Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

© May 5, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 5, 2019

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on September 28, 2014, and February 5, 2017

BLCF: bulletin-february-5-2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                        

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth; Chorus

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

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – Psalm 104); Prayer                                               

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                         ‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

Let us pray…

Today’s lesson at BLCF, we will have a look at surviving in the wilderness of life’s trials and tests with comfort and mercy from the Lord.

Recently, there has been on television, a number of popular “Reality Series” which document peoples’ ability to overcome the challenges of surviving in a hostile environment. While a working knowledge of survival skills is useful, the key to successfully meeting the challenges and tests in the wilderness rests in one’s attitude or their frame of mind.

But this morning, I would like to discuss what is meant by the “wilderness,” that is described in the Scriptures?

We find one definition of the wilderness, specifically in the region of Judaea, from the web site bibleplaces.com:

Judean Wilderness

Also known as Desert of Judah, Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, Wilderness of Judaea, Wilderness of Judah Place of Refuge.

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean wilderness (the Wilderness(es) of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness).

John the Baptist preached here, and it seems likely that this was the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him.

http://www.bibleplaces.com/judeanwilderness.htm

So when Moses sojourned in the wilderness, he found more than a refuge from Pharaoh, as we find in Exodus 3:1 (ESV):

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.

In Exodus 3, we have the account of God revealing Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush upon a mountain. God revealed to Moses His intention to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. Moses was the key to the Lord’s plan, which included leading them through the same wilderness.

But why would God want His people, who suffered greatly at the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters, venture through the wilderness before reaching their “Promised Land”? To help us understand why let us look at another take on the usage of the term “wilderness” in the Scriptures, is that posted by Jeff A. Benner at ancient-hebrew.org:

Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings:
Wilderness ~ midvar
By Jeff A. Benner

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’.

The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

To recap, the trek of the Hebrew people was intended to help them become reacquainted with their God, with the wilderness as their school. But the balance, order, and harmony to be restored in the Lord’s people come with His promise of a pardon for all sins. As we see in Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV), entitled:

                Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[
a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying

The Scriptures description of a voice crying out in the wilderness is echoed again by John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:19-23 (ESV):

The Testimony of John the Baptist

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight

The wilderness, where John the Baptist refers to himself as “voice in the wilderness” was prophesized by the prophet Isaiah, describing the restoration of balance, order, and harmony, as well as the promise of a pardon from sins, through Christ, Jesus. Jesus also had a wilderness experience immediately after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, where the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11(ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

We see that the devil tested Jesus by tempting him to satisfy his hunger; having God rescue him as he leaped from a high precipice; and then offering Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan instead of the Father in Heaven! It is interesting that all the temptations Satan offered Christ were refuted and refused with Jesus responding with Scripture that spoke of actions of obedience and faith.

All of us encounter at some time in our lives, the challenges of a “wilderness trek”, where Satan challenges our faith by tempting us in a time of adversity. And just as Moses and the Hebrew people, as well as Jesus, we can allow the experience to draw comfort, through God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that as believers in the Resurrected Christ, God has blessed us with His goodness and mercy, by our faith in the Lord.

Let us pray…

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

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

Closing Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

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.

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Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives

BLCF: judean-desert-wide

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

© February 5, 2017, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on September 28, 2014

BLCF: bulletin-february-5-2017

BLCF: thank_God_trust_God

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth; Choruses                                 

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

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – Psalm 104); Prayer        

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

BLCF: Gods Mercy is greater - animated

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson at BLCF, we will have a look at surviving in the wilderness of life’s trials and tests with comfort and mercy from the Lord.

Recently, there has been on television, a number of popular “Reality Series” which document peoples’ ability to overcome the challenges of surviving in a hostile environment. While a working knowledge of survival skills is useful, the key to successfully meeting the challenges and tests in the wilderness rests in one’s attitude or their frame of mind.

But this morning, I would like to discuss what is meant by the “wilderness,” that is described in the Scriptures?

We find one definition of the wilderness, specifically in the region of Judaea, from the web site bibleplaces.com:

Judean Wilderness

BLCF: voice in the wilderness

Also known as Desert of Judah, Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, Wilderness of Judaea, Wilderness of Judah Place of Refuge

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean wilderness (the Wilderness(es) of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness).

John the Baptist preached here, and it seems likely that this was the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him.

http://www.bibleplaces.com/judeanwilderness.htm

So when Moses sojourned in the wilderness, he found more than a refuge from Pharaoh, as we find in Exodus 3:1 (ESV):

BLCF: Moses-near-Mt-Horeb

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.

In Exodus 3, we have the account of God revealing Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush upon a mountain. God revealed to Moses His intention to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. Moses was the key to the Lord’s plan, which included leading them through the same wilderness.

But why would God want His people, who suffered greatly at the hands of their Egyptian taskmaster, venture through the wilderness before reach their “Promised Land”?

To understand, let us look at another take on the usage of the term “wilderness” in the Scriptures, is that posted by Jeff A. Benner at ancient-hebrew.org:

Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
Wilderness ~ midvar
By Jeff A. Benner

Judean Wilderness

                                 Judean Wilderness

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’.

The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

So the trek of the Hebrew people was intended to help them become reacquainted with their God, with the wilderness as their school. But the balance, order, and harmony to be restored in the Lord’s people come with His promise of a pardon for all sins. As we see in Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV), entitled:

                Comfort for God’s People

BLCF: Will-of-God

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[
a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying

But the Scriptures description of a voice crying out in the wilderness is echoed again by John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:19-23 (ESV):

The Testimony of John the Baptist

BLCF: John-the-Baptist

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight

BLCF: judean_desert

The wilderness where John the Baptist refers to himself as “voice in the wilderness” described by the prophet Isaiah, describing the restoration of balance, order, and harmony, as well as the promise of a pardon from sins, through Jesus. The Lord, also, had a wilderness experience immediately after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, where the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11(ESV) :

The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: Satan Tempts Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

BLCF: map-judean-desert-temptation_jesus

We see that the devil tested Jesus by tempting him to satisfy his hunger; having God rescue him as he leaped from a high precipice; and then offering Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan instead of the Father in Heaven! It is interesting that all the temptations Satan offered Christ were refuted and refused with Jesus responding with Scripture that spoke of actions of obedience and faith.

All of us encounter at some time in our lives, the challenges of a “wilderness trek”, where Satan challenges our faith by tempting us in a time of adversity. And just as Moses and the Hebrew people, as well as Jesus, we can allow the experience to draw comfort, through God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that as believers in the Resurrected Christ, God has blessed us with His goodness and mercy, by our faith in the Lord.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Piasecki-LastSupper

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

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

Closing Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

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.

 god-brings-you-to-it-and-through-it

America’s First Thanksgiving: A Holy Day Not A Holiday

BLCF: animated-gifs-thanksgiving-

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘America’s First Thanksgiving: A Holy Day Not A Holiday’

© October 9, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on October 12, 2014 

BLCF-Bulletin-October-9-2016

BLCF: secular-thanksgiving

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – from Psalm 104); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn #440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me; Choruses                               

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

Scripture Verses: Colossians 3:17, 1 Chronicles 16:23-34, Luke 17:11-19

BLCF: thanksgiving-day-prayer

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Thanksgiving Sunday in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson this morning is appropriately on the subject of Christian Thanksgiving or ‘Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness’. This brings us to our first Scripture Verse, where we are implored to make all that we say or do in Jesus’ name, as an expression of thanks to God the Father:

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

BLCF: thanksgiving-christian

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Does this verse indicate that we should celebrate Thanksgiving in the name of the Lord? And if so, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday, which I shared in a lesson last Thanksgiving. Let me recapitulate from a message that I shared here at BLCF last Thanksgiving:

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com (updated on October 7, 2013):

America’s First Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day

Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

BLCF: frobisher_map_thanksgiving

The secular view for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey!

How It All Began

BLCF: thanksgiving-history-canada-by-maria-montalvo

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

BLCF: early-thanksgiving-in-canada

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week.

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

BLCF: martin_frobisher_thanksgiving

 

So, in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, as well as our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

But does the Bible indicate an expectation for us to give thanks to God? We find the answer in 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 (ESV):

BLCF: 1Chronicles_16_29

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!     

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24 Declare his glory among the nations,     

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,    

 and he is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,     

but the Lord made the heavens.

27 Splendor and majesty are before him;     

strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,     

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;     

bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a] 30     

tremble before him, all the earth;     

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,     

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;     

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy    

 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Footnotes: a. 1 Chronicles 16:29 Or in holy attire

While the Scriptures admonish us to praise God for the miracles and blessings in our lives, we know that everyone does not do so, as we read in the account where Jesus healed the ten lepers, in Luke 17:11-19 (ESV):

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

BLCF: Jesus_heals_10_lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

BLCF: Luke_17_10-leper-thanksgiving

 

It is ironic that only one of the ten lepers who were cleansed or healed of their affliction, gave thanks to the Lord, and he was a Samaritan! Though perhaps it is not surprising, when we see the behavior of some who claim to be believers in Christ are not followers of Christ, in that they often tend to put themselves before the Lord, when acknowledging who is responsible for their salvation.

And since we are part of Christ’s Church, which is the bride to Christ, we see how the Apostle Paul exemplified such an expression of gratitude in his letter to the Church in Rome:

Romans 16:1-16 (ESV) Personal Greetings

Thank You from BLCF Church

Thanking Fellow Believers

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias     e. Romans 16:7 Or messengers f. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives thanks to fellow believers in Christ, whom he refers to as his ‘kinsmen’ with whom he was imprisoned. Paul equated fellow apostles and workers to brothers and sisters in Christ. The mother of Rufus was described like a mother to Paul. Paul continues to refer to others in terms of endearment, such as his ‘beloved’, worthy of a ‘holy kiss’.

How Christians thank the Lord for the gift of salvation, and the new covenant, which includes the promise of the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit is best expressed in the manner we treat others: as beloved members of our own family.

For when we behave towards one another in the Spirit of Christian love towards one another, we walk in the ‘Splendor of Holiness’ described 1 Chronicles 16:29, also described as wearing ‘Holy Attire’. And we can only be worthy donning Holy Attire through our Lord, Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

BLCF: jesus-founder-and-perfecter-of-our-faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy

Benediction – (Colossians 3:15):

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

 

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Worshiping the LORD in the Splendor of Holiness

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness

© October 12, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 12, 2014

 BLCF: Psalm_104-33

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – from Psalm 104); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me; Choruses                               

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

Scripture Verses: Colossians 3:17, 1 Chronicles 16:23-34, Luke 17:11-19

 

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Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Thanksgiving Sunday in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson this morning is appropriately on the subject of Christian Thanksgiving or ‘Worshiping the Lord in the Splendor of Holiness’. This brings us to our first Scripture Verse, where we are implored to make all that we say or do in Jesus’ name, as an expression of thanks to God the Father:

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Does this verse indicate that we should celebrate Thanksgiving in the name of the Lord? And if so, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday, which I shared in a lesson last Thanksgiving. Let me recapitulate from a message that I shared here at BLCF last Thanksgiving:

 

BLCF: thanksgiving-Canada_-2014

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com updated on October 7, 2013:

          Thanksgiving Day

       Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

The secular view for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey!

 

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How It All Began

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

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For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week.

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BLCF: early-thanksgiving-in-canada

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

 

So in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, as well as our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

But does the Bible indicate an expectation for us to give thanks to God? We find the answer in 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 (ESV):

 

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23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!     

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24 Declare his glory among the nations,     

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,    

 and he is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,     

but the Lord made the heavens.

27 Splendor and majesty are before him;     

strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,     

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;     

bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a] 30     

tremble before him, all the earth;     

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,     

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;     

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy    

 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Footnotes: a. 1 Chronicles 16:29 Or in holy attire

 

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While the Scriptures admonish us to praise God for the miracles and blessings in our lives, we know that everyone does not do so, as we read in the account where Jesus healed the ten lepers, in Luke 17:11-19 (ESV):

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

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11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

 

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It is ironic that only one of the ten lepers who were cleansed or healed of their affliction, gave thanks to the Lord, and he was a Samaritan! Though perhaps it is not surprising, when we see the behavior of some who claim to be believers in Christ are not followers of Christ, in that they often tend to put themselves before the Lord, when acknowledging who is responsible for their salvation.

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And since we are part of Christ’s Church, which is the bride to Christ, we see how the Apostle Paul exemplified such an expression of gratitude in his letter to the Church in Rome:

Romans 16:1-16 (ESV) Personal Greetings

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16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias     e. Romans 16:7 Or messengers f. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives thanks to fellow believers in Christ, whom he refers to as his ‘kinsmen’ with whom he was imprisoned. Paul equated fellow apostles and workers to brothers and sisters in Christ. The mother of Rufus was described like a mother to Paul. Paul continues to refer to others in terms of endearment, such as his ‘beloved’, worthy of a ‘holy kiss’.

BLCF: dear-God

 

How Christians thank the Lord for the gift of salvation, and the new covenant, which includes the promise of the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit is best expressed in the manner we treat others: as beloved members of our own family.

For when we behave towards one another in the Spirit of Christian love towards one another, we walk in the ‘Splendor of Holiness’ described 1 Chronicles 16:29, also described as wearing ‘Holy Attire’. And we can only be worthy donning Holy Attire through our Lord, Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

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12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us pray…

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Closing Hymn  # 392: Take Time to Be Holy

Benediction – (Colossians 3:15):

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

 

BLCF: Happy-Thanksgiving-