Vessels of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: 2-corinthians-4_7

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Vessels of the Holy Spirit’

© February 21, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF Church on May 12, 2013

BLCF Bulletin February 21, 2016

BLCF: Holy Work Earthen-Vessels

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 642 (Call to Consecration – from Romans 12); Prayer                

Hymn #513: In Christ There Is No East or West; Choruses                                  

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

Scriptures: John 9:1-7, Jeremiah 18:2-6, John 4:4-15, Proverbs 3:6                                                      

Opening Hymn #403: Walking in Sunlight All of My Journey

 

BLCF: earthen_vessels_with_heavenly_treasure

Let us pray…

As you may have surmised from today’s Scripture verses, our lesson today is on the common theme: of how God shapes, forms and molds the Christian believer, in much the same manner that a potter molds clay pottery. The transformation of a lump of earth or clay into something that has a useful purpose, which is symbolic as to how God transforms the believer from something that is of this world to a vessel that carries the Holy Spirit. That is why today’s message is entitled: ‘Vessels of the Holy Spirit’. In our first Scripture passage, we read how the apostle Paul utilizes this representation in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (ESV):

Treasure in Jars of Clay

BLCF: TREASURES IN JARS OF CLAY

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

In the Old Testament we see the same analogy in the Book of Isaiah 64:8 (ESV):                                                                                                           

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;   we are all the work of your hand.

To make a vase or jar, a potter needs the following materials: clay, a potter’s wheel and a plan or purpose for the creation. But the clay must be of the right consistency and moisture content. Too dry, the clay won’t hold its form and will tend to crumble. The moisture provided for the clay in the scripture analogy represents the Holy Spirit, which allows the potter to work and shape the clay.

BLCF: jars of clay with precious content

Earthen clay is appropriate choice of illustration for the apostles and prophets, since we see that a similar material used by God to create Adam in Genesis 2:7 (ESV):

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.

By itself, clay, earth or dust is inert, similar to the world when it was first created, without life and without form. Like a potter with clay, God formed the dust from the ground and breathed life into man’s nostrils, which transformed something dead and inert material into a living creature, a man.

But man and woman, both living creations of God are not just given life. They are also given a spirit, as we read in Job 10:8-12 (ESV):

Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

If you recall, it was the spirit of Job that allowed him to endure testing, hardship and pain in his life. And Job was given that spirit through his faith, trust and love for God.

Even the Psalmist acknowledges the soul’s sense of God’s plan and purpose for each person before their birth in Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV): 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

The Scriptures give another, somewhat different, application of the earth being used to transform or change, in John 9:1-7 (ESV):

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

BLCF: John_9

 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

In the verses from John 9, the Lord spits on the ground to make clay, transforming it into mud, which is used to anoint a blind man’s eyes. But the mud has no immediate effect upon the blind man’s vision, until the man follows the directions of Jesus to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. By going and washing his eyes, the blind man demonstrates faith and obedience by following the Lord’s instructions and is rewarded with his sight. Many Jews believed that a person born blind is so afflicted because of a sin or transgression caused by that person or the person’s ancestors. In this case, it is difficult to imagine a newborn baby able to commit a sin at birth. By healing this blind man, Jesus shows us that those who are afflicted are entitled to the same grace and love as anyone else. It shows us that we must not blame or judge the afflicted or disabled as being so afflicted because of sin.

But for those who are guilty of sin, God, the potter, has the ability to repair or transform a broken or defective body into a new one, see Jeremiah 18:2-6 (ESV):  

“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

In other words, God has the desire and ability to restore a people, who are broken and ‘spoiled’ because of sin, into something better and new.

But how does God change someone spoiled by sin into someone new and sinless? We may find our answer in John’s account found in John 4:4-15 (ESV):

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

BLCF: Jesus&Samaritan_Woman_at_the_well

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.  And he had to pass through Samaria.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

In this passage, the living water John described is the Holy Spirit. But being creatures of free will and choice, we are given the choice between: to allowing our vessel, our souls, hearts and minds to be vessels filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit, by faith, or to staying vessels of the unholy world, destined to return to dust. Like in the account of the blind man, the Holy Spirit can only work its healing upon those who believe and are obedient to the Lord.

By contrast, those who challenge God’s power and authority, as did Adam, Eve, and Satan (in the guise of a serpent), in the Garden of Eden, failed to demonstrate either an understanding or acceptance of God’s will in their lives, which is the point of the clay analogy found in Isaiah 29:16 (ESV):

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Those who defy the Lord are denied the gift of the Spirit, Romans 12:2 (ESV):

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So it is not enough just to worship God, we must demonstrate a faith and trust in God that is both honest and true, John 4:24 (ESV): 

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

To further demonstrate that though we have a sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve, like the blind man, we will be given the opportunity to choose the Way of Jesus, to accept God’s will in our lives and receive God’s Grace through the Holy Spirit, by faith and obedience to Christ, or to continue living a life unchanged and untouched by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we will not be judged based on the sins of our parents, but by our own choice between the way of sin and the Way of forgiveness through Christ Jesus, Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV):

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

By accepting the gift of salvation and grace, through our Lord Jesus, by confessing our sins, and following the Lord, we are forgiven our sins and receive the Holy Spirit, which will reshape us and guide us on the righteous path, Proverbs 3:6 (ESV): 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Let us pray…

Hymn #403: Walking in Sunlight All of My Journey

Benediction: (Romans 12:1-2):

A Living Sacrifice

BLCF Living our values

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

BLCF: God transforms us

Advertisements

Rendering Heavenly Treasures: Sanctified in His Truth and Unified by His Spirit

BLCF: Jesus_Savior

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Rendering Heavenly Treasures: Sanctified in His Truth and Unified by His Spirit’

© May 3, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 3, 2015

BLCF: enemy_of_greed

Announcements & Call to Worship:                                                                                                            

Responsive Reading #618(Heavenly Treasure – Matthew 6); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark: Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 6:19-20, John 18:33-40, John 17:1-19

BLCF: Caesar_Coin__Tiberius 

Mark 12:13-17 (ESV) Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[a] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.                                                                                                                                                               

Footnotes: a. Mark 12:14 Greek you do not look at people’s faces b. Mark 12:15  A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

BLCF: HEAVENLY-TREASURE

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for the first Sunday of May, 2015, which is also Communion Sunday.

Sometimes, the toughest part about writing a lesson is to remember that while I may struggle to clarify a verse or some aspect of the Gospel, I must remind myself that help is available from both the Holy Spirit and fellow members of the Body of Believers. Just as Moses and Paul succeeded in their respective missions, when they allowed the Lord to guide their path, rather than depending solely on their own strengths. While, as believers in the Resurrected Christ, we share the Gospel Message; it is the power and work of the Spirit is responsible to convict, transform and grow the faith conversion of the non-believer.

At times, Christian believers struggled to heed the guidance of the Spirit, as had both the prophets and the disciples at times. An example of this challenge was given by Pastor Charles Stanley, writing his Tips for Being Led by the Holy Spirit, as appeared in the online Charisma Magazine:

 

BLCF: F-Stanley-

Pastor Charles Stanley shares how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

Several years ago during a photographic trip, my group had been traveling up a trail for almost three hours, and I began to have a funny feeling that we were going in the wrong direction. I asked the guide about it, and he assured me that everything was fine. Not wanting to be presumptuous, I kept walking. After a few minutes, I noticed that my sense of uneasiness persisted; in fact, it was growing stronger. I pulled out my compass and looked at the map. Sure enough, we were headed away from our intended destination.

It took us close to an hour and a half to return to where we had taken the incorrect turn off the trail. Sadly, this meant that by the time we got to the site, our window for taking photographs was cut short.

The event helped me to realize two valuable lessons. First, when we sense an internal witness encouraging us to take a certain course of action, we should listen. Second, when you and I choose people to guide us, we must be certain they know the path ahead better than we do.

Have you ever felt something alerting you to pay attention or pulling you in a particular direction? Perhaps you were listening to a sermon and you sensed God telling you to follow Him in obedience. Or maybe you walked into a restaurant and were filled with dread, as if you should leave quickly.

If you are a believer, then most likely these feelings were the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who always guides you to understand and accept the Father’s will. He is the One speaking to your heart, warning you about danger and encouraging you to submit to God’s purposes.

Unlike the fellow who accompanied us on that photographic trip, the Holy Spirit is a trustworthy guide who will never lead us astray and knows the path ahead much better than we do. Apart from Him, you and I cannot live a godly life. Galatians 5:16 instructs, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (NASB). The Holy Spirit empowers us to resist sin and obey God. But He does so much more: He also helps us to understand Scripture and enables us to fellowship with the Lord. He will never advise us to do anything that contradicts Scripture.

http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/15418-guided-by-the-spirit

BLCF: render_unto_Caesar_Malczewski_Jacek_Grosz_czynszowy

Today’s first Scripture verse, Mark 12:13-17, gives an account where Jesus was challenged by a group of Pharisees and Herodians, who hoped to snare the Lord into speaking out against taxes, by asking, (verse 14): “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”

We see that the Spirit allowed the Lord to discern their motives and give an answer which satisfied both their faith values, while not being subversive to authority of Rome,(verses 15-17): “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

The stumbling block for many Christians is living in a world that based upon a completely different set of values from those held by our Lord, Matthew 6:19-20:

BLCF: Heavenly_Treasures

 Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.                   

We find that the proponents of both the Empire of Rome, represented by Pilate and Pharisees, or chief priests, struggled with the truth of God as was taught by Jesus, John 18:33-40:

BLCF: Jesus_and_Pilate

My Kingdom Is Not of This World

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.[a]  

Footnotes: a. John 18:40 Or an insurrectionist

The Pharisees and Herodians, not being guided by the Spirit, understood neither the purpose nor the truth brought to them by Jesus. Their lack of understanding came as a result of the absence of faith and trust in powers of Heaven.

While Pilate, the Pharisees and Herodians may have failed to accept or understand the truth of the Lord, those disciples and others who believed were the focus of the High Priestly Prayer that Jesus prayed just before his crucifixion, John 17:1-19:

BLCF; Jesus Prayed

The High Priestly Prayer

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth.                                      

Footnotes: a. John 17:15 Or from evil b. John 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God) c. John 17:19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God) e. John 17:19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God)

We know that Jesus often left the disciples in order to pray. John 17 gives us an insight of not only whom the Lord prayed for, but reveals to us the nature of his advocacy on behalf of Christian believers after he ascended to heaven.  We note the difference between those who heeded the words of the Lord and those who rejected it, (verses 6-11):

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

In John 17, Jesus continues to pray for the believers’ sanctification (in the truth), protection from Satan (the evil one), and Christ’s determination to set himself apart so that the believers may continue to remain sanctified in the truth – all implemented by the companion in the Holy Spirit which was sent in place of Christ after his ascension into heaven.

For all believers are united by Holy Spirit, given as a reward to confession of their sins and faith that Jesus died for those sins. Believers are instructed to share the Gospel of Jesus and to gather together in the name of the Lord and observe the sacrifice and Lordship, until the day that he returns.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Communion

Communion – (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.

Closing Hymn #505: Out in the Highways and Byways of Life

Benediction – (Romans 12:1-2):                                                                                                                        

I appeal to you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

BLCF: he-prayed-for-you