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

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  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

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 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

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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

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 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

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 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

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Vessels of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: 2-corinthians-4_7

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Vessels of the Holy Spirit’

© February 21, 2016, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF Church on May 12, 2013

BLCF Bulletin February 21, 2016

BLCF: Holy Work Earthen-Vessels

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 642 (Call to Consecration – from Romans 12); Prayer                

Hymn #513: In Christ, There Is No East or West; Choruses                                  

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

Scriptures: John 9:1-7, Jeremiah 18:2-6, John 4:4-15, Proverbs 3:6                                                      

Opening Hymn #403: Walking in Sunlight All of My Journey

 

BLCF: earthen_vessels_with_heavenly_treasure

Let us pray…

As you may have surmised from today’s Scripture verses, our lesson today is on the common theme: of how God shapes, forms and molds the Christian believer, in much the same manner that a potter molds clay pottery. The transformation of a lump of earth or clay into something that has a useful purpose, which is symbolic as to how God transforms the believer from something that is of this world to a vessel that carries the Holy Spirit. That is why today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Vessels of the Holy Spirit’. In our first Scripture passage, we read how the apostle Paul utilizes this representation in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (ESV):

Treasure in Jars of Clay

BLCF: TREASURES IN JARS OF CLAY

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; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  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.

In the Old Testament we see the same analogy in the Book of Isaiah 64:8 (ESV):                                                                                                           

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;   we are all the work of your hand.

To make a vase or jar, a potter needs the following materials: clay, a potter’s wheel and a plan or purpose for the creation. But the clay must be of the right consistency and moisture content. Too dry, the clay won’t hold its form and will tend to crumble. The moisture provided for the clay in the scripture analogy represents the Holy Spirit, which allows the potter to work and shape the clay.

BLCF: jars of clay with precious content

Earthen clay is an appropriate choice of illustration for the apostles and prophets since we see that a similar material used by God to create Adam in Genesis 2:7 (ESV):

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

By itself, clay, earth or dust is inert, similar to the world when it was first created, without life and without form. Like a potter with clay, God formed the dust from the ground and breathed life into man’s nostrils, which transformed something dead and inert material into a living creature, a man.

But man and woman, both living creations of God are not just given life. They are also given a spirit, as we read in Job 10:8-12 (ESV):

Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

If you recall, it was the spirit of Job that allowed him to endure testing, hardship, and pain in his life. And Job was given that spirit through his faith, trust and love for God.

Even the Psalmist acknowledges the soul’s sense of God’s plan and purpose for each person before their birth in Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV): 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

The Scriptures give another, somewhat different, application of the earth being used to transform or change, in John 9:1-7 (ESV):

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

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 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

In the verses from John 9, the Lord spits on the ground to make clay, transforming it into the mud, which is used to anoint a blind man’s eyes. But the mud has no immediate effect upon the blind man’s vision until the man follows the directions of Jesus to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. By going and washing his eyes, the blind man demonstrates faith and obedience by following the Lord’s instructions and is rewarded with his sight. Many Jews believed that a person born blind is so afflicted because of a sin or transgression caused by that person or the person’s ancestors. In this case, it is difficult to imagine a newborn baby able to commit a sin at birth. By healing this blind man, Jesus shows us that those who are afflicted are entitled to the same grace and love as anyone else. It shows us that we must not blame or judge the afflicted or disabled as being so afflicted because of sin.

But for those who are guilty of sin, God, the potter, has the ability to repair or transform a broken or defective body into a new one, see Jeremiah 18:2-6 (ESV):  

“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

In other words, God has the desire and ability to restore a people, who are broken and ‘spoiled’ because of sin, into something better and new.

But how does God change someone spoiled by sin into someone new and sinless? We may find our answer in John’s account found in John 4:4-15 (ESV):

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

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Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.  And he had to pass through Samaria.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

In this passage, the living water John described is the Holy Spirit. But being creatures of free will and choice, we are given the choice between: to allowing our vessel, our souls, hearts, and minds to be vessels filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit, by faith, or to staying vessels of the unholy world, destined to return to dust. Like in the account of the blind man, the Holy Spirit can only work its healing upon those who believe and are obedient to the Lord.

By contrast, those who challenge God’s power and authority, as did Adam, Eve, and Satan (in the guise of a serpent), in the Garden of Eden, failed to demonstrate either an understanding or acceptance of God’s will in their lives, which is the point of the clay analogy found in Isaiah 29:16 (ESV):

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Those who defy the Lord are denied the gift of the Spirit, Romans 12:2 (ESV):

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.

So it is not enough just to worship God, we must demonstrate faith and trust in God that is both honest and true, John 4:24 (ESV): 

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

To further demonstrate that though we have a sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve, like the blind man, we will be given the opportunity to choose the Way of Jesus, to accept God’s will in our lives and receive God’s Grace through the Holy Spirit, by faith and obedience to Christ, or to continue living a life unchanged and untouched by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we will not be judged based on the sins of our parents, but by our own choice between the way of sin and the Way of forgiveness through Christ Jesus, Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV):

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

By accepting the gift of salvation and grace, through our Lord Jesus, by confessing our sins, and following the Lord, we are forgiven our sins and receive the Holy Spirit, which will reshape us and guide us on the righteous path, Proverbs 3:6 (ESV): 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Let us pray…

Hymn #403: Walking in Sunlight All of My Journey

Benediction: (Romans 12:1-2):

A Living Sacrifice

BLCF Living our values

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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: God transforms us