Order, Words, & Voices

Order
Sunday, July 18, 2021

Video #1 (3:35)

  • Call to Worship

Fix My Eyes (The Main Serenade, MARK ADDISON MASSAR, ANDREW WILSON MASSAR, PANBORLANG TOI)
Live/OnLine

  • Prayer                    Rick
  • Music                     Abbie

    Mighty To Save            Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan
    Change My Heart O God    Eddie Espinosa
    Open The Eyes of My Heart    Paul Baloche

  • Story                    Jaimie M, Martha & Paul
  • Message    ‘Uncompromising Appeasement’          Rick
  • Music

    Mighty To Save            Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan

Video #2 Community (1:51)

  • Song – Everything I Could Want (Michael John Fatkin  |  Ben Tan  |  Melodie Mezieres-wagner)

    Community – Uncompromising Appeasement, Uncomfortable

Live

  • Benediction (inperson/online)  Jaimie M, Martha & Paul (Spotlight) (no slides)
  • Sharing the Peace           Rick

# 3 Audio (2:34)
Song – Less Of Me (Glen Campbell)

Voices & Words


Call To Worship

The Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling about Jesus and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:2

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another?
Romans 14:1-4a

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Colossians 3:11

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:7


Prayer

God,
May we live with humility and not arrogance
May we live with acceptance and not judgement
May we live with empathy and not condemnation
May we welcome with embrace and not rejection
May we welcome with commonality and not fear
May we welcome with love and not hatred
For, you God, accepted us while we were still sinners
You God, embrace us while we are still filthy
You God, love us even while we are still unloveable
You God, are Love.
God, may we remember that we are all your beloved
God, may we never fail to recognize that you loved us first
Amen.

Music

Mighty To Save
CCLI Song # 4591782
Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan

Ev’ryone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Ev’ryone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

Saviour He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Ev’rything I believe in
Now I surrender

Saviour He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

Change My Heart Oh God
CCLI Song # 1565
Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray
Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

Open The Eyes Of My Heart
CCLI Song # 2298355
Paul Baloche

Open the eyes of my heart Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy holy holy
Holy holy holy
Holy holy holy
Holy holy holy
I want to see You

Open the eyes of my heart Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You
To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy holy holy
Holy holy holy

That Story = My Story
The book of Acts is actually a geographical roadmap. It is Luke’s description of the places the apostles traveled to after the Holy Spirit arrived. It gives us a locational account of the places there the apostles, usually the apostle Paul, were when they wrote letters to the believers in the different cities.

After the letters were read, they were then forwarded to the believers in other cities. As Luke wrote the book, or the map, he pegged the different cities that Paul wrote to. Cities such as Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossus, and Thessalonica.

Don’t forget the letters to Timothy and Philemon which were written from places such as Macedonia and Rome.

But Acts is more than a roadmap of just physical locations. It is also a roadmap of the growth and transformation of the apostles, the believers,  and especially of Peter and Paul.

Again, don’t forget all the changes that happened with the leaders in Jerusalem!

Change of any kind is difficult. To find that some of our deepest held beliefs, our most passionate convictions, things we thought were the most important things – to find that they are not of major importance, that is tough to fully swallow. Letting God show us that life is not always as black and white as we have come to believe can be a challenging impossibility.
Paul told the believers in Corinth that, “When I am with those whose consciences bother them easily, I don’t act as though I know it all and I don’t say they are foolish; the result is that they are willing to let me help them. Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with them so that they will let me tell them about Christ and let Christ save them.”

He said, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”

That IS hard to swallow. Sometimes I judge instead of Become.
He said to Become.

Sometimes I condemn instead of Become.

He Said … Become.
I’m going to have to think about that one.

Think away….
Martha, I understand the difficulty of understanding this encouragement to Become. It is a challenge that is tempting to ignore.
Definitely!

However, understanding the challenge of Becoming, we can better understand the dilemma that the apostle Paul felt when the church leaders in Jerusalem told him, “look at what’s been happening here—thousands upon thousands of God-fearing Jews have become believers in Jesus! But there’s also a problem because they are more zealous than ever in observing the laws of Moses. They’ve been told that you advise believing Jews who live surrounded by unbelieving outsiders to disregard Moses and the law, telling them that they don’t need to circumcise their children or keep up the old traditions. This isn’t sitting at all well with them.”

It must have been such a shock for Paul, his friends had just joyously greeted him and welcomed him with open arms. They had been so excited to hear what he told them about how the Holy Spirit had worked among the Gentiles. To then hear them express this concern must have hit him like a brick wall.

Like I said, Becoming is difficult.
The leaders were worried about Paul’s safety, just like all the other believers had been as Paul traveled to Jerusalem. However, the leaders had thought this through, they had a plan.

Oh no, humans plans.

They said to Paul, “There’s bound to be trouble. So here is what we want you to do: There are four men from our company who have taken a vow involving ritual purification, but have no money to pay the expenses. Join these men in their vows and pay their expenses. Then it will become obvious to everyone that there is nothing to the rumors going around about you and that you are in fact scrupulous in your reverence for the laws of Moses.”

Then they assured Paul saying,  “We’re not going back on our agreement regarding Gentiles who have become believers. We continue to hold fast to what we wrote to you about them.”

It still sounds fishy to me.
I agree Paul, but I guess that Becoming can sometimes seem a little fishy.

I wonder what went through Paul’s head when he heard the plan. Did his face get scrunched up in anger at this suggestion? Did his pride keep him from being silent and letting the Holy Spirit work in Him? After all, this was the same group that questioned his interaction with the Gentiles. But whatever he was thinking, in the end Paul did it—‘He took the men, joined them in their vows, and paid their way. The next day he went to the Temple to make it official and stayed there until the proper sacrifices had been offered and completed for each of them.’

Still sounds fishy to me.

[Acts 21:17-26]

MessageUncompromising Appeasement

Reformer Martin Luther summarized his objections to the religious institution of his day, as well as defining the reformation, on the latin words:

Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo gloria –

meaning, Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and giving glory to God alone.

This was the rock of his protest, and the reformers of his day and the days ahead. Oddly, however, many of the reformers, including Luther, hit a brick wall with others in the reformation movement when it came to the subject of infant baptism. Luther and many of his contemporaries could not accept the removal of infant baptism from their practices. They called for discipline, sometimes harsh discipline for those church leaders who refused to practice, what they saw as a practice that violated all the ‘Solas’ of the reformed foundation.

We, as humans, are very vulnerable to allowing things to divide us that really are not divisive elements of faith and practice. Or, at they shouldn’t be considered important enough to have the weight to divide.

On September 17, 1978, a historic three-way hand shake took place at the White House. It was historic because two of the hands in this shake were considered vengeful enemies. Their two nations, Israel and Egypt, had fought against each other in four wars over the previous three decades.

The setting for this handshake was to celebrate the signing of a historical agreement brokered between leaders Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin.  While little of the agreement came to fruition, we have seen, since the handshake no wars between their two countries.
The agreement was the product of a difficult thirteen days of negotiations, disagreements, and hesitant compromises. It was a formidable endeavor that almost fell apart on the third day due to the divisive issues, offenses, and fears of both men and their countries.  Up unto the actual handshake, President Carter and even the two men themselves did not know if they would shake hands.

Historian Dr. Martin Kramer believes it was the common parallels in the lives of the two men that enable them to move past the conflicts that were cemented into their psyche and history.

“The parallels in the lives of Sadat and Begin may have worked, in ways subtle but strong, in favor of an agreement. Here were two men forged by prison and violence into believers in their own destiny, but who had been written off politically for decades. By the time they came to power, they were in a hurry to achieve something that would transcend the legacies of their celebrated predecessors. Here were two men who believed their peoples were fated to struggle alone, but who were prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to cement relations with the US, in the interests of their peoples but also in order to shut the Soviet Union out of the Middle East. Here were two men who did not shy away from the bold gamble, and who actually saw a greater risk in inaction. And above all, here were two men possessed not only by a strong sense of peoplehood, but of its geography, which they conceived in ways that left no overlapping territorial claims.”
Dr. Martin Kramer

When God called Abraham to leave his extended family and home land it was a call to let go of the false idols he, and his family worshipped. The stone sculptures of false gods they worshipped were also a bedrock of their lives – building these idols was their vocation.  To accept God’s call, Abraham had to let go of a ‘deal breaker’ object, a literal false god, that could have been thought too important to release. When the idol maker Demetrius recognized the words of the apostle Paul were a direct threat to his vocation of building idols to false gods, Demetrius refused to release the idols. Instead, he used the grip others had on these idols, for various reasons, to stir up a violent crowd.

Letting go of those things that divide us from others, things that we hold as essential element, things which are actually of no value, letting go of those items, beliefs, agendas, opinions, interpretations, teachings, those things that been us apart are difficult to release. As a result their is much division in humanity and within Christianity that divide a people that are called to unity.

So, when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, the believers there were excited to see him but they also carried concerns of problems with folks that were still carrying false idols. The believers knew of Paul’s teachings on faith, they had heard of the miraculous work of the Spirit among the Gentiles, and they were not in opposition to any of that. However, there was a problem in Jerusalem. There were those who saw Paul’s ministry as rejecting all elements of his Jewish roots. There had been talk that he had even rejected the importance of Moses. These were true believers, who were on a journey of faith alone, however, the ritual practices of their faith were still meaningful and comforting to them. Their holding on to these practices was not, to them, a reliance on actions and works instead of faith. They were practices that that did not conflict with the teachings of Christ, practices that allowed them to better understand event he teaching of Jesus. The leaders were concerned that for Paul, his teachings on the law, would be a hammer, used to attack, to divide, to keep Paul from walking  alongside the believers in Jerusalem.

We have churches across our city and country that refuse to interact with each other due to differing views on women preachers, LGTBQ understandings, baptism, social justice, communion, practices, politics and a host of others things. The problem is that when we hold on to those beliefs that become stone idols which divide us, we fail to recognize the utter irrelevance they have to our call to love God and love others. Instead of pursuing to know truth, we grasp the idols even tighter and permit them to divide.

Paul, who had ceased to observe many of the practices his past religious understanding, recognized that these were not important enough to hold on to them. We appeased the church leaders, without compromise, and was present and supportive. He didn’t let this false issue be what kept him from being a light to the believers and non-believers in Jerusalem.

The key to letting go of false beliefs and incorrect Christian understanding, was that Paul did not see those of other faiths as his enemies or as enemies of Christianity. Paul had a parallel connection with the Jewish institution and the Jewish people, these were his people. The fact that they saw Christianity as another religion rather than the continued promise of their Abrahamic shared tradition was heart breaking to him. He didn’t love them in order to convince them, he loved them which caused him to passionately care about them. Paul didn’t have a need to ‘win’, he had a let his love flow. He never quit viewing this, or any others faiths, as beloved.  To Paul, they were not the enemy.

Of most all religions of this world, especially the three primary religions that share the ancestor Abraham, there is a shared emphasis of love, a common teaching of ‘do unto others as you want them to do unto you.’

“The principle of treating others the same way one wold like to be treated is echoed in at least twelve regions of the world. ‘Others’ transcend gender, race, class, sexual orientation or caste. Whoever and whatever the ‘other’ is, she has to be treated with dignity, kindness, love, and respect. In African communitarian spirituality, this is well expressed in the Ubuntu religious and ethical ideal of ‘I am because you are, and sincere are, therefore I am.’ – a mandate based on the reality of our being interconnected and interdependent as creation. Therefore, pain caused to one is pain shared by all.”
Fulata Moyo
It all comes back to the most important factor and motivator in, and of, our faith – Love. Love and Others. Others and Love. Love that allows us to embrace without compromise, love that enables us to appease others in the auspices of our faith.

“Is Christian faith primarily about being Christian or is it about becoming truly human?” and “How does loving Jesus equip me to love those who do not love him the way I do?”
Barbara Brown Taylor
Let’s Pray

Music

Mighty To Save
CCLI Song # 4591782
Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan
Saviour you can move the mountains
You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
You rose and conquered the grave
Conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Ev’rything I believe in
Now I surrender

Saviour you can move the mountains
You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
You rose and conquered the grave
Conquered the grave
So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Ev’rything I believe in
Now I surrender

Saviour you can move the mountains
You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
You rose and conquered the grave
Conquered the grave
You have conquered the grave

Benediction

Once again, it is time to go.

Time to go out from here and into the marketplace.

Time to go into the city square.

Time to go.

Time to go to among believers of Jesus who look and act differently than us.

Believers who think differently than us.
And, some who are not believers at all.

In the midst of all of that, we don’t enter with judgment or condemnation, we enter to be uncompromisingly transformed, we enter as part of our journey to Become.

We remember to not, “act as though we know it all and we don’t say others are foolish”

We remember Paul’s words, “I have become all things to all people.”

We remember that we are all descendants of God, we go among friends, we go among family.
We go in grace.

We go in Peace.
We go in Love.

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. Let’s go, let’s go, not amongst enemies with whom we battle, but in the midst of our created brothers and sisters as light that shines in the darkness. Let’s go, let’s go held by the embrace of grace, the comfort of peace, the confidence of joy, the proof of love, and confidence of hope. Let’s go!

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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