Sunday entitled, Standing Firmly in God’s Grace, examined how the Lord never leaves or forsakes us in trying times. We found how a test or trial should not be the cause of us having a diminished faith as the more we persevere, the more we glorify Him, and the greater the reward of God’s grace is given to us.

In today’s lesson, Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit, we will examine some of the amazing changes brought to the disciples, now part of a contingent of some 120 apostles or messengers of the Gospel, after they received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. For a brief review of the significance of Pentecost, which Christians generally recognize as the birthday of the Christian Church, let us look to our Wikibits:

Pentecost – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: PENTECOST_SHAVOT

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.[1] For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.

In the Eastern Church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost; hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days inclusively (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[2] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from this New Testament event, as the movement emphasizes direct personal experience with God, akin to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pentecost

While the beginning of the Second Chapter of Acts does record with the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the 120 gathered in the Upper Room, our focus will be primarily on the Apostle Peter, whom Jesus described as being the rock upon or foundation for His church.

Before we look today’s Scripture Verse, Acts 2:14-41, which features Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost, let us get some context for Peter’s Message by briefly reviewing the thirteen verses previous to today’s featured Scripture passage:

Acts 2:1-13 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost4

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

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

With respect to those mocking the apostles for their utterances in various tongues, I do not know of any wine, new or old, which enables them to speak in a multitude of languages and be understood. This ability is a gift of the Spirit given to the believer.

Now let us look at Peter’s Sermon delivered in the morning of the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:14-41 (ESV):

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

BLCF: PeterPreaching

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

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be,

God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,     

and your young men shall see visions,     

and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants[b] and female servants     

in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above     

and signs on the earth below,     

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness     

and the moon to blood,     

before the day of the Lord comes,

the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

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

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,     

or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;     

you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

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

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand, 35    

until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

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

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

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

Peter begins his message by addressing the “men of Israel” gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. For this targeted group would understand the three Old Testament Passages that Peter refers to within his sermon. The first of these Scriptures comes from Joel 2:28-32 (ESV), where the prophet describes the Lord’s promise to pour His Spirit upon all flesh, both men and women, of all classes, who will experience visions and prophesies:

 The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit

BLCF: pentecost1

28 [a] “And it shall come to pass afterward,     

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,     

your old men shall dream dreams,     

and your young men shall see visions.

29 Even on the male and female servants     

in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Footnotes: a. Joel 2:28 Ch 3:1 in Hebrew

But Joel’s prophecy warns that the gifts of the Spirit and the salvation on the day the Lord returns will be given to those believers who call on the name of the Lord, Jesus. It is these believers whom the Lord calls.

Peter continues his discourse by reminding his audience of the prophet David’s comment of the joy, gladness, security and confidence that he will never be abandoned or forsaken by the Lord, which is a reference to Psalm 16:8-11 (ESV):

I have set the Lord always before me;     

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices;    

 my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,     

or let your holy one see corruption.[b]

11 You make known to me the path of life;     

in your presence there is fullness of joy;     

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 16:9 Hebrew my glory b. Psalm 16:10 Or see the pit

Peter continues to describe how the Saviour sent by God, overcame death to be raised up and exalted at the right hand of God, as we read in Psalm 110:1 (ESV):

   Sit at My Right Hand

      A Psalm of David

110 The Lord says to my Lord:     

“Sit at my right hand,

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Peter reminds the congregation that Jesus, a descendent of David, was resurrected by God and ascended to Heaven, as was prophesized in the Scriptures.  The arrival of the same Holy Spirit to the apostles is yet another prophecy, and promise from God, come to past.

The truth of Peter’s message cut to the heart of those listening, and they became convicted by the Spirit to repent of their sins in the name of Jesus and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This gift from Lord is not available only to that generation, but to their decedents, as well all others whom the Lord calls.  Some 3,000 souls responded to the call from the Lord and on that day Jesus saw the birth of His Church. The Church today is the single body of believers that we now call Christian.

The boldness of Peter’s speech to the multitude is in stark contrast to his behavior just few weeks prior; where upon the arrest of Jesus, Peter fearing for himself, denied knowing the Lord not once but three times. The rest of the disciples had the same fear for their own safety after Christ’s crucifixion had cloistered themselves in the Upper Room. Their feared turned to joy when Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, appeared to them in the same room. But the disciples’ joy was short lived when the Lord announced that he had to leave them, but he promised to send the Holy Spirit in His place. The Spirit would bring guidance, understanding and the continued presence of God with each of them at all times. This included Thomas, who was absent when the Lord first returned to the Upper Room and actually had to see the wounds from the cross on the Lord before he believed.

Upon the arrival of the Spirit to the 120 believers who were gathered in the Upper Room, some ten days after the Lord ascended to Heaven, we see how the Spirit gave them the ability to speak in all tongues and be understood by all those present. The joyful behavior demonstrated by the apostles after they became filled with the Spirit was mistaken by some as intoxication. Peter set the record straight by delivering the Good News that Jesus had come to fulfill Gods promises to bring forgiveness to sinners who confessed; the gift of the Spirit to those who believed; and the reward of the resurrection. Peter spoke with boldness of Spirit gifted by the Lord on that Day of Pentecost.

That is how the Spirit works then, but you may ask is that same fullness of Spirit at work today?

I witnessed on CNN the answer to that question, which came this week from the families of a prayer group who had gathered last Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was at this prayer meeting, that a disturbed young man, with designs on creating a racial war, murdered nine prayer warriors who had welcomed him into their midst. Two days later, at the court arraignment that the grieved family members, whom the judge permitted to speak, revealed the power and love of God given by the Holy Spirit by forgiving the man who admitted to murdering the nine victims. Many of the victims’ families included in their statements to the court, that they prayed for God’s forgiveness and mercy upon the disturbed young man. It is how amazing to see the love, grace and joy flow, even through tears of grief, like a river from the Lord, when the Holy Spirit is present.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #192: Joys Are flowing Like a River

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

BLCF: Come-Holy-Spirit

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Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit

BLCF: Proverbs_9_10

‘Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit’

© May 24, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 24, 2015

BLCF: fires_of_pentecost

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #639                                                      (The Holy Spirit Given – Acts 2); Prayer

Opening Hymn #204: “There’s a Quiet Understanding”; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 4:32-40, 2 Corinthians 3:4-11, Acts 1:1-5, Acts 2:1-13

BLCF: Pentecost

Let us pray…

Today is Sunday May 24, 2015, which according to scholars of the Bible is Pentecost Sunday. So it is not difficult to understand that our lesson today at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is on the subject of Pentecost.

Let us begin by understanding what is meant by Pentecost. Let us begin by a definition via Wikibits:

Pentecost

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: PENTECOST_SHAVOT

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.[1] For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.

In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty (50) days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[2] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

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

Perhaps a shorter definition would be, that for Christians, Pentecost is the day upon which the Lord Jesus sent to those believers in the Resurrected Christ the Holy Spirit. The arrival of the Spirit also is generally considered to be the moment that the Christian Church was born.

Before the advent of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, who: died on the cross for all the sins of humanity, was resurrected from the grave, and then ascended back into heaven, humanity had to rely solely upon God’s Laws which were given to Moses, along with His Covenant under those Laws, as we see in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (ESV):

The Lord Alone Is God

BLCF: Obedience

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them[a] and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”                                             

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 4:37 Hebrew his offspring after him

God sent His Son, Jesus to establish a New Covenant, not of Law, but of the Spirit, as we see in 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 (ESV):

BLCF: 10 Commandments

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

God’s Old Covenant included a judgement and death for sin or transgressions against any of God’s Commandments which were written laws that no one could hope to keep. If a person violated a law under the Old Covenant, they were expected to bring a sacrifice, usually a lamb or dove, to the Temple Priest. Every time a sin was committed, a sacrifice had to be made. If a person committed a sin and did not make to the temple to offer a sacrifice, say they died before getting to the temple, then they would be considered in violation of the Law which brings the judgment of death.

Then there is the possibility of violating a Commandment in a manner that seems unintentional. Breaking any of the ten without confession and sacrifice brings the same judgment of death.

The Tenth Commandment is: “Thou should not covet.”  Now take the case of parent who wants to provide the best for his or her children. We all want to provide for their needs. After all, children deserve the best that we as parents are able to provide. That is what I wanted for mine. But suppose my son or daughter wants something that is the latest, greatest and most popular item. After all, everybody, all of their friends and peers want it; desire it; covet it. So by purchasing such an item, are we not in danger of facilitating covetous behaviour? We may rationalize the “keeping up with the Jones” as not violating God’s Law, just as Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit because it was “appealing to the eye” and would “give God’s knowledge of good and evil”, which are aspects that they coveted.  Regardless of the rational, if we covet, we sin. And if we sin, under the law, we die. So it is under the Covenant of the Law.

Jesus came to establish a New Covenant, a Covenant of the Spirit, which is also a Covenant of Life. Christ was the last and final sacrifice. It is no longer necessary to bring sacrifices to the temple’s high priest. Through the Lord, we are forgiven of our transgressions, sanctified, under the new Covenant. After he ascended to Heaven, Jesus sent to all believers the Holy Spirit to bring understanding to our testimony of the Gospel to whomever we witness. It is not by our ability, but by the power of the Spirit that a non-believer becomes convicted in faith.

The New Covenant from God was of Salvation and Life, by faith in Jesus Christ, Acts 1:1-5 (ESV):

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: JESUS IN THE UPPER ROOM_

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.”                                                                                      

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in

The description of the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the believers in Christ is found in Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: pentecost1

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

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

 Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

It is not surprising that some of those non-believers who observed the behavior of the disciples’ of Christ, who through the Great Commission had become Apostles or Messengers of Jesus, misunderstood what they observed when the Spirit arrived. For the spectators were wise in the world, not the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 (ESV):

Wisdom from the Spirit

BLCF: Ephesians-1-17

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.[a]

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.                                             

 Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Or interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language, or comparing spiritual things with spiritual

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: Pentecost_header

Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary Mother of Jesus

 

BLCF: Mary_at_Pentecostpentecost

 

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary Mother of Jesus’ 

© May 11, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin May 11, 2014

BLCF: annunciation

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #628

(The Child Jesus – Luke 2) Prayer 

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth

Scripture Verses: Luke 1:26-35, Matthew 12:46-50 and John 19:25-30  

 

BLCF: happy-mothers-day

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. Since today is Mother’s Day, I would like to share best wishes to all the mothers in the congregation this morning. I think of the many special things a mother may ponder in her heart with regards to the actions of their children.

Although our younger children, Daniella and Jeffrey have their respective University and Secondary School graduations next month, I am reminded of our oldest child’s graduation ceremonies several years ago at the University of Guelph. Presiding over the Sashing Ceremonies for the graduates was Chancellor Lincoln Alexander, as you may know, had served as lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, lieutenant-governor of Ontario.

 

Lincoln Alexander

Lincoln Alexander

 

The sashing ceremony itinerary listed Athena’s group of Honors Bachelor of Science Degree graduates near the end of proceedings  on a warm afternoon . I was impressed that Mr. Alexander did not hurry the proceedings, taking a few moments to exchange remarks with each graduate before the sashing. His conversation with our daughter brought a broad grin to Athena, lasting throughout the ceremony and even afterwards. I wondered what special words of advice or wisdom were spoken to Athena by the Chancellor. When Athena walked to over to us, I asked her what Lincoln Alexander had said to her and Athena replied that Mr. Alexander had asked her: “Is your momma here today?” To which Athena replied, “Yes she is.” Then the Chancellor said, “Well give her a big smile, this is an important day for your momma!” Athena wore that smile for the remainder of the day, as Mr. Alexander’s comments were right on point.

For our lesson today, I would like to examine Mary, the mother of Jesus, a special mother recorded in the Scriptures, including today’s scripture verses. These verses are listed in your bulletin, in their chronological order.

I would like to begin with reading Luke 1:26-35, where Mary receives some special news from God, by way of the angel, Gabriel:

 

BLCF: Son_of_God_Son_of_Mary

 

Luke 1:26-35 (ESV) Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

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

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

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

 

BLCF: Mary and angel

 

Not only does Mary, who is betrothed or engaged to marry Joseph, find out that she will become pregnant, but she has been chosen by God, to be the mother of a holy child, the Son of God, whom she is to name “Jesus”.

Luke 2:15-20 describes the visit to Bethlehem by shepherds of the field, after they were informed by God’s angels of the birth of the Christ child.

 

Luke 2:15-20 (ESV)

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

BLCF: Jesus_Mary

 

After the shepherds departed, Luke indicates that Mary treasured up or pondered these things in her heart.

Our next Scripture passage gives us an idea of how Mary raised her son, Jesus, and the mother-son relationship Luke 2:41-51.

 

Luke 2:41-51(ESV) The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[a] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:48 Greek they b. Luke 2:49 Or about my Father’s business

 

BLCF: Jesus-in-temple

We have in this Scripture, an indication of the love and concern Mary had for her son. In an account that sounds a little like the film, Home Alone, Jesus is left behind in Jerusalem, or should I say elected to remain in Jerusalem, following a Passover Feast. The young twelve year old Jesus is assumed to be with others in a group from Nazareth. However after a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph then realize that Jesus is missing from the group. Jesus’ parents return to Jerusalem to look for their son. Three days later, Jesus who was missing for five days, was found in the temple, talking to the elders. Those present were amazed at young Jesus’ understanding of the Scripters, and his parents were astonished. This did not deter Mary, who was worried for her son’s safety, from chastising the boy, verses 48 – 50, of Luke 2:

48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

We also see that though the Son of the Most High must be in his Father’s house, Jesus did not forget his place with respect to his parents, as we read in verse 51 that:

51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.

And we read, again that Mary treasured up all these things in her heart. And though Jesus was raised to honour his parents, he obviously was instructed well with regard to the Scriptures, as he had demonstrated in the temple in Jerusalem.

The relationship between Mary and Jesus is described further in what I would like to refer as a Wiki bits reference, though found at the Web site, biography.com:

According to the Gospel of John (2:1-11), as Jesus was beginning his ministry, he and his disciples traveled with his mother, Mary, to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The wedding host had run out of wine and Jesus’s mother came to him for help. At first, Jesus refused to intervene, but then he relented and asked a servant to bring him large jars filled with water. He turned the water into a wine of higher quality than any served during the wedding. John’s gospel depicts the event as the first sign of Jesus’s glory and his disciples’ belief in him.

After the wedding, Jesus, his mother Mary and his disciples traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. At the temple, they saw moneychangers and merchants selling wares. In a rare display of anger, Jesus overturned the tables and, with a whip made of cords, drove them out, declaring that his Father’s house is not a house for merchants.                                                              

http://www.biography.com/people/jesus-christ-9354382#jesuss-ministry&awesm=~oDNPn11WRqG16j

 

 BLCF: Maryponders

 

We see that Mary was more than a mother travelling with her son; she was travelling with Jesus and his disciples. And isn’t it just like a mother to ask her son to help provide the host with wine. You will note that though Jesus had begun his ministry, that this time he and his disciples accompanied his mother to a wedding. This indicates the human side of Jesus, who on more than one occasion honoured his mother, by referring to himself as the “son of man” rather than the “son of God”. And not to disparage his Father, Christ honoured his Godly side by chasing the money changers from the temple.

But being both the son of Mary and the Son of God did not confuse Jesus with respect to the importance of his ministry, as we see in Luke 11, verses 27-28.

 

BLCF: blessed_mother

Luke 11:27-28 (ESV) True Blessedness

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

BLCF: Jesus_and_Mary_Manger_by_BNW

 

Jesus used the woman’s remark to emphasize that God’s blessings do not come by birthright, but by honouring and keeping the word of God. This statement is reinforced by Jesus’ remarks n Matthew 1246-50.

 

Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV) Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.[a] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 12:46 Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you”

 

BLCF: Matt1hew_2_50

 

At first glance, it seems that Jesus disavowed his mother and siblings, indicating that the designation of mother, brother or sister, in his view should apply only to those who do the will of the Father in heaven.

But you may ask, “Did Mary not demonstrate obedience to God’s will by bearing and raising His Son?” For the answer to this question, let us look at John 19:5-30.

 

BLCF: Jesus_cross

 

John 19:25-30 (ESV)

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 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.

 

The Death of Jesus

 

BLCF: Oh_My_God_Jesus

 

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

BLCF: It_Is_Finished

 

Just before giving up his spirit on the cross, Jesus saw his mother and John, who is referred to as the disciple who he loved. He then told Mary to behold her son, the disciple John. And to the disciple John, he said to behold your mother, Mary. Jesus was not talking about Mary as his birth mother. In accordance to what he had spoken to the people in Matthew 12:46-50, he was acknowledging the faith and discipleship of Mary.  In this regard, Mary was his mother by birth and by Spirit.

 

BLCF_Crucifixion 

 

We have confirmation of this observation, when we read in the next Scripture verse, that Mary was again with the disciples in the Upper Room, after Jesus Ascended to heaven, obediently praying and awaiting the arrival of the promised comforter, God’s Holy Spirit.

 

BLCF: Luke24,50-53TheAscension

Acts 1:6-14 (ESV) 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

BLCF: Pentecost-with-Mary

 

Mary was special, not only because God had chosen her to give birth, and to raise His only Son; unlike most woman of the day, Mary choose not to stay at home and maintain a household. We see Mary as a loving, caring parent and as a disciple of faith and obedience, to the Father in heaven.

The Scripture’s account of Mary’s journeys with Jesus and the disciples, indicate how she was involved with the first miracle where Jesus turned water to wine and her presence at Jesus’ cleansing of the temple of the merchants and money changers. Mary continued to follow Jesus and demonstrated both her love for her son and obedience to her God. Mary understood that she had been favoured by God to be mother to God’s Son, Jesus, and was present at many of the important events in the life and ministry of her son.

Mary was present at his birth, his death; witness to his resurrection; and present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, when God’s Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and believers that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the true Son of God. To Jesus, Mary was his mother, not just because she gave birth to him, but as an obedient woman of faith who heard God’s word and kept it. Mary is an example to Christians, both as a loving parent and follower of God’s word, by taking care of Jesus, the son of man, who was also the Son of God.

BLCF: Christ_wheel

 

Let us pray…

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

BLCF: heart of Jesus

Benediction – (Galatians 1:3-5):

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

BLCF: the_ascension

BLCF: Luke1_45

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Boldly in Faith with Courage of the Spirit

BLCF: saved_animated

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

Walking Boldly in Faith with Courage of the Spirit’                      

 © May 6, 2014, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin May 4, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #601

(Faith and Confidence – Psalm 27); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #158: I Serve a Risen Savior; Choruses                                                                 

 Scripture Verses: Psalm 27:1 and Acts 4:1-22

 

BLCF: Psalm_27

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, on this Communion Sunday.

Last Sunday we looked at how sin can cause fear, guilt, and shame, which in turn result in a separation from God. Our examples included: how both Adam and Eve being aware of their nakedness, felt shame; Cain experienced the guilt of killing his brother, Abel; and Jesus’ disciples had hidden in fear in the Upper Room, after Christ’s crucifixion.

 

BLCF: Adam_Eve_Hiding

 

Adam and Eve, having eaten the forbidden fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge” became aware of their nakedness and hid their bodies in guilt. Their sin was disobeying God.

 

BLCF:cain_and_abel

 

Cain, in a fit of jealousy, killed his brother and denied knowing Abel’s whereabouts. His sin was murdering another.

BLCF: upper-room-mykul-anjelo

 

Having seen their Lord die on the cross, the disciples hid in the Upper Room, fearful of their own safety. And by denying that they knew Jesus and allowing him to go to die the cross for sin’s he did not commit produced in them, a guilt so great, that they locked themselves in a room.

We see three accounts of how sin pushes people from God, as each felt that the sin could not be undone. And all three reactions to sin could be viewed not only as introspective and self-serving but even selfish in nature.

Which brings us to David who authored today’s first Scripture verse, which is taken from Psalm 27, verse 1.

 

BLCF:animatedjesuslight

 

Psalm 27:1 (ESV) The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation

Of David.

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation;    

 whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;     

of whom shall I be afraid?

Footnotes: a. Psalm 27:1 Or refuge

The Psalmist expresses no guilt, shame or fear, even though he had committed the sin of adultery. The difference was that he had been forgiven by the Lord for his transgression. This brings us to today’s second Scripture passage, Acts 4:1-22:

 

BLCF: Jerusalem_in_the_time_of_Christ

Acts 4:1-22 (ESV) Peter and John Before the Council

4 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

Footnotes: a. Acts 4:11 Greek This one b. Acts 4:11 Greek the head of the corner c. Acts 4:12 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women

 

BLCF: Ephesians-5-14

 

The boldness of Peter and John, who were filled by the Holy Spirit by their resurrected Lord after he had given them his Commission, (John 20:21), was so powerful that the temple priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducee released the apostles from their custody. Besides, it is rather difficult to deny the man who was healed from a lifelong affliction, standing before them.

 

John 20:19-23 (ESV): Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

Though Peter and John were released with the warning not to continue to preach in the name of Jesus. This did not happen, as the two apostles prayed to God for strength from the Spirit, to continue to be bold in their ministry.

These were the same men who had hid in fear for their own safety, now boldly ministering to those who they feared. Remember, Christ had breathed into them the Holy Spirit to become messengers of his Gospel. The Spirit gave the apostles courage to boldly go forth on Christ’s Commission. For Christ had died on the cross for their sins, and our sins. Jesus had paid the penalty for all sin, so it was no longer necessary to carry sin’s burdens of guilt, shame, and fear. The apostles had both faith and the gift of the Spirit which gave them confidence not only to spread the Gospel message but to heal a crippled man, through the grace and power of the Spirit. They had now changed their focus from worrying only about themselves to caring about the salvation of others, including the very same group responsible for the death of Jesus and sought to persecute them: the temple priest, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees.

So who were these Sadducees who sought to suppress the apostles?

Let us check our Wiki Bits reference:

BLCF: Sadducees_and_Pharisees

 

The Sadducees (Hebrew: צְדוּקִיםṢĕdûqîm) were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social, and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes. Their sect is believed to have become extinct sometime after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, but it has been speculated that the later Karaites may have had some roots or connections with old Sadducee views.

The religious responsibilities of the Sadducees included the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem. Their high social status was reinforced by their priestly responsibilities, as mandated in the Torah. The Priests were responsible for performing sacrifices at the Temple, the primary method of worship in Ancient Israel. This also included presiding over sacrifices on the three festivals of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Their religious beliefs and social status were mutually reinforcing, as the Priesthood often represented the highest class in Judean society. Sadducees and the priests were not completely synonymous. Cohen points out that “not all priests, high priests, and aristocrats were Sadducees; many were Pharisees, and many were not members of any group at all.”

The New Testament, specifically the books of Mark and Matthew, describe anecdotes that hint at hostility between the Jesus movement and the Sadduceean establishment. These disputes manifest themselves on both theological and social levels. Mark describes how the Sadducees challenged Jesus’ belief in the Resurrection of the Dead. Jesus subsequently defends his belief in resurrection against Sadduceean resistance, stating, “and as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” Jesus challenges the reliability of the Sadducees’ interpretation of Biblical doctrine, the authority of which enforces the power of the Sadduceean priesthood. The Sadducees address the issue of resurrection through the lens of marriage, which “hinted at their real agenda: the protection of property rights through patriarchal marriage that perpetuated the male lineage.” Furthermore, Matthew depicts the Sadducees as a “brood of Vipers,” and a perversion of the true Israel. The New Testament thus constructs the identity of Christianity in opposition to the Sadducees.

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

The Holy Spirit that Jesus “breathed upon the disciples” transformed them from disciples or students of the Lord, who locked themselves out of fear in the Upper Room, to apostles or messengers of the Gospel, boldly witnessing in faith to the very same people who had Christ crucified! The power of the Spirit had transformed the apostles into bold witnesses of Christ’s Gospel.

 

BLCF: Jesus-Came-To-Save-Sinners

 

But what do we mean by faith? The Apostle Paul gave us a good understanding of faith, by explaining what believers may accomplish by faith, in Hebrews 11:1-16.

 

BLCF: Hebrews11-1

Hebrews 11:1-16 (ESV): By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

The first paragraph acts both as an overview and summary of the power of actions performed by walking boldly faith, with courage from the Holy Spirit:

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

 

BLCF: Hebrews11v1

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #49: A Pilgrim Was I and A-wandering                                                

One act of Faith that our Lord instructed us to do on a regular basis is to partake in Communion, until the day of his return. Paul gives us a good summary of the observance of Communion in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

 

The_Last_Supper

 

(1 Corinthians 11:23-26):  For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

do it

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: God-loves-you-animated

 BLCF: Jesus_animated

BLCF: HOLY_SPIRIT_DOVE_ANIMATED_GIF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith

BLCF: the-cross

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith’ 

 © April 27, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 27, 2014

BLCF: paradigm_shift

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #668

(The New Life – Colossians 3); r of Prayer)) Prayer 

Opening Hymn: #1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty                                                                   

Scripture Verses:Genesis 2:5-7, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:22-33

 

Let us pray…

Before the time of Christ, because of sin, and in order to worship God, people practiced a religion filled with good works, sacrifices to God for transgressions and communicating to God through such intermediaries as holy prophets or priests. Worship involved performing visible, tangible actions to honour God.

Through Jesus, God reveals His New Paradigm for His relationship with His people. Let us review the definition and usage of  paradigm, let us consult dictionary.com:

par·a·digm /ˈpærəˌdaɪm, -dɪm/ Show Spelled [par-uh-dahym, -dim] noun 

an example serving as a model; pattern. Synonyms:mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone.

 framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradigm

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift-cartoon

 

To  better understand paradigm, let us use some visual aids found in today’s bulletin. In the middle of the  first page, just below the Order of Service are scrabble letters arranged to make the words “paradigm and shift” formed in the shape of a cross. If you look at the illustration one way, you see a term representing a change in way of thinking, at the same time it is set in the shape of the cross, which reminding us of how Jesus removed humanity’s judgement for sin and restoring our souls before God our father.

To the right of the “Paradigm Shift Cross” in the bulletin is a drawing that from one perspective appears to be a woman whose eyes are closed having what appears to be a bad hair day. When viewed differently, the drawing seems to be that of a person in a white parka at the entrance to a dark tunnel or cave.

 

BLCF: parka or face gif

 

On the bottom of the right inside page are a series of other paradigm graphics which can be interpreted to represent one thing or another, depending upon your point of view.

 

BLCF: paradigms                                   BLCF: paradigm_perspective                                   BLCF: paradigmperspectives

 

The first time I walked into this church some years ago,  I had expected to enter a small sanctuary based upon the perspective of the front of the building. The front hallway seemed to support  the expectation that the church being a small space. As you go from the hallway to the narthex, the interior space opens up. Still, you are impressed and surprised at the relatively large size of the sanctuary of the church. Unless you have been informed in advance in regard to the size and appearance of the church, you have to adopt a new paradigm or mindset to comprehend its actual structure.

 

BLCF Church 1

BLCF Church 5

 

As Christians, we are expected to adopt a new paradigm in regard to the Trinity of our God. On the top of the inside of the bulletin, beside the Order of Service header is a graphic representation of the Godhead or Holy Trinity that helps us to understand, as best we can, that God consists of a Father, His Son – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Godhead_Holy_Trinity

 

Each is distinct from the other, and each is God. Non-Christians may have difficulty accepting this description of the Holy Trinity, even though it is no more a paradigm shift than the world needed to have when they discarded the flat earth paradigm in favour of the world being a round sphere. A similar paradigm shift was required to accept the fact that the sun, moon and stars did not revolve around the earth. Both of these paradigms run contrary to our perception of how we normally observe the world around us.

 

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Last Sunday, we discussed how Jesus implemented the new paradigm  for humanity’s relationship with God, by removing the stigma for humanity’s sins, by taking upon himself our judgement and punishment. At Christ’s first appearance in the Upper Room, we see in John 20, that he commissioned the disciples, sending them to go forth, as the Father in heaven had sent him. And knowing that he was soon to ascend to heaven, Jesus breathed upon them the Holy Spirit of God to help the  twelve, implement his Commission, which is why we now refer to them as apostles or messengers of Christ. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we too are expected to serve as his apostles.

BLCF: e_the_holy_spirit

 

As messengers of his gospel of forgiveness, sanctification, and following Pentecost, as apostles of Christ, we are also vessels of the Holy Spirit, sharing God’s New Paradigm is the New Covenant, which not only includes salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the promise of our own resurrection. In addition to the New Covenant, we have been given the same Commission we are Christ’s apostles  and therefore given the same assignment given to the twelve in that Upper Room some two thousand years ago: sharing Christ’s gospel unto the ends of the earth.

 

BLCF: trinity_yuyu

 

The most important part of this passage, which all Christians who did not live in the time when Christ walked before his crucifixion should note, are the words that were spoken by Jesus to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

BLCF: Breath returned - Worship

 

Why is there the need for a New Covenant or any Covenant at all? Over the last few weeks, we examined how God created the universe: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and all life and had judged it to be good. Then the Creator made the first man from the earth and brought life to him by breathing into his nostrils, “the breath of life”, as we read in Genesis 2:5-7.

 

Genesis 2:5-7 (ESV)

BLCF: breath-of-life

When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:5 Or open country b. Genesis 2:5 Or earth; also verse 6 c. Genesis 2:6 Or spring

According to Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were made living creatures, created by God, in His image. And we discussed how both Adam and Eve were beguiled by Satan, posing as a serpent, to break God’s rule “not to eat from the forbidden fruit”, as Satan had promised that they would have the knowledge of God. This was the fall from the grace of God.

 

BLCF: Adam_Eve

 

Following the fall of Adam and Eve, we are aware of Adam and Eve’s judgement to be evicted by God from the Garden of Eden, to suffer death and other hardships for all subsequent generations. In a fit of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, Abel. Eventually sin became so widespread upon the earth that God decided to do a reset by make a Great Flood to destroy all life,  as we read in Genesis 7:21-24.

Genesis 7:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: s-Chapter-8-A-Dove-Is-Sent-Forth-from-the-Ark

21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.

God’s judgement was to reset His creation back to Day #4, but instead of recreating life, he had Noah construct the Ark to carry the his animals, as well as Noah’s extended family above the flooded world. And like the third day of creation, God parted the land from the sea so that the dwellers of the Ark could begin life anew.

You may note that in both our Scriptures from Genesis that God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam, to make him a living creature, but in Genesis 7:22-23, that the flood had removed the breath of life from everything on dry land, not only people, but “animals, creeping things and birds of the air. From these verses it is safe to infer that God’s breathed life into humanity, animals, creatures and birds.

 

BLCF:-breath_of_god-aa1

 

But Genesis indicates that man and woman were created in God’s own image. We were given a soul. But the soul of humanity, even the descendants of Noah, carry the tarnish of the sin from the Garden of Eden. Through Moses God had brought humanity His laws, but the laws by themselves do not remove the sin. And even Adam and Eve, who had only one law to follow, were tempted to break that law. If I were to post on a wall a sign “ Don’t Touch! – Wet Paint”, how many people would be tempted to challenge the posting a touch the wall?

 

dont-touch-wet-paint

 

 

This is quite a dilemma, because the separation from God is more a result of the guilt and shame of the sinner than a result of God’s desire to be apart from us. And self-loathing can be as harsh a judgement as any.  How is possible for sinners be reconciled with God? God loves his creation and waits for the prodigals to return. But how can the corruption of the sinner’s soul caused by sin be cleansed, so that we may live with God for eternity? The Pharisee, Nicodemus, asked the Lord the same question, which we find in John 3:1-8.

 

John 3:1-8 (ESV) You Must Be Born Again

Nicodemus and Jesus

Nicodemus and Jesus

3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:2 Greek him b. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7 c.John 3:6 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit d. John 3:7 The Greek for you is plural here e. John 3:8 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

 

BLCF: spirit to the people

 

In this passage, Jesus talks about being “born again” in the Spirit. When a baby is born, the first thing it must do is take in a breath of air. The air is unseen, but brings life. And like the air, the Holy Spirit brings new life. This is God’s New Paradigm. Where the Ark built by Noah had preserved the life God created, the Holy Spirit, as a second breath from the Lord, restores the soul. And the only way that we may receive the Holy Spirit is by Way of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which cleansed our souls from the corruption of the soul caused by sin.

That Jesus came and died to remove the death penalty for sin that everyone faces removes the impossible expectation of being perfect and sinless under law, as well as constantly offering sacrifices for sins committed on a regular basis. Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller expressed it very well, when he wrote:

 

BLCF:Richard-Buckminster-Fuller-fighting-change-reality

 

The arrival of the Holy Spirit upon believers as a breath from Christ is first described in John 20:19-23, where the Lord appeared to the disciples on the evening of the day of his resurrection.

 

John 20:19-23 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

BLCF: tissot-the-appearance-of-christ-at-the-cenacle

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

Before he breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, the Lord gave them the great Commission to share his Gospel. Then Jesus breathed upon the now apostles or messengers, the Holy Spirit of God.

 

BLCF: Great_Commission

 

The next act of Pentecost occurred again in the same Upper Room, after the Lord had ascended to heaven. Again, the Lord reminded the apostles of his Commission to spread his Gospel unto the ends of the world.in Acts 1:6-9.

 

Acts 1:6-9 (ESV) The Ascension

BLCF: TheAscension

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.

The twelve apostles, including Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas, were not the only apostles or messengers of Christ.  For all who receive Christ as Lord and Saviour are also elected as his apostles and are expected to share the good news of his gifts of salvation, resurrection and the Holy Spirit, as we read in Acts 2:1-4.

 

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost

 

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

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

God’s New Paradigm, which is expressed in the gospel of Christ that we as his apostles are instructed to share, is provided in Acts 2:22-33.

 

Acts 2:22-33 (ESV)

BLCFcrucified_with_christ

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

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,    

 or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;    

 you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

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

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

As I shared earlier in this message, the greatest barrier keeping people from God is not from Him, but caused more by our own guilt, shame and remorse. How can one carry Jesus Second Commandment, expressed in Galatians 5:13-14, to love one’s neighbor as oneself if that person is unhappy with his or herself?

 

Galatians 5:13-14 (ESV)

blcf_Commandments

 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we truly trust in the Lord and the Holy Spirit, trust in the unseen, we have confidence that Jesus will be with us in the Spirit and that we will see him when he returns, John 14:15-21.

 

John 14:15-21 (ESV) Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Spirit sent

 

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

Therefore, as believers in the resurrected Christ, let us seek to both understand and to live within God’s New Paradigm of Faith, provided by His Son, Jesus. For where the Creator first breathed life into the nostrils of humanity to give us life, Jesus – by way of his sacrifice on the cross – cleansed the souls of humanity, by removing the tarnish of sin, and breathed the breath of the Holy Spirit, making believers vessels of the Spirit. And as vessels of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts, power and ability to share Jesus’ Gospel, which Jesus gave to all believers, as apostles as a Great Commission.

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Through Jesus, the price and judgment levied upon humanity for sin has been paid in full. God’s New Paradigm, through Jesus, removes humanity’s sin before God and allows humanity to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, in order to share the Lord’s Gospel, and to be cleansed of guilt and shame. This is really God’s vision for out life in Jesus.

 

gods-vision

 

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #276 In the Stars His Handiwork I See                                                      

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.

 

BLCF: All things made new

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.