Lacking Nothing, While Banking Our Treasure in Heaven

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Your Treasure in Heaven‘

© May 20, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 20, 2018

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on January 5, 2014

BLCF Bulletin January 5, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #618 (Heavenly Treasure – Matthew 6)

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                 ‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Our Treasure in Heaven’

Let us pray…

Welcome to the house of the Lord in the heart of Toronto, where the lesson today is entitled: Lacking Nothing, While Banking Our Treasure in Heaven’.

I would like to talk about today’s Scriptures, which give us a good idea what the Lord values in HIS children.

Our first Scripture passage, taken from Exodus 2, describes the circumstances of the birth of Moses, the son of a Levi, a Hebrew slave, who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a Prince of Egypt. It turns out that the biological mother of Moses was hired to be nursemaid to the baby found in a basket amongst the bulrushes, which afforded Moses an opportunity to bond with his real mother. It is amazing how God works things out. It is likely that some of the compassion that Moses had for the Hebrews had its origins in the loving care he received from his nursemaid mother.

Exodus 2:1-14 (ESV): The Birth of Moses

2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When
she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[
a] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”[b]

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.[c] 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”

Footnotes: a. Exodus 2:3 Hebrew papyrus reeds b. Exodus 2:10 Moses sounds like the Hebrew for draw out c.Exodus 2:11 Hebrew brothers

Eventually, Moses gave up his place as a son of Pharaoh and Prince of Egypt. However by acknowledging his true birthright as a Hebrew would likely result in his own enslavement. But before this happened, Moses killed an Egyptian whom he found beating another Hebrew. Moses fled Egypt to the land of Midian, eventually to have an encounter with God, in the form of a burning bush.  God had chosen Moses to lead the Hebrews out of servitude and enslavement, through the desert, to deliver HIS laws, and eventually to HIS promised land. Moses had the unique understanding of Egyptian Royalty which would be useful when dealing with Pharaoh in the assignment of freeing the Hebrew slaves.

Today’s second Scripture passage is from Luke 16, known as Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus tells the story of a ‘rich’ man who dressed and ate well, while just outside the gate to his house lies Lazarus, a poor, starving man, who is covered with sores. Eventually, both men die, with angels bringing Lazarus to join Abraham in heaven.

Luke 16:19-31 (ESV): The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers[b]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”                                             

Footnotes: a. Luke 16:22 Greek bosom; also verse 23 b. Luke 16:28 Or brothers and sisters

Lazarus is an interesting name for a character in this Parable, as it has the following meanings (sheknows.com):

Hebrew Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God will help.

Biblical Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Biblical baby name. In Biblical, the meaning of the name Lazarus is: Assistance of God.

Greek Meaning:
The name Lazarus is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God is my help.

http://www.sheknows.com/baby-names/name/lazarus

This is the only Parable where Jesus gives a name to one of the protagonists, Lazarus. It is worth noting that the other main character remains nameless and, unlike Lazarus who dies and is brought to heaven by angels, is judged and is sent to Hades or Hell. To God, material wealth does not get you to Heaven. And there is a point when it is too late to repent and ask for forgiveness and avoid judgment. The rich man ended up in Hades and sought mercy for his thirst not unlike the compassion that Lazarus desired at the rich man’s doorstep. The man’s request is denied. Next, the rich man asks for the opportunity to notify his brothers who are still living, so that they may avoid the same fate. The man is told that it is unlikely that people who have ignored the words of Moses and the Prophets will be convinced if someone such as Lazarus were raised from the dead.

This is very interesting, as the Parable tells us that there are people who will never believe or have faith, even if the messenger is raised from the dead. From this, we may conclude some people will embrace faith, even if the messenger is known to have been raised from the dead, which is precisely what our Lord  Christ, Jesus did. It is interesting, though sad, for those who refuse to believe. But we as believers must continue to witness to those who do not have faith until it is too late. For we never know whether or when a person may change his heart and embrace faith so as to be saved before it is too late.

Our third Scripture passage, which teaches the same lesson as the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus gives us an account where a young rich man approaches Jesus and asks how he may inherit eternal life. In contrast to the rich man in the ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus Parable’, a wealthy young man asks Jesus what is necessary to enter God’s Kingdom.

 Mark 10:17-25 (ESV): The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”                                            

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches

The outcome for the young man seems to be more hopeful than the rich man who ends up suffering in Hell after death. In addition to seeking God’s Kingdom before death, the young man has some knowledge of religion and awareness of God, as he has observed all of God’s commandments from the youth. It appears that this rich man will not end up in the same place as the rich man in the Lazarus Parable. But wait, there is one stumbling block.

Jesus perceives that the young rich man’s religious practices are tainted by something the young man values more highly than he should. Jesus instructs the young man to sell all that he has and give all the proceeds to the poor. In other words, the Lord has perceived that young man values his own personal wealth over the welfare of the poor. In spite of a desire for eternal life, the young man is unable to relinquish his material wealth in exchange for heavenly treasure received by demonstrating love and compassion for the poor.

Jesus uses the exchange with the rich man to teach how difficult it is for those who are preoccupied with worldly values to enter he kingdom of God or to follow the Way of Jesus. This gives us some insight to how Moses was able to establish a relationship with God, as he had already surrendered all his worldly wealth and power associated with the position of an Egyptian Prince, and he had demonstrated compassion for the vulnerable: the Hebrew Slaves in Egypt.

But you may say how much does a preoccupation with acquiring and maintaining one’s wealth and worldly possessions interfere with faith? What would happen if our fortunes are reversed? Let me share with you a short article I recently came across which gives just such an account. It was untitled, so I gave it the title: Switched at Birth:

Switched at Birth’ – Julian Ryall

Subtitled: ‘Japanese man accidentally switched at birth grew up in poverty while other baby lived a life of privilege’

Julian Ryall, The Daily Telegraph | November 28, 2013, 7:01 PM ET
(Republished by the National Post)

TOKYO — A Japanese man born to wealthy parents grew up in poverty after being given to another couple in a hospital six decades ago, while the infant who took his place went on to live a privileged life of private tutoring and university, and is today head of a property firm.

The 60-year-old man – who has declined to give his name – was raised reliant on handouts from the state after the man he thought was his father died when he was just two. The woman he considered his mother had to support his three older brothers, and there were few comforts in their one-room apartment as he grew up.

The man had to study at night school while working day shifts in a factory before finding steady employment as a driver with a transport company. He did not marry and now helps take care of three men who are not his brothers, including one who has suffered a stroke.

The infant who was given to the man’s biological parents was born 13 minutes later at the San-Ikukai Hospital, in Tokyo’s Sumida ward, and grew up in relative affluence.

This boy had a personal tutor, went to university and is the head of a successful property company. His three brothers work for major companies, according to media reports.

‘It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer’

Questions were only raised when those brothers recently realized that he bore little resemblance to any of his relatives.

In 2011, the family requested access to hospital records and DNA tests subsequently confirmed the mistake.

The error apparently happened when a midwife took the newborn babies to be bathed and then returned them to the wrong mothers.

Speaking to media in Tokyo, the man condemned to a life of hardship described his shock at learning the people he grew up believing to be his parents and brothers were unrelated to him.

“I wondered how this could have happened,” he said. “I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it.”

The Tokyo District Court this week ordered the hospital to pay the man 38 million yen ($393,000) in damages as a result of the mix-up, significantly less than the 250-million yen ($2.6-million) the plaintiffs had been seeking.

“The links between the man and his real parents were severed and the man was forced to grow up in a poor home,” Judge Masatoshi Miyasaka said in his ruling. “The mental anguish he went through was enormous.

“There were far-reaching differences between the two family environments and the plaintiff suffered an unreasonable loss as a result,” the ruling said.

“It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer, as they were deprived of opportunities to enjoy their parent-child relationship forever.”

‘I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it’

The man’s biological parents both died before the error came to light and he is still coming to terms with the impact of the events of 60 years ago.

“I might have had a different life,” he said. I want [the hospital] to roll back the clock to the day that I was born.”

He is particularly angry at never having the opportunity to meet his real parents.

“As I saw a picture of my parents, I wanted to see them alive,” he said. “For months, I could not hold back the tears every time I saw their pictures.”

He added that the woman who raised him may have suspected something was amiss. “I think my foster mother may have sensed it,” he admitted, pointing to the physical differences between himself and his brothers.

The hospital initially attempted to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the 10-year statute of limitations had run out. The court dismissed that claim and ruled that the statute of limitations only began when the results of the DNA tests were confirmed.

The hospital has not confirmed whether it will appeal against the ruling.    

 http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/28/japanese-man-accidentally-switched-at-birth-grew-up-in-poverty-while-other-baby-lived-life-of-privilege/

We have in this sad but true story, the account of two babies: one born of wealthy parents and the other whose parents lived in poverty. After 60 years, the impoverished man, a caretaker for three ‘brothers’ who are not even related to the man, has one main regret: that he never had an opportunity to meet and talk to his biological parents, now deceased.  There did not seem to be any regrets for lost or missed opportunities or wealth that were afforded to the man whose place he had exchanged with, through a mistake made some six decades before.

It is also interesting, according to the story, that the wealthy man, who should have been raised in poverty in his place, seemed to show a callous disregard towards his true biological parents, his true siblings, or the man took in his place to live a life of poverty. Perhaps he was too busy running the property company to care. And the man who lived in poverty gave no indication of abandoning brothers who really are not related to him, from a family that a fateful mistake had been given to him.

In this story, it is not difficult to speculate which of these two men would have difficulty finding God’s Kingdom if both were presented with Christ’s Gospel of salvation, and which would not.  One may live a life of extreme poverty and still have more to share, than someone who is raised in wealthy circumstance. We find a good conclusion to today’s lesson in Luke 12:32-33 (ESV):

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

Let us pray…

Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21): Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’                  

© February 11, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 11, 2018

Based on a Message shared by Steve Mickelson at BLCF on November 28, 2010

BLCF Nov_28_2010 Bulletin

 

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                                                           

Opening  Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone; Choruses                                                                         

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

Responsive Reading #648 ( A Challenge to Faith – from Hebrews 11 and 12) 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                           

‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service, in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson today is a study of the ‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’, taken from Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV):

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a]and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Footnotes: a. Matthew 25:14 Or bondservants; also verse 19 b. Matthew 25:15 A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer c. Matthew 25:21 Or bondservant; also verses 232630

The ‘Ten Talents’ was number 21 of some 40 Parables that Jesus used during his earthly ministry. Jesus often used parables to help us understand the teachings of His ministry. By definition, a parable is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. These parables of Jesus, found in the three synoptic gospels, or the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, are a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings.

What did Jesus talent as mentioned in title of this passage of scripture? A talent was the largest measurement of money in those days. Since a talent was actually a measurement of weight, it did not have a constant value. A talent of gold, for example, would be worth a whole lot more than a talent of bronze. While commentators differ somewhat over the approximate value of a talent in today’s economy, all would agree that it was a large amount of money. Talents were used as a unit of currency, worth about 6,000 denari. Since a denarius was the usual payment for a day’s labor, a talent would translate roughly the value of twenty years of work by an ordinary person.

Why did Jesus give us a parable about treasure and money? In Matthew 10:17-25 (ESV), the Bible says this about Christ’s encounter with a rich young man:

The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[b] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Footnotes:a. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches b. Mark 10:26 Some manuscripts to one another

In Mark 6:7-9 (ESV) Jesus told his disciples: “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.”

Keep in mind that in the ‘10 Talents’, Jesus presents us with a story that that is a parable. And that by definition, a parable is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Therefore we should not take the events the in the story literally, but as an allegorical lesson to give us insight and understanding to our Lord’s expectations of us. This will allow us to develop a better, richer relationship with our Lord.

Traditionally, the parable of the talents has been seen as an exhortation to Jesus’ disciples to use their God-given gifts in the service of God, and to take risks for the sake of the God’s Kingdom. These gifts have been seen to include personal abilities (“talents” in the everyday sense), as well as personal wealth. Failure to use one’s gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgment.

The poet John Milton was fascinated by the parable (interpreted in this traditional sense), referring to it repeatedly, notably in the sonnet “On His Blindness“:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide

This interpretation seems to be the origin of the word “talent” used for an aptitude or skill.

There are a number of hymns that mention the parable, notably  John Wesley‘s “Servant of God, Well Done!” which refers to Matthew 25:23 (ESV):

23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Wesley authored the hymn after the death of Anglican Minister George Whitfield,  who helped spread the Great Awakening throughout Britain and the colonies in British North America, being one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally. Whitefield became perhaps the best-known preacher in Britain and America in the 18th century, and because Wesley traveled through all of the American colonies, he drew great crowds and media coverage, being one of the most widely recognized public figures in colonial America.

Wesley’s hymn begins:

Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare’s past;
The battles fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last.

This passage is offered as a comparison allegory to the coming of Christ. Christ came and gave us a great gift, through Grace, and then “went away on a long journey.” Christ will come back. How have we responded to the freedom and power given to us through Jesus Christ? Have we cowered in fear or are actively living out God’s will?

With the help of the Spirit, the Bible is its own interpreter.  We may understand the meaning of this passage from the Scriptures by reading it in context of other scripture on the same or related topics. The key to the passage may be found in Matthew 25:29 (ESV):

29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Jesus used these very same words in the “Parable of the Sower”, found in Matthew 13. We know from that parable that the seed sown is the Bible and the message about ‘The Kingdom’ found in verses 18-23. In the two parables are the ‘Seed Sown’ and the ‘Talent Entrusted‘ appear to be one in the same. In both parables, Jesus speaks taking action to bring an increase in your understanding and knowledge of God in your life by acting on it and putting it to work. This is the great commission. We find more scriptures that refer to knowledge being like money or something of value having been given to us?
In 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (ESV) we read:

13 Follow the pattern of the sound[a] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Footnotes: a. 2 Timothy 1:13 Or healthy

In Colossians 2:1-3 (ESV), we read:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In the ‘10 Talents’, the first two servants undertook to grow what was entrusted to them. They acted with confidence and faith that their endeavors to increase that which was entrusted to them. They had a confidence and assurance of faith that they would be successful in caring for that of value which was entrusted to them.

God expect us to minister to others with the His Spirit providing us with not only confidence and assurance of faith, but also with endurance, as we see in Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV):

 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

The third servant acted out of fear and misunderstanding of his master and did nothing. His actions were more rooted in fear of the wrath of his master, and lacked a true understanding as to what his Master’s expectations were. Our take away from this is we are to walk with confidence in the Lord, see Ephesians 5:8 (ESV):

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Our Christian walk should be characterized by: faith, wisdom, and awareness of His and the time we have, Ephesians 5:15-17(ESV):

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

And contrary to the notion once saved, always saved, we may lose the promise of salvation if our actions are not in line with what the Lord expects of us. We see this in Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV):

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Consider the usage of the word “Earth” elsewhere in Jesus’ parables. The word earth is always used in reference to a man’s heart. We sow seeds (the Word) in the earth (men’s hearts). Likewise, earth is used in this parable. He who was only given one talent (given one gift) hid it in his heart, afraid to use it for God’s gain, and he lost it.

Sometimes we who claim Jesus Christ as Saviour can behave like the slothful servant in that we may become too comfortable just sitting in the pews only keeping company with other Christians, just praying for each other, talking only to those we know about the goodness of God. While this may be a good start, as we need to fellowship as a body of believers. However, God wants us to get outside of that cozy comfort zone. Like Peter take a step of faith outside the boat, as it were. He has given us each a measure of faith, His Word, the sacrifice of His only begotten Son and presence of the Holy Spirit to empower us, so that we spread the ‘Good News’ about our faith to those whom we do not know. Many who claim to believe, lack the faith in their own God given talents to make a difference in somebody’s life. They say that they just are not gifted to share the gospel in a significant way. This brings to mind The Starfish Story, an abbreviated version of this story may be found on the front page of today’s bulletin. Here is a longer version of the same story:

The Starfish Story, adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

There once was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are entrusted and expected now, and until the day He returns, to reach out to share our faith in Him, to boldly take risks of faith. Our talent of responsibility is to make an investment in someone, other than those we know or with whom we are comfortable, and share our testimony in word and deed. For this our Lord will hold each of us accountable. It is on the basis of this we will be judged.

In this regard, Jesus’ ‘The Parable of the 10 Talents’ is offered as a comparison allegory to the coming of Christ. Christ came and gave us a great gift, through Grace, and then “went away on a long journey.” Christ will come back. How have we responded to the freedom and power given to us through Jesus Christ? Have we cowered in fear or are we actively living out God’s will? For the Great Commission entrusted to us, as good and faithful servants described in Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV):

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 choice is ours, as to whether we faithfully trust our Lord and invest what gifts the Master has entrusted to our care. You can make a difference, even if it be to a single starfish or an unsaved soul.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #37: Great Is Thy Faithfulness    

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13): Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  – Amen

Faith in Jesus: The Key to Healing, Restoration, and Eternal Life

BLCF: faith_sees_header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Faith in Jesus: The Key to Healing, Restoration, and Eternal Life’

© September 4, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 4, 2016

BLCF: exercise_faith_walk_with_Jesus

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #648 (A Challenge to Faith – Hebrews 11 and 12)r of Prayer; Prayer

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

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

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 9:18-26 and Matthew 19:16-22

Message by Steve Mickelson:

Faith in Jesus: The Key to Healing, Restoration, and Eternal Life’

Winifred_Boubert

Winifred Boubert

 

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for our Communion Sunday Praise and Worship Service on this Labour Day Weekend.

Today’s lesson is about the reward we may expect when we place our faith in Jesus. But before we delve into the lesson, I would like to say a few words about our sister in Christ, Winifred Boubert, known to many of us as Winnie. Winnie was called home by the Lord last Tuesday and several of us from BLCF attended her funeral service, yesterday.

I recall when we first attended BLCF Church, some 20 years or so ago, and first meeting Winnie, a dignified lady with a Scottish brogue. Over time, I discovered Winnie to be a woman of strong faith in her Lord, a caring nature for others especially for youth, and sharp wit.

If there was a need to help within our church, Winnie knew how to best offer her God-given talents. Winnie offered to help serve the congregation at the coffee hour after the church service and her desire to see to it that each member of the congregation was remembered with a birthday card. Winnie would often add her own personal touches by bringing a tea cozy to keep the teapot piping hot and bringing a selection of fine cookies to accompany the beverage, and a small gift for the children to accompany the birthday card. In many regards, Winnie became a friend, mother, and grandmother to our congregation, fostering Christian love and friendship by humbly serving others.

To each of us who knew her, Winnie made a difference and touched our lives in small but significant ways, which brings to mind the lesson of The Starfish Story by Loren Eisely, which you may find on the back of today’s bulletin:

BLCF: The Starfish Story

Thank you, Winnie, for making a difference in each of our lives. Winnie understood the message contained in Micah 6, verse 8:

 Micah 6:8 (ESV)

BLCF: Micah_6_8

 He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

We all faithfully express our goodness, when we act justly, encourage kindness, and humbly walk with God.

In Matthew 9, verses 18 to 26, we have for today’s lesson, the account of how faith in Jesus is rewarded with healing and restoration in believers:

Matthew 9:18-26 (ESV) A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

Matthew_9_18-26

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said,“Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly[a]the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said,“Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 9:22 Greek from that hour

While he was ministering, a ruler humbly knelt before the Lord, asking Jesus to restore his lifeless daughter, by way of his touch. You will note that the ruler did not ask whether Jesus could do anything for his daughter, but expressed his faith and confidence that the Lord could perform a supernatural miracle.

Jesus left with the ruler, followed by the disciples.

While en route to the ruler’s house, a woman who has suffered from a discharge of blood for some twelve years, reached out to touch the fringe of Jesus’s garment, believing that in doing so, she would be made well.

Seeing the woman’s action, and sensing the faith that motivated her action, Jesus acknowledged that her faith had made her well.

When Jesus arrived at the house of the ruler whose daughter had died, the Lord encountered a skeptical crowd, whom he dismissed, took the girls hand, and restored her from what he called her sleep. For Christians who believe in the resurrection, what the world describes as the finality of death, the Lord views as only a sleep to be interrupted at His bidding.

We see that this Scripture shows how Jesus responds to our faithful petitions made both for our own needs as well as for others.

This brings us to the next Scripture verse, from Matthew, verses 16 to 22, where we see the account of the Rich Young Man, who understands neither God’s expectations nor what the Lord considers to be good, as described in Micah 6:8:

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Jesus and the rich young man

 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

If the rich young man in Matthew 19 was able to relinquish his possessions, he would have been able to not only follow the Lord, but answer the call expressed in Micah 6:8 and do what the Lord expects, as described in Proverbs 31, verses 8 to 9:

 

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

BLCF: Proverbs_31-8

 Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.[a]
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Footnotes: a. Proverbs 31:8 Hebrew are sons of passing away

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #171: Thine Is the Glory, Risen Conquering Son

Communion: Responsive Reading #663 (1Corinthians 11)

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

God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café

least_of_my_brothers_and_sisters

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café’

© May 29, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 29, 2016

BLCF: The Least of These

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding                                                              

Opening Hymn #302: I Love to Tell the Story                                                                                                                                       

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

Scriptures: Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 19:16-22, Ecclesiastes 5:10-17

BLCF: sheep-goats

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where we will incorporate into this morning’s Praise and Worship Service with our annual meeting to members and adherents, followed by a Pot Luck luncheon.

Considering the fact that BLCF’s primary Gospel outreach is the church’s hosting some 150 homeless and marginalized guests every Wednesday evening at the BLCF Café Community Dinner, it is not surprising that the lesson today is entitled: ‘God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café.’

Considering the subject of today’s lesson, it is fitting that we have  Matthew 25:31-46 as our first Scripture verse, which happens to be the same Scripture used as the Mission Statement of the BLCF Café and is posted behind the main serving table at the community dinner.

Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV) The Final Judgment

BLCF: Goats and Sheep

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 and sisters, 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.”

The Matthew 25 passage, entitled  The Final Judgment, Jesus reveals how the Final Judgement will have our righteousness will determine whether we suffer eternal punishment or be rewarded with eternal life, based upon our attitude and service that we give the least of our brothers and sisters. The only way we honor Jesus as Lord, is when we give the poor our unconditional love and compassion.

When we feed, clothe, and help those in need, through humble service, we demonstrate our membership to the flock of Christ, following the Lord’s teaching and example, when he humbly served his disciples by washing their feet.

The focus on feeding the poor and less fortunate is again demonstrated in the second of today’s Scripture verses in Matthew 19:16-22, when the Lord explains to a wealthy young man what the difference exists between a “good deed”  or a perfect or righteous act is expected to receive eternal life as a heavenly reward. Jesus explains that there is more expected that just being obedient to the Law, the young man must surrender his earthly wealth and riches to the poor and less fortunate. This saddened the young man, as he was not willing to give away what he valued on earth and place his faith in the hope of a heavenly reward, a treasure from God.

 

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Christ-rich-young-ruler-hoffmanl

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The Parable of the Goats and Sheep,  contrasts believers’ true righteous faith by the flock of sheep’s obedient  following the Lord’s example of humble servitude to others, as compared to the herd of goats who are typically stubborn and frequently need to be driven and directed.

The difference between those who desire to accumulate earthy treasures and those who choose to desire to bank on a heavenly treasure come in our third Scripture verse,  Ecclesiastes 5:10-17, which describes accumulating worldly treasures as a grievous evil, a vanity, as it indicates actions that are self-centered that can only lead to vexation, sickness and anger.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:10-17 (ESV)

BLCF: Ecclesiastes__5_10-17

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

We see that our choice between worldly wealth or treasures I heaven, reveals the nature of our hearts desire, and how we will be judged on the day the Lord returns, in Matthew 6:19-21.

 

 Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

BLCF: materialism_vs_treasuresinheaven

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

Footnotes: a. Matthew 6:19 Or worm; also verse 20

Our righteousness and faith in following the Lord’s example, allows us to be reborn into a new life, with the promise of a reward more precious that gold, which is the salvation of our souls and the eternal life that was sought by the rich young man, 1 Peter 1:3-9.

 

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) Born Again to a Living Hope

BLCF: 1Peter3_9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Let us pray…

BLCF: annual_report

BLCF Annual Reports for 2014 and 2015

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus  

Benediction – (Romans 12:2):

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

BLCF: Romans-12-2

Pot Luck Luncheon

BLCF: potluck_lucheon

 

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace

BLCF: IT COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace’

© February 8, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 8, 2015

BLCF: encouragement truth freedom lies hostage

 

Responsive Reading #613 (Gr of PrayerOD’s Invitation – Isaiah 55); Prayer

Opening Hymn #451: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus; Choruses                                                                                    

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

Scripture Verses: Genesis 3:1-7, Matthew 19:16-22, 1 John 2:15-17  

Golgatha

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. For our lesson today, I would to talk about GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace, which is the title of our message.

To better understand what it is like to walk in the light of GOD’s glory and grace, it might be better to understand when we are not walking in the “light of the Lord”.

In our lives, we have a choice between following two paths: the path of the world or the path of the Lord.

The path we follow is sometimes not directed by our hearts or our minds; but by our eyes. For those of you who drive a vehicle, you are likely aware that where the eyes stray, there is the tendency to steer the vehicle in the same direction. That is why traffic officers try to clear the scene of an accident as quickly as possible, before the so called “rubber neckers” steer their vehicles off the road, after being distracted by the scene of an accident. Until a traffic accident is cleared, the officers will slow the speed of vehicles down to a speed which allows passing drivers enough reaction time to avoid becoming part of another accident scene. Still, some drivers will let their vehicle follow their eyes, and another accident ensues.

Our first Scripture passage, which is: Genesis 3:1-7, describes how Eve and Adam were tempted by the appearance of the forbidden fruit in the garden, seeing the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV) The Fall

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

The visual attraction of the forbidden fruit, gave way to a desire to eat the fruit and become wise. Having eaten of the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve had their eyes opened, and they saw their nakedness and became ashamed. We must give credit or discredit to crafty Satan, who tempted the pair by telling them that the fruit would open their eyes to good and evil, making them like GOD.  Satan was the distraction, appealing to a desire to be wise like GOD, led Eve and Adam, who was with her, away from the righteous path to disobey GOD’s commandment.

The temptation caused by vane desire to be like GOD, and to question HIS authority, led to their downfall. This fall from GOD’s grace, by desiring that which appeals to our vanity and ego, is repeated over and over again, as we see in our next Scripture passage, Matthew 19:16-22, tells of a wealthy young man, who approaches Jesus, and asks the Lord: what good deed must he do in order to obtain eternal life or righteousness with GOD?

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Christ-rich-young-ruler-hoffmanl

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus then tells the young man to be good he must follow the Ten Commandments given by God, delivered to the people of Israel by Moses. The young man replies to the Lord that he has obeyed all the commandments, asking what else must he do? Jesus tells the young man that in order to be perfect he should sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow the Lord. I believe the Lord discerned that there remained one stumbling block, which was his wealth and possessions, that he valued more than following the path of GOD. The man became sorrowful, as he could not part with his great worldly possessions in exchange for the promise of treasure in heaven.

This is the problem with desiring and then acquiring something that appeals to our vanity that we value above anything else, is the consequence that achieving the object of our desire usually results in shame, as was the case of Adam and Eve, or in sorrow, as happened to the rich young man who sought eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out this dilemma in 1 John 2:15-17, by admonishing us not to place our love and affection upon things of the world:

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do Not Love the World

BLCF: darkness_vs_light

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 2:16 Or pride in possessions

We see how easy we, like Adam, Eve and the rich young man, can be tempted by the desire for things of the world, which draw us away from GOD’s grace and the promise of eternal life. For the path of the world, which is Satan’s road, leads to sin, our sin, which keeps all of us apart from the light of the Lord, HIS glory and HIS grace.

BLCF: worship-spirit-truth

How,  then, do we discover the way back from a life of sin, and come back to worship GOD in truth and spirit? GOD gave us HIS son, Jesus not just to remove from all of us the judgment of sin, but to be our advocate in heaven. If we decide to abide in Christ and follow the illuminated path, which is the “Way of the Lord”, as we see in 1 John 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ Our Advocate

BLCF: Christ pleads as an advocate for his people_

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

BLCF: new-commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

BLCF: The-Greatest-Commandment

The Apostle John reaffirms Christ’s New Commandment in 1 John 2:1-11: By loving GOD and by keeping HIS word or commandment of loving GOD and loving our brother, is the only way to keep us on the path of light, provide by our Lord, Jesus.

We know that desiring worldly things is to follow the path of darkness, which lead to  sin, shame, sorrow and ultimately to death. The Lord’s path of light is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

In order to discern, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, to help us understand and value not worldly wealth and treasures, but that which is true treasure: His Word and  the path of the Spirit, as described in Paul’s epistle, Ephesians 1:16-21. For what Paul wrote to the church, which are the believers in Ephesus, applies to any body of Christian believers, who see to worship GOD in spirit and truth:

Ephesians 1:16-21 (ESV):

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16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I would like to conclude our lesson today, by reading from Psalm 119, verses 33-40, as a prayer for our own faith and understanding. May we seek to turn away from treasures of the world, seeking, instead, to find our heavenly treasure, which is eternal life by way of our Lord Jesus:

Let us pray…

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV)

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33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;     

and I will keep it to the end.[a]

34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law     

and observe it with my whole heart.

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    

 for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,     

and not to selfish gain!

37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;     

and give me life in your ways.

38 Confirm to your servant your promise,     

that you may be feared.

39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,     

for your rules are good.

40 Behold, I long for your precepts;     

in your righteousness give me life!

AMEN.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 119:33 Or keep it as my reward

at_the_end

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?                                    

Benediction – Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

BLCF: esa of Avila Blue