Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Perseverance through Troubled Times’
©October 6, 2013 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship:
Responsive Reading #648 (A Challenge to Faith from Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer
Opening Hymn: #43: Praise to the Lord, Almighty
Let us pray…
Welcome to our Sunday morning Prayer and Worship Service here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.
Today’s lesson is entitled Perseverance through Troubled Times. I would like to share my experience of a time of trouble and personal challenge.
Four years ago, this month, indeed from this Sunday, I faced one of the most difficult challenges to my personal health, as well as a test of faith. It began in the middle of October right here in this church sanctuary, following the Sunday morning service I started to see what appeared to be flashes of light in the corner of my eye. It looked as if I perceived, in my peripheral vision, flares of light as if someone were taking flash photos nearby. Then, just as suddenly as the flashes had begun, they stopped, not to return until the next Sunday, accompanied by dark spots of jet black floating in my field of vision. By alternately closing each of my eyes, I determined that the flashes and spots were only viewed by my right eye. My brain had somehow merged the images so I thought I was seeing them with both eyes.
I recalled reading an article some years ago that described visions similar to what I was experiencing as symptoms of when the retina of the eye had become detached. The next day, I arranged to get an emergency appointment to see (no pun intended) my Ophthalmologist. After a careful examination and some tests, the doctor told me that he could see no evidence of a detachment or in his words a hole or tear of the retina and that my symptoms are likely caused when the fluid in the eye thickens with age and slides down in front of the retina. I was sent home. However, over the next few days, my symptoms progressed and worsened. Now I could see the shadow in my field of vision that bothered me so much that I resorted to covering my right eye with a tissue. The next morning, I returned to the Eye Doctor and was informed that not only did I have a retinal tear, but one so severe that I needed emergency surgery as soon as possible in order to save the vision in my eye! The Doctor apologized that he did not see the tear at my previous visit.
Of the two hospitals in Toronto that could perform the procedure, only St. Michaels Health Care could take me in on such short notice and an appointment was made for the next day. That night, with all the lights out and even my eyes closed, the hole made it appear as if I were viewing some strange green moonscape, its illumination indirect, much like a full moon. My worry and concern about losing vision to the eye were high. I had done all the right things: recognizing the significance of my symptoms and promptly seeking out a specialist. Still, I faced the prospect of losing the vision in the eye, unless I underwent surgery in the same hospital where both my sister and father had died. I was stressed and overwhelmed beyond belief until my phone rang.
On the phone was Diane, a sister in Christ who attended Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, who had called to find out how my visit with the doctor went. It was interesting as Diane was blind from untreated Diabetes in her youth. When I told her that I was to undergo surgery the next day on my eye, Diane offered to say a prayer with me. As we prayed, I felt the peace and presence of God’s Holy Spirit fall upon me. The peace continued at the Hospital and throughout the three and half hours of emergency eye surgery, during which I was not totally under the anesthetic, so I was able to hear, throughout the procedure, the dialog between Dr. Louis Giavedoni, one of Canada’s top ophthalmologists and his student Dr. Casey (not Ben).
Later, after the procedure, a couple from our church dropped by the hospital to visit, to whom remarked that for the week before the operation, I felt like a person without a vision, (pun intended). But a year later and two more procedures, one for a new lens and another to clear the sheath by laser, the eye is like it was before the tear. Actually, my visual acuity improved with the new lens.
From this experience, the Spirit taught me patience, trust, and the importance of prayer when facing adversity. I find that the Lord has made me more empathetic than before. I recall tears welling up in my eyes as those Chilean miners who were trapped for months deep underground were rescued. With restored vision, the Spirit gave me an extra dose of compassion for others who suffer.
The Bible has a wealth of verses that tell believers how to persevere in times of trouble. The following verses found on the inside of today’s bulletin cover many aspects of how we may cope with adversity and by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, in the process become both stronger and more confident in our faith in God:
- Perseverance: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 (ESV)
- Have Fun: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
- Preparation: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)
- Forget Yesterday: Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
- Confidence: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
- Be Humble: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)
- Don’t Forget: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26 (ESV)
- Finally, Follow Jesus’ Example:
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, 2 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.
Do Not Grow Weary
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:1-3
Let us pray…
Our Closing Hymn is #126: Amen! Amen!
Communion: Luke 22:7-20 (See back page of the bulletin)
The Passover with the Disciples
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus[a] sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
The institution of the Lord’s Supper
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[b] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.[c]
Footnotes: 1. Luke 22:8 Greek he 2. Luke 22:16 Some manuscripts never eat it again 3. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given… in my blood)
Benediction (1 Peter 5:10): And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -Amen
Remember don’t go to church. Be the church!