The Miracles and Parables of Jesus, 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus 2019’      

© May 19, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 19, 2019

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on October 15, 2017

BLCF Bulletin October 15, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                   

Opening Hymn #182: Marvelous Message We Bring; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #624: The Great Commission (Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, Mark 16)               

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF and our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, and our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus’.

 The disciples recorded that throughout his ministry the Lord frequently performed miracles and made use of the parable. In our lesson today we will examine why Jesus used the miracle and the parable. While a miracle is doing something that is beyond the laws of nature, a parable is a metaphor used to teach a spiritual lesson.

An example of a metaphor would be: suppose I ask sisters Jillian and Olivia to come forward and stand by the pillar to my right. If I refer to my two sisters in Christ as being “pillars of the Church” – we know that I do not mean that they are the same as the alabaster pillar beside them which is holding up the roof, which the literal meaning of the description. The expression is a metaphorical statement that these ladies are key members of our congregation, which is part of the greater bodies of believers who are Christ’s Church.

But for today’s lesson, let us begin by looking first at the miracles that Jesus performed. The Bible records over forty miracles attributed to Jesus, during his ministry:

The Miracles of Jesus

  1. Miracles of Jesus: Born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38)
  2. Miracles of Jesus: Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11)
  3. Healing of the royal official’s son (John 4:46-54)
  4. Healing of a man possessed by a demon in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:33-37)
  5. Healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39)
  6. Healing the sick during the evening (Matt 8:16, Mark 1:32, Luke 4:40)
  7. Catching a large number of fish (Luke 5:3-10)
  8. Healing a leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15)
  9. Healing a centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10)
  10. Healing a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:18-26)
  11. Healing a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-10)
  12. Raising a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)
  13. Calming the stormy sea (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25)
  14. Healing the Gerasene demon-possessed man (Matthew 8:28-32, Mark 5:1-13, Luke 8:26-33)
  15. Healing a woman with internal bleeding (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48)
  16. Raising Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56)
  17. Healing two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31)
  18. Healing a mute man possessed by a demon (Matthew 9:32-33)
  19. Healing a man who was crippled for 38 years (John 5:1-17)
  20. Feeding 5000 men and their families (Matthew 14:16-21, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-14)
  21. Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21)
  22. Healing of many in Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-56)
  23. Healing a demon-possessed girl (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30)
  24. Healing a deaf man with a speech impediment (Mark 7:31-37)
  25. Feeding the 4000 men and their families (Matthew 15:29-39, Mark 8:1-10)
  26. Healing a blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
  27. Healing a man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  28. Healing a boy possessed by a demon (Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:17-29, Luke 9:37-43)
  29. Catching a fish with a coin in its mouth (Matthew 17:24-27)
  30. Healing a blind and mute man who was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:22-23, Luke 11:14)
  31. Healing a woman with an 18 year infirmity (Luke 13:10-13)
  32. Healing a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
  33. Healing 10 men suffering from leprosy (Luke 17:11-19)
  34. Bringing Lazarus back to life (John 11:1-44)
  35. Healing Bartimaeus of blindness (Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)
  36. The withering fig tree that produced no fruit (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25)
  37. Restoring a severed ear (Luke 22:45-54)
  38. The resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15, Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 )
  39. Catching of the 153 fish (John 21:4-11)
  40. The ascension of Jesus Christ ( Acts 1:1-11 )

https://www.quora.com/How-many-miracles-did-Jesus-perform-in-his-lifetime-What-are-the-Bible-verses-in-the-Gospel-of-John

Scholars have attributed a wide assortment of often conflicting reasons for these miracles. These reasons range from the miracle being just an illustrative talking point in the teachings of Jesus to the miracle itself being dismissed as a parable of something more mundane.

It seems that many of these authors seem to have neglected one of the most compelling and authoritative sources in researching their writings on the miracles of Christ, the Bible.

Let us see what the Scriptures say about the subject. I would like to direct you to the account of the disciple Thomas, who was absent from the Upper Room when, Jesus first appeared to the other disciples as the Resurrected Christ, John 20:24-31 (ESV):

Jesus and Thomas

 

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Footnotes: a. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

We see that when the Lord returns to the Upper Room, eight days after his first appearance so that Thomas would believe in the miracle of the resurrection.

However, it is the next two verses of John’s Gospel that signify the intent of purpose to the inclusion of the signs of miracles of Jesus in his gospel, as well as the other inspired Scriptures of the New Testament:

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John acknowledges that there were many other signs or miracles not included in his gospel, but those that he did include, we do so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing this, we too may have life in his name.

In the times of Jesus and the disciples, the Scriptures give us many accounts of false prophets of God, who used so-called magic sleight of hand to either challenge His authority or as a demonstration that they have been called as a disciple of God. Both are false.

God performed miracles to change the heart of Pharaoh so that the ruler would release His people from their captivity, as we read in Exodus 7:8-12 (ESV):

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

We also have in Acts 8:9-24, the account of Simon the Magician, who failed when he sought to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the disciples as we read specifically in verses 18-22:

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 

Simon the Magician did not have an understanding receiving the power of God’s Holy Spirit is the reward to faith in Him, that the God’s Holy Spirit cannot be purchased nor subject commands of any person, and most importantly the Spirit is intended to facilitate God’s plan for humanity, not vice-versa.

Today, we see many false prophets who desire to elevate themselves not to praise God. Like Simon the Magician, they may have been baptized, they know all the right phrases used by believers, they seek only to elevate themselves above God and above others. It is the sin of the Garden of Eden all over again.

God used miracles to change the heart of Pharaoh and Simon the Magician could not receive the power of the Holy Spirit because his heart was not right with the Lord when he sought to buy the Spirit from the disciples.

But like Pharaoh and Simon the Magician, people whose hearts are not right with God still seek a miracle, not out of their own faith, but from twisted desire to prove their own authority over the one true God, as we see in Matthew 16:1-12 (ESV):

The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

16 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,[a] “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”So he left them and departed.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Footnotes: a, Matthew 16:2 Some manuscripts omit the following words to the end of verse 3

The other key part of the ministry of Jesus was the use of the parable, to help bring an understanding of God’s purpose to both his disciples and others]

An explanation of this method of teaching is found in Matthew 13:10-16 (ESV):

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Sadly, there are those who will never believe the truth found in the miracles and parables of the Lord, as their lack of faith is a stumbling block to understanding the wisdom and power of God in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) :

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Many Christians struggle with the symbolism Jesus used in his teachings, and we find on the back of today’s bulletin a good method of how to differentiate passages of Scriptures intended to be taken literally from those intended to teach us symbolically, as we see in this answer from the Web Page, gotquestions.com:                                                                                                       

Question: “How can I recognize and understand biblical symbolism?”

Answer: The language of the Bible is rich with metaphor. The biblical writers used familiar, everyday objects to symbolize spiritual truth. Symbols are quite common in the poetic and prophetic portions of the Bible. By its very nature, poetry relies heavily on figurative language; when Solomon calls his bride “a lily among thorns” (Song of Solomon 2:2), he is using symbols to declare the desirability and uniqueness of the Shulamite. Prophecy, too, contains much figurative imagery. Isaiah often used trees and forests as symbols of strength (e.g., Isaiah 10:18-1932:19). Daniel saw “a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes” who “came from the west . . . without touching the ground” (Daniel 8:5), and we interpret this as a kingdom (Greece) and its king (Alexander the Great) who speedily conquered the world.

Jesus’ teaching was full of symbolism. He presented Himself as a Shepherd, a Sower, a Bridegroom, a Door, a Cornerstone, a Vine, Light, Bread, and Water. He likened the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a seed, a tree, a field, a net, a pearl, and yeast. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other symbols in the Bible.

Note that a literal interpretation of the Bible allows for figurative language. Here’s a simple rule: if the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture leads to obvious absurdity, but a figurative meaning yields clarity, then the passage is probably using symbols. For example, in Exodus 19:4, God tells Israel, “I carried you on eagles’ wings.” A literal reading of this statement would lead to absurdity—God did not use real eagles to airlift His people out of Egypt. The statement is obviously symbolic; God is emphasizing the speed and strength with which He delivered Israel. This leads to another rule of biblical interpretation: a symbol will have a non-symbolic meaning. In other words, there is something real (a real person, a real historical event, a real trait) behind every figure of speech.

https://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-symbolism.html

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #158: I Serve a Risen Savior

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7):

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

 

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God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit

February 18, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 18, 2018 

Based on a Message shared with BLCF on April 14, 2013

BLCF Bulletin April 14, 2013

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                             

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

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

Responsive Reading #624 of Prayer: (The Great Commission – from Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, and Mark 16)                                                                                                        

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit’

Let us pray…

Last Wednesday, called by some Christian churches as Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent, which is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. It interesting that the first day of Lent for 2018 happens to also fall on Saint Valentine’s Day, which occurred last in 1945,  Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

For our lesson today, let us look at the significance to what happened during Lent and the days following.

Much of today’s lesson is taken from the Book of Acts of the Apostles. We embark on a new chapter of the God’s Plan, where our Lord makes available a part of God or the Holy Trinity, which is the Holy Spirit, to all of humanity who call upon the name of the Lord; confess their sins; and decide to follow the Way of the Lord, being baptised in Holy Spirit.

The sequence of Events that occurred in the Holy Week is the basis of our faith and a proof of the Power of God, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19 (ESV):

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.                                                                                     

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:19 Or we have hoped

This passage points out that not only is the Resurrection of the Lord important critical proof that Jesus is Lord and the truth of the Gospel and allows us to be confident in God’s promises to forgive our sins, trust in the promise of the our own resurrection from death as well judgement and validates the truth of our sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a foundation of our faith and trust in the Lord.

God’s Plan for our Salvation is through Jesus Christ. Those elements being how Jesus rode a young donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; Jesus’ washing of the feet of the 12 Disciples; the Last Supper of the Lord on the Passover; the Lord’s Crucifixion on Good Friday; the Resurrection on Easter Sunday; The Lord’s Ascension into Heaven  and the Gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. Each element of Holy Week was foretold by God to the prophets and recorded in Scripture and is a necessary step in a ladder of events to fulfill God’s Salvation Plan.  We even talked about the two prophets on the Emmaus Road, who encountered the resurrected Christ and brought the good news back to the remaining 11 disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. What was this Upper Room referred to in the Scriptures?

The Last Room

It is funny how we will often refer to the name of a place, not knowing where it is located or what its purpose was. I recall when I first dated Sophie and visited her house, which was often filled with the extended family: brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and of course the notorious “last room.” If a visitor came and was offered a ginger ale or coke, the duty of retrieving the pop usually fell upon a young niece or nephew. Pop was usually kept in a place referred to as “The Last Room.” If something was needed or missing, such as an umbrella, a slipper, a shoe, a hat, a coat or a broom, the searcher would usually be directed to look in “The Last Room.” It was only after a month or so that I figured out that this “Last Room” was an enclosed porch at the back, north side of the house. The Last Room served as a combination cold room, cloak room, and broom closet. This porch was not insulated and had windows which opened to allow access to a clothesline which ran from the back wall of thr house to an ancient large pear tree in the backyard. If someone in the household was looking for a lost or missing item, the first and last place to look for it was usually the “Last Room”. Sadly, an addition to the house of a family room and washroom eliminated the notorious “last room” from the floor plan of the house, relegating the location to just a fond memory of the past.

The Last Room

This photo is a stock photo intended to represent the enclosed back porch at my mother-in-law’s house, which the family would refer to as “The Last Room.”

This brings today’s lesson to a place of similar notoriety in the Scriptures, which is called the “Upper Room.”

Most Bible scholars seem to agree that this Upper Room was the place where Jesus washed the feet of the 12 Disciples; where the Last Supper of Passover served by Jesus took place; where, later, the remaining 11 Disciples received the good news that the Lord had arose from the grave; where Thomas examined Jesus’ wounds from the crucifixion; where the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers, after Jesus ascended; and where Christ’s Church began..

But where and what was this place called the Upper Room or sometimes called the Upper Chamber? The Cenacle (from Latin cenaculum), also known as the Upper Room, is the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner. In Christian tradition, based on Acts 1:13,the “Upper Room” was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the Cenacle), but the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, and following the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the arrival of”the first Christian Church”.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem (A.D. 71–1099): “During the first Christian centuries the church at this place was the centre of Christianity in Jerusalem, “Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches” (Intercession in “St. James’ Liturgy”, ed. Brightman, p. 54). Certainly no spot in Christendom can be more venerable than the place of the Last Supper, which became the first Christian church.”

The early history of the Cenacle site is uncertain; scholars have made attempts at establishing a chronology based on archaeological evidence and historical sources.

Biblical archaeologist Bargil Pixner offers these significant dates and events in the building’s history:

The original building was a synagogue later probably used by Jewish Christians. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the building was spared during the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus (AD 70), though Pixner thinks it was likely rebuilt right after the war, and claims three walls of that structure are still extant: the North, East and South walls of the present King David’s Tomb. Roman emperor Theodosius I built an octagonal church (the “Theodosian Church” or “Holy Zion Church”) aside the synagogue (that was named “Church of the Apostles”). The Theodosian Church, probably started on 382 AD, was consecrated by John II, Bishop of Jerusalem on 394 AD. Some years later, c. 415 AD, Bishop John II enlarged the Holy Zion Church transforming it in a large rectangular basilica with five naves, always aside the Church of the Apostles. This building was later destroyed by Persian invaders in 614 AD and shortly after partially rebuilt by patriarch Modestus. In 1009 AD the church was razed to the ground by the Muslim caliph Al-Hakim and shortly after replaced by the Crusaders with a five aisled basilica named for “Saint Mary”, today the site of Dormition Abbey. It is thought that the Cenacle occupied a portion of two aisles on the right side of the altar.

While the church was destroyed sometime after 1219, the Cenacle was spared. In the 1340s, it passed into the custody of the Franciscan Order of Friars, who maintained the structure until 1552, when the Ottoman Empire took possession of it. After the Franciscan friars’ eviction, this room was transformed into a mosque, as evidenced by the mihrab in the direction of Mecca and an Arabic inscription prohibiting public prayer at the site. Christians were not officially allowed to return until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

When they returned to the Upper Room after Christ’s Ascension, the disciples numbered some 120, did not sit idly by, but began selected a replacement for Judas and continued in fervent prayer to prepare for the arrival of God’s gift, Acts 1:1-11 (ESV):

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

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.”

Jesus instructed the disciples to wait upon the Lord, as we read in Acts 1:4 (ESV):

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating

Note in verse 11 that Jesus was described as being taken up to heaven. Five times New Testament writers employ the Greek term analambano (to take up) of the Lord’s ascension (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2,11,22; 1 Timothy 3:16). Each time the verb is in the passive voice, he “was taken up.” The passive voice represents the subject of the verb as being acted upon, thus, in this instance, indicating that the “taking up” was empowered from above, namely by God.

This is almost comical as the disciples were asked, “Hey why are you looking up to heaven? Did Jesus not just tell you he would return in the same manner that he just left? Perhaps, it was the vision of our Lord’s ascension that had them transfixed. But remember that two had witnessed Jesus ascend on the day of the transfiguration. But that is another topic for another message.

But it is important to note in verse 8, that teacher now passes upon the student, the disciples, the torch of teaching God’s Grace, with the power and help of the Holy Spirit.

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus gave his blessing, Luke 24:51 (ESV):

51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

The blessing that Jesus gave, Luke 24:51, is often interpreted as a priestly act where Jesus leaves his disciples in the care of God the Father. The return to Jerusalem after the Ascension ends the Gospel of Luke where it began, in Jerusalem. And where in Jerusalem did the disciples go? The Upper Room! The meeting is described in Acts 1:12-26 (ESV):

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]

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong[d] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.                                                                                                                          

Footnotes: 1. Acts 1:4 Or eating 2. Acts 1:5 Or in 3. 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; also verse 15 4. Acts 1:18 Or swelling up

And in this Upper Room, the promised gift from God, the Holy Spirit was given to those who had gathered and prayed, Acts 2:1-4 (ESV):

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

We have a good idea what the Upper Room was and the significance of events that occurred there. But what about the Pentecost event that took place in the Upper Room?

Pentecost means Fifty. The Fiftieth is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, which coincides in the Christian liturgical year as the date commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the remaining eleven Apostles of Christ (Judas had hung himself), and over 100 others, a total of 120 Disciples in the Upper Room, after the Resurrection of Jesus. Thus, the day of Pentecost occurred some 50 days after Jesus was crucified and 10 days after our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven.

So let us back up a bit to Christ’s Ascension, an event most scholars believe took place above the Mount of Olives, near Bethany. Beth anya which translates as “house of misery/Poor house?” Bethany is recorded in the New Testament as the home of the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as that of Simon the Leper. Jesus is reported to have lodged there after his entry into Jerusalem, and it could be from Bethany that he parted from his disciples at the Ascension.

In Luke, Jesus leads the eleven disciples to Bethany, not far from Jerusalem and Luke describes the Ascension in Luke 24:50-53 (ESV):

The Ascension

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

We know that the Holy Spirit had been at work previously. We see him working through different people throughout the Old Testament. We see Jesus’ close connection with the Spirit in the Gospels. Now, though, something different was happening.

According to what Jesus had told his disciples in Luke 24:49 (ESV), And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” and what Peter said later in Acts 2:38 (ESV), “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit was working in a new manner, that is, in a way that he had not worked previously but in a way that had been promised or prophesied.

A thousand years before the Savior’s birth, David prophesied the ascension of Jesus when he announced the Lord’s enthronement at the Father’s right hand in Psalm 110:1 (ESV):

Sit at My Right Hand A Psalm of David:

110 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

No other psalm is so frequently quoted in the New Testament, which acts as a good indicator of the importance of the event. And because the disciples had struggled with the concept of Jesus’ death, he told them plainly that he was going back to the Father, John 14:12 (ESV):  

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

And, while on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Jesus told high priest that soon he would be “seated at the right hand of Power”, see Matthew 26:64 (ESV):

64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

So we conclude today’s lesson with a better understanding as the significance of the upper room as the location for the events of the teaching by our Lord by washing of the disciple’s feet, Jesus’ instruction to the disciples with regard to the elements of the Last Supper, the appearance of the Lord after the resurrection, the disciples’ selection of Matthias to replace the deceased Judas, the place where God’s gift of the Holy Spirit comes upon the men and women believers who prayed and waited there, and the location where Peter, having received the Spirit delivers the first sermon, and the place where 3,000 hear the Spirit-filled receive Christ as Lord and Saviour and are baptised in the Spirit. And with the Ascension of Jesus, we see the passing of the ministry of the Gospel of Christ to the body of believers, baptized with God’s power and comfort through the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

 

Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

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 Company of Christ

BLCF: Jesus_and_Mary_manger_by_bnw-cross

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Company of Christ 

© December 25, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin-December-25-2016

BLCF: Wishing-You-A-Blessed-Peaceful-Christmas-animated

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Lighting the Christ Candle – (Galatians 4:1-6): 

                                      BLCF: animation_candle_flame-free                                                                  

4 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

BLCF; Nativity

Responsive Reading #627: The Savior’s Advent (Luke 2); Prayer                                                             

Opening Hymn #100: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Carols (Hymnal)                                              

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

Scripture Verses: Isaiah 9:6 and Matthew 1:18-25  

                                                                            

       Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

BLCF: Mary-Nativity

 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

 

 Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV) The Birth of Jesus Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Christmas 2011

 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.                                  

Footnotes: a. Matthew 1:18 Some manuscripts of the Christ b. Matthew 1:18 That is, legally pledged to be married

BLCF: Christ-candle

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church on this Christmas Sunday, where we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to send His Messiah to become the final sacrifice for the sins of humanity and to bring the Divine light to world as  is symbolized by lighting the Christ Candle today.

While the main focus of Christmas seems to be the birth of our Lord and Savior, there is much more to consider about Jesus’ arrival.

God’s plan was to send His Son, Jesus, to be born of a woman, Mary. So Jesus had a lineage traced back to Jesse, the father of King David and to God, our King in heaven.

Though Jesus was the ‘Son of God’, he would often refer to himself, humbly as the ‘son of man’. And as the son of man, he sought to be baptized before receiving the Holy Spirit and beginning his ministry, which we read in Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV):

Jesus is Baptized

BLCF: Epiphany_Jesus_Baptised

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 theBeloved

A few days ago, Sophie and I received word that a good friend of ours, who happens to be a brother in Christ, was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis does not look very promising. Which brings us to the conundrum we face as Christians: ‘Why’?

Sure, we know that our bodies have an expiration date and one day we will be called home by our Maker, but skeptics and those with little faith may ask: ‘Why not ask God to bring a healing and restoration of full health to our friend’?

While we have anointed friends who suffer from afflictions at BLCF Church and even had our faithful petitions answered by God, there are times when healing is not part of God’s plan. We must also be cautious that our requests are not putting God to the test, as was the perception of when the devil tested Jesus after the Lord was baptized in the Spirit, as described in Matthew 4:5-7 (ESV):

 Jesus is Tested

BLCF: even_Jesus_was_tempted

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

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’  and

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

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

While you may recall that the shepherds and angels joyfully celebrated the birth of Jesus, our Lord faced a grim prognosis for himself, as we see in Matthew 27:45-50 (ESV):

The Death of Jesus

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion

 45 Now from the sixth hour[a] there was darkness over all the land[b] until the ninth hour.[c] 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.                                        

Footnotes: a. Matthew 27:45 That is, noon b. Matthew 27:45 Or earth c. Matthew 27:45 That is, 3 p.m.

God could have intervened and prevented the death of His only Son. But this was not part of our Father’s Divine Plan, as Jesus was totally abandoned by his Father, and our Lord met his gruesome, painful death without comfort from his loving Father, which is the only way Christ could assume humanity’s judgment for their sins.

But now we get to the part of Christ’s Gospel which had caused the angels to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Not only did Jesus remove the scourge of sin and the judgement of death, which he took upon himself to die as the son of man, Christ proved that he was the Son of God, by his resurrection from death. Jesus returned not as a proof of his own Divinity, but with an assignment and a promise to his disciples, described in Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV):

 The Great Commission

BLCF: the_great_commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 28:19 Or into

The proof of the love and commitment of Jesus was first confirmed on the Day of Pentecost, which we find on the Scripture Passage found in Acts 2:1-4  (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost_Dove

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.                                                                                                                      

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

So I would like to conclude our Christmas Lesson today, to remind you that Jesus could not have fulfilled God’s Plan for salvation without being born as the son of a woman and by being the Son of God. Christ defeated the devil, restored humanity’s place as Children of God, which we see in the same passage that I read as we lit the Christ Candle at the beginning of today’s service, Galatians 4:1-6 (ESV):

Sons and Heirs

BLCF: Galatians-4_1-6

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”                        

Footnotes: a. Galatians 4:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface; also verse 7 b. Galatians 4:3 Or elemental spirits; also verse 9

Though Jesus came as an infant, the son of a woman, he raised by a women, he took our place to be arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a judgment of death for sins of which he was innocent.

Though he was convicted, jesus died on the cross, and was buried, the Son of God, he arose from the grave, which demonstrated his Divinity.

In spite of his treatment and sacrifice, Jesus proved his love and Lordship by ascending to sit beside the Father, to be our advocate in heaven and gift us with the Holy Spirit of God. Thus our Lord is granting us the company of His Spirit forever. What a blessing!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #121: O Little Town of Bethlehem

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.

holy-spirit-teaches

Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold

BLCF: faith_sees_header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold’

© November 20, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on Message Shared with BLCF on February 16, 2014

B LCF: Bulletin-November-20-2016

BLCF: Simon heresy

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #669:                       (The Lord’s Servant – 2 Timothy 2 and 3); Prayer   

Opening Hymn #255: Would You Be Free from the Burden; Choruses 

Scripture Verses: Mark 16:14-20 and Acts 8:4-25

Nucci,_Avanzino_-_Petrus'_Auseinandersetzung_mit_Simon_Magus_-_1620

Let us pray …

Welcome to BLCF ‘s Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson today, entitled: ‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold’, we will examine the signs and miracles associated with the Spirit, which is gifted to believers. This signs are exhibited through the faith of the believer, solely as a testament to the power of the Lord, not to the person who demonstrates a miracle and belief in Christ.

In giving His Great Commission, the Lord did say there will be signs associated with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, as they preach his gospel, which was his final instructions before he ascended to heaven, as we read in Mark 16:14-20 (ESV):

The Great Commission

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Another way of reading Mark 16:17-18 would be:

17 And these signs will accompany:

Those who believe in my name they will cast out demons.

Those who believe in my name will speak in new tongues.

 Those who believe in my name will pick up serpents with their hands.

Those who believe in my name, if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.

 Those who believe in my name will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Remember, as Jesus was tempted by Satan from a high place in the desert, after he was baptized by John-the-Baptist, we are not to put God to the test by deliberately performing any of the acts described in Mark 16, as a public demonstration of faith. Miracles that come by the power of God are not intended to be part of a magician’s sideshow, or to sell books, Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The only signs we are to concern ourselves with, are those that come by way of our preaching of the gospel in the name of the Lord. Those signs not being celestial, but associated with true believers in verses 17 and 18 of Mark 16:  

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

In spite of the signs provided by God’s Holy Spirit for His disciples, as they shared the gospel, both in the time of Jesus and today, there are self-proclaimed prophets who present themselves as God’s messenger, using signs of magic to fool the people. The Scriptures provide an account of one self-proclaimed prophet and false disciple of the Lord, named Simon, (Simon Magus) who preached his false gospel in Samaria, in Acts 8:4-25 (ESV):

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

BLCF: Acts-8_5

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

BLCF: Simon Sorcerer

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.           

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:5 Some manuscripts a city b. Acts 8:13 Greek works of power c. Acts 8:23 That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile

Here is our Wikibits assessment of  Simon the Magician:

Wiki Notes on Simon Magus

BLCF: simon-magus

Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of lawlessness.[1] According to Recognitions, Simon’s parents were named Antonius and Rachel.[2]

Surviving traditions about Simon appear in orthodox texts, such as those of IrenaeusJustin MartyrHippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often regarded as the source of all heresiesJustin wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and the sect of the Simonians.[3][4][5][6] Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter.

In apocryphal works including the Acts of PeterPseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Magus

 

BLCF: baptism-masaccio_thebaptismoftheneophytes1

Upon reading the Scriptural account in Acts 8 carefully, you will see that the people of Samaria, including the false prophet Simon, were convicted by the miracles performed by the disciple Philip, as they were true signs from God. In verses 12 and 13, we read that the Samaritans, including Simon, were baptized in water,

12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed. 

Now the tough part for some Baptists who hold the false belief that water baptism either follows or ensures baptism of the Spirit. We see that in verses 14 to 17:

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Only by a profession of faith, may one receive His Holy Spirit, see Acts 8:17,

  17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

However, the acts of observing God’s miracles, being baptised in water, and even after having received the touch by the hands of a disciple of the Lord does not guarantee one may receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not enter a heart that is not prepared. Let us continue reading Acts 8, from verse 17:

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

BLCF: SIMON MAGUS

Peter observed that Simon, was still a slave to sin, and therefore subject to the judgment of death, Acts 8, verse 20:

20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Simon acknowledges that his heart is, as Peter had observed, “not right before God”, as he is in the “bond of iniquity”, that he was still a slave to sin. Unfortunately, Simon’s reply, is to ask Peter to “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me”, indicating a reluctance by Simon to surrender completely to God, preventing the magician from receiving the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the mistaken belief on the part of Simon, when he attempts to purchase, with money, God’s free gift that was already purchased by Christ on Calvary’s cross. And one can only receive the gift of the Holy Spirit of God through genuine faith in the gift of Jesus; by the confession of, as well as the turning away from a life of sin; and by following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

It seems interesting to note that whenever money enters the picture, as with the offer to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit by Simon, or the sales of books claiming to reveal God’s purpose by way of observing celestial events, we see that God’s Holy Spirit is absent. Offering money in exchange for gifts of the Spirit, as Peter observed, indicates a heart that is not right with God and unworthy of the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit. There is no treasure on earth that can purchase a plan only to be revealed by God, in His chosen time.

I want to close today’s message by posing a question to you, framed in the form of a metaphor, about your own spiritual journey, as the answer has life or death consequences for your soul’s salvation:

“Are you racing alongside a speeding celestial train, as it travels on a magical media tour, hoping to buy salvation in a can, or have you placed your trust in the assurance of salvation by following Jesus’ Way to heaven, being the only true way to avoid the judgement of death?”  After all, the choice is yours.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

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.

BLCF: May-the-God-of-Hope-Romans-15_13

Trust and Faith in the Lord: Our Keys to Hope, Joy and Peace

BLCF: faith_in_God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Trust and Faith in the Lord: Our Keys to Hope, Joy and Peace’

© May 17, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 17, 2015

BLCF: hope_joy_peace 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #601(Faith and Confidence – Psalm 27); Prayer

Opening Hymn #235:  “What Must I Do?” Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 91:1-6, Matthew 13:53-58, John 20:19-29

BLCF: i_believe

 

Let us pray…

For our lesson today May 17, 2015, with Pentecost Sunday just one week away, I would like to discuss the disciple of Jesus who, thanks to a short passage of the Scriptures, been tagged with the unfortunate moniker of a doubter or skeptic. As you have likely guessed, I am talking about Thomas or Didymus, which means “the twin”, who we more commonly refer to as: “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas comes from the Hebrew or Aramaic root which means “the twin.” Didymus is from the Greek and also means “the twin.” It is likely that Thomas was born as a twin hence the unusual nickname.

But the skeptical response by Thomas to the his fellow disciples, as described in the following Scripture in John 20, verses 19-29, helped to earn him the unfortunate title as doubter:

John 20:19-29 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 BLCF: resurrected

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

BLCF: Incredulity of St Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[b] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

To be clear our terminology, I will refer to what I commonly “Wikibits.” So what is meant by the term “skeptic,” often applied to Thomas?

Dictionary.com: skeptic – noun

  1. A person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
  2. A person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
  3. A person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.

 

Both the secular and Christian community, make frequent use of the term “Doubting Thomas,” in reference to Jesus’ disciple. Another idiom associated with Thomas, is “Seeing is believing.”

 

Wikibits: Seeing is Believing

BLCF: Augustine-Of-Hippo-faith-reward

Seeing is believing is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. It is the essence of St. Thomas‘s claim to Jesus Christ, to which the latter responded that there were those who had not seen but believed. It leads to a sophistry that “seen evidence” can be easily and correctly interpreted, when in fact, interpretation may be difficult.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seeing_Is_Believing

The Scripture Verses, featured in today’s lesson and printed in this morning’s bulletin, talk about how important belief, trust and faith are, in our faith walk, as believers in the Resurrected Christ.

The first Scripture, taken from Psalm 91, verses 1-6, we see that trust and faithfulness used interchangeably, describing a mutual regard between a believer and God. Just as we are faithful to God, He is faithful to us:

Psalm 91:1-6 (ESV) My Refuge and My Fortress

BLCF: Psalm_91_1-6

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High     

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,     

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler     

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,     

and under his wings you will find refuge;     

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,     

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,     

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 91:2 Septuagint He will say

The next Scripture passage in the bulletin is Matthew 13, verses 53-58, describes how our Lord was rejected, in spite of his wisdom and miracles, because of the “unbelief” among many of the people in his hometown of Nazareth:

Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV) Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

BLCF: Jesus-preaching-at-synagogue-at-nazareth

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

While John 20:19-29 does describe the doubts of Thomas, who was absent when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples in the Upper room on the day of his resurrection, the Lord did show the disciples the very same wounds that Thomas asked to see, as well as breathing the Spirit into the disciples, to help them understand the significance of what they were witnessing.

While Thomas was skeptical of the Lord, when he first encountered Jesus, he was by no means the only disciple to have doubts on that day. Let us look at a passage of Scripture, not found in some of the earlier manuscript’s:

Mark 16:9-20 (ESV) Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.][a]

BLCF: Jesus_appears_to_Mary_Magdalene

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples

BLCF: road_to_Emmaus

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

The Great Commission

The Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]

Footnotes: a. Mark 16:9 Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9–20 immediately after verse 8. At least one manuscript inserts additional material after verse 14; some manuscripts include after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. These manuscripts then continue with verses 9–20

In Mark 16, verses 9-20, the remaining eleven disciples demonstrated the same level of doubt and skepticism towards Mary and the two disciples on the Emmaus Road, when they had reported seeing Jesus on the day of his resurrection. And like, Thomas, the eleven were rebuked for their unbelief.

Our previous Upper Room account of the Resurrected Jesus appearing before the Eleven Disciples in John 20:19-29 does not give a reason why Thomas was absent. The diciples had cloistered themselves in the Upper Room because they feared that the angry mob would crucify them as they had the Lord. Whatever the reason for Thomas’ absence, whether it was to get food for the disciples or to attend to the needs of others, it was important enough for him to risk his own personal safety while the other disciples chose to stay behind a bolted door. We do know that the reason Thomas left the the safety of the Upper Room, it was not for doing something nefarious, as was the case of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. The Mark 16 account has the Lord returning specifically for the assurance of Thomas, so that the disciple would believe. In the John 20 account Jesus gave a mini-Pentecost, breathing upon the eleven the Holy Spirit which gave them the power of the Spirit and to understand the Lord’s purpose.Thomas being absent did not receive the Spirit at that time. The Lord’s prerequisite to receive the Holy Spirit is that a convert demonstrates faith in the Jesus, which Christ ensured by his returning to the Upper room to reveal himself to Thomas. This was an act of both compassion and faith by the Lord, and shows us that he would not leave any of his sheep behind.

Unfortunately, Thomas bears the brunt of the blame for his skepticism towards the others’ news of the Lord’s resurrection, which overshadows the ministry that Thomas performed in spreading the Gospel of Christ, which is the “The Great Commission” given by Jesus to all the disciples. In the sharing of the Gospel, the disciples became apostles or messengers of Christ. Here is a brief summary of work of the Apostle Thomas, which is really germane to his work:

BLCF: St_Thomas_Apostle

Thomas the Apostle (called Didymus which means “the twin”) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is informally called doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection when first told, (in the Gospel of John), followed later by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, on seeing Jesus’ wounded body.

Traditionally, he is said to have travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far as India.[2][5][6][7] According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in AD 52 and baptized several people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places.[citation needed] In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle.[8] He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India,[9][10] and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_the_Apostle

I feel that by focusing on an account which describes Thomas as having some doubts, which were no more severe than that exhibited by the other disciples, instead of his service in spreading the Gospel as far east as India, we do the apostle a disservice.

The New Testament is full of accounts describing the disciples as having doubts or lapses of faith, particularly before receiving the Holy Spirit. But the work that the disciples, now as apostles or messengers of the Gospel, was accomplished by them, even to the point of their own deaths, is far more significant to the Christian Church of believers, The Apostle Thomas is included as an important contributor to the Great Commission  given to all believers in Jesus, as Lord and Savior.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

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.

BLCF: believe-without-seeing

 

Salvation through Faith and Trust

BLCF: Pentecost-Upper-Room

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Salvation through Faith and Trust’

© October 19, 2014, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 19, 2014

Message Originally Shared with BLCF on Sunday, August 1, 2010

BLCF Bulletin August 1, 2010

BLCF: Jesus_Loves_You_animated

BLCF: Pentecost,_Greco

 

Announcements and Call to Worship, an Adaptation of Psalm 91:                                            

Leader: Let we who live with faith in God proclaim,

People: “Lord, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God I will trust forever.”

Leader: Let we who trust in the Lord know that holy love surrounds us. 

People: God’s protection will follow us throughout our days. 

Leader: When we call out to the Lord,  

People: We know that we are heard. 

Leader: God is with us in every trial and temptation,

All: Therefore we will rejoice in the salvation of the Almighty! 

 – Amen  

BLCF: fires_of_pentecost

      

Opening Hymn # 484: It Only Takes A Spark; Choruses                                                 

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

Scripture Verses:                                                                                                                    Acts 1:1-14 (Faith and Trust); Acts 2:1-41 (Salvation and the Holy Spirit)

Let us pray…

Good morning, the lesson I bring today, Salvation through Faith and Trust, begins with a Scripture taken from the Book of Acts, that deals with Faith and trust in the Lord. The message between deals with why faith and trust are required to receive God’s gift of Salvation. The conclusion of the message deals with that Pentecost upper room gathering, where the Lord released the Holy Spirit to all who believe. All who have shown faith and trust in the Lord.

Acts 1:1-14 (ESV) The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

BLCF: Jesus_Ascension

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.”

 

BLCF: Jerusalem

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; also verse 15

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place!

 

BLCF: assurance_of_salvation

 

What is faith or belief? The Greek word translated faith and belief is pistis, which Strong’s defines as persuasion, moral conviction, assurance, belief. The word for trust is elpidzo, meaning to expect, to have confidence in. The three terms, then, basically mean the same thing: to be persuaded of something, to hold something to be true, to have confidence in. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) By Faith:

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

When each of you entered the church this morning, you walked in the Sanctuary, perhaps greeted a friend or two and took a bulletin and proceeded to sit down in a pew or chair of your choosing. When you approached the pew, you became seated. I am sure before you took your seat you didn’t inspect the pew for structural integrity. You didn’t test the pew to see whether or not it would support you. You likely didn’t give a second thought as to whether the hidden dowels and screws which hold the pew together, the unseen components would keep their structural integrity and not collapse under your weight. You just acted in faith that your pew would support you, without tipping or collapsing. Yours was an act of faith. The only conscious decision might be whether the pew had a hymnal and Bible, whether its location provided a good view of the service, perhaps you may have given conscious as to its location with respect to a fan or an easy exit at the end of the service. That same faith-based decision is needed as Christians. We may give some thought as to which church we attend, whose sermon we would like to hear, but the act of faith in God is made on an unconscious level, just like our decision to sit in the pew. We may stand to sing or pray, but we then resume our seat again without a thought. Acts 10:43 (ESV):

 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. We had a friend of the family, named Earl D., who became known to many as Elder Earl, a sign of respect for his service in his church. Earl had known Sophie’s family for years, often dropping by for a visit. Though he never married, I believe Earl felt a part of the family. I remember on one occasion, the extended family was having a bar-b-que at my mother in law’s house and Earl dropped in for a visit. Around the back yard were a number of old wooden folding chairs, not unlike the deck chairs portrayed in the movie Titanic. The chairs were made from oak and were almost the same shade as the pews in this church, which are also made of oak. They looked much sturdier and were much more comfortable than the nylon and aluminum folding lawn chairs that were popular at the time.

Earl was a large man, both in height and girth. I remember that he chose an empty oak chair for his seat. As Earl dropped his frame in the chair, it promptly collapsed and disintegrated into a pile of broken pieces under him. It was quite a funny moment, and luckily Earl suffered no injuries, except to his pride. My mother-in-law had only two of those folding wooden chairs and one was broken beyond repair. The other chair suffered the same fate, when a couple of years later at another back yard function, when our friend Earl, the perpetrator of the first chair’s demise, had the remaining chair collapse underneath him.

Earl again escaped unscathed, except for a bruised pride again, likely did not have the same trust and faith in folding chairs. While Earl was a man of strong faith in the Lord, who never lets us down, his faith in chairs, like anything the word, can lead to disappointments in life. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV):

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

A man is drowning in the sea, and a lifeline is thrown to him from a passing ship. The man grasps for and clings to that lifeline believing that it is his salvation. He has faith that it will hold him. He trusts in it. Like that drowning man, by ourselves, we are doomed to die from our sins. Alone our fate seems hopeless. But God loves you and me so much that He has thrown us a lifeline that we may use to save ourselves. That lifeline is Jesus Christ, who has taken the burden of our sins, has taken our doom, our death upon himself. He is our hero, our lifeguard, our Saviour. He died so we may live. John 3:16 (ESV):

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

This verse tells us that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.

But how does one qualify in the easy of God to receive the gift of salvation and the comforter in the Holy Spirit? What does the Lord expect us to do? Acts 2:38 (ESV):

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”

After confessing our sins, what else is expected to become justified to God? Galatians 2:16 (ESV):

 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

Salvation is God’s gift, given under His terms. Ephesians 2:8 (ESV):

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

Up to the time that Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, the biggest obstacles to a close relationship between God and his people were faith and trust. The Bible is filled with testaments of chosen prophets, leaders and disciples who had either misgiving with respect to their ability to fulfill God’s calling, and in some instances, questions as to whether it was really God who called them in the first place! Matthew 17:20 (ESV):

 “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

The Bible does record miraculous achievements, when God is allowed to guide the way, whether it is surviving the Great Flood, the Exodus from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, being sustained by manna from Heaven, tearing down the walls of Jericho, feeding the multitude, walking on the Sea of Galilee, none of these miracles would have happened without faith in the power of the Lord and trust that He has power over everything in Heaven and Earth. John 3:36 (ESV):

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life. Sadly, Satan often uses as obstacles, our lack of faith and trust, to try to keep us at arm’s length from believing or having faith that Jesus had died for our sins, or if we do believe, keep us from trusting in Him. Satan wants to keep us from God’s glory. For, as believers in the Gospel, not only do we receive redemption in God’s eyes, we are given the gifts of power and comfort in through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:2 (ESV):

Through him we have also obtained access by faith[a] into this grace in which we stand, and we[b] rejoice[c] in hope of the glory of God.

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith b. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 c. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

By faith, we are justified and have access to grace. How much power and comfort we receive is directly proportional to how much we trust we have in Him in our lives. For many, Sunday worship is a time where we attempt to renew and replenish our faith, so that we may coast through the rest of the week. Our faith should be sustained through the week by daily prayer, reading of Scripture, fellowship and witnessing to others by our thoughts, words, and deeds. Sunday’s should not only be a day of worship but a day of praise and celebration of the achievements of the previous week, with a renewed recommitment to continue Our Christian walk in faith and trust.

 

BLCF: pentecost

 The Day of Pentecost

Which brings us to Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and you may ask what do me mean, when Christian believers refer to the day of Pentecost?

“Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word for “fifty”. The day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2, occurred 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and 10 days after His ascension. Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church. Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following Jesus’ ascension. It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter. Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church’s mission to the world.

The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is the way Christians understand God.

 Celebrating Pentecost

 Pentecost is a happy festival. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth. Hymns were sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme.

 Pentecost Symbols

 The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove.

 The first Pentecost

 Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. Now you may recall that on the evening of his resurrection, after appearing to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to the disciples, save Thomas who was away and gave the disciples the Holy Spirit. In a sense this way the first of a series of Pentecost experience which happens when believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, following faith conversion, even to this day. Following the Pentecost experience on the day of Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon believers in the same upper room  10 days following the Lord’s ascension.

BLCF: shavuot

 

Acts 2:1-41 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

BLCF: peter_preaching_pentecost

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.[b] 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[c] 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,[d] 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. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,     or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life;     you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested b. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. c. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse e. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

BLCF: Feast-of-Holy-Pentecost-Fifty-Days-After-Pascha

 

On the 50th day after the Sabbath Passover week, the Jews celebrated a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest. Pentecost was known by a number of other different names:

 Feast of Weeks – (Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10):

Exodus 34:22 (ESV): 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

Deuteronomy 16:10 (ESV): 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.

Feast of Harvest – Exodus 23:16 (ESV): 16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.

 Day of First Fruits – Numbers 28:26 (ESV): Offerings for the Feast of Weeks: 26 “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work

The “Feast of Weeks” was the second-most important festival for the Jews. The most important Jewish festival is Passover. This explains why so many people from all over the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem on the day when the Holy Spirit was sent, who heard the Galatians speaking in various tongues.

The inspiration of the Spirit upon the disciples sounded like a mighty wind and looked like tongues of fire.

The disciples showed their faith and trust the Lord by remaining in Jerusalem as instructed by the Lord. And that is the Lord’s expectation for us at Bloor Lansdowne, so that we may have salvation. He wants us to keep His faith and to trust in Him, in our thoughts, words, and deeds. What we do and how we act, must be motivated by faith and guided by the Spirit.

BLCF: Billy_Graham

 

On the subject of salvation, the Reverend Billy Graham said:

“Faith is essential for salvation. But we must be absolutely clear on what we mean when we speak of “salvation by faith.” There are various kinds of belief or faith, and not all are linked to salvation. In the New Testament, faith means more than intellectual belief. It involves trust and commitment. I may say that I believe a bridge will hold my weight. But I really believe it only when I commit myself to it and walk across it. Saving faith involves an act of commitment and trust, in which I commit my life to Jesus Christ and trust Him alone as my Savior and Lord.”

Acts 1:8 (ESV) The Great Commission

“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.”

BLCf: Where-Gospel-Preached

It is sad that some Christians view Sunday as so different from the rest of the week, that they conduct their faith accordingly. We are expected to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ every day, not just one in seven. And some churches seem only to observe Pentecost solely on a Sunday some 50 days after Easter. Salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit may occur in any place, on any day, at any time.  It can occur anywhere inside or outside a church. There is no 10-day waiting period for the Spirit to arrive to the new Christian believer. So Pentecost is not limited to one Sunday or one day a year. The Great Commission was given to us by Jesus, as his apostles or messengers has unlimited boundaries, to everyone, unto the ends of the world.

 

BLCF: the_great_commission

 Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #581: There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit

Benediction: (Based on Romans 5:1-11):

May your faith give you peace and may God’s Spirit give you love. May the grace of God give you hope and may the love of Christ give you strength.  Amen.

 

BLCF: Acts 20_21