Order, Words, & Voices

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Order

#1 ONE Video #1 (5:28)

  • Song – Good God Almighty (Crowder)
  • Call to Worship

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                Rick (In Person)
  • Music                 Rick (In Person)

    Heaven Came Down (Andy Harsant)
    Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah (Johathan Hughes)
    Nothing But The Blood (Plainfield)

  • Reading                Hannah, Andrew, Dave, Nikki (In Person/On Line)
  • Message    ‘The Unseen’         Rick

#2 TWO Video (3:12)

  • Song – It’s Always Been You (Phil Wickham)
  • Community – Next Sunday – Descendants in the Marketplace (Acts 17)

Live

  • Benediction (inperson/online)   Hannah, Andrew, Dave, Nikki (Spotlight) (slides)
  • Sharing the Peace           Rick

# 3 Three Audio (3:08)
Song – Good God Almighty (Crowder)

Words & Voices

Call to Worship
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him—we have it all together with God because of Jesus.

And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

And it is not finished: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

And even more amazing, even though our expectations are now very high, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready.

He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.

In our minds we might understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can maybe understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were far far from worthy.

Now that we are set right with God by means of Jesus sacrificial death, the consummate sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way.

If, when we were at our worst, we were made right with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at Jesus’ best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life!

Now that we have actually received this amazing relationship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding through fancy words. Now, we sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Romans 5:1-11

Prayer

Lord of all, In Jesus you have made us all sisters and brothers in Christ.
There is no distinction between Gentile and Jew.  There is no separation that can remove any from fellowship in Christ’s community.  Blind us to our differences so that in unity we may proclaim your truth to all,  for the sake of Jesus Christ in whom there is harmony and peace.
Amen.

Songs

Heaven Came Down (Andy Harsant)
CCLI Song # 19605

O what a wonderful wonderful day
Day I will never forget
After I’d wandered in darkness away
Jesus my Savior I met

O what a tender compassionate friend
He met the need of my heart
Shadows dispelling with joy I am telling
He made all the darkness depart

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul
When at the cross the Savior made me whole
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah (Johathan Hughes)
CCLI Song # 1448

Guide me O Thou great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak but Thou art mighty
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand
Bread of heaven Bread of heaven
Feed me now and ever more
Feed me now and ever more

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow
Let the fiery cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through
Strong Deliverer strong Deliverer
Be Thou still my strength and shield
Be Thou still my strength and shield

Nothing But The Blood (Plainfield)
CCLI Song # 21332

O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can wash away my sin
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For my pardon this I see
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my cleansing this my plea
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Nothing can for sin atone
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my hope and peace
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul
When at the cross the Savior made me whole
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul

Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure
After the passing of time
I have a future in heaven for sure
There in those mansions sublime
And it’s because of that wonderful day
When at the cross I believed
Riches eternal and blessings supernal
From His precious hand I received

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul
When at the cross the Savior made me whole
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul

Songs of praises songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee
I will ever give to Thee

Reading

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the men that they had to be circumcised to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had a lengthy debate with them.
Eventually, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. 

Ironically, on their way, they reported the conversion of more Gentiles which brought great joy to all the believers. They were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders when they arrived at Jerusalem, and, especially as they reported all that God had done on their way. 

There were some believers though who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees that insisted, “It is necessary for gentile to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders met together to consider the matter, and after  much debate, Peter stood up and said, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 

And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 

Now therefore why are you questioning God by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that none of us have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

The whole assembly became silent.
Then, they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.  

After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the prophet Amos,

“After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.’ Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.’”

James finished by saying, “Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should instruct them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.

Acts 15:1-20 (Message)

  • Message        The Unseen

This past week there was news that a piece of space junk, or space debris, hit and tore a 3/16 inch hole on one of the arms of the International Space Station.  Last year, the station had to redirect three times to avoid debris. NASA now says that the low-earth orbit is basically a junk yard filled with all the discarded items, significant size satellites to small pieces of other items from space journeys.  Currently, above our heads, there are 23,000 objects floating around in space that are of a large enough size that they have to be monitored constantly to keep further damage happening to the space station and crew.  Imagine, above our head, unseen, but things that create a significant dangerous hazard.

Last Sunday morning, before I headed over to the Fellowship Center, I sat on my back patio and watched the birds and squirrels while I drank my coffee.  As I sat there, a cardinal walked up surprisingly close and began pecking at the grass for food.  Soon, I saw, in the mouth of the cardinal a worm – now I’ve seen birds find worms but I have never watched a bird attempt to pull a worm out of the ground while the worm attempts to resist.  Actually, I have seen this scenario in cartoons but never in real life. In watching this, however, I learned that I have been lied to by the animators all my life.  In cartoons the worm wins, however, last Sunday I learned that the worm doesn’t always win….I suspect that possibly that the worm seldom actually wins.

We live in a creation, in a world, where things are constantly happening that go unseen to us.  Some we will never know, some that we may be blessed, or cursed, when we get to see.  Often times, however, when we finally do witness something that has been, up to this point unseen, we find out that they do not match up with our expectations. Sometimes we find out that space is as messy as our house and that most of the time, the bird does get the worm regardless of the time of day.

And, sometimes that epiphany forces us to accept a new perspective, adapt our held perspective, or to try to force this reality back into the little box that holds our thoughts and beliefs. This is often very difficult, sometimes it can seem impossible. In faith terms, it can present a dilemma   that threatens our obedience to ‘To your neighbor.’

This collision of seeing reality and held faith beliefs is the core of the story of Charles Darwin. A man, who saw the brutality evident in nature leading to his struggle with the religious picturesque teachings of God’s creation. As he experienced the death of his father and then his ten year old daughter death from tuberculous, on top of the misery, oppression, hatred, and death that is a part of the reality of living on earth, he found he could not reconcile that with religious teachings about God and love. Most historians claim that Darwin never quit believing in God, only that he found no way to fit the realities he saw on earth with the religious teachings he held.

The story of the reality of God and the reality of Humans, and the juncture where the two meet, is a story of seeing unseen realities and how we humans deal, or don’t deal with them.  Think about a few examples:

Adam and Eve found the understanding of one simple restriction, to not eat of one particular tree, was no match against the human need to grab what is not ours to grab.

Noah found that the reality of dry land that had never been flooded presented an impossible hurdle to a people were given a chance to be saved from an oncoming flood.
Abraham and Sarah knew the impossibility of bearing a child so God’s promise of a child was a faith challenge beyond imagination.

Moses was told to deliver God’s people but his reality was a Pharaoh who was not about to let go of the slaves.  Joseph received a promise from God that his brothers would bow down to him then they threw him in a well and sold him into slavery. Jesus told his followers that he came to give them life abundantly then they witnessed his death on a cross.  Mary saw Jesus’ lifeless body put in a tomb and a stone rolled in front of the opening, then, he stood in front of her and said, ‘Do not fear, it is me.’

When God told the apostle Peter to go to a gentile’s house, he faced the dilemma –  his reality was that his religious teaching that he could do no such thing, but God said to Go.  Peter entered Cornelius house and ate and shared with gentiles – religious teaching said that against God’s law, God said, ‘not true.’ As Peter shared God’s truth with the gentiles, he shared with a people who were unclean, unacceptable, unredeemable, but, Peter witnessed just the opposite. The leaders in Jerusalem where shocked and appalled when they were confronted with this conflicting reality but, as Peter explained, they were forced to take a second look at truth and their interpretations – they were forced to be silent and think, consider, adapt, reconsider, and accept the Fresh Wind and Refreshing Work that they had not seen up to this moment.

This reconsideration and this adaption was not, and is not, an immediate and automatic process, it takes a while.  Even though we may accept the truth that we have now seen the unseen, our reality takes a bit longer to adjust.  As our human perspectives present themself we have to apply the truth of this which was have seen, and we are forced to consider how truth, this truth, fits into our faith, or if our faith needs refinement.

When Peter spoke to the Christian leaders, he pointed out the discrepancy in their faith practice and their faith truth.

“I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When the leaders heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Acts 11:16-18

Three significant steps took place, three steps that still apply today.

  • Peter saw a previously unseen reality and shared this with the leaders – Jesus died for the gentiles in the same way he died for the Jews.
  • The leaders quit talking and listened and considered, just as Peter had done during his experience with the Gentiles. Then, the leaders adapted their perspective.
  • The leaders began their journey of application with this new perspective allowing it to immerse their faith completely.

This was not a once and for all perspective change, this was just the foundation, it would soon be further revealed and understood in very concrete reality ways.  Possibly their first challenge came when the question was asked, ‘Do Gentiles have to be circumcised?’ Circumcision had been a religious practice all the way to Abraham when this identifier was established by God. This was actually a belief that the Gentiles were under the law in the same was the Jews had been – it was actually a continued misunderstanding of Grace. The leaders had accepted the truth that the cross was not just for the Jews, but how was this new perspective going to be applied to this question?  Peter said,

“God, who knows the human heart, testified to the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test [why are you doubting truth and faith] by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Acts 15:8-11

The leadership responds to this in the same way they responded to the original news from Peter regarding the Gentile.

‘The whole assembly kept silence, and listened’
Acts 15:12a

Then one of the leaders, James (not the executed apostle, another James) said,

“My brothers, listen to me. Peter has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.’ Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God,
Acts 15:13b-19

James and the leaders reconsidered and adapted their religious perspective.  This was not the end of the story, there was still refinement and revision of their understanding to come, in fact, after James said this, and in doing so he swayed the leadership – then he added on some Jewish Levitical restrictions on the Gentiles.
God calls us to consider, to be silent, to be open, to allow the Spirit to refine, and sometimes, change our perspective.  We are challenged to consider what is truly truth of our faith. We are called to a genuine faith that does not conflict with the truth of God’s love and his call to us to love.
How open are your eyes, how available is your perspective?
Let’s pray.

Benediction

Paul closed his final letter to the believers in Corinth by  saying,
“That about it Friends, my dear brothers and  sisters
This is my farewell, be cheerful and be happy
Put things in order and keep them in good repair
Keep your spirits up as you strive to grow in Jesus

Remember what I have taught you, never cease to think on it
Think in harmony, live in harmony
Be agreeable, live with each other in peace
Remember that sometimes silence is your most powerful tool
Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you
Greet each other warmly, with a holy embrace, or holy elbows
May we go into our week apart while together.

Closing Peace

As we leave today, our closing peace comes from the final words of Paul to the believers in Corinth.

As you go, go in the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, and may the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

And also with you.

May you go in Peace and may you permit the Love of the Lord to Go With You.

Go And May Love Be Consistently Seen In Your Presence.

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

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