Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:           

‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

© September 23, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Message Shared with BLCF on August 9, 2015

 Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                    Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Choruses                             Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests                     Responsive Reading #667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23)                                                                                                                               Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson this morning is entitled:Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’, where we will have an opportunity for some self-reflection upon our personal walk with the Lord. We will look at the pitfalls of hypocrisy in our faith practices when we reflect upon God’s Word, primarily using today’s Scripture verses, .

It is through the Bible, along with the Spirit’s guidance, that we may understand not only the path God has set for us but examine our behavior as a true reflection of God’s grace. Let us first look at Psalm 119:57-64, which happens to take from not only the longest of the Psalms but also happens to be the longest chapter of Scripture found in the Bible, comprised of some 176 verses:

Psalm 119, verses 57 to 64 indicate the importance of attitude over actions as an expression of our faith which is pleasing to the Lord:

Psalm 119:57-64 (ESV)

Heth

57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

Our second Scripture verse contrasts that from Psalm 119, where Jesus gives a litany of failings in the faith practices of the Scribes and the Pharisees, Matthew 23:1-36 (ESV):

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear b. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8 c. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters d. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation e. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33 f. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

Henry’s Concise Commentary helps us understand the Lord’s concerns found in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 23:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: Matthew 23 Chapter Contents:

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees (1-12); Crimes of the Pharisees (13-33); The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39):

Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

(Read Matthew 23:1-12)

The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Exodus 13:2-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.

{The phylacteries are illustrated on the inside of today’s BLCF Bulletin.}

They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Numbers 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Commentary on Matthew 23:13-33(Read Matthew 23:13-33):

The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him…

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts’ lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39 (Read Matthew 23:34-39):

Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo… There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=40&c=23

The Bible refers to Christ, Jesus as the “Word made flesh.” But what is meant by this description of our Lord?

Question: “What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?”

Answer: The term word is used in different ways in the Bible. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated “word”: rhema and logos. They have slightly different meanings. Rhema usually means “a spoken word.” For example, in Luke 1:38, when the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word [rhema].”

Logos, however, has a broader, more philosophical meaning. This is the term used in John 1. It usually implies a total message, and is used mostly in reference to God’s message to mankind. For example, Luke 4:32 says that, when Jesus taught the people, “they were amazed at his teaching, because his words [logos] had authority.” The people were amazed not merely by the particular words Jesus chose but by His total message.

“The Word” (Logos) in John 1 is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the total Message—everything that God wants to communicate to man. The first chapter of John gives us a glimpse inside the Father/Son relationship before Jesus came to earth in human form. He preexisted with the Father (verse 1), He was involved in the creation of everything (verse 3), and He is the “light of all mankind” (verse 4). The Word (Jesus) is the full embodiment of all that is God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). But God the Father is Spirit. He is invisible to the human eye. The message of love and redemption that God spoke through the prophets had gone unheeded for centuries (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37). People found it easy to disregard the message of an invisible God and continued in their sin and rebellion. So the Message became flesh, took on human form, and came to dwell among us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2: 5–11).

The Greeks used the word logos to refer to one’s “mind,” “reason,” or “wisdom.” John used this Greek concept to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the self-expression of God to the world. In the Old Testament, the word of God brought the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6) and saved the needy (Psalm 107:20). In chapter 1 of his Gospel, John is appealing to both Jew and Gentile to receive the eternal Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 20:9–16 to explain why the Word had to become flesh. “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

In this parable, Jesus was reminding the Jewish leaders that they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting the Son. The Logos, the Word of God, was now going to be offered to everyone, not just the Jews (John 10:16; Galatians 2:28; Colossians 3:11). Because the Word became flesh, we have a high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

http://www.gotquestions.org/Word-became-flesh.html

The Bible reminds us that God created us in His image. And while the sin of Adam and Eve separated us from the image of God spiritually, which removed from us the immortality of this Godly image, Jesus, by way of his death on the cross to remove the death penalty, which is the expected judgment for sin and restores in us the promise of immortality to those who are not fettered by condemnation of sin.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Having been freed of the judgment of sin, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit and born again into a new self, redeemed and sanctified by Christ, Jesus, being a new creation through him. No longer are we judged by the Law, but redeemed by the one who has fulfilled that judgment, by his own sacrifice on the cross.

                                   Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV): Put On the New Self

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[a] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[b] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10 b. Colossians 3:11 Greek bondservant

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction:  – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17): Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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The Father’s Creation: Redeemed by His Son and Renewed with the Spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Father’s Creation: Redeemed by His Son and Renewed with the Spirit’

©May 7, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 7, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                    

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God #449; Choruses                                         

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

Responsive Reading #634:  Christian Unity (John and 20, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)                                                                                                                                                          

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                    

‘The Father’s Creation: Redeemed by His Son and Renewed with the Spirit’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Praise and Worship Service for this, the first Sunday of May, 2017. This also happens to be the Sunday where we observe Communion, as the Lord had instructed us to do, until the day he returns.

Our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Father’s Creation: Redeemed by His Son and Renewed with the Spirit’, where we explore through Scripture how we may understand the unseen God in Whose image humanity was created. We will also explore how God has called us to His bosom and how the Father has provided  believers with a path to salvation and a means to stay on that righteous Way.

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve in His image, as we read in Genesis 1:26-28 (ESV):

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 1:26 The Hebrew word for man (adam) is the generic term for mankind and becomes the proper name Adam

We read in Genesis 1: 27, that men and women are created in the image of God:

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

This passage indicates that God has blessed men and women, encouraging them to multiply and has and has granted us with dominion over every creature that flies in the air, swims in the seas, and walks on the earth.

What do we mean when we say that men and women are images of God? Let us look at the definition of an image:

Image definition im·ag ˈimij/  noun (google search)    

  1. a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.
synonyms: likenessresemblance

depictionportrayalrepresentation

statuestatuettesculpturebusteffigy

paintingpictureportraitdrawingsketch

“an image of St. Bartholomew”

  1. 2. a simile or metaphor.

Example: “he uses the image of a hole to describe emotional emptiness”

synonyms: similemetaphormetonymy

figure of speechtrope, turn of phrase; 

imagery

“biblical images”

I find it interesting and perhaps ironic that our Lord often taught by using the metaphor and the second definition of image is a metaphor.

While God’s creation was initially created humanity in the image of God, the devil sought to replace the goodness of that image with the evil of sin, Isaiah 59:1-4 (ESV):

Evil and Oppression

 59 Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.

 It is sin that has hidden humanity from God, resulting in a separation, which brings more sin and ultimately death.

But God’s love for His creation is great. So great that He sent His own Son, Christ Jesus, to restore the goodness to humanity by atoning for the judgment our sins, Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV):

 The Preeminence of Christ

 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 1:16 That is, by means of; or in

While humanity was originally created in the image of God, sin has altered and warped that image, obscuring from the Creator.

If humanity is described as being an expression of the image of God or as a metaphor or His expression of the image of Himself and sin has changed that image, we may consider that like damaged artwork, a restoration is called for:

Restoration of the Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

The conservation-restoration of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel was one of the most significant conservation-restorations of the 20th century.

The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter’s Basilica and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of Renaissance painters who were among the most highly regarded artists of late 15th century Italy, including GhirlandaioPerugino, and Botticelli.[1] The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and by the painting of the Last Judgment, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541, again by Michelangelo.[2] The tapestries on the lowest tier, today best known from the Raphael Cartoons (painted designs) of 1515–16, completed the ensemble.

Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling are among the most notable works of western art ever created.[a] The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in particular the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed. It has been claimed that as a result “Every book on Michelangelo will have to be rewritten”.[3] Others, such as the art historian James Beck of ArtWatch International, have been extremely critical of the restoration, saying that the restorers have not realized the true intentions of the artist. This is the subject of continuing debate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_of_the_Sistine_Chapel_frescoes

Like the tainted frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, God the creator of the universe sought to restore that which He created to their original pristine condition, through His son, Jesus, Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV):

Put On the New Self

 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d]with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:4 Some manuscripts our b. Colossians 3:5 Greek therefore your members that are on the earth c. Colossians 3:6 Some manuscripts add upon the sons of disobedience d. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10

While Jesus brought the means of humanity restoration in a day not years of loving sacrifice, by way of the cross, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit of God to maintain the goodness of his restoration, Romans 8:1-4 (ESV):

 Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:1 Some manuscripts add who walk not according to the flesh (but according to the Spirit) b. Romans 8:2 Some manuscripts me c. Romans 8:3 Or and as a sin offering

To recap our journey and lesson today:

  • God created man and woman in His good image.
  • Satan and sin damaged and obscured that image.
  • Christ Jesus came to restore the pristine image to humanity.
  • The Lord sent God’s Holy Spirit to maintain that image.

Those who believe in God’s plan that He sent His son, Jesus, to restore the righteous and holy image to the born again followers of Christ are gifted with the Spirit to renew that likeness to God, Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV):

 The New Life

 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 4:22 Greek man; also verse 24

Let us pray…

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

 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.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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 #365: I Am Weak, but Thou Art Strong   

 Benediction:

To God the Father, who created the world,

To God the Son, who redeemed the world,

To God the Holy Spirit, who sustains the world,                                                      

Be praise and glory, now and forever.                                                                              

 Amen.

Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image

BLCF: Jesus_in_mirror

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:          

‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

© August 9, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 9, 2015

BLCF: atheists

 

Announcements and Call to Worship – Responsive Reading #667:                        

Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23)                                                      

Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Choruses                                  

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

Prayer Requests                                                                                                                       

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 119:57-64 and Matthew 23:1-36

BLCF: 1 Corinthians 1_18  

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson this morning is entitled:Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’, where we will have an opportunity for some self-reflection upon our personal walk with the Lord. We will look at the pitfalls of hypocrisy in our faith practices when we reflect upon God’s Word, primarily using today’s Scripture verses, and Matthew 23:1-36. Let us first look at Psalm 119:57-64, which happens to taken from not only the longest of the Psalms, but also happens to be the longest chapter of Scripture found in the Bible. It is through the Bible, along with the Spirit’s guidance, that we may understand not only the path God has set for us, but examine our behavior as a true reflection of God’s grace. Let us begin with the Wikibits on Psalm 119:

Psalm 119

BLCF: Psalm_119

Psalm 119 (Greek numbering: Psalm 118) is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is referred to in Hebrew by its opening words, “Ashrei temimei derech” (“happy are those whose way is perfect”). It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law. With its 176 verses, Psalm 119 has more verses than 14 Old Testament Books and 17 New Testament Books.

This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter.[1] The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times.

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A Haredi Jew reading Psalm 119 at the Western Wall. – Wikipedia.org

Employed in almost (but not quite) every verse of the psalm is a synonym for the Torah, such as dabar (“word, promise”), mishpatim (“rulings”), etc.[1]

The acrostic form and the use of the Torah words constitute the framework for an elaborate prayer. The grounds for the prayer are established in the first two stanzas (alef and beth): the Torah is held up as a source of blessing and right conduct, and the psalmist pledges to dedicate himself to the law. The prayer proper begins in the third stanza (gimel, v. 17). Like many other psalms, this prayer includes dramatic lament (e.g. verses 81–88), joyous praise (e.g. verses 45–48) and prayers for life, deliverance and vindication (e.g. verses 132–134).

Eastern Orthodox

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The psalm (118 in the Septuagint) figures prominently in the worship of the Orthodox Church. There is a tradition that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet—but not just the alphabet for writing letters: the alphabet of the spiritual life.

The psalm comprises an entire Kathisma (division of the Psalter) in Orthodox liturgical practice. In Orthodox monasteries it is read daily at the Midnight Office: “At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness” (v. 62). It is read at Matins on Saturdays and is also chanted on many Sundays throughout the year. A major portion of Matins on Holy Saturday comprises chanting the entire psalm as a threnody, divided into three parts (stases) with Praises (Greek: Enkomia) interspersed between each verse. This chanting is done as all stand holding candles around a catafalque over which has been placed the Epitaphion (a shroud embroidered with the figure of Christ laid out for burial).

The psalm is also chanted with special solemnity at Orthodox funeral services and on the various All-Souls Days occurring throughout the year, with “Alleluia” chanted between each verse. Its use here is a reflection of the chanting done on Holy Saturday. “Alleluia” is chanted between the verses to signify the victory over death accomplished by Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the eternal reward promised to the faithful.

The Psalm contains several dozen prayers and several themes run through it. God’s goodness in the midst of affliction and delight in God’s law. God is seen sovereignly “inclining ones heart” and the Psalmist “inclines his heart” to the statutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_119

Psalm 119, verses 57 to 64 indicate the importance of attitude over actions as an expression of our faith which is pleasing to the Lord:

Psalm 119:57-64 (ESV)

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Word is our foundation

57 The Lord is my portion;     

I promise to keep your words.

58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;     

be gracious to me according to your promise.

59 When I think on my ways,     

I turn my feet to your testimonies;

60 I hasten and do not delay     

to keep your commandments.

61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,     

I do not forget your law.

62 At midnight I rise to praise you,     

because of your righteous rules.

63 I am a companion of all who fear you,     

of those who keep your precepts.

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;     

teach me your statutes!

Our second Scripture verse contrasts that from Psalm 119, where Jesus gives a litany of failings in the faith practices of both the Scribes and the Pharisees. Henry’s Concise Commentary helps us understand the Lord’s concerns found in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 23:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: Matthew 23

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Chapter Contents

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees. (1-12) Crimes of the Pharisees. (13-33) The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39)

Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

(Read Matthew 23:1-12)

The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Exodus 13:2-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21. They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Numbers 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Commentary on Matthew 23:13-33 (Read Matthew 23:13-33)

The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts’ lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39 (Read Matthew 23:34-39)

Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour’s tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=40&c=23

 Matthew 23:1-36 (ESV) Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

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23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Illustrated look at Phylacteries, two small black boxes with black straps worn by observant Jewish men. MCT 2010 12000000; krtcampus campus; krtfeatures features; krtreligion religion; krtworld world; REL; krt; mctgraphic; krt mct; 12011000; krtjudaism judaism jewish jew; arm; bible; bible verses; box; head; hebrew; jewish; leather; morning prayer services; observant; orthodox; phylacteries; phylactery; scripture; strap; tefillin; torah; hulteng; yingling; 2010; krt2010

Illustrated look at Phylacteries, two small black boxes with black straps worn by observant Jewish men. MCT 2010

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear b. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8 c. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters d. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation e. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33 f. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

 

Check out how this graphic looks on the actual Christian T-shirts Christian T-shirts can help to start a conversation with someone about the things of God. Would you know how to respond if someone looked at your Christian t-shirt and asked you why they should be a Christian? The Bible says that we should

Word became flesh – John 1:14

Question: “What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?”

Answer: The term word is used in different ways in the Bible. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated “word”: rhema and logos. They have slightly different meanings. Rhema usually means “a spoken word.” For example, in Luke 1:38, when the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word [rhema].” Logos, however, has a broader, more philosophical meaning. This is the term used in John 1. It usually implies a total message, and is used mostly in reference to God’s message to mankind. For example, Luke 4:32 says that, when Jesus taught the people, “they were amazed at his teaching, because his words [logos] had authority.” The people were amazed not merely by the particular words Jesus chose but by His total message. “The Word” (Logos) in John 1 is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the total Message—everything that God wants to communicate to man.

The first chapter of John gives us a glimpse inside the Father/Son relationship before Jesus came to earth in human form. He preexisted with the Father (verse 1), He was involved in the creation of everything (verse 3), and He is the “light of all mankind” (verse 4). The Word (Jesus) is the full embodiment of all that is God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). But God the Father is Spirit. He is invisible to the human eye.

The message of love and redemption that God spoke through the prophets had gone unheeded for centuries (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37). People found it easy to disregard the message of an invisible God and continued in their sin and rebellion. So the Message became flesh, took on human form, and came to dwell among us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2: 5–11). The Greeks used the word logos to refer to one’s “mind,” “reason,” or “wisdom.” John used this Greek concept to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the self-expression of God to the world. In the Old Testament, the word of God brought the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6) and saved the needy (Psalm 107:20). In chapter 1 of his Gospel, John is appealing to both Jew and Gentile to receive the eternal Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 20:9–16 to explain why the Word had to become flesh. “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

In this parable, Jesus was reminding the Jewish leaders that they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting the Son. The Logos, the Word of God, was now going to be offered to everyone, not just the Jews (John 10:16; Galatians 2:28; Colossians 3:11). Because the Word became flesh, we have a high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

http://www.gotquestions.org/Word-became-flesh.html

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27 So God created man in his own image,     

in the image of God he created him;    

 male and female he created them.

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Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV) Put On the New Self

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[a] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[b] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10 b. Colossians 3:11 Greek bondservant

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Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction:  – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17):                                                                        

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

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