Order, Voices, & Words

Order
Sunday, June 27, 2021 Order

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:20)

  • Call to Worship

    Come What May (Jeff Pardo)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                    Rick (In Person) (Slides)
  • Music                     Abbie (In Person) (Slides)
    • Tis So Sweet (Louisa M. R. Stead, William James Kirkpatrick)
    • Give Me Jesus (Jeremy Camp)
    • Oh How I Love Jesus (Frederick Whitfield)
  • That Story = My Story            Peyton, Steve, Do a (No Slides)
  • Music                    Abbie (Slides)
    • Jesus Name Above All Name (Nadia Hearns)
  • Message    ‘Captive to Purpose’         Rick (slides)

#2 TWO Video (5:52)

  • Song – God Really Loves Us (Ben Glover, Dante Bowe, David Crowder, Jeff Sojka)

    Community – Next Sunday – Not Be Dissuaded, Vaccinations, Story
Live

  • Benediction (inperson/online)  ? (Spotlight) (no slides)
  • Sharing the Peace           Rick

# 3 Three Audio (4:22)
Song – Redeeming The Years (Anthony Brown, Phil Thompson)

Voices & Words

Prayer

God, may we be captive to our pursuit of you
May we be captive to your calling
May we be captive to your purpose
God, may we be captivated by your presence
May we be captivated by your grace
May we be captivated by your love
God, may we know that you have given us all that we need
May we know that you will not disappear in times of trouble
May we rest in your arms
Amen.

Music I 

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus (Trust In Jesus)
CCLI Song # 22609
Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know thus saith the Lord

Jesus Jesus how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more

O how sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to trust His cleansing blood
Just in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing cleansing flood

Jesus Jesus how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more

Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest and joy and peace

Jesus Jesus how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee
Precious Jesus Savior Friend
And I know that Thou art with me
Wilt be with me to the end

Jesus Jesus how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more

Give Me Jesus
CCLI Song # 4874344
Jeremy Camp

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
Oh when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Oh How I Love Jesus
CCLI Song # 28696
Frederick Whitfield

There is a name I love to hear
I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth

Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Because He first loved me

It tells me of a Savior’s love
Who died to set me free
It tells me of His precious blood
The sinner’s perfect plea

Because He first loved me
Because He first loved me

That Story = My Story

The journey of the new testament church is an odd tale. A story of an imperfect group, feeling their way in the dark, to become something that has actually never before been.

The key protagonists change, Peter to Paul. The locations are constantly different, Ephesus, Athens, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Achaia, Phrygia,…

(Interrupts) Yes Dear, we get it….

What about all the different groups? – Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Hebrews, Slaves, Rulers, Leaders, Religious leaders of all types, Politicians, Witches and Warlocks, just to name a few.

(Interrupts again) Witches and Warlocks AND, Politicians and Religious leaders?!?

And what about the individuals who pop in and are rarely seen again. People like Jason, Sosthenes, Crispus, Titius, Eutychus, Gaius, and Aristarchus…
It is utter chaos I tell you! They have no playbook, no map set out before them.

And then a guy falls three stories and God leads Paul to bring him back to life! A one time event for Paul, I’m sure he never forgot that!

They are not given instructions on how, or what, or where, or anything that a well planned out endeavor requires. Yet it works because the Spirit is working.

They are just told to be eyewitnesses of Jesus, to be together but apart and all over the place. To follow God as God leads, to trust when everything is confusing, to know God when God is unseen, and, in doing so, to let their faith grow.

 For many of those that are in this part of that story, this part of our story, their appearance is small and seemingly insignificant.

However, the story wouldn’t be the story without them. They are essential even if they seem to be extras. They are willingly held captive to God’s call on their life, especially at specific times and for a specific purpose. Even though it may seem insignificant, it is life changing.

And it all kicks off when they say ‘yes’, when they follow, when they trust, when they let their faith prompt rather than their Me, My, or Myself human protective response.

Today, we see a pivot point in the story. Our Story. Paul is beginning to say his goodbyes. He is leaving this part of the journey to the next leaders. He is surrendering to the next part of the journey. He is willingly accepting the next captivity to purpose.

“There is an urgency before me now.” Paul says, “I am heading to Jerusalem. I am led by the Spirit. I am captive to God’s purpose. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.”

I imagine it saddened the church leaders in Ephesus when Paul continued saying, “And so this is good-bye. You’re not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have been with for so long proclaiming the news of God’s kingdom. I’ve done my best for you, given you my all, held back nothing of God’s will for you.”

And it was surely a bit disconcerting to the leaders as Paul continued, “Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people— they are God’s people entrusted to you to guard and protect. God himself thought they were worth dying for.”

And it that wasn’t overwhelming enough he probably overwhelmed them when he said, “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.”

The Spirt was prepping them for the next phase of their journey, insight into their own captivity to God’s purpose. Paul was also very reassuring to them, He said this because it was what he had discovered in his own path.

Paul wanted them to know that even though they would not see him again, they were not left alone to do the humanly impossible.

Steve: Paul said, “Now I’m turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends.”

That story, our story, only in a later time.  We also are called on a pursuit of purpose. A calling that leads us to surrender to the best path, the best pursuit, God’s intentional purpose.

[Acts 20]

Music II

Jesus Name Above All Names
CCLI Song # 21291
Naida Hearn

Jesus name above all names
Beautiful Savior glorious Lord
Emmanuel God is with us
Blessed Redeemer living Word

Jesus loving Shepherd
Vine of the branches Son of God
Prince of Peace Wonderful Counselor
Lord of the universe Light of the world

Praise him Lord above all lords
King above all kings God’s only Son
The Prince of Peace who by his Spirit
Comes to live in us Master and Friend

Message        Captive to Purpose

This past Wednesday everything stopped at the Anthony household. We were captivated by four little birds leaving the nest. Slowly, one bird after another would step to the edge nervously and stand there until apprehensive courage pushed them out.  During this process nervous parents waited and directed these young ones to the next phase of their lives.

Later in the day I saw the mom back on the ground under the now abandoned nest. There seemed to been a sadness as she checked out everything around the ground. Checking before moving on, making sure that they had not left anything behind that they would need later. This phase of her life was over, this exhausting time of constantly hungry children was complete. Now they were off to another phase that would capture their total being, it would be different but the same.

As the apostle Paul left Ephesus, he made a slight right turn toward Macedonia, then a slight left to Troas, and then a sharp left to Jerusalem. Seldom did Paul’s journeys involve a straight line, because Paul was seldom led solely by Paul. A perfect example of an imperson on a mission, not a mission of his planning, but a mission led by the Spirit. Acts is the story of Christians going to wherever, and whatever, the Spirit led.

On the way to Jerusalem Paul made a quick, sharp left to Militeus, to meet with the Ephesus church leaders. He would never see them again face to face, devastating news to the leaders and to Paul. Not just because they were losing a dear friend, but also because they had to release him.  They doubted themselves but not his forward calling.

I’m sure that Paul’s final words were mixed with sentiment and instruction. It was a message of freedom. Paul was ‘loosing’ the believers to be led by the Spirit. To spread their wings and fly. Paul was releasing them of his control and trusting them to be led by the Spirit. It was also a ‘loosing’ by the leaders – they were releasing Paul for the next phase of his journey.

When Paul called for the Ephesus leaders to meet him in Miletius it wasn’t because he did not have the time to stop there, he just knew that a stop there could not be brief, and his time was now limited. He was attached to the people, he had spent a lot of time and investment in them. They had been an essential element of his life for the past two plus years.

I often picture Paul as being stone cold. A look of ‘all business’ on his face and an accompanying intolerance of sentiment and frivolity. But as I read of his devastation of his own people, the Jews, rejection of Jesus. His pain over the probable felt rejection of John Mark. I think he was a very disciplined, smart yet very sensitive guy. Now letting go and leaving his Ephesus’ family was difficult. It took a ‘leave the nest’ blessing from the Ephesus’ leaders for him to move on.

Paul lamented his own exit, he defined it as not a choice but instead that he was ‘captive to the Spirit’. He wasn’t sure where the Spirit would leave, nor was he sure how it would end, but he knew that the Spirit who he had been following, was now in more control than ever. So, the leaders at Ephesus ‘loosed’ him.

Before Paul got back on his boat he left the leaders with four points of essential reminders, wisdom and insight – Paul makes his own ‘Change the oil’ reminders.

  1. You’ve Got What You Need to Survive, to Inspire, and to Lead. Paul’s time with the believers in Ephesus, and their leadership, had been very intentional and purposeful. Even if Paul, nor the Ephesians, fully grasped what had been taking place over the past couple of years. The Spirit had been, through he apostle Paul, pouring in truth and strength. At the same time, the Spirit had been, through, the Ephesians, pouring the same into Paul. This two way empowering had been taking place, largely unknown to these recepients,  during this holy time together.
  2. You Have Tough Times are Ahead, Be constantly Aware, Keep Alert, Constantly Pay Attention. A young man with a huge grin shouting tome over the a crowd. He was pressed up against the wall and I was unable to get over to him, so we spoke for all the crowd to hear. Once I realized that he had been in my youth group over a decade before, he told me that my words had carried him through the tough times in life up to this point.  I was very curious what those words were and he said, for all to hea. He said that I had repeatedly said that life would ‘get worse then it would get better.’ My first thought was ‘Well, that was a cliche!’But God had used my forgotten words to strengthen another person. As Paul tells the Ephesians these words of warning, it served to ready them for the human difficulties of life that lay ahead. The subtle efforts to undermine and destroy the work of God in Ephesus and in the life and leadership of the believers there. That the Spirit  had been at work even when they did not realize it.
  3. You Are in the Hands of God, and God’s Grace.  Paul reminded them that they are not in the hands of the evil that may surround and engulf them. That the situations and happenings around them are not what holds their destiny, nor are they what determine the ultimate defining their lives. The grace they have experienced, the grace they have known, the God of grace that they have trusted in, the hope and promise of their future had not disappeared nor had any of it been taken way. Things may look different, things may feel different, devastating and destruction may seem in control,  but God is still there, God’s grace is still in power.
  4. You Remain Captive to A Purpose. Paul reminds the leaders and believers that their purpose is not to fight a battle, their pursuit is not the foe of God – that fight has already be completed, that foe has already been defeated. Instead, Paul  says to the church,

“Support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Acts 20:35

Over a thousand years earlier, after Samuel had anointed, and God had fully  prepared, a hesitant Saul to be new, and first, King – God said,

“Do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”
I Samuel 10:7

It is a profound and curious statement from God, especially from our viewpoint of knowing what King Saul finds for his hands to do. But, it is actually a promise that resonates in Paul’s final face to face words to the Ephesians, and it resonates with us. God has prepared us, God has warned us, God has empowered us, God has reminded us – we are ready for all that God has ahead. We are ready to be Captive to God’s Purpose.

Anne Lamott tells the story of a pastor friend who, as a child, was once asked what her grandfather, who was also a pastor, did for a job, to which she responded,

“Every Sunday he stands in front of everyone and tells them that they are beautiful, and God loves them exactly the way they are, and they really don’t worry, because they all have each other.

But then by Tuesday they forget this, so on Sunday he goes back to the church and theirs them that they are beautiful, and God loves them just the way they are, and they don’t have to worry because they all have each other.”

Ann Lamott

Dusk, Night, Dawn

This little girl had a mighty grasp on what her our purpose is and what message we are captive to. In our evangelical fervor, we have forgotten this is the task of us all.

What is your purpose, what is your pursuit, what are you captive to?

Let’s pray.

Benediction

So, now we go.
We go by ourselves but never alone.
We go separated but always together.
We walk into an unknown week knowing that it the shepherd we trust.
We surrender to the path ahead even we we cannot see past the next curve.
We recognized that we are free as long as we are captive to God’s purpose.
We go because the father has assured us.
We go because the son had gone before us.
 We go because the spirit leads us.
We go, not alone, but in God’s presence.
We go, not destitute but in God’s riches.
We go, not hated, but in God’s love.
We go because because our faith propels us to follow.
We walk, we run in God’s forgiveness and mercy.
We enter the marketplace to be God’s grace to to our world.
We exist in faith, for this moment, for this purpose.

Closing Peace

As we go out from here, we go as a people captive to a purpose. A purpose of life, peace, compassion, grace, and truth. A people living immersed in the love of the Father, a people committed to meet the world with the embrace of Jesus, a people on a life long pursuit of knowing, understanding, and applying truth, real truth. We go feeling inadequate but with the right measure of faith. We go feeling frustrated, defeated, and powerless but we carry a promise of enough  faith. We go with God’s love, enough love. While we are unsure of what turn lies ahead, we go with an overflowing love.

We go, starting with love. So, as we go, may the love of the Father go with you.
 
And also with you.

Let’s go. Let’s go into the marketplace among all the other loved descendants of God. Let’s go, let’s go as loved children of God in the midst of the public square filled with those yearning to be children of God. Let’s go, let’s go held by grace, comforted by peace, joy, love, and hope.

Let’s go!

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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