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

Advertisements

Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord

Romans-9-21

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

’Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’

© January 15, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: bulletin-january-15-2017

BLCF: God transforms us

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace                                                                 

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

Responsive Reading #647: (The Return of Christ– 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5)    

Message by Steve Mickelson:  ’Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’

BLCF: transformation-and-transfiguration

 Let us pray…

God morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service.

For our lesson last Sunday we examined the Christian Church’s observance known as the Epiphany, where our Lord performed the first of many miracles during his walk on earth, giving proof to his identity as the only Son of God.

As there is some disagreement among scholars as to which was the first miracle, Epiphany observes three of Jesus’ miracles:

  1. Jesus’ birth which was observed by the visitation of three Gentile Kings
  2. Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan where the Holy Spirit came upon our Lord like a dove and God spoke from heaven to acknowledge His Son
  3. The wedding at Cana, where Jesus responded to Mary’s request to provide wine for the dinner by transforming Jars of water into wine

Today’s Lesson is entitled: Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’, we will examine the significance of Christ’s Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor described in Matthew 17:1-9, though we have descriptions of the Transfiguration described in Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36.

Definition of Transfiguration

BLCF: tajemnice_rozanca_transfiguration-1

  1. 1a:  a change in form or appearance :  metamorphosis                                 b :  an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change
  2. 2capitalized:  a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches

 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transfiguration

While the Roman Catholic Church as well as some Eastern Orthodox Churches observe Christ’s Transfiguration on August 6 and most Protestant Churches observe the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent. Depending on which calendar you use, Lent begins on either March 1 or March 14 of 2017.

Regardless of when the Lord’s Transfiguration is celebrated, it is understood that the Bible has the timeline for Jesus climbed Mount Tabor occurring sometime between Epiphany and the beginning of Lent.

To better understand the reason why our Lord performed this miracle, we must understand that Jesus had a short time to teach the disciples of God’s plan for redemption which involved His Son.

Jesus’s Gospel involved God’s plan for redemption, sanctification, and resurrection for all who believe and receive His gift through Jesus. We get a good idea of under Whose authority Jesus’ works were made, as we read in John 5:19-29 (ESV):

The Authority of the Son

BLCF: John-5_24

 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[a] does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Footnotes: a. John 5:19 Greek he

We see in John 5, that all humanity will face a Day of Judgment for their sins and only those who choose to accept that Christ died to pay for all sins, but only those who choose to accept our Lord’s sacrifice will be forgiven. These believers will receive God’s Holy Spirit, and promised a resurrection from death, just as Jesus was raised from the death, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (ESV):

The Resurrection Body

BLCF: resurrection2

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;[a] the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall[b] also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:45 Greek a living soul b. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some manuscripts let us

The Resurrection described in 1 Corinthians 15 indicates that those who believe in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, will undergo a transfiguration from people who were made from clay, the dead now existing as earth or dust, into people transformed into spiritual beings.

To get some idea of the nature and appearance of the resurrected, let us look at the description of our Lord’s Transfiguration  found in Matthew 17:1-9 (ESV):

 The Transfiguration

BLCF: Carl_Bloch_The_Transfiguration_400

 17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:5 Or my Son, my (or theBeloved

The disciples did not fully understand the full significance of Christ’s resurrection until after Jesus’ resurrection. And to receive fully the gift of our own resurrection, we must allow Christ to transform us, just as he transformed ordinary jars of water in the best wine at the wedding at Cana, as we see in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (ESV):

  Treasure in Jars of Clay

BLCF: the_all_surpassing_treasures_power_in_jars_of_clay_web

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 4:16 Greek man

BLCF: transformation-jar-of-clay

Some people believe that our bodies, made from the elements of the earth eventually age, wear down and when we die return to dust.

But Jesus tells us that all who have died will be raised from death on the Day of Judgment, which is the day returns. Depending on whether or not we have chosen to believe Christ’s Gospel and to follow the Way of the Lord, will determine what happens to us on that Judgment Day, Matthew 13:40-43 (ESV):

BLCF: when-Jesus-calls-your-name

40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

For our closing prayer, I would like to prayerfully recite the lyrics from our opening hymn, Amazing Grace.

Let us pray…

BLCF: amazing-grace-wall-decor-christian-wall

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
  That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
  Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
  And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
  The hour I first believed!

The Lord hath promised good to me,
  His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
  As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
  Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
  Than when we first begun.

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – 2 John 3 (ESV):

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

2 Corinthians 4:7

Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life

BLCF: Extravagant-Love

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’

© April 24, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 24, 2016

 BLCF: Friday-but-Sunday

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 (Christian Baptism – from Matthew 3 and 28, Acts 2, Romans 6); Prayer                                                                            

Opening Hymn #365:  I Am Weak, but Thou Art Strong; Choruses

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

Scriptures: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; John 12:1-8

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’, which could have the included a subtitle taken from the illustration on the front of today’s Bulletin: ‘It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming’.

Our Lesson includes three Scripture passages which describe Jesus visiting two of his disciples and friends who lived in the village of Bethany, Martha and Mary, under three different circumstances, with the second and third Scriptures include a third disciple and friend, the women’s brother, Lazarus.

Our first passage, from Luke’s Gospel, describes how Martha invites Jesus into her home, Luke 10:38-42 (ESV):

 Martha and Mary

BLCF: Mary-of_Bethany

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[b] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:38 Greek he b. Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts few things are necessary, or only one

While Martha is busy with serving food, she becomes distracted from her serving by observing that her sister sits at Jesus’ feet listening to the Lord’s teaching. Martha is so anxious and upset by Mary not helping her sister serve, that she implores Jesus to instruct Mary to help her, complaining that Jesus does not seem to care that Martha has been left alone to do serving duties. Jesus replies by compassionately rebuking Martha for being anxious and troubled about “many things”, indicating that Mary by choosing to listen to the Lord’s teachings, she has chosen to consume the good portion, which is the “Bread of Life”, which will not be taken from her.

Our second Scripture, from John’s Gospel, gives the account where the sisters ask Jesus to visit their brother Lazarus, who is quite ill, John 11:1-44 (ESV):

 The Death of Lazarus

BLCF: Mary-Martha-Lazarus

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

Jesus, when asked to attend his beloved friend Lazarus, gives a seemingly strange reply that Lazarus illness will not lead to death, but will to glory of both God and the Son of God. And Jesus delays departing to visit his friends by two days, as we continue reading in Luke 11:

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

After two days, Jesus tell the disciples that it is time to awaken his “sleeping” friend, indicating no fear of the Jews who sought to stone the Lord and that the death of his friend will offer him an opportunity to give them a sign, so that they may believe.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

BLCF: I_ AM._the_Resurrection

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

Jesus arrived to find Martha, Mary and many Jews mourning the death of Lazarus. Martha greets Jesus, indicating her brother would have not passed if the Lord were present.

Jesus replies to Martha, that her brother will “rise again.” Thinking that Jesus is referring to the Judgement Day, when he asks whether she believes Lazarus will be resurrected, Mary acknowledges him as Lord, the Christ, Son of God. Let us continue with John 11:

Jesus Weeps

BLCF: Jesus-wept2

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

Jesus then asks for Martha to send for Mary, the Lord choosing to remain at the place where Martha had met him, just outside the village. Assuming Mary is leaving for her brother’s tomb, the Jews follow Mary from the house to where Jesus awaits. Mary falls at Jesus’ feet, weeping that if he were present, he brother would not have died. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in his spirit by the weeping of Mary and the Jews that asked to be brought to the tomb, where Jesus wept. John 11:35, happens to not only be the shortest verse in the Bible, but speaks volumes about the love and compassion that Christ has for those whom he loves. We see that Jesus now shows a sign that demonstrates the glory of God:

Jesus Raises Lazarus

BLCF: Lazarus

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

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

It is interesting that as the Lord instructs Martha to have the stone removed from the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb, and Martha worries and complains to Jesus that after four days Lazarus’ body will give an odor of death.

Jesus demonstrates to Martha, Mary and the Jews gathered at the tomb, that he is indeed the resurrection and the life, by calling Lazarus to rise to life and come out of the tomb.

This brings us to our third and final Scripture passage, John 12:1-8 (ESV):

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

BLCF: Mary-anoints-Jesus-feet07sm

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

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

Jesus returns to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, this time to be the guest of honor of a dinner, served to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus.

While Martha serves the meal, with Lazarus reclining at the table with Jesus. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with an expensive, fragrant ointment, wiping the Lord’s feet with her hair.

For her actions, Mary again becomes the object of ridicule, this time by the disciple Judas. Judas complains that the anointing is a waste of money and a better use of the ointment would have been selling it and giving the money to the poor.

Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone as the ointment could be used for his own impending death and burial. After all, anointing Jesus was an act that celebrates God’s glory, Christ’s lordship over death, as witnessed by the resurrection of Lazarus.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God be the Glory

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.       – Amen

BLCF: Holy_Spirit_Romans_8_11