Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

If you have arrived at this page as a result of using a search engine to find a publication on Blood Moons, Eclipses, or other astronomical or heavenly phenomena related the end times or final days or end of the world, congratulations you are not alone. Below are two tables which indicate how many people searched for this topic, on each day, since the beginning of last December, 2020. and as this the third revision of my lesson, since it was first published on February 2, 2014, with the second revision on April 22, 2018. The second chart gives a summary of how many times the topic was searched over the years since 2014. While I could update this lesson with NASA Charts and diagrams for 2021, they would only indicate the same fact that no eclipse (solar or lunar) and no Blood Moon (Regular or Super) is visible to all people and locations around the world. Those used in this lesson are the same to referenced by the Yanover, Hagee, and Martin assertions that events such blood moons and eclipses predicted by NASA are portents of celestial events referenced in the Scriptures signaling God’s Day of Judgment, known as the End of Days or Armageddon, a topic for another lesson. Today’s lesson will focus whether the unusual celestial events referenced in the publications of the three authors are are the same End Time events referenced in the Bible. Perhaps the COVID-19 virus has raised the fear that the Pandemic validates Yanover, Hagee, and Martin contention that future is shown by the events in the heavens, supposedly validated by NASA’s Astronomical Charts.

Today’s lesson will contrast their theories with Biblical truths. Please read the lesson for yourself and see whether their “scientific” facts are actually a case of conflating one thing for another, whether they be similar or not. You be the judge  of what is Biblical truth and what is not and what is intended to sell a book or lecture tour and what is Gospel of the Lord.

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

© January 17, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF, on April 22, 2018 and on February 2, 2014

BLCF Bulletin April 22, 2018

BLCF Bulletin February 2, 2014

 Romans 16:17-19

17 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                            

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God                                                

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21

Message by Stephen Mickelson:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?‘ 

 

First Scripture Reading: Isaiah 47:1-15 (ESV): The Humiliation of Babylon

47 Come down and sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter of Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
tender and delicate.
2 Take the millstones and grind flour,
put off your veil,
strip off your robe, uncover your legs,
pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance,
and I will spare no one.
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.

5 Sit in silence, and go into darkness,
O daughter of the Chaldeans;
for you shall no more be called
the mistress of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people;
I profaned my heritage;
I gave them into your hand;
you showed them no mercy;
on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.
7 You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”
so that you did not lay these things to heart
or remember their end.

8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,
who sit securely,
who say in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
or know the loss of children”:
9 These two things shall come to you
in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and the great power of your enchantments.

10 You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.”
11 But evil shall come upon you,
which you will not know how to charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
for which you will not be able to atone;
and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,
of which you know nothing.

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.
No coal for warming oneself is this,
no fire to sit before!

15 Such to you are those with whom you have labored,
who have done business with you from your youth;
they wander about, each in his own direction;
there is no one to save you.

Second Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:11-21 (ESV) Paul Opposes Peter

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

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b.Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

Let us pray…

We begin today’s lesson by reading an excerpt of a sensational Headline science news article published in the UK Daily Express online newspaper article published bearing the byline of  SEAN MARTIN , PUBLISHED: 15:00, Wed, Jan 31, 2018 | UPDATED: 15:21, Wed, Jan 31, 2018:

A BIBLICAL prophecy came true during the lunar eclipse as an earthquake struck as the blood moon rose – just as a Pastor had predicted. Blood Moon 2018 bible prophecy TRUE: Earthquake hits Papua New Guinea same time as eclipse

In the early hours of January 31, the moon began to turn red as it started coming out of the shadow of Earth.

Many had linked the super blue blood moon phenomenon to a sign from God, and none more so that Pastor John Hagee, whose book Four Blood Moons sparked worldwide interest in the event.

At 9.48 local time over the Pacific, the moon began to turn red.

However, just 60 seconds later, a strong 5.8 magnitude struck Papua New Guinea.

Pastor Hagee pointed to the Book of Joel, claiming that this was a sign from God.

Chapter Two of the Book of Joel says that the “sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood” before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Hagee said: “God is sending us a signal. Something huge is about to happen. Something is going to change, forever.

“It’s not just a single story. It’s in Genesis and repeated in Joel and again in Joshua and again in Luke and then, finally, in Revelation.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/912596/blood-moon-bible-meaning-eclipse-2018-prophecy-earthquake

One may ask the question “What is wrong with the above article, crediting natural events that link a pastor’s prediction with the Bible?” A better question might be: “Who does the Bible indicate can predict the second coming? Is it any person, or the angels of heaven,  or Jesus, or the Father in heaven?”

One may also ask: What is the relationship between today’s two Scriptures, Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21? One describes the ‘Humiliation of Babylon’; the other ‘Paul’s Opposition to Peter’. While the topics seem to differ, both describe conduct that is not in step with the Gospel and therefore in opposition to God.

We see in Isaiah 47, particularly Verses 12 to 14 the dangers of using cosmic events to predict the actions of God:

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.

The Prophet Isaiah compares using stars to create prophecies attributed to God as an act of sorcery, condemning the stargazer to a judgment of fire and ultimately death.

The practice of using the relative location of the stars and planets to predict God’s actions falls within the realm of astrology. Astrology focuses upon the position and relationship of heavenly bodies as an omen or portent to predict significant future events.

The Galatians 2 Scriptures describe how the Apostle Peter (Cephas) erroneously believed that in order to become a follower of the Way of Christ, the Gentiles must first convert to Judaism. The Apostle Paul, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is able to convince Peter of the fallacy of the practice that required an individual’s conversion to one religion, as a prerequisite for the other. More significantly, the New Covenant through Christ eliminated many of the old Mosaic observances and practices that were mandated to become justified unto God.

Though the Lord did instruct the disciples to partake the elements of Communion at his ‘Last Supper’, which happened to occur at the Jewish Celebration of a Passover Supper, Jesus’ death on the cross removed many of the dietary rules and observances as a path to being justified before God. By the same token, circumcision was no longer necessary to qualify as a member of God’s chosen people. The New Covenant required confession of sin, faith in Jesus’s sacrifice for the sin of the world, a willingness to be baptized of the Spirit and to follow the Way of Christ. The feasts, sacrificial offerings, and governance of the Mosaic Law had given way to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Understanding the dangers of astrology and misinterpreting the Gospel of Jesus, it is surprising to see the rise in popularity, particularly in Christian circles, an attempt to predict the return of Jesus, through celestial events, such as the event described as the “Four Blood Moons”. According to some self-proclaimed prophets, four blood red moons are supposed to be a sign of the Lord’s return. This prophecy, just as the circumcision prerequisite for Christian conversion by Cephas in Galatians 2, makes the fundamental mistake of attempting to color events of God’s New Covenant in Christ, under the constraints of the old Jewish Feasts and practices. To understand what is meant by the four blood moons, let me refer to an article from the jewishpress.com, authored by Yori Yanover:

Messianic Blood Moon Rising on Passover Seder Night

By: Yori Yanover

Published: October 6th, 2013, Latest update: October 11th, 2013

There will be a string of four “blood moons” in the year 5775, and one of them will shine over the Passover Seder. Whenever this happened in the past, enormous events took place in Jewish history.

It starts with the Book of Joel, Chapter 3:3-4: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

The verse about the sun turning dark and the moon turning to blood, is at the center of a new, hot, Christian bestseller titled “Four Blood Moons,” by Pastor John Hagee. It is based on a discovery by Pastor Mark Biltz, who runs a “Hebrew roots” ministry in Tacoma, Washington: Red Moons.

Biltz’s website declares: “We do not want to convert Jews to Christianity or Christians to Judaism,” which works for me. He based his observation on the verse in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

God originally plans to use the heavenly lights as signs, and the prophet Joel foretells that a blood moon would mark the day of the Lord – then it stands to reason that some dramatic stuff should be taking place when a blood moon is up in the sky.

The science of the “blood moon” phenomenon is fairly simple. It is created by a partial lunar eclipse. When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon completely, we get a total eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon only partially. The earth atmosphere bends light around its edge, and scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet), leaving longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the Earth’s shadow. This is also why sunsets and sunrises generally appear red.

As is the case with most miraculous events that can be explained scientifically, the miracle is not in the natural phenomenon, but rather in its timing. So the Book of Joel describes solar eclipse, followed by a partial lunar eclipse, as precursors of the Day of the Lord.

The prophecy in Joel, like most prophecies, is surreal, beautiful, and open to many interpretations. But we can take away from it the notion of a blood moon as a sign, and check out the calendar for the next bunch of partial lunar eclipses.

That’s what Pastor Biltz did, he looked at NASA’s tables for solar and lunar eclipses and found a string of lunar and solar eclipses happening in 2014 and 2015 and then nothing like it for the rest of the 21st century. In 2015 there will be two solar and lunar eclipses two weeks apart (on the new moon and full moon) one in the spring and one in the fall. This could possibly produce four blood moon eclipses in a row, which is definitely something to write home about.

OK, now hold on to your seats, please: we’ve had the Tetrad phenomenon (a string of four moons partially or completely eclipsed,) twice in the last century, both times on the night of the Passover Seder: in 5710 (1949-50) and in 5728 (1967-68).

The year 5710 came right after the establishment of the State of Israel.

The year 5728 came right after the liberation of Jerusalem.

The next string of four blood moons is coming Passover Seder night, 5775 (2014-15) – a year from this Pesach.

Oh, and the last time this event had taken place before the 20th century was in 5654. That’s 1493-94 to you and me, one year after the exile from Spain.

Now the much better connected Pastor Hagee has picked up Biltz’s notions and authored a very popular book about the blood moons and what they mean – of course, the second coming of you know who.

No, Virginia, we don’t believe in this stuff, we really don’t follow anything up in the heavens except our Father in Heaven, but you have to admit, this is pretty curious.

It’s also interesting to note that those moon strings each appeared only after the miraculous events, like a kind of confirmation on the part of God: I did this. Which means the coming year or so should be very eventful.

Like you didn’t know this without the moon…

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/messianic-blood-moon-rising-on-passover-seder/2013/10/06/

While researching this message, I observed one of the pastors named in this article on a Huntley Street interview posted on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4O0um1gwo ), as he pleads with viewers to buy copies of his book from amazon.com for family and friends in order to get his message out. The other pastor promotes his message on a BLOG which solicits donations. I find it difficult to imagine that the Holy Spirit would allow God’s prophecy to be distributed in such a commercial way.

The other obvious flaw in both Tetrad and Blood-Moon theories is the erroneous assumption that these celestial events are God’s way of announcing Christ’s Return to the entire world. Their mistake is in believing that the events will be visible to everyone around the globe. No way. Europe and the Middle East (Jerusalem) will not see the first of these events. So the bad news is no Tetrad for Zion! Here is Space.com’s explanation of what happened at the most recent blood moon and the next lunar eclipse:

From Space.com, Dateline January 31, 2018: Skywatchers around the world were treated to a rare Super Blue Blood Moon today (Jan. 31). While this was the first time in over 150 years that this particular type of eclipse has happened in the U.S., Americans can look forward to another “blood moon” eclipse coming on Jan. 21, 2019.

This next immediate total lunar eclipse — when the moon appears to turn red as it passes through Earth’s dark inner shadow, or the umbra — will occur later this year on July 27. But that eclipse won’t be visible from North America. However, much of the rest of the world — South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia — will have a great view of that eclipse.

https://www.space.com/39557-next-blood-moon-eclipses-2018-2019.html

Contrary to the Scriptures, we must acknowledge that note that none of the blood moons or eclipses predicted by astronomers at NASA are visible everywhere on earth. In other words, the self-appointed prophets’ suffer a common flaw by citing celestial events which are visible only to a fraction of the population of the world. By contrast, the final days described in the Scriptures are events that will be visible to all of humanity. The authors’ common flaw seems to reveal that they more interested in selling books by promoting their own inaccurate prophecies at the expense of the truth found in God’s Word.

If we are truly living in the end times, with the return of Christ imminent, would it not make more sense from a Christian standpoint, to freely distribute the information to the world as a free eBook or file? Imagine Jesus’ disciples offering to the world the path to salvation and redemption from sin offered by God, but for a price. And if you have no money to purchase the information, you are out of luck! Sorry, but is not the way my God works! For my salvation, only one individual had to pay, that was Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:17-19 (ESV)

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The final debunking of these self-appointed prophets is that they have the arrogance to claim to be able to determine the time our Lord Jesus returns from celestial events. But what does our Saviour say to any man’s ability to use the position and alignment of heavenly bodies to predict the day Christ, Jesus will return:

Matthew 24:29-42 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 24:36 Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

The important part of the passage from Matthews’s gospel was not his description of how the heavens look, but Verse 36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only.

And Jesus repeats the warning again in Verse 42:

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

In my estimation, any person who claims to know that which only the Father in heaven knows is standing on dangerous grounds! No one means no man, woman or child! Even the angels of heaven and Christ, Jesus are not privy to date that Lord returns!

While some manuscripts omit nor the Son, all of the Scripture sources indicate that God the Father alone; which means not the angels or even Jesus the Son, knows the day that Christ will come again. This means that the authors of the “Four Blood Moon” prophecy seem to claim knowledge that is strictly the within the domain of God. Does this claim sound a little familiar? I seem to recall an encounter with a fallen angel, in the guise of a serpent that offered the knowledge of God for the price of defying the Father’s single commandment:

Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Temptation in the Garden

Adam, Eve and the Serpent

You may recall a message that we shared concerning the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, all three, playing important parts in God’s plan for his beloved children. Jesus died in our stead, paying the price for everyone’s sins. Christ was resurrected from the dead, which is part of God’s New Covenant to all who trust and obey the message of the Gospel. And the Lord ascended to Heaven to sit beside the Father, intercede as an advocate for all believers, and to send the Holy Spirit of God, in order to bring a rebirth through Christ. But at his ascension, what did the disciples do? Let us review the account from the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, starting with Verse 6:

Acts 1:6-11 (ESV): The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

So Jesus reminds the disciples, in Acts 1, Verse 7, they are not to know the time of his return, we see in the following verse, his Great Commission which is Christ’s command to the disciples to go witness throughout the world, the gospel of Christ: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And we see how the disciples responded, Acts 1, verse 9-11: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Some translations describe the men in white robes as angels of the Lord, who speaks to the disciples, addressing them as “men of Galilee” asking them why are they staring at heaven, say that the Lord would return from heaven, the same way that he left.

The disciples were having what I like to call a “Ferris Bueller moment”. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, Matthew Broderick appears after the final credits on screen and asks the audience: “You’re still here? It’s over! Go home! Go!” ( See Bueller clip starting at 3:40 https://youtu.be/jDfbWDLNjjE?t=220 )

The disciples having just been commanded by the Lord to go forth and minister, are still peering into the heavens as if they have nothing else to do. People who focus on events in the heavens for signs of the Lord’s return, be they blood red moons or any other sign, are not doing what he commanded. Remember his words, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

But playing the devil’s advocate, as if he needs more advocates in the world, one might claim that the “Four Blood Moons” only describes signs of God, that is found throughout the Scriptures, including the Book of Revelations:

Revelation 12:1-12 (ESV): The Woman and the Dragon

12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Satan Thrown Down to Earth

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

When reading the Revelation 12 passage, we see that there is no urgency to focus on the time Christ returns. The only urgency to act due to time constraints described in this Scripture passage belongs to Satan:

Revelation 12: 12

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!

But those stubborn proponents of the “Four Blue Moons” prophecies might direct us to Genesis 1: 14-15, saying that God intended for us to use the signs from the heavens for prophecy:

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV)

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[a] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

Footnotes: a, Genesis 1:14 Or appointed times

While God provided that there be signs in the heavens, did He intend them to enable us to predict the return of Christ? If you read the first paragraph of Luke 21:25-35, you might say “yes indeed”. Let us read this passage all the way through, and we see otherwise:

Luke 21:25-35 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Watch Yourselves

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

On the day that our Saviour returns, he will come suddenly upon those who dwell on the face of the earth, including the prophets of the “Four Blue Moons”, assuming their prophecy correct. In other words, no one knows the day or time, except only God. And those who claim that knowledge are not God!

The final Scripture passage that “Four Blue Moons” advocates use to justify their prophecies, comes from the sermon by the Apostle Peter from the second chapter of the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:14-24 (ESV): Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

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

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[
b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord 
shall be saved.’

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

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

The key part of this passage from Acts 2 is found in Verses 22 -24, indicating just Who is responsible for mighty works, wonders, and signs; with the events that occur according to Whose plan and foreknowledge; and these events are by way of Whose power: God and God, alone! Let us read Acts 2:22-24 again:

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

So let us not desire, as did Adam and Eve, to have the knowledge of God, especially with respect to events such as Christ’s return. That, alone, is the sole purview belonging to our Father in heaven. Remember, that Jesus said that neither he nor the angels know the time when he returns, only God the Father knows. As long as we follow the Lord, we have nothing to fear. Let us keep the faith in the task to which he gave us when he ascended to heaven; to return on a day and time known to our Father in heaven. So by claiming that the Blood moons are a sign from God of His final judgment, we claim to know something only God knows, we are misleading others and ourselves, and when He does not come, we have turned people away from God. Only Satan would like that, for his time, and that of his followers is short!

Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV):

19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Below are two tables which indicate how many people searched for this topic, on each day, since the beginning of last December, 2020. and as this the third revision of my lesson, since it was first published on February 2, 2014, with the second revision on April 22, 2018. The second chart gives a summary of how many times the topic was searched over the years since 2014. While I could update this lesson with NASA Charts and diagrams for 2021, they would only indicate the same fact that no eclipse (solar or lunar) and no Blood Moon (Regular or Super) is visible to all people and locations around the world. Those used in this lesson are the same to referenced by the Yanover, Hagee, and Martin assertions that events such blood moons and eclipses predicted by NASA are portents of celestial events referenced in the Scriptures signaling God’s Day of Judgment, known as the End of Days or Armageddon, a topic for another lesson. Today’s lesson will focus whether the unusual celestial events referenced in the publications of the three authors are are the same End Time events referenced in the Bible. Perhaps the COVID-19 virus has raised the fear that the Pandemic validates Yanover, Hagee, and Martin contention that future is shown by the events in the heavens, supposedly validated by NASA’s Astronomical Charts.

Searches for Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact? 

Recent Weeks

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total Average
DEC 75 DEC 86 DEC 96 DEC 105 DEC 118 DEC 124 DEC 135 39
DEC 143 DEC 154 DEC 162 DEC 171 DEC 184 DEC 191 DEC 202 17 2-56.41%
DEC 211 DEC 223 DEC 231 DEC 242 DEC 257 DEC 264 DEC 278 26 352.94%
DEC 285 DEC 294 DEC 307 DEC 314 JAN 17 JAN 23 JAN 315 45 673.08%
JAN 42 JAN 54 JAN 66 JAN 78 JAN 812 JAN 93 JAN 101 36 5-20.00%
JAN 111 JAN 128 JAN 1316 JAN 144 JAN 153 JAN 164 JAN 170 36 616.67%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searches for Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact? 

Months and years

0000 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2014 126 105 137 44 35 19 32 49 155 24 26 752
2015 48 43 89 51 32 32 37 57 102 19 6 2 518
2016 2 4 8 8 1 1 2 5 11 12 8 13 75
2017 11 4 8 6 7 9 2 4 4 3 10 3 71
2018 2 0 7 6 4 1 9 4 3 2 2 6 46
2019 8 2 1 0 0 3 0 1 13 50 12 23 113
2020 22 103 96 88 141 122 88 124 110 167 107 116 1,284
2021 97 97

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF Praise and Worship Service

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy’

© January 10, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on October 27, 2019 and on July 9, 2017

BLCF Bulletin October 27, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin July 9, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                          

Opening Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #599: The Majesty of God (Psalms 24 and 97)                

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Singing to Express the Joy of the Soul’            

Let us pray…

Psalm 100:1-2 (ESV): His Steadfast Love Endures Forever (Read as today’s prayer)

            A Psalm for giving thanks

100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

This passage, from Psalm 100, encourages us to make a joyful noise to the Lord”; and to: ”serve the Lord with gladness”; and last but not least to ”come into his presence with singing.”  Each of these actions could be classified as expressions of praising and worshiping the Lord.

The main expressions of our Sunday Praise and Worship Service at BLCF include prayer, song, and studying of the Word. Hopefully, the expressions of worship are infused with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Other aspects include evangelism, fellowship, meditation, and celebration of the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.

Our lesson today, entitled: ‘Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy’, we will focus on the importance song in our Worship Service. But what was the importance of music and song to the worship in the Holy Temple? I found an answer to the question in the Wikibits research results:

History of Music in the Biblical Period

– from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

 Knowledge of the biblical period is mostly from literary references in the Bible and post-biblical sources. Religion and music historian Herbert Lockyer, Jr. writes that “music, both vocal and instrumental, was well cultivated among the Hebrews, the New Testament Christians, and the Christian church through the centuries.”[1] He adds that “a look at the Old Testament reveals how God’s ancient people were devoted to the study and practice of music, which holds a unique place in the historical and prophetic books, as well as the Psalter.”

Psalter consists of the Book of Psalms used for liturgical or devotional portions of the worship service.

The music of religious ritual was first used by King David, and, according to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Music, he is credited with confirming the men of the Tribe of Levi as the “custodians of the music of the divine service.”[2] Historian Irene Hesk notes that of the twenty-four books of the Old Testament, the 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms ascribed to King David, have served as “the bedrock of Judeo-Christian hymnology,” concluding that “no other poetry has been set to music more often in Western civilization.”[3]

The study of ancient musical instruments has been practiced for centuries with some researchers studying instruments from Israel/Palestine dating to the “biblical period.”[4]:145 Archaeological and written data have demonstrated clearly that music was an integral part of daily life in ancient Israel/Palestine. Figurines and iconographic depictions show that people played chordophones and frame drums, and that the human voice was essential as women and men sang love songs along with laments for the deceased. Data also describes outdoor scenes of music and dancing in sometimes prophetic frenzies, often with carefully orchestrated and choreographed musicians and singers within specially built structures.[4]:106

According to ancient music historian Theodore Burgh, “If we were able to step into the . . . biblical period, we would find a culture filled with music . . . where people used music in their daily lives.”[4] “Such music was capable of expressing a great variety of moods and feelings or the broadly marked antitheses of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, faith and doubt. In fact, every shade and quality of sentiment are found in the wealth of songs and psalms and in the diverse melodies of the people.

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

In many Christian Churches today, the Psalter has been expanded to include the Book of Praise or Hymnal Songbooks which contain songs inspired by the Book of Psalms, as well as other passages in both the Old and New Testaments.

And then we have choruses, composed by contemporary authors, with lyrics that are not just restricted to paraphrasing the Scriptures, but may include Spiritual feelings or emotions experienced by Christians. These Christian songs and ballads are often presented to the congregation by way of projectors and may be distributed by electronic sources.

While purists may complain that only the original Psalms should be used in Christian Worship Services, the modern Christian view which holds that every Christian is a vessel of God’s Holy Spirit, and that a modern Christian Chorus could be as much the product of Divine inspiration as were the Psalms.

We get an idea of the use of music and song in Temple Worship in a passage taken from the second Book of Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14 (ESV):

The Ark Brought to the Temple

BLCF: temple music 2 solomon-dedicates-the-first-temple

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are[a] there to this day. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Footnotes: a. 2 Chronicles 5:9 Hebrew it is

Did you notice that God’s presence happened after music and songs of praise and thanksgiving. For those of you who are connected to the Web, the cloud in the Temple describes the presence of God, not an online virtual storage place.

Even the angels gave vocal expressions of Praise and Joy when announcing the birth of the Christ child to the shepherds in the fields.

Getting back to the chorus vs Psalm debate, we find that Christian believers are instructed to be filled with the Spirit, which is the presence of God, and to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” as we see in Ephesians 5:17-21 (ESV):

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

We are instructed to make melody from the heart, giving thanks to God the Father in name of and with reverence to Christ, Jesus. This tradition of singing praises accompanied to music is in the same manner and tradition  not unlike that described in Psalm 98:1-7 (ESV):

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

A Psalm.

98 Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!

And the songs and music of praise is not restricted to the sanctuary of God, but in the heavens as well, as we see in Psalm 150 (ESV) :

 Let Everything Praise the Lord

 

150 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens![
a]
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Footnotes: a. Psalm 150:1 Hebrew expanse (compare Genesis 1:6–8)

BLCF: heavenly hosts sing

We see that music and song should come from our heart or soul, where the indwelt Holy Spirit in each of us demonstrates the Godly virtues which allow us to live peacefully by the Grace of God, through his Son, Christ Jesus, Colossians 3:12-17:

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 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.

Let us pray…

Now, let us sing…

Closing Hymn #51: I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord

Benediction – Colossians 3:12-17:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Epiphany Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

© January 3, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Lessons Shared at BLCF on January 1, 2020, December 29, 2013, and December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

Welcome and blessings of the New Year to all on this, the first Sunday of 2021, the Sunday closest to January 6, which is the day that many churches observe the Epiphany, marking the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, who is our Lord Jesus.

When I talk about Epiphany, we should not confuse it with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

By contrast, the Epiphany which is the subject of today’s lesson is spelled with a capital “E”, a term Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested, or expressed to all. We find a little more background on Epiphany from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                       

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Author Johann Roten posted the the following about Epiphany in the East and West, posted on the University of Dayton Web site:

Epiphany

The feast of the Epiphany, as we presently understand it—the adoration of the Magi—is found very early in Gaul, where it probably predates Christmas.  The Council of Saragossa in 380 decreed a three-week fast before Epiphany.  The feast existed in North Africa in the time of Augustine.  Several of Leo the Great’s sermons witness to the feast’s observance in Rome.  The principal object in the Roman liturgy is the adoration of the Magi.

However, the feast of the Epiphany most certainly originated in the East, where it is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria.  It may have been assigned its date in reference to a pagan feast.  In the Egyptian calendar, the winter solstice and the feast of the Sun-god were observed on January 6.  On the previous night, pagans of Alexandria commemorated the birth of their god Aeon, supposedly born of a virgin.  It was also believed that the waters of rivers, especially the Nile, acquired miraculous powers and even turned into wine on this night.

This may be a partial explanation, why it is difficult to circumscribe the original object of this feast in the East.  By the fourth century Epiphany could embrace the birth of Christ, His baptism, the adoration of the Magi, and the miracle at Cana.  According to some liturgists (cf. C. Mohrmann), Epiphany was an idea feast (as opposed to an event feast) from the beginning and admitted any manifestation of the divine power of Christ. As a matter of fact, in classical Greek epiphany and theophany designate the manifestation of a divinity and, later, important events in the life of a king.  Epiphany is first used in a Christian sense by St. Paul for both the first and the final comings of Christ (Titus 2:11-13).  The word epiphany was soon used to describe the miracles of Christ as manifestations of divine power.

St. John Chrysostom explains the eastern meaning of Epiphany with these words: “We give the name Epiphany to the Lord’s baptism because he was not made manifest to all when he was born, but only when he was baptized, for until that time he was unknown to the people at large.”  In similar fashion, St. Jerome, drawing upon his Palestine experience, declares that the idea of showing forth (Epiphany) belonged not to the birth in the flesh, for then he was hidden and not revealed, but rather to the baptism in the Jordan, when the heavens were opened upon Christ.

According to oriental ideas it was through the divine pronouncement “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” that the Savior was first manifested to the great world of unbelievers.  The western tradition of this feast lies more along the line of what we are used to call fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).  There is no overwhelming Epiphany or divine manifestation on the path of the Magi.  The Magi were wise men who saw the star and its unusual brightness.  Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, they traveled, inquired, explored, and let themselves be conducted by the star to the place where they were to see and worship their Savior.  But again, no divine pronouncement thundering from open skies, only a poor babe in a manger.  As St. Leo the Great put it, “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.”

Eastern theology has always been eschatological in thrust, eager and anxious to show the unabridged Godhead in all its splendor and majesty, beyond and in spite of its manifestation in human condition and according to human categories.  Western theology in turn develops according to a different religious sensitivity: it is more incarnational, amazed by and preoccupied with the miracle of humility, God’s being in the flesh and becoming one of us.  The spirituality of the East is a spirituality of vision, based on “ta phota” (what is visible) or illumination, the Jordan experience; the spirituality of the West is the spirituality of journey, originating in God’s call and transformative power, it is the “Magi-experience.”

Yet, both traditions are but two different and complementary facets of the same reality, just as ear and eye are dependent on and complement each other.  In a similar way, the Feast of the Epiphany manifests the comprehensive reality of God’s encounter with humanity: it shows not only God’s self-giving presence in the miracle of humility, but also his authoritative self-disclosure at the baptism of Christ. Epiphany manifests not only God’s gratuitous and hidden presence to us, it also reminds us of our personal and active role in this encounter with God, made explicit through the acts and gestures of the Magi.

The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest products their countries afforded – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold, as an acknowledgment of Christ’s regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he has become man for the redemption of the world.  But even more important than gold, frankincense and myrrh were the dispositions the Magi cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and their unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh.      

In the Middle Ages it was customary on this day (January 6) to bless homes with the newly-blessed water, and with incense.  Later the initials of the names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were written with blessed chalk on or above the doors of homes.  CMB stands also for Christus, Manisionem, Benedocal (May Christ bless this home).  May these initials be carved on the doors to our spiritual homes, too, as a reminder, that each one of us is called upon by God’s Epiphany to the world to assume a threefold role: that of the child, the disciple and the steward. 

As a child we receive and cherish God’s Epiphany to us; As a disciple we follow God’s call to crib and cross; and As steward we are accountable to God and the world of what we did to his Epiphany, understood as vision and journey.

 Johann Roten    

http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/epiphany.html

Depending upon which scholar that you talk with, the passage in the Bible that describes the event of Epiphany of our Lord could be any or all of three different events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

1) The first is the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem.

2) The second is the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

3) While the third is the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of the Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The next manifestation of the Lord, takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother, his brothers, his sisters and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord, after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

Epiphany  marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesized in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany Scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Divine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Savior and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died on the cross, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Divine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

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

Have a blessed and safe New Year 2021, filled with hope in God’s love, grace, and fellowship.

Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary, Mother of Jesus

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

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

© December 27, 2020, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on May 11, 2014, May 8, 2016, and May 12, 2019

BLCF Bulletin May 12, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin May 11, 2014

BLCF Bulletin May 8, 2016

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

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

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

Responsive Reading #628: The Child Jesus (– Luke 2)   

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                    

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

                                                                                                                                                                     

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on a Sunday that bridges Christmas, 2020 and New Year’s, 2021.  Over the past four Sundays, we have look back over Advent observances, where the People of Israel had anticipated the arrival of the Christ Child, as a new born king, named Jesus, whose arrival would result ultimately in the fulfilment of God’s plan for the propitiation  of the sins of humanity. Intertwined within the story and gospel of Jesus is the impact of a woman, who carried, gave birth, raised, and followed as a disciple to the beloved Son of God, also a son of a Godly woman, Mary.

As the world continues to face the scourge of a COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, people go on, keeping the hope and anticipation of a life-saving vaccination. This anticipation, to a lesser degree, is similar to the anticipation of the birth of God’s Savior, Jesus whose advent brought the hope of life eternal, by the removal of humanity’s judgment for its sins.

Our lesson today will include an examination of Jesus’ arrival, its impact upon the life of one woman who pondered the birth of her son in her heart. It is Mary’s perspective recorded in the Scriptures, both as  a parent and disciple, to her son Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, gives us insight as to how she pondered Jesus, as her son and her Lord.

There are many special things a mother may ponder in her heart with regards to the actions of her children, so I would like to begin today’s lesson by sharing a personal mother’s story from the Mickelson family.

Although our other children have their respective graduations, I would like to share with you a memory from the graduation ceremonies of our oldest child, Athena which occurred several years ago a. Presiding over the Sashing Ceremonies for graduates at the University of Guelph, was the Chancellor, the late Lincoln Alexander, who you may know, had served as lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, and as Lieutenant-Governor for the Province of Ontario.

 

Lincoln Alexander

                        Lincoln Alexander

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

Now for today’s lesson, I would like to examine Mary, the mother of Jesus, a special mother recorded in the Scriptures, including today’s selected Scripture verses. These verses are listed in our lesson in their chronological order.

Let us begin begin with reading Luke 1:26-35, where Mary received some special news from God, by way of the angel, Gabriel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 2:15-20 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

Young Jesus In The Temple Hofmann Painting by Frans Schwartz.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Blessedness

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

Jesus used the woman’s remark to emphasize that God’s blessings do not come by birthright, but by honoring and keeping the word of God. This statement is reinforced by Jesus’ remarks n Matthew 12:46-50.

 Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

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

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

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

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

John 19:25-30 (ESV)

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

The Death of Jesus

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

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

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

Acts 1:6-14 (ESV): The Ascension

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

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

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

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

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

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

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

As we approach the New Year, 2021, let us reflect upon the challenges of the past year, 2020, with hope in the anticipation of a vaccination for COVID-19, while embracing  the gift of spiritual salvation currently available by the sacrifice of Jesus, ho was both the Son God and son a woman, Mary. God’s blessings for a safe and happy New year in 2021.

Let us pray…

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

Benediction – (Galatians 1:3-5):                                                                                                                   

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

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday: Love

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ

– Fourth Advent Sunday: Love’

© December 20, 2020, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 20, 2015 and December 23, 2018

BLCF Bulletin December 23, 2018

BLCF Bulletin December 20, 2015

Call to Worship; Prayer                                                              

Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Luke 2:10-11, John 3:16-21, and Luke 2:10-11 (ESV):

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

 

Hymn #113: Angels We Have Heard on High; Christmas Hymns

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

Responsive Reading #627: (The Saviors Advent – Luke 2)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday 2018: Love

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, for our Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Over the last several weeks, we have observed the Advent or coming of the birth of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, by lighting on each of the four Sunday’s a candle, part of the Advent wreath.

The candles represent the aspects of God’s plan to bring to humanity: hope, peace, love, and joy, through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Today’s candle called the ‘Candle of Love’, also known as the ‘Angel’s Candle’.

The significance of the ‘Peace Candle’ is how important love is to the faith walk of the Christian believer. We may get an understanding of love from the first of today’s Scripture Verses found inside today’s Bulletin.

Jesus indicated that love is a key aspect of the ‘great commandment’ in the Law given to us from the Lord, Matthew 22:35-39 (ESV):

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is not only a key aspect of our relationship with the Lord and our neighbor, but it is also the most important gift given to us by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV):

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We see the importance of love as both a Commandment and Gift of the Spirit. What is meant by love? For an answer, let us see what we may find in our Wikibits Sources:

How to Define Love

 

 “How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” — Albert Einstein

Love is difficult to define. How do you avoid confusing it with infatuation or lust? Philosophers and psychologists both have attempted to define love, or at least its difference from infatuation and lust. If you are looking to find love, the following observations may be helpful.

Love is much more than a risk but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions.

How can one truly define what love is? Not even an experienced person can truly grasp or explain love to its truest and deepest meaning. Its concepts are just a never-ending story of an open book of experiences. But love does lie in one’s heart, where memories are but shadows lingering in your soul.

Look at how the ancient Greeks broke down love into four categories. Think of which category of love you feel for the people you are close to.

  1. Agape is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults”.
  2. Philia is charity or brotherly love, guided by our likes or our healthy or unhealthy needs and desires. This is why Philadelphia is called the “City of Brotherly Love”.
  3. Storge is the word for family love and the physical show of “affection”, the need for physical touch. Sometimes it’s the love between exceptional friends (the movie Grumpy Old Men for example).
  4. Eros is the physical “sexual” desire, intercourse. It is the root word of erotic, and eroticism.

http://www.wikihow.com/Define-Love

The Bible adds to our understanding of love, by telling us that love is not only an expression of true Christian faith but describes a characteristic of God, God is love in1 John 4:7-21 (ESV):

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he

We see in this passage, that God is love; that God loves us; and through Jesus, God’s love becomes perfected in us. If we abide in God, we receive His Holy Spirit so that God abides in us.

If you look at the back of today’s Bulletin, at the bottom of the page, you see a clarification of what is stated in 1 John 4:10, that because God first loved us, Jesus provided an atoning sacrifice to appease or turn away God’s wrath against sinners.

We see that Jesus came because God loved us, not to remove or God’s Law, but to remove the judgment for our sin, which is the punishment for violating the Law.

When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, and confess that sin, we receive salvation from God’s judgement, as well as the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit: kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, which are bound together in perfect harmony through love, Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV):

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

This Christmas, let us upon the love through Christ. God is love and Jesus came because of His love. To the faithful, the Holy Spirit comes to us bringing to each believer the love of God. Let us be thankful that through the Resurrected Christ, the love from God binds us together in His grace as a single unified body of believers, so that we may bear witness of His love to a dark and sinful world.

Let us pray…

Lighting of the Christ Candle: Hymn #115: Go, Tell It on the Mountain

Closing Hymn #103: O Come, All Ye Faithful                                                         

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24): Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Third Advent Sunday: Joy

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Third Advent Sunday: Joy

© December 13, 2020, by Steve Mickelson

Based Messages Shared at BLCF on December 13, 2015 and December 15, 2019

BLCF Bulletin December 13, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                               

Opening Hymn: Hymn #100: O Come, O Come Emmanuel                                                                     

Lighting Third Advent Candle (Joy) – Hebrews 12:1-2 (Bottom of page)                                               

After Lighting the Advent Candle #3 – Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee                               

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

Responsive Reading #631: Incarnate Christ (John 1)                                                                                 

Message by Steve Mickelson:  ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Third Advent Sunday: Joy

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this, the Third Sunday celebrating the advent of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is the third of the four Advent Sundays, where we light a candle on each of the four Sundays, with each candle representing: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ, respectively.

Today’s candle is lit to celebrate the joy of the Savior’s birth. The candle is therefore referred to as the ‘Joy Candle’, known also as the ‘Shepherd’s Candle.’

Lighting The Third Advent Candle (Joy) – Hebrews 12:1-2 (below):  

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.

After Lighting the Advent Candle #3 – Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore

The joy and the shepherds are both found in the first of today’s Scripture verses, Luke 2:7-20 (ESV):

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[
a]

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

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

In this Scripture passage, we have an angel suddenly coming upon and startling the shepherds, who are watching their flock on that special night. The angel instructs the shepherds not to be afraid, and to replace their fear and trepidation with joy and praise, (Luke 7:9-10):

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

What is not told directly in this narrative is that Mary treasured up all of the evening’s events, while pondering them in her heart.

Remember Mary has just gone through childbirth in a stable, probably not the place where she had expected to give birth to the Son of God. Since Jesus was born as a son of man, it is likely that the Christ Child, though conceived supernaturally, was delivered in the same manner as all children. Mary likely suffered the pain of the contractions of childbirth which God promised to Eve and her descendants, following the sin in the garden, Genesis 3:16a (ESV):

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.

I was fortunate to be present with Sophie at the birth of all of our four children. I remember the pain of the contractions she suffered, with each birth.

However, once the baby was delivered, her pain was forgotten and replaced with the happiness and joy that our child gave her. After the first birth, the joy continued so a few years later, Sophie and I considered having another child. The joy that each child gave Sophie exceeded the extreme pain.

Jesus is the alpha and omega, that is being at the beginning of creation, and the end of time was aware of what was expected of him, in order to bring forgiveness and sanctification to all sinners, for all generations.

However, Jesus did not dwell on the pain and suffering he would endure on the day he would be crucified. Instead, the Lord rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, celebrating that his crucifixion would bring a conviction and understanding to those who believe. Such is the will of his Father in heaven, Luke 10:21-24 (ESV):

Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:21 Or for so it pleased you well

Any sorrow Mary experienced in childbirth was displaced with the joy, once her baby was born.

We see in our third Scripture, that Jesus references the transformative results that take place among his disciples, after his impending death on the cross. He tells them that they will experience sorrow and anguish not unlike what a woman would experience in childbirth. But once the process is complete, their sorrow will turn to joy that cannot be taken from them, John 16:16-24 (ESV):

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

We see that Jesus describes his own death on the cross will be a paradox: while his disciples are experiencing sorrow and lament at the death; at the same time, the world will rejoice. But like the woman the disciples’ sorrow will turn to joy after the child is born.

This passage, Jesus talks about his death, which will bring the joy of salvation to the world. While his death will cause the disciples to lament, their sorrow will change to joy, after his resurrection. And after the Day of Pentecost, the Lord will send believers a companion in the Holy Spirit, so that they, too, may experience the same joy in the Spirit that Jesus described previously, in Luke 10.

In conclusion, the passage in John 16, talks of the pain of childbirth that will result in the salvation of sinners everywhere. Those who believe and confess their sins will experience the fullness of joy from being born again in the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #120: Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):         

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 

 

  

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday: Peace

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday: Peace’

© December 6, 2020, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 6, 2015 and December 8, 2019

Bulletin December 6, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Hymn #102: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus                                                     

Hymn #106: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing                                                                        

Hymn #117: Silent Night! Holy Night!                                                                  

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

Responsive Reading #614: Peace and Renewal (Micah 4 and 7)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Second Advent Sunday:

Let us pray…

Christians today observe Two Advents of the Lord:

The first is Jesus’ birth, where he came to fulfill prophecy by his birth, his death, his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, and by his sending of the Holy Spirit to those who believe and accept him as Lord and Saviour.

We are observing the First Advent when we light candles, read scriptures, sing hymns, say prayers and praises to commemorate God’s gifts through His Son, Jesus.

We observe the Second Advent or coming of the Lord, which has yet to take place, by observing Communion as a single Church or Body of Believers, taking the juice and bread elements of Communion. Let us read from the Scriptures, Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV), which is found inside today’s bulletin, opposite the Order of Service:

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Lighting Second Advent Candle (Peace): 1 Thessalonians 5:13b-23 (ESV):

13b  Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Footnotes: a. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Or disorderly, or undisciplined

Tower of Babel

A few months ago, our Sunday lesson, included the Scripture’s account of the “Tower of Babel”, where a group of misguided people embarked on building a great tower towards heaven so that they might raise themselves to the same level as the Lord, as well as to elevate their own personal status among other people throughout both the world and in history. The offense of embarking upon building an edifice to their own glory instead of to their Father in heaven was so misguided and offensive to Him, that they were stricken by God with a multitude of languages, for their multitude of sins. The language barrier was so great, that the people discontinued their work on the tower and the communication differences caused the people to disperse and be scattered into obscurity.

In Secondary school, I had a Latin teacher, who often used a favorite line “non-sensibus” to comment upon a student’s error in translating a paragraph to English from Latin or Vice-Versa. We are told that Scripture is both Divinely inspired and Spiritually discerned.

Still, we find throughout the Bible numerous examples of individuals and groups performing foolish actions based upon a poor understanding of the meaning of prophecies, Commandments, parables, and/or Covenants. Examples of such actions include: consuming forbidden fruit, building towers to access heaven, as well as many other examples of actions based upon a twisted understanding of God’s Word.

We see in today’s first Scripture verse, Micah 5:1-5 (ESV), we see, that contrary to common belief at the time, Christ Child, the newborn Messiah, shall arise from the humble town of Bethlehem, to bring an end to armies, sieges, wars, and violence, which are all sins and grievously offend God. Jesus will bring God’s peace, justice, and harmony to all the factions in and around Israel In a manner that will establish the security of peace by way of the power of the Lord. Let us review that Scripture:

     

          The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

[a] Now muster your troops, O daughter[b] of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 [c] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

Footnotes: a. Micah 5:1 Ch 4:14 in Hebrew b. Micah 5:1 That is, city . Micah 5:2 Ch 5:1 in Hebrew

There are many groups today who appear to have the misguided idea that the Father in heaven is somehow subject to the whims of extreme groups and that He can be manipulated into bringing the Final Judgement if they initiate a mighty conflict. This did not happen in either of the great World wars and will not happen in any of the pseudo-religious conflicts around the globe today. It did not work, either, in the Crusades of the middle ages.

What we do know is that Christ came humbly to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, not a mighty steed on in a chariot of conflict. Before his birth in a humble stable, his mother traveled to a census upon the back of a donkey and that the King of Kings was born in the stable with a cattle’s hay crib as a bed. Before dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in order to show that battles will only be won when God’s Word is taught with love and humility.

We see God promises to fulfill His New Covenant again to another generation’s prophet in our second Scripture verse, Haggai 2:1-9 (ESV):

God's New Covenant Message at BLCF Church

God’s New Covenant: Jesus Christ

The Coming Glory of the Temple

2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

For those of you who may have forgotten the New Covenant that the Lord promised, let us look at the third of today’s Scriptures, which pre-dates the other two, Isaiah 9:6 (ESV):

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[b]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

This verse refers to the Godhead or Holy Trinity of our mighty God, Who as the Holy Spirit is a Wonderful Counselor; Who is the Maker, the Everlasting Father; and as Jesus our Savior, the Prince of Peace.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #121: O Little Town of Bethlehem                                                                

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7):        

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ: First Advent Sunday 2020: Hope

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Advent Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ:

‘First Advent Sunday 2020: Hope’

© November 29, 2020, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on November 22, 2015 and December 2, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

BLCF Bulletin December 2, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #412: Just When I Need Him Jesus Is Near; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #610: Christ in Prophecy (Isaiah 11 and 42, Jeremiah 23, Malachi 4)

Lighting of First Advent Candle (Hope)

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where on this glorious Sunday morning, we mark the beginning of Advent. We signify Advent’s arrival by lighting the first of four Advent candles. For our lesson today, entitled: Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday: Hope’, we begin by understanding the significance of the events described in the Bible, which combine to cover the arrival of people, things, and events that comprise what we refer today as Advent.

First, let us look at some definition of terms regarding Advent. For this we shall check our Wikibits:

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/noun

noun: advent; plural noun: advents

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

E.g. “the advent of television”

synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development; More

approach, coming

“the advent of a new school year”

antonyms: disappearance
  • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

noun: Advent

  • Christian Theology; the coming or second coming of Christ.

noun: Advent

https://www.google.ca/search?q=advent+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=_gRbVobdA8O9eZb4tNgF

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day. St Andrew was born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was the younger brother of St Peter. Both he and his brother became disciples of Jesus. He is said to have died bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras in Achea in Greece. This shape is now reflected in the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. St Andrew has been recognized as the patron saint of Scotland since at least the ninth century. St Andrew’s Day falls on November 30, according to many Christian churches. St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday in Scotland. However, the bank holiday falls on Monday, December 1 or 2 if November 30 is a Saturday or Sunday.

The church year begins in September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/first-day-advent

We have in our first Scripture Verse, Isaiah 11:1-10 (ESV), the prophecy of the Advent of the arrival of the “shoot from the stump of Jesse”, a descendant of Jesse, the father of King David:

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Our second Scripture Verse, Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV), where the Lord describes the prophecy in terms of the Advent of a fulfillment of His Eternal Covenant:

The Lord’s Eternal Covenant with David

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

And in our third Scripture, Romans 15:12 (ESV), the Apostle Paul, indicates the significance for believers today, and for all generations, of the Advent of Christ:

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

We find that in Advent, not just the anticipation of the birth of Christ, and the “Good News” that our Lord brought to humanity: salvation by way of the cross, sanctification through the Holy Spirit, and the hope in the promise of eternal life.

Advent describes the events of the arrival of travelers: a nation of Chosen People, to a Chosen Land, to receive a Chosen or Anointed Saviour. In their travels, the people travel in and out of bondage, to Egypt, the wilderness, and to land that was promised.

We also see the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men, who reveal that Christ’s arrival was also significant to the Gentiles, as well as to the people of Israel.

We see the arrival of shepherds, who come to see the arrival of Jesus, to signify that Christ arrived for the benefit of both, the high and meek, alike.

We see the advent of angels, who are sent to inform Mary and Joseph of the arrival of a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. Angels had arrived to announce to the shepherds the arrival of the Christ child. We observe the advent of angels who warned both the Magi and Joseph and Mary of King Herod’s plot to kill the child, Jesus. And by lighting a candle today, we mark the advent of a star over a manger in Bethlehem, to signify the arrival of the “Light of the World,” that is the advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the living Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #100: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Benediction – (Romans 15:13): May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

A Virtual Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

RE: A Virtual Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Dear Fellow Prayer Warriors,

Greetings and God’s Blessings from BLCF Church and BLCF Café!

As Christians, we discover ourselves in the same boat as non-Christians, facing the hard times that come from the invisible threat of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

At such challenging times, we must persevere by keeping our faith and hope while trusting GOD for guidance. We need to listen to recommendations of the public health officials, scientists and the government to wash our hands, maintain social distancing, staying at home for the health and safety of ourselves and others.

Many of our church members, as well as guests at the BLCF Cafe, are on the mature side, some with health issues, making them vulnerable to the deadly COVID-19 virus.  We pray for safety and protection for the BLCF Community from the Lord. We pray the Lord’s protection and blessings from the Holy Spirit for the people and businesses of the Bloor Lansdowne Community.

As a church, we keep open the lines of communication by calling our members, friends, and families, either by phone or by computer, so that we may share support and pray together.  Though isolated at home, this contact allows us to keep our unity in spirit and in faith.

Let us find solace by continuing to read the Bible, by praying, and by seeking God’s guidance while supporting one another. We may not be able to walk physically with each other, we still can walk together with the Lord, united by His Spirit.

At times like this, may we take comfort while meditating on the following Scripture passage:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, stay healthy, keep safe, and travel with God’s speed. And for those who believe that the COVID-19 Coronavirus indicates these are signs of the end times, I reply is Christ Jesus here? He will come on that last day, for only the Father in Heaven knows the time that the Lord will return. Matthew 24:36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

In these challenging times, dear friends, we encourage you to keep the faith, maintain 6 feet of social separation, and wash your hands!

Yours in Christ,

Steve and Sophie Mickelson

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Cafe

The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:          

The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’  

 © October 6, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 6, 2019

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Hymn ##499: The Master Has Come, and He Calls Us; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #644: Christ and Immortality of Prayer (1 Corinthians 15)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church on this, the first Sunday of October 2019. Being the first Sunday of the month, we will share communion with all believers present who desire to partake in the Lord’s Supper and remember Jesus’ sacrifice to pay the judgment for the sins of all humanity; that judgment being death. With  Jesus’ death comes a reconciliation to all those who are willing to accept the Lord’s gift, confess their sins, and choose to follow His way or path as described in His Gospel.

For our lesson today, entitled: ‘The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’, we will examine one Jesus’ miracles, namely the resurrection from the dead of a man whom the Bible identifies as Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Martha and Mary.

Those who were here two Sundays ago, on September 22, may recall the lesson, ‘Claiming a Blessed Inheritance, by Loving Our God Lazarus Miracle, namely and Our Neighbour’, which included as one of its Scripture Verses,  John 12:1-8 (ESV):

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Footnotes: a. John 12:3 Greek litra; a litra (or Roman pound) was equal to about 11 1/2 ounces or 327 grams b. John 12:5 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer c. John 12:7 Or Leave her alone; she intended to keep it

It is the resurrection of Lazarus, described in Verses 12:1-8 of John’s Gospel, which is the focus of our lesson today. You will find the account of the Lazarus miracle in John 11:1-44 (ESV), which is printed inside of the Bulletin, having the title:

The Death of Lazarus

 11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin,[b] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

At this point I would like to pause so as to recapitulate that there was a man named Lazarus, who had two sisters, Martha and Mary, the three lived in the village of Bethany and were loved by Jesus. Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that their brother was ill, hoping that that the Lord would heal Lazarus. Jesus waited two days before informing the disciples of their friend was asleep, later explaining that Lazarus’ asleep and that he had intended to waken their friend in order to Glorify him as the son of God, which in-turn would glorify God, the Father. Rather than just healing Lazarus of his illness, the Lord chose to wait until Lazarus had died in order to awaken from the sleep of death, and by resurrecting their friend, the disciples might believe in the glory of God and the glory of their Lord. Let us continue reading from Chapter 11 of John’s gospel, at verse 17, of John 11:17-27 (ESV):

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus arrives at the house of Martha and Mary in Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Martha comes out of the house to meet Jesus, but Mary chose to remain inside. Martha reflects Jesus that it had been there before her brother had passed, that the Lord would have not allowed Lazarus to die.

Jesus responds to Martha indicating that her brother will rise again, but Martha thinks the Lord is talking about the resurrection of the faithful that will occur on the Day of Judgment. However, Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and the life. Again, Martha again assumes Jesus is talking about Judgment Day. Let us continue with our Scripture at Verse 28 of John 11:28-37 (ESV):

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

When Mary hears of Jesus’ arrival and echoes her sister’s complaint implying that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death. Mary’s weeping, as well as the grief of the other Jews who had come to console Mary and Martha moved and troubled Jesus so much, that the Lord was moved to tears, as we read in of John 11:28-37 (ESV):

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Footnotes: a. John 11:6 Greek he; also verse 17 b. John 11:16 Greek Didymus c. John 11:18 Greek fifteen stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters e. John 11:25 Some manuscripts omit and the life f. John 11:33 Or was indignant; also verse 38

It is at this point in the Lazarus narrative that Jesus thanks his Father in heaven for a miracle which would convince those not only Martha and Mary, but the disciples, and those gathered around the tomb would believe that Jesus was sent by Father and that the Holy Spirit had answered the sadness that troubled Jesus with making the words spoken by the Lord, “Lazarus, come out” a true miracle, proving the Lord’s glory.

A bit of Bible trivia, John 11, verse 35, “Jesus wept” happens to be the shortest verse in the Bible. Also, the name Lazarus comes from Hebrew Eleazar, which means “God Has Helped”.

Christian author C.S. Lewis comments on the resurrection of Lazarus as:

“we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus-not surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in his eyes than in ours.”

― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

When we consider the love that Jesus had for his friends, Lazarus, and the grief that he shared with Martha and Mary, we might consider a commentary on love made by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Jesus wept because his heart was broken by the sadness and grief that his human side of the Son of God shared with those who wept.  The vulnerable expression of weeping by the Lord came as a human expression of shares grief and sadness of his spirit. God responded to Jesus’ grief by restoring life to Lazarus as proof that Jesus is His own Son.

In Romans 12:15, the apostle Paul describes sharing tears with those who grieve as a “mark of a true Christian”, Romans 12:15 (ESV):

Marks of the True Christian

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

In his second letter to the members of the church, Paul describes the mortal bodies that we have now in this life, as temporary residences not unlike a tent, with body awaiting us in heaven being described as an eternal, not like those built by human hands, accompanied with burdens that make us groan. It is the presence Holy Spirit given as a reward to the believer’s faith is also a guarantee of the resurrection and a new eternal body when our Lord returns, Corinthians 5:1-10 (ESV):

 Our Heavenly Dwelling

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 5:3 Some manuscripts putting it off

Maria Teresa Pereira (right)

Last week marked the passing of a sister in Christ, Maria Teresa Pereira, known affectionately to family and friends as Teresa. At BLCF, we became acquainted with Teresa as a volunteer with our BLCF café Community Dinner. Teresa’s faith was revealed by both her spoken testimony and deed as she helped prepare and serve meals at the community dinner. Her witness and testimonials were shared both individually as well as to all from the pulpit. Like Lazarus, Teresa had two sisters, who grieved when the time came to leave her temporary home. But unlike Mary and Martha, Teresa’s sisters have a faith in the Resurrected Christ and the promise of an eternal home waiting for her in heaven.

By his sacrifice in the cross, Jesus paid the price for reconciliation with God of the believer’s debt for sin, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of a new eternal body with the Lord in heaven. This is why a Christian funeral is a celebration of an eternal reward, rather than grief and sadness for death as a final debt for sin. Jesus paid that bill for all who believe and have faith in him. This is the Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany. Remember:

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Let us pray…

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

Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)

Benediction – (2 Thessalonians 3:16): Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.