Preparing for the Day When We exchange Our Tent for a Building

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Preparing for the Day When We exchange Our Tent for a Building’ 

© October 1, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 1, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                Opening Hymn #200: The Church’s One Foundation; Choruses                          Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Responsive Reading #654: The Holy City (-from Revelation 21)                       Message shared by Steve Mickelson:                                                                        ‘Preparing for the Day When We exchange Our Tent for a Building’

Let us pray…

The Lesson I would like to share with you today at BLCF is entitled: ‘Preparing for the Day When We exchange Our Tent for a Building’

It is interesting observation that most people endeavor to find permanence to the relationships in their lives. So it is young people may date, but ultimately hope to find their one true “soul mate” for the rest of their days.

There is nothing better than a lasting friendship with someone with someone you can always trust and rely upon.

The same is true for anyone who has lived the lifestyle described as:  itinerant, wandering, roving, roaming, touring, saddlebag, nomadic, gypsy, migrant, vagrant or vagabond.

While such lifestyle may initially seem exciting or romantic, after a while most of us get tired of living on the road, being quite content to have a place of permanence to call home.

Who among us can say that they have embarked upon an extended trip or journey, which initially seemed to promise excitement and adventure, and find ourselves both relieved and grateful to finally arrive back home?

So it was with the People of Israel, who were led by Moses, who in-turn was led by God, to wander the desert for generations to a permanent home in the Promised Land. While they  journeyed, they lived in tents which could be easily struck for the next leg of their journey. Even the Temple where they worshipped was housed in a tent.

Over time the People of Israel, who had longed to be delivered from their bondage in Egypt, sought to find a place which they could permanently call home. They wanted to exchange their tents for a permanent residence made of a more enduring material, such as brick and stone.

We have a few Scripture Verses today, some which reference having a tent for a home. However the tent is not intended to describe a place where one lives, but is used as a metaphor for the body in which we live.

Evangelist Billy Graham is quoted as saying: To the Christian death is the exchanging of a tent for a building. The building exists in heaven, as John records the Lord’s description in John 14:1-7 (ESV):

 I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

 14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d]From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Footnotes: a. John 14:1 Or You believe in God b. John 14:2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you c. John 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know d. John 14:7 Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also

 As Christians, who believe that Jesus died for our salvation and who have decided to follow and accept the  ‘Way, Truth and Light’ of the Lord, our choice also brings us the gift of the Holy Spirit of God, Who comes to help transform our bodies from ordinary ‘tents’ to ‘Tabernacles of God’s New Covenant of Salvation’, to live a new life, transformed in the likeness of the Lord, Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV): 

The New Life

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

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

Those who believe in the Gospel of the Resurrected Christ, Jesus are promised us a heavenly dwelling which is eternal in exchange for our current mortal tent-like bodies,  2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (ESV):

 Our Heavenly Dwelling

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

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

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

Our current body is described as being like dwelling in a tent which is separate and away from the Lord. But we have the hope and faith that we  will go to live forever in a new home which is a permanent that Lord has prepared  for us,  Revelation 21:1-11 (ESV):

The New Heaven and the New Earth

 21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

Footnotes: a. Revelation 21:3 Or tabernacle b. Revelation 21:3 Some manuscripts peoples c. Revelation 21:3 Some manuscripts omit as their God

Let us pray…

Communion: Matthew 26:26-28 ( -see below)

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus

 Benediction – 2 Corinthians 5:1 (ESV) – Our Heavenly Dwelling:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Advertisements

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

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

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

©May 7, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 7, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                    

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

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

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

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                    

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

 

Let us pray…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

depictionportrayalrepresentation

statuestatuettesculpturebusteffigy

paintingpictureportraitdrawingsketch

“an image of St. Bartholomew”

  1. 2. a simile or metaphor.

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

synonyms: similemetaphormetonymy

figure of speechtrope, turn of phrase; 

imagery

“biblical images”

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

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

Evil and Oppression

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

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

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

 The Preeminence of Christ

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

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

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

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

Restoration of the Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

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

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

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

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

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

Put On the New Self

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

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

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

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

 Life in the Spirit

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

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

To recap our journey and lesson today:

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

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

 The New Life

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

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

Let us pray…

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

 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn #365: I Am Weak, but Thou Art Strong   

 Benediction:

To God the Father, who created the world,

To God the Son, who redeemed the world,

To God the Holy Spirit, who sustains the world,                                                      

Be praise and glory, now and forever.                                                                              

 Amen.

Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46 Paraphrased
Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:
Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone’
© May 31, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Messaged Shared with BLCF Church on February 27, 2011
BLCF: Christianity_101

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #668: The New Life (from Colossians 3); Prayer

Opening Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses: 

2 Kings 5:1-27, Luke 17:11-19, Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 25:31-46

                    

BLCF: get-out_of_the_boat

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the last Sunday of May, 2015.

BLCF: praywalk

A reminder for those who missed the announcements, that this Tuesday evening, June 2, at 7:30 PM, will mark BLCF Church’s turn to host the monthly Prayer Walk in The City. For over a decade, a group of over half a dozen churches participates in a Prayer Walk, where the participants, usually in pairs, walk and pray in the local neighborhood community. We pray for the health and healing through the Holy Spirit’s presence among each and every person. We pray for the Spirit’s guidance and protection, and where needed, a faith revival in the community.

If you would like to participate in this Tuesday’s Prayer Walk right here in the heart of Toronto, please arrive at BLCF at 7:30PM, where we gather for music and prayer before commencing on our Prayer Walk and join other prayer warriors from local churches.

For our lesson today, we have three Scripture verses that describe three different accounts of people in need of healing or cleansing and restoration. The first two describe men afflicted with Leprosy. To better understand this disease, let us review a Wikibits description:

Leprosy – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
BLCF: Leprosy Rates 2002 - WHO

Leprosy /ˈlɛprəsi/,[1] also known as Hansen’s disease (HD) is a chronic infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae[2] and Mycobacterium lepromatosis.[3] Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years.[2] Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.[2] This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries.[4] Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.

[ Leprosy is curable with treatment. Globally in 2012, the number of chronic cases of leprosy was 189,000 and the number of new cases was 230,000.[2] The number of chronic cases has decreased from some 5.2 million in the 1980s. In the past 20 years, 16 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy.[2] About 200 cases are reported per year in the United States.[8]

Leprosy has affected humanity for thousands of years.[4] The disease takes its name from the Latin word lepra, which means “scaly”, while the term “Hansen’s disease” is named after the physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen.[4] Separating people by placing them in leper colonies still occurs in places such as India,[9] China,[10] and Africa.[11] However, most colonies have closed since leprosy is not very contagious.[11] Leprosy has been associated with social stigma for much of history, which is a barrier to self-reporting and early treatment.[2] Some consider the word leper offensive, preferring the phrase “persons affected with leprosy”.[12]

While Wikipedia indicates that Leprosy can be cured, I believe it more accurate to say that the disease’s progression can be stopped, but nerve damage and disfigurement remains. The healing in the Scriptures indicate a full restoration of the individual’s body. Because it typically takes between 5 to 20 years for the infected person to show symptoms, damage to the skin, nerves, lungs, limbs and eyes can only be arrested by treatment, not reversed.

The first of today’s Scriptures, from 2 Kings 5:1-27, is the account of Naaman who was a brave commander in the army of king of Syria. Naaman was an effective commander, even being described as being given victory in battle by the Lord. However the soldier was afflicted with Leprosy:

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
BLCF: Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7

And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”

11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

BLCF: naaman-healed
Gehazi’s Greed and Punishment

15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21

So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.

25 He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” 26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Footnotes: a. 2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. 2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams c. 2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

Naaman is convinced by his wife’s servant of how a prophet in home Israel, could heal her master of his affliction. Naaman tells his lord, the King of Syria of the servant girl’s belief and asks for leave to go to Israel. The king sends Naaman, along with a letter, to the king of Israel. The King of Israel, upon reading the letter, tears his clothing as only God can heal a man of Leprosy and suspects that the request is a ruse by the King of Syria to start a war against Israel.

In 2 Kings 5:8 we see how the Lord responds to the faith of the servant from Israel, the Syrian Commander and His prophet Elisha:

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.

It is interesting that Elisha takes Naaman out of his comfort zone, by not greeting the commander’s entourage, accepting the monetary gifts, and by specifying that Naaman immerse himself in the River Jordan seven times. Elisha’s response to Naaman asks the commander for humility and trust from Naaman, while clearly disassociating the healing from any worldly influence, so that credit would go solely to the Lord. Elisha, unlike some of today’s “fake faith healers” did not want, as Naaman had expected, make an overt show of the healing. The prophet refused a treasure of gifts in exchange for the miracle. Elisha wanted Naaman to be aware that it was the Lord and Nauuman’s trust in the Lord that brought the healing. Trust leads to belief, and belief leads to faith in God.

Naaman initially hesitates to obey Elisha’s instructions, angered by both the reception from Elisha and the unexpected method of the healing, is convinced to follow the directions from the prophet. Naaman is healed and acknowledges God, but tries to reward Elisha who reuses a wealth of gifts. Elisha tells Naaman that the healing is a gift from God, not the prophet.

We should not forget that Naaman’s faith and healing from God was initiated by a nameless servant girl’s faith and testimony. This servant girl was abducted from her home in a raid by Syrian soldiers, loses all of her petitions and retains only her faith in God. She seems to have every right to allow her master suffer from his affliction of Leprosy, after all he is a commander of her captors responsible for her servitude. The servant could have offered to tell her master of healing from God in exchange for her freedom, but the account gives no indication that she was released after Naaman was healed. The servant’s sharing her belief with her master was based on her compassion for an oppressor and her faith in God.

Later, we see that Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, is tempted and accepts the gifts offered by Naaman by telling Naaman that Elisha had a change in heart. Gehazi hides the offering in his house and denies to Elisha that he went out. We see that Elisha is aware and disappointed in Gehazi’s actions as we see in 2 Kings 5:26-27:

“Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

We could almost call this passage “A Tale of Two Servants,” where the faith of one servant brings faith and healing to a Gentile, while another servant brings upon himself a harsh judgment for his greed and lack of faith.

Our second Scripture Luke 17:11-19 tells of how ten Lepers are healed by Jesus, but only one of the ten, also a Gentile, returns to acknowledge the Lord:

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
BLCF: Jesus_Heals_Ten_Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

In Luke 17:19, we see that the Lord acknowledges the healed man’s praise:

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Based upon our first two Scriptures, one might conclude that Jesus first came to heal the world of their physical afflictions. Though the Lord did demonstrate compassion for the afflicted and healed them, this was not the reason why Jesus came to the world, as we see in Mark 2:13-17:

Jesus Calls Levi
BLCF: Mark 2_13-17

 

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts and b. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts add and drink

Jesus came not heal us of physical ailments; instead the Lord came to cleanse us of our Spiritual afflictions, which is sin. This is why the Lord sought to associate with tax collectors and sinners, described in Mark 2:17:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus came to minister and heal sinners, it is important to focus not on the fact that two Lepers were healed, but the faith of those messengers who brought healing.

It is interesting that while Naaman came out of his comfort zone by trusting and obeying the instructions of God’s prophet, Elisha, the Syrian commander came to faith based upon the testimony of a nameless servant girl. A servant who took compassion upon a commander of a foreign nation that had taken her into a life of servitude. She left her comfort zone by sharing her faith with a leader in the country which she was held captive.

Remember that the only one of ten Lepers’, who were healed by the compassion of Jesus to acknowledge the Lord, was a foreigner, a Samaritan.

We are reminded that we are commissioned as apostles or messengers of the Lord to share the Gospel of Christ not with whom whose company we feel comfortable, but with those whom we may avoid or whose company we like. We see this in the Scripture passage that we have adopted as our Mission statement for our BLCF Café Community Dinner, see Matthew 25:31-46:

The Final Judgment
BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Footnotes: a Matthew 25:40 Or brothers and sisters

Finally, may we accept that while the Lord, and later the Apostles, did perform many miracles of physical healing, Jesus came solely heal the world of sin. The Apostles’ were given the Great Commission by Christ: to spread the good news, the Gospel, that Christ died for our salvation from the spiritual affliction of sin. We are challenged to step out our comfort zone and associate with those who are untouchable and disenfranchised, considered unrighteous by others.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord 

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

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

BLCF: are-you-committed-or-merely-involved

Standing on God’s Promises: The Rainbow Covenant

BLCF: Matthew 26_26-28

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Standing on God’s Promises: The Rainbow Covenant

© August 10, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared with BLCF on Sunday June 13, 2010 

BLCF: Bulletin August 10, 2014

BLCF: Double-rainbow

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading  #668 (The New Life – Colossians 3); Prayer

Opening Hymn #225: Standing On the Promises                                                                 

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

Scripture Verses: Genesis 9:8-17, Matthew 26:26-28, John 11:25-26

 

Let us pray…

The story of Noah, God’s judgment, the ark full of animals, the great flood and the rainbow found in Book of Genesis is one of the best known to believers and non-believers, alike. The story has been retold in recent movies, where God’s truth is sometimes replaced by science or the imagination of Hollywood Screen Writers.

For this morning’s message at BLCF, we will focus our study on the “The Rainbow Covenant”. You may ask the question: “What is meant by the term covenant?” Webster’s Online gives us a couple of definitions which may help us understand. Webster’s definition is as follows:

Cov´e`nant   Pronunciation: k?v´?-n?nt noun

    (Theology) The promises of God as revealed in the Scriptures, conditioned on certain terms on the part of man, as obedience, repentance, faith, etc.I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.– Genenesis xvii. 7.
    A solemn compact between members of a church to maintain its faith, discipline, etc.
    (Law) An undertaking, on sufficient consideration, in writing and under seal, to do or to refrain from some act or thing; a contract; a stipulation; also, the document or writing containing the terms of agreement.

http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Covenant

\

The Biblical use of covenant describes an agreement between God and either an individual or people. Scholars generally agree that the Scriptures contain about ten covenants. These ten can be divided into one of two types: as either unilaterally coming from God or bilaterally between God and the individuals or people.

 

BLCF: God's Three Bi-lateral Covenants

 

Looking at the chart inside the bulletin, near the bottom left, you can get a brief overview with respect to the covenants found in the Holy Scriptures. Six of the Unilateral Covenants are concerned with obedience, sin, the Flood, the descendants of Abraham, the Ten Commandments. The three Bilateral Covenants are referred to as Blood Covenants, involving the patriarchs, Israel and all believers’ salvation. The final covenant is unilateral, which we refer to as the New Covenant between God and believers in the Gospel of Christ.

Let us continue with the story of Noah and God’s Rainbow Covenant, which begins at Genesis 6:1, ending at Genesis 9:17.

Noah’s Ark and the Flood – Story Summary (from about.com):

God saw how great wickedness had become and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. However, one righteous man among all the people of that time, Noah, found favor in God’s eyes. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth.

God also instructed Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, along with every kind of food to be stored as food for the animals and his family while on the ark. Noah obeyed everything God commanded him to do.

After they entered the ark, rain fell on the earth for a period of forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days, and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out. As the waters receded, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah and his family continued to wait for almost eight more months while the surface of the earth dried out.

Finally after an entire year, God invited Noah to come out of the ark. Immediately, he built an altar and worshiped the Lord with burnt offerings from some of the clean animals. God was pleased with the offerings and promised never again to destroy all the living creatures as he had just done. Later God established a covenant with Noah: “Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” As a sign of this everlasting covenant God set a rainbow in the clouds.

Points of Interest from the Story:

  • God’s purpose in the flood was not to destroy people, but to destroy wickedness and sin. • With more detail, God instructed Noah to take seven of every kind of clean animal, and two of every kind of unclean animal. Bible scholars have calculated that approximately 45,000 animals might have fit on the ark. • Genesis 7:16 interestingly points out that God shut them in the ark, or “closed the door,” so to speak.
  • The ark was exactly six times longer than it was wide. According to the Life Application Bible study notes, this is the same ratio used by modern ship builders. • In modern times researchers continue to look for evidence of Noah’s Ark.
  • Noah was righteous and blameless, but he was not sinless (see Genesis 9:20). Noah pleased God and found favor because he loved and obeyed God with his whole heart. As a result, Noah’s life was an example to his entire generation. Although everyone around him followed the evil in their hearts, Noah followed God.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/biblestorysummaries/p/noahsarkflood.htm

BLCF" Noah's Ark

 

Noah’s Ark was huge! Genesis 6:15 in the Bible tells us the Ark’s dimensions were at least 135 meters long (300 cubits), 22.5 meters wide (50 cubits), and 13.5 meters high (30 cubits). That’s 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high! It could have been larger, because several larger-sized cubits were used. But the 45-centimeter (18-inch) cubit is long enough to show the enormous size of the Ark. A cubit was the length of a man’s arm from fingertips to elbow.

Noah’s Ark was three stories high (Genesis 6:16). Its total deck area was equivalent to the area of about 20 standard college basketball courts or 36 lawn tennis courts. The world had to wait until AD 1884 before the Ark’s size was exceeded, when the Italian liner Eturia was built.

The rectangular dimensions of the Ark show an advanced design in ship-building. Its length of six times its width and 10 times its height would have made it amazingly stable on the ocean. Remember it was made more for floating than sailing, because it wasn’t headed anywhere. The Ark was made to withstand a turbulent ocean voyage, not to be at a certain place at a certain time.

Recent thought on the Ark’s design is that it could have had a slightly tapered top at the front and back, instead of being squared off. But the famous rock formation near Mount Ararat with pointed ends, which some think is Noah’s Ark, is definitely not!

Interestingly, British civil and mechanical engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a steamship (the Great Britain) in 1843 that had almost the same proportions as the Ark, although it was smaller. This was regarded as a remarkable feat of Victorian and maritime engineering. The Great Britain was the first large vessel to be propelled by a screw propeller.

In summary, Noah’s Ark was taller than a 3-story building and had a deck area the size of 36 lawn tennis courts. Its length was 300 cubits (450 feet, or 135 meters); its width was 50 cubits (75 feet, or 22.5 meters); it had three stories and its height was 30 cubits (45 feet, or 13.5 meters).

http://www.creationtips.com/arksize.html

 

BLCF: noah's-ark

 

Questions and Answers, from: biblia.com

Question: “How long did it take Noah to build the ark? How long was Noah on the ark?”

Answer:  The Bible does not specifically say how long it took Noah to build the ark. When Noah is first mentioned in Genesis 5:32, he was 500 years old. When Noah entered the ark, he was 600 years old. The time it took to build the ark would depend on how much time had passed between Genesis 5:32 and the time that God commanded Noah to build the ark (Genesis 6:14-21). At the absolute most, it took 100 years.

Question: How long was Noah on the ark?

Answer:  Noah entered the ark in the 600th year of his life, on the 17th day of the 2nd month (Genesis 7:11-13). Noah left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15). Therefore, assuming a lunar calendar of 360 days, Noah was on the ark for approximately 370 days, the flood lasting for 150 days. Genesis 7:11-13 (ESV):

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark…

Genesis 8:14-15 (ESV):

14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah…

Question: How many of each type of animal did Noah take on the ark? Seven pairs of each kind of clean animal and two pairs of each kind of other animals were taken on the ark (Genesis 6:19-20; 7:2-3). By “clean” the Bible means animals that were “acceptable for sacrifice.” That is why seven pairs of the clean animals were taken – so some of them could be sacrificed after the Flood was over without endangering the species. Genesis 6:19-20 (ESV):

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.

Genesis 7:2-3 (ESV):

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals,[a] the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs[b] of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 7:2 Or seven of each kind of clean animal b. Genesis 7:3 Or seven of each kind

Question: How many people were on Noah’s ark? 

Answer: According to Genesis 7:13, Noah, his wife, Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives were on the ark. Therefore, there were eight people on the ark.

13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,

Question: Who was Noah’s wife?

Answer: The Bible nowhere specifically gives us the name or identity of Noah’s wife. There is a tradition that she was Naamah (Genesis 4:22). While possible, this is not explicitly taught in the Bible, Genesis 4:11 (ESV):

22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

http://biblia.com

BLCF: HIS Covenant

 

It must have been quite a curiosity to others seeing Noah, spending decades building the ark. The dedication of Noah to the task is undeniable. Others continued to offend God and ultimately their fate was sealed by the waters of the Great Flood.

Now let me make a few observations about both God’s judgment and His covenant. Actually, there are two covenants from God; the first was the judgment by God, the penalty of death. We observe that God decides to do a reset and bring the earth back to Day two of creation as told in Genesis 1:6-8, where there are only the waters, with no land. Land came on the third day of creation.

While the judgment may seem harsh, God did not destroy all life by the flood, but He had in the ark, a means to preserve animal life and the human race, both precious to Him. The waters cleansed the world of the evil.

It is interesting that Noah sent a dove to determine whether the world was safe in Genesis 8:6-12 (ESV) we read:

6At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove and she did not return to him anymore.

 

BLCF: dove_wordle

 

The dove is an interesting choice. Though it is mentioned over fifty times the scriptures, we that the dove is significant in appearance and what it represents in two passages:

Immediately after Jesus was baptized in water by John, we read the Holy Spirit  descended upon Christ: Mark’s Gospel 1:10 (ESV): 10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

So as Jesus was baptized and reborn with the spirit, the earth is cleansed by water and a dove descends with an olive leaf. I would like to point out that the olive branch has been used as a universal symbol of peace and reconciliation. The city states of ancient Greece sought to end wars between its states, replacing competition and conflict with the Olympic Games. Wars and battles were suspended for the duration of the competition. The winner a specific event was rewarded not with the medallions of the modern Olympics, but instead a garland of olive branches woven into a crown, the Olympian being crowned as a king of that event. That crown of olive branches brings to mind the crown of thorns Christ wore, as he suffered and died to atone for our sins. In the times of Christ, the oil from olives was used to fuel the lamps of the empire. And the dove carrying the olive leaf to Noah after the flood could be viewed to symbolize the Spirit bringing life, hope and light to the world.

God made a promise never to destroy human or animal life again.

Genesis 9:8-17 (ESV)

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”   

 

BLCF: about_rainbows

                  

The rainbow is significant in several ways. Like a prism, water mist can diffract or break a beam of light into a spectrum or rainbow of component colours. But you need the presence of water vapour and sunlight, under the right conditions, invisible light becomes visible as a rainbow of colours. Not only does the rainbow symbolize God’s covenant not to kill man or beast by flood, the rainbow is an example of the world of the invisible becoming visible. For many people God does not exist, he is invisible. Through faith, as with Noah’s obedience by building the ark and gathering the animals and his family, he was rewarded by being saved from the flood and given the rainbow as a symbol never to bring this judgment upon the people or beasts again.

BLCF: Horseshoe Falls Niagra

 

Several months ago, Sophie and I took a trip to Niagara Falls. Every time we go to the falls, I am always humbled by the beauty and splendor of God’s natural creation. Looking at the millions of liters of water cascading over the waterfall creating the sound of thunder and clouds of mist, you cannot but marvel at the site. I remember  as I was walking ahead towards the more spectacular Horseshoe Falls, I saw many in the crowd turning their backs on this natural wonder, looking across to the relatively less spectacular American Faalls. Some were taking pictures. As I approached these people, I looked in the same direction and saw nothing. I could not figure out why they were taking pictures of the ordinary downstream gorge, when the full power and beauty of the falls were just behind them?

 

BLCF: American Falls Niagra

 

It wasn’t until I continued 20 or 30 meters upstream, along the walkway, towards the falls did I have a glimpse of object of the crowd’s attention. For as I walked towards the falls, did the mist of the falls mingle with the sunlight to reveal a beautiful rainbow. A few meters down, away from the falls, the rainbow disappeared from view.

 

BLCF: American Falls Niagra Rainbow 1

 

It was then that I reflected that this rainbow is truly like God’s presence. For those who believe, who pray, and honour Him, we are rewarded by the rainbow of His presence. But for those unfortunate who reject Him and do not accept Him, there is no rainbow. And like those who cannot see the rainbow, because they lack faith or refuse to accept His gift of love and salvation, the unbelievers believe God does not exist. While they may look at the light, they do not see the hidden beauty of the rainbow that signifies God’s presence. Belief in God is like seeing the beauty hidden within. Faith is rewarded through confessing our sins, reading the scriptures, praying to God, and practicing brotherly love to our neighbors, as well as helping the least of our brothers. Only then are the conditions correct to see God’s rainbow of faith.

 

BLCF: American Falls Niagra Rainbow 2

 

As followers of Christ, we are admonished to use our intelligence and integrity of faith to meet the challenges and persecution that we face in our Christian walk.

Matthew 10:16 (ESV) tells us that persecution will come:

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

 

BLCF: Matthew_10-16

 

The Holy Spirit helps us to preserve what is Godly in ourselves. We must maintain the innocence of the dove and bring the good news to others as the dove had to Noah, in spite of being persecuted for our faith.

My brother-in-law, Chuck is an avid flier, having obtained his pilot’s license before his license for a car. He spent several years building his open cockpit airplane. My sister Penny, told me of the occasion on one of their trips, they passed through a deck of clouds, only to witness what is called a flier’s or pilot’s rainbow, which tradition has it to indicate good fortune, as they are leaving turbulent weather. The pilot’s rainbow is distinctive in that instead of being an arch of colour, the rainbow is a perfect circle surrounding the entire aircraft. I like to think that this might be the heavenly view of the rainbow. The rainbow God sees is a perfect circle, like a wedding band, the circle is continuous, unending, and just like God’s love for us is perfect and without end.

 

BLCF: Flier's_rainbow

 

God made another covenant; this one is bilateral, but just as perfect, as beautiful, and as unending as the rainbow. Instead of the rainbow, God gave us Jesus Christ, to fulfill His promise, which states that we shall not perish or be destroyed. As Noah had shown by building the ark, filling it with the animals, and his family, we are expected to confess our sins and follow His directions by accepting that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins, this sacrifice is God’s gift to us. If we accept the gift of Christ, the lamb, we are saved and we are given the Holy Spirit as a comforter, plus the promise that as Christ overcame death and was resurrected, we too have the promise of overcoming death and eternal life. Jesus Christ is both our ark and rainbow. He provides for us the only way to forgiveness and the promise of life eternal.

 

BLCF: Jesus-Christ-Cross-Rainbow

 

In conclusion, anytime you want to witness to others who have yet to accept the sacrifice of Christ, or at times when you find that your own faith falters, remember the Rainbow, it is always there waiting to be revealed to us, when we provide the right conditions by our reading the scriptures, praying for others and ourselves, by showing the love of Christ in all that we think, all that we say, all that we do to all whom we encounter. And remember, it took Noah nearly a century of practicing faith before he saw the fulfillment of God’s promises. But Noah’s legacy was not only a covenant to Noah and his descendants and to us as well. The rainbow is a reminder to Noah, to us, and to God, that our God is just and faithful, and that our faith will be rewarded so long as we allow him to pilot us through life’s troubled waters.

Let us pray…

 

BLCF: covenant-of-grace

 

 

Closing Hymn #446: Jesus Saviour Pilot Me

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: dove_ark_hope_olive_branch