Order, Words, & Voices

Order

​Sunday, July 04, 2021

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:57)

  • Opening  – Holy Holy Here With Me (Housefires feat. Kirby Kaple)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                    Rick
  • Music                     Abbie
    • In The Garden (Charles Austin Miles)
    • They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love (Peter Scholtes)
  • That Story = My Story            Kelly, Lily, & Isaiah
  • Music                    Abbie
    • In Christ Alone (Keith Getty & Stuart Townsend)
  • Message    ‘Not Be Dissuaded’         Rick

#2 TWO Video (3:26)

  • Song – Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Paul Zach feat. Page CSVI)

    Community – Next Sunday – Dependence
Live
Benediction                 Kelly, Lily, Isaiah
Closing Peace                Rick


# 3 Three Audio (7:17)
Song – Holy Spirit (Austin Sebek)

Voices & Words

Opening
‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will be see God.’ Matthew 5:8
‘He wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear.’  Isaiah 50:4b-5a
‘Give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation as I come to know you.’ Ephesians 1:17b

Prayer
God,
May our unity be deeper than individual agreement
May our faithfullness have nothing to do with our compatibility
May diversity of thought bind us together
May those things that divide us instead make us strong
May there be strength for the weak in our differences
May there be hope for the hopeless in our faith
May we join in prayer when words are no longer spoken
May we go to our knees when common ground cannot be found
May we love unconditionally in the marketplace
May we love irrationally in the public square
May the world see you in our lives together and apart
Amen.

Music

In The Garden
CCLI Song # 62858
Charles Austin Miles

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Tho’ the night around me be falling
But He bids me go thro’ the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love
CCLI Song # 26997
Peter Scholtes

We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news
That God is in our land

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

All praise to the Father
From whom all things come
And all praise to Christ Jesus
His only Son
And all praise to the Spirit
Who makes us one

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

In Christ Alone
CCLI Song # 3350395
Keith Getty | Stuart Townsend

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

That Story = My Story

The story of the apostle Paul is beyond interesting.  When we first met him he was on his way to the city of Damascus to find the Christians.

A religious zeal led him to do this, to weed out the Christians and to stop the Jesus movement.

Paul was on the way to Damascus in pursuit of the followers of Jesus. This was a common and very consistent theme of Paul’s adult life.

A lifetime of seeking God always, one way or the other, led him to those who followed Christ.

It is an interesting story. When we first meet Paul he was on his way to Damascus to persecute and jail the Christians, to shut down their movement, to tear down every door that hid and protected the Jesus followers.

Now, as see the beginning of the end of Paul’s story, we still see him seeking out the Christians only now he is passionately seeking them out to encourage and strengthen them.

And, he is still pursuing God, he still has a hunger to know God more.

Seeking God and seeking Christians. A never-ending theme of Paul’s life, a never ending passion of his mission.

Of course, Paul’s passion took on a very different focus. He no longer wanted to stop a movement instead he had become an integral part of the movement.

He was still driven by his passion, a passion that was refined and redirected when he met Jesus on that original trip to Damascus. Everything after that was about Jesus.

Even in the end, he was sharing God’s love, encouraging God’s children, strengthening the weak and reminding the believers of God’s compassion and mercy.

When Paul said his final goodby to the Ephesians ‘there was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again.’

Paul set sail to Cos

And then to Rhodes

and from there to Patara

The island of Cyprus

To Tyre

And finally to his last stop before Jerusalem, he landed at Ceasarea

In all, Militeus to Ceasarea was about 600 miles mostly by water, with six stops, for a trip that took close to two weeks.

A lot of places to stop, a lot of hours spent on tearful goodbyes.

Everywhere Paul went Christians were waiting to see him, excited to embrace him.

Everywhere Paul went was because there were Christians there needing to see him one last time.

This was Paul’s farewell tour.

Everywhere Paul went the believers there would try to dissuade him from going to Jerusalem. The Spirit had enlightened them all the dangers of Paul’s entrance into Jerusalem.

A lot of moments spent attempting to turn Paul back.

Most specifically was the prophet Agabus who vividly attempted to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem. Agabus said few words, he bound Paul’s hands and feet in his sincere effort to dissuade Paul.

’”This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind you and will hand you over to the Gentiles.” Agabus spoke to Paul.’ When Paul’s friends heard this, they urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Just like all the other friends in all the other places had labored to do.

They all knew Agabus was correct, that Paul would be bound by the Jews and turned over to the Gentiles.  Paul was aware of this fact as well. Paul knew this was God’s path for him.

Paul also felt the love that was propelling the believers to dissuade him from heading on to Jerusalem.

They loved Paul and did not want him to go through this.

It was a lot of pressure on Paul, pressure to turn back from the Holy Spirit leading him to Jerusalem.

The prophesies were correct The efforts to save Paul were sincere. The agony of watching a friend walk to the gallos is very real.

An emotional Paul said, ‘”“What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”’

Everyone was quiet, everyone realized that the Spirit was leading Paul and he could do no less than God’s will.

’“The Lord’s will be done.”’ Paul’s friends said.

Still, they disagreed with Paul. Still, they were afraid for Paul.

Still, they accompanied him to the beach as he boarded the boat to Jerusalem.

Still, as they watched him head south, they trusted God.

[Acts 21:1-16]

Message        Not Be Dissuaded

Monday, as a began my walk close to dusk, – a couple of blocks from our house a policeman got out of his car and yelled the question to me “Did you hear a gun shot?’ I wanted to be able to say ‘yes’, how cool would it be to be able to identify the location and even the shooter, and quite possibly even the type of firearm used. However, I had not heard it, and I could not identify the location, the shooter, or any specifics about the weapon. I really wanted to say yes, but instead I walked away after saying an insecure “I Don’t Think So.” It wasn’t until a few blocks later that I began to consider if it was wise to continue my walk as I was approaching darkness with a ‘kind of confirmed’ shooter on the loose. The officer’s 6 simple words began to dissuade me from moving on. Eventually I continued the walk, determined that I would not be dissuaded from my original plan.

I love this word ‘Dissuade’. I conveys certain unusual confidence of a person who has others trying to turn determined steps back. A couple of weeks ago when I first read the passage for today I was overjoyed when I saw ‘Dissuade’ was the word used to describe the believers failed attempts to convince Paul to not go to Jerusalem. I was then disheartened to find that most Bible interpretations use ‘Persuade’ rather than ‘Dissuade.’

Persuade and Dissuade are complementary antonyms, which are contradictory words. Persuade means to talk someone into doing or believing something, to convince someone to believe or do something through reason or inducement. Dissuade means to talk someone out of doing or believing something, to convince someone to disbelieve or not do something through reason or inducement.
https://grammarist.com/antonyms/persuade-vs-dissuade/

The greek word used ispeithó, a word that is often translated as ‘dissuade,’ ‘persuade’, however, there is a deeper underlying strength in the word. That being a word ‘confident’.

With this understanding we find a people who are confidently and passionately trying to persuade/dissuade another from going in a direction that will, without a doubt, be dangerous, risky, and ultimately doomed.

The reason I focus on this word, and the English translation of it, is because it is central in understanding the central truth of the story of Acts 21:1-16 – a story of conflict that does not involve a antagonist, only a protagonist and a group of protagonist that confidently and strongly disagree.

A story without an antagonist is anathema to our way of story telling, it is anathema to our humanness. We need there to be a bad guy, a person who comes around to realize the error of their ways. We need the bad guy to be able to identify the good guy. Someone needs to be 100% right, and it is an even better story if that 100% right good guy is always the obvious ‘right and good’ guy.  In this story, as Paul makes the final left out of Militeus to Jerusalem, the story takes on a ‘no bad guys’ thread.

It is important to note, the idea of ‘no bad guy’ is still a difficult pill for preacher, commentarians, and biblical experts, to swallow. “How can there not be a bad guy?’ Or probably more accurate, ‘How can the apostle Paul not always be the 100% good guy?’ This conundrum still plagues all believers. How do we interpret passages like Acts 21:1-16, how do we navigate the conflicts between Paul and Barnabas, Paul and John Mark, Paul and Peter? Now, almost 2 thousands years after, we still are uncomfortable with it. Argument and disagreement still exists.

The Apostle Paul is headed to Jerusalem. On the way he makes many stops to encourage and to say goodbye to the different communities of believers along the journey. At each stop, the believers beg Paul to not go to Jerusalem. They passionately attempt to dissuade him from doing what he is confident about doing – going to Jerusalem. They, in their efforts to turn Paul back, are equally confident. And, quite frankly, stand on a solid foundation. They have heard the prophecy, they have been told by the Holy Spirit what is to happen to Paul in Jerusalem. Paul knew all of this as well, and he still left them and went to Jerusalem.

How could Paul be so passionate about going and the believers be so passionate about stopping him from going?

Let’s consider a few different possible understandings.

  1. Paul made a mistake or the believers did not trust God enough. There are many credible experts that feel that Paul was going to Jerusalem on a martyrs mission. It was his agenda to get the offerings taken by the gentiles for the suffering believers in Judea, especially in Jerusalem. He went determined to get the offerings there and, at the same time, to merely make a point. He knew what his fate was but he went anyway Or, the believers, who also knew what would happen, didn’t trust God and God’s path for Paul. They did not believe they could continue on without his guidance, they loved him too much to let him go. Summary – Paul was Stubborn and the Believers were Selfish.
  2. Paul understood the next phase of his journey, the believers did not.  Paul was willingly going and giving up his freedom, even his life, confident this was where and how God needed him. The Believers did not have this insight, they were unaware of this time for a turn in the life of the new testament church and believers. Summary, Paul Knew and the Believers did not know (they were not ready to know).
  3. Nobody knew anything and everyone had allowed their own speculation to become personal. They all heard from the Holy Spirit but were not given the reaction they were take so they were all operating out of ignorance.

There is a reason we cannot answer this in a definitive manner, even now with hindsight. It is because the story is not about right or wrong, the story is not about knowing or not knowing, the story is not even about Jerusalem. They story is about how the church avoids collapsing even when they cannot identify and agree on a confident right and wrong. It is a story about a person who got on a boat even when his passionate friends made him feel sad about his next step – even as they lovingly and passionately attempted to dissuade him from going, as they told him he was wrong. It is a story of a people who didn’t agree with their friend, nor did they understand his path, but still they went down to the beach as he prepared to leave and prayed with him leaving him with the memories and assurance of their embrace.

Unity is a consistent thread throughout Paul’s writings to the church. Even in this story, the collection by the gentiles. Usually, matters of hunger were tended to by the rich in a community – however when the church in Antioch heard about the coming famine, they banded together and shared the sacrifice to provide, regardless of their economic status.

Or, unity is even more visible in the council at Jerusalem. They were confronted with things they could not understand. This group of religious leaders, many were formerly leaders in the Jewish religious institution, were faced with what surely seemed like anarchy, Jewish believers mixing with Gentiles, Gentiles receiving the Spirit. It all had to be too much, too overwhelming. But, instead of lashing out, leaving the room, leaving the faith, they were silent, they considered, they recognized they didn’t understand. They took the time to let God calm them and hold on to them even in the midst of their confusion and conflict.

This story is all the more significant when we remember that Paul had just met with the Ephesus leaders and warning them that their biggest conflict ahead would come from within. And now we see the believers, even in intense disagreement, still unified at the water’s edge.

“My reading of scripture leaves me convinced that God is more interested in the pattern of life we live than in divining some elusive specific ‘plan’ for our individual lives. Likewise, we should be more interested in praying together with our neighbors on beached than prevailing over them in every disagreement.”
Matt Skinner, Acts – Catching Up With The Spirit

The stories, our stories, that we see in the book of Acts, are stories of a people who decide to still trust God even when trusting seems impossible – when letting go of self seems to conflict with their views and understanding. It is a story of a people who learned to love in the midst of conflicting diverse opinions, convictions, and decisions. It is a people whose connection to each other was Jesus.

Let’s pray.

Benediction

Today, we leave to celebrate freedom.

We leave to celebrate liberty.

We go to express our gratitude.

We recognize our freedom does not mean we will always agree.

We know that it will frequently be abused.

 We recognize that our liberty will always be fragile.

We know that it will frequently be dismissed.

We also go knowing that we are descendants of God.

And we go as children of God.

Trusting God.

Our trust is not in our own plans or strategies.

We go separately together because our trust is not in ourself but in God.

We go immersed in God’s love for us all.

Closing Peace

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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