Advent: Rejoicing in Light of the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Advent: Rejoicing in Light of the Lord’

© December 24, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin December 24, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #108: The First Noel, the Angel Did Say;                                     

Christmas Hymns (from the Hymnal)

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

Prayer Requests

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

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Advent: Rejoicing in Light of the Lord’;           

Lighting of the 4th Advent Candle and the Christ Candle

Let us pray …

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service for December 24, 2017.

Today we will light the fourth Advent Candle, lit on the fourth and final Sunday before Christmas. This candle is commonly called the Candle of Peace.

Advent Season is where we observe on each of the successive Sunday before Christmas, the events foretold in Scripture, including the birth of the Christ child, Jesus. Jesus came to be the world’s Messiah or Christ, who was anticipated by humanity and promised by God. Over the last three Sundays, we studied in Scripture how God revealed to the prophets, the Magi, as well as to Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds the birth of Jesus. God revealed the event by way of Devine Prophecy, dreams, visitations of angelic messengers, and a star in the heavens. Each Advent Sunday, we lit a candle and read appropriate verses.

Though worshipers may vary the order of the designation or name of the four Advent Candles, which is really not as important as acknowledging that, after the four Sundays of Advent, that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to complete God’s covenant. The Advent and Christ Candles, all remind us that Christ came to bring light into a dark world, filled with sin. Let us review the order of Advent candles lit here at BLCF over the last month, what they represent and one of the verses that we read for each respective Sunday:

1st Sunday of Advent which represents our Hope in Christ – we lit the Prophets’ Candle and read Romans 15:12-13 (ESV):

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
    even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

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.

 2nd Sunday of Advent which represents our Faith in Christ – we lit the Bethlehem Candle and read Luke 3:4-6 (ESV):

 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[
a]
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Footnotes: a. Luke 3:4 Or crying, Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord

 3rd Sunday of Advent which represents our Joy in Christ – we lit the Shepherds’ Candle and read Luke 2:7-15 (ESV):

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[a]

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[b]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:7 Or guest room b. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

Lighting of the 4th Candle of Advent

Today we light the 4th Candle of Advent, representing the Candle of Peace or God’s Love. Let us reflect upon the verse John 3:16-17 (ESV):

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

Since today is not only the 4th Sunday of Advent, it happens to also be Christmas Eve, when a 5th candle, called the Christ Candle is traditionally lit.

The 5th Candle: Christ Candle (John 8:12)

On Christmas Eve, we will light the Fifth Candle or Christ Candle and reflect upon the following significant aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus is our light, Son of God and son of man; the King of kings.

Jesus is our hope; he died a man and rose from the grave; the highest Priest of priests.

Jesus is our peace; he brought us our salvation from the judgment of sin; no more worry, pain or fear.

Jesus is our joy; promising us eternal life. He demonstrates God’s love– pure, holy, undying love.

Whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16).

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6b)

Christ Candle

Celebrating the birth of Jesus and rejoice in His coming to us, we light the Christ candle. Let us read the verse: John 1:5 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Light represents an important symbol in the Scriptures, often represented by flame or a candle, as we light the Christ Candle, let us read John 8:12 (ESV):

   I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Mary Fairchild in Christianity.about.dot com gives a further explanation of what the light, represented today by a lit candle, signifies:

Christianity Symbols Illustrated Glossary: Light in the Bible

Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites in the pillar of flame.

The eternal flame of God’s presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or “Festival of Lights” we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.

Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light.

http://christianity.about.com/od/symbolspictures/ig/Christian-Symbols-Glossary/Light-of-the-World.htm

Closing Hymn: #117: Silent Night! Holy Night!

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 4:6):

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

“May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ Child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.” 

 – John Armstrong

 

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The Lessons of a Loving Father

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of a Loving Father

© June 18, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 18, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer      

Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty           

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

Responsive Reading #593:  God and the Family (Genesis 1, Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 5 and 6)                       

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of a Loving Father’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this Father’s day Sunday. For the lesson this morning, I would like to tell you a little bit about my dad and a couple of lessons that he taught me.

My dad would practice the art of “paying it forward” long before it was a popular term. He grew up in the Great Depression and served in World War II where placing the needs of other’s before your own desires was part of the fabric of society. People learned in those tough times, especially during WWII, that life was too precious and too short to be wasted doing malicious harm to others. I believe that is a big part of the reason why good prevailed over evil in that time of great evil throughout the world. This also gives us an explanation why most of the people who survived the hardships of the depression and war preferred afterwards to read and view media that might be considered today to be too innocent, comedic, or silly in nature. They did not need to see the stark realities of surviving, often in direct life or death conflict with others. They had LIVED that reality for years and wanted to spend the rest of their days doing acts of kindness and compassion to others.

You may ask that the idea of paying it forward is nice, but is there a Scripture passage that supports giving to others with no expectations of receiving anything in return? And what about helping those whom we dislike? The answer to both of these questions is a definite, “Yes”, as we see in Luke 6:27-36 (ESV):

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either.30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 6:29 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Today, two generations later, there are many people in our society who believe that it is acceptable to waste their time by deliberately committing harmful and malicious acts towards others, both friends and family, alike. We see such behavior among those survivor reality shows, where participants endeavor to elevate their own status by harming and undermining others. Alliances are formed in order to subvert individuals, who are treated as opponents rather than as friends. It is not surprising that today we see a rise of politicians who promote a similar “me first” mantra. And strangely enough, there are large numbers of people who keep asking the question: “Why it is society seems to be on its way to Hades or Sheol in hand basket?”

The “me first” mentality is not only damaging to society, it is harmful to the soul, as we are admonished in  Philippians 2:3 (ESV):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Recently, I had observed someone who either had nothing better to do or just suffered from a personal lack of moral integrity, going out of his way to perform several malicious acts with the deliberate intent of being hurtful towards to others. It was at that time that the victims of this disturbed individual turned their collective “other cheek” to the miscreant and then going the “extra mile” by doing nothing to retaliate against their transgressor. The response of compassion and kindness towards such bad behavior may be considered a good example of “paying it forward” by doing good deeds with no expectation of receiving any kindness in return.

Does the Bible Jesus encouraging us not only to “turn the other check”, but also to “go the extra mile” in response to bad behavior? The answer again is, “Yes”, as we see in Matthew 5:38-42 ESV:

Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:40 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Such kindness generates good will as it not only mitigates the harm intended by a malicious deed, it teaches both the bad actor and others how responding to malicious acts with an act of kindness can have a longer-lasting effect upon others and reinforces the lesson of “The Golden Rule”, described in Matthew 7:12 (ESV):

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

As a post script to this account, the reprobate in this account has recently suffered a few significant setbacks in his business and personal life, which seems to show that anyone who embarks on a lifestyle of doing harm to and hurting others, that is who refuses to pay forward acts of love and kind to others, may themselves become a proof of the adage: “what goes around, comes around” which the Scriptures warn us to avoid in, Isaiah 3:11 (ESV):

11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.

How can we expect a just reward in heaven if a verbal testimony of “goodness” is contradicted by bad behavior? We must endeavor to always walk in the light,                    1 John 1:5-10 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

Benediction – (2 John 3):                                                                                                             Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.