Order, Words, & Voices 08.01.21

Order

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

Spotify – Calm Jazz

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:15)

  • Call to Worship 

It’s Time To Worship (Chris McClarney | Mitch Wong | Jessie Early)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer Rick
  • Music Abbie

He Walks With Me Daniel Towner | John Henry Sammis

  • Story  (No Slides except title) Peyton & Cricklins
  • Music

He Lives Alfred Henry Ackley

  • Message ‘Paths and Protocols’   Rick
  • Music

Thy Word Michael W Smith | Amy Grant

#2 TWO Video Community (1:49)

  • Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

Community:

Live

  • Benediction         Peyton & Cricklins
  • Sharing the Peace       Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify Calm Jazz

Voices & Words

#1 ONE Video #1

Song – It’s Time To Worship (Chris McClarney | Mitch Wong | Jessie Early)

Live/OnLine

  • Prayer

God, 

We were created by you for your purposes.

Remind us of that truth as we slip back into our own selfish purposes.

As we interpret the events of life in regard to ourselves instead of to you.

Lord, confront us when we interpret you in light of our agenda and plans. 

Confront us when we interject our selfishness into your grace.

May we cheerfully walk in your joy as we lay aside self and instead defer to your path for us.

God, may you remind us of the compassion, mercy, and love, you breathed into us at our creation.

Amen.

Music

When We Walk With The Lord (Trust And Obey)

CCLI Song # 22094

Daniel Brink Towner | John Henry Sammis

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Not a shadow can rise
Not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt nor a fear
Not a sigh nor a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do
Where He sends we will go
Never fear only trust and obey

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Our Story

The apostle Paul was rescued from a small group of hostile Jews, Paul considered all Jews to be his people. A small extremist group of Jews was resolute on stopping Paul from continuing on God’s path from telling his story. His rescue placed him in a jail cell where God told him to ‘Cheer Up.’ 

I think if I was sitting in a jail cell after being attacked by my own people and then someone told me to ‘Cheer Up’ I would be tempted to slap them.

But this was God, God can say that.

True.

In fact, if God says ‘Cheer Up’ there must be something more to those simple words than we think.

It almost seems like God is telling Paul to pretend, to do something that is not true. Paul had to be depressed and despondent, how could he then pretend to be cheerful?

Oddly, only 7 days after God gave the ‘Be Cheerful’ talk, Paul says that he actually is cheerful.

Paul said this after he had heard the accusations the lawyer Tertullus presented to the governor Felix. This was on behalf of the High Priest and a small group of Jewish leaders, Tertullus accused Paul of trying to stir up a rebellion, of being part of an illegal religious sect, and of defiling the temple.

It just takes a small group to make false accusations for unfounded conspiracies to become viral, to defame the Holy, and to destroy something good for others. Those small groups are on the fringes of all groups, including religious groups, including Christians.

Yes, so while many Jews were interested in what Paul was saying and teaching, this small group sought to keep everyone from the choice of listening to Paul. The objections were not from all Jews but an extreme fringe element of Jews that had forgotten the basic elements of their faith – like, do not murder and to love. Of course, the real danger with these extreme groups, is when others listen to them without evaluation or investigation. Like the crowds ultimate response to Jesus during Holy Week.

Paul’s journey was not to end in Jerusalem, or Caesarea. Paul’s path continued on to Rome. After all, his mission was to speak to the Gentiles. Rome was the perfect place for such a mission.

It kind of all began while Paul was jailed in Ceasarea, it was there that he had his first official speaking opportunity before a Roman official, the brutal Gentile, former slave, and determined Antisemite governor named Felix.

Paul opened with the words, “I cheerfully make my defense.”

That was a great way to start. I bet that got the attention of everyone in the room.

Then Paul began his defense. “You can quickly discover that it was no more than twelve days ago that I arrived in Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, and you will discover that I have never incited a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of any city; and my accusers certainly cannot prove the things they say I did.

Pretty bold so far.

He not only sounds Cheery, Courageous, and Comfortable, he sounds very Confident.

The he added, “But one thing I do confess is that I believe in the way of salvation, which they refer to as a sect; I follow that system of serving the God of our ancestors; I firmly believe in the Jewish law and everything written in the books of prophecy; and I believe, just as these men do, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and ungodly.”

That may have been a little contentious.

I’m sure, if there were any Sadducees in the group, they had sour looks on their faces.

Paul closed with these words, “I try with all my strength to always maintain a clear conscience before God and man. I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid the Jews during the famine and to offer a sacrifice to God. I had gone through the required process of purification. Basically, their complaint against me is that I believe that the dead will rise again!’”

I would have loved to be in that room. What could they do with Paul’s defense. That was Paul’s true story, as he said, they couldn’t disprove what he was saying.

Paul definitely demonstrates what can happen in us even in the worst or times.

Paul was there to tell his story, to tell truth, and he did, and he would continue to tell it beyond Caesarea.

Music

He Lives

CCLI Song # 17597

Alfred Henry Ackley

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today
I know that He is living
Whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy
I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

In all the world around me
I see His loving care
And though my heart grows weary
I never will despair
I know that He is leading
Through all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing
Will come at last

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

Rejoice rejoice O Christian
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King
The Hope of all who seek Him
The Help of all who find
None other is so loving
So good and kind

He lives He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

Message ‘Paths and Protocols’

Let’s begin this morning with a very potent greek word. This word will be our starting word this morning as as we begin our look at the apostle Paul while he is at a low point. A low point marked by disappointment, disillusionment, frustration, confusion, isolation and undoubtedly real and intense human fear. The reality is, it is a time of real and imminent danger. I think it is a New Testament moment that has very obvious Old Testament equivalent moment. Here we have the apostle Paul in a prison, in the Old Testament we have the prophet Elijah huddled in the back of a cave. It is a moment where both men have been faithful, yet now sat rejected, both had brazenly and publicly followed their God, yet now both were being savagely hunted down by hostile haters. In this moment, both men heard from God. 

To Elijah God asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”(I Kings 19:9)

But, to Paul, God said, “Cheer Up, Paul.” (Acts 23:11)

Can you imagine, sitting in prison after being threatened by a small group of your own people who vowed to kill you? Can you imagine chained because a small group of the leaders of the religion you faithfully followed since your birth now affirmed the vigilantes seeking your death? Can you imagine the response from God, in your moment of crisis, saying to you, “Cheer Up!”?

Θάρσει

Pronounced in English – Thar – Say

Say it with me – THAR – SAY, one more time.

Now, never say it again!

Not Human Word. Why? Because it is not a human word, the very saying of the word is a summoning up of power. Not something evil like the forbidden word in Harry Potter, but a word that strengthens, a word that encourages, a word that changes our inward and outward being, a word that is not only used as a verb but is, in its very letters, a verb, an action. On only 4 occasions in the New Testament do we see this word or it variant. Each time it is an imperative that calls for a human action which is only possible in the presence of a Holy Empowerment.

The use of this God Word carries with it a meaning of Cheer Up, Be Courageous, Be at Comfort. However, it is not just a group of letters that are voiced but it comes with action and an emboldenment. It is said, only to those most desperate, and those who are prepared to receive it and throughout whatever else follows.

God says to an imprisoned, rejected, endangered, and despondent man –

“Cheer Up, Be Courageous, Be Comforted! You will have to tell your story/My story in Rome, you are not finished!” (Acts 23:11)

Not only is it a word that only God can say, it is also a word that can only be said when humans can say nothing of consequence or rescue. Times of a paralyzed man who only had the physical power of friends who had no words – to him Jesus said ‘Take Heart’ (Matthew 9:2). Or when the woman, who had been suffering a 12 year continuous period, pushed her way through a crowd who knew only to silently avoid her, to her Jesus said “Be Comforted” (Matthew 9:22). To Bartimeus, Jesus said through his disciples,  “Be Brave,” (Mark 10:49), and to his disciples who were sure they were seeing a ghost, Jesus said, “Take Courage” (Matthew 14:27).

About a week later, Paul was brought into the presence of the governor Felix. Also there was the Jewish High Priest who was named Ananias, a small group of other Jewish leaders, and their attorney, a guy named Tertullus who began to present the accusations against Paul. 

  1. Paul had created an uprising among the Jews, which was actually an uprising against the Roman government and even against Felix.
  1. Paul was a leader of the Nazarenes, who were a religious group that operated without government permission – therefore this was a dangerous group who held ambitions to rebel and overturn the Roman government and therefore were out to take down Felix.
  2. Paul had defiled the Holy Temple, which would destroy the delicate balance between the Jews and Rome, and therefore posed a threat to Felix.

Throughout all that Tertullus said, and through all the affirmations from the small group of Jews that supported the accusations, Paul sat silently and respectfully. He followed protocol of waiting his turn and until he was summoned by Felix, the governor, to speak. This was part of Paul’s path at this moment, his path had collided with a very different path, now, he was not in control, not he was not on his territory, now his path had placed him inside the realm of the oppressor which was currently filled with those wanted Paul to be stopped on his path.

Now, as Felix motioned to Paul, it was Paul’s turn to speak. 

Remember, the last engagement we had see involving Paul was the word he had received from God – Θάρσει [Thar – Say], a verb that only God could truly and effectively say.  Now, Paul begins with an adverb, εὐθύμως [You – Thoo – Mose].

“I cheerfully, make my defense” (Acts 24:10).

Is that how it works? God says “Cheer Up” and now Paul, fearfully claims to be courageous? Is this a ‘Say it, be It’ motivational ploy? Probably not. Paul has had a week to sit on God’s instruction to “Cheer Up.” He has had almost a full seven days to consider what his courage stands on, what his peace is grounded in, and what his comfort is settled by. He has possibly even had some moments, possibly brief, where he has actually felt cheery, peaceful, and comfortable. He has probably also had many moments when he was none of those things. But, in the time provided him on his path, the time that he has been able to sit silently, the time he has had moments to ponder – he has come to the conclusion that his cheer, his peace, his courage, his comfort, has nothing to do with humans who have no power over God’s imperative Θάρσει [Thar – Say]. So he has chosen εὐθύμως [You – Thoo – Mose]. In this he responds to these accusations which he has just heard for the first time.

  1. “I did not stir up a rebellion, and it cannot be proven by any of these making this accusation.”
  1. “Yes, I am a follower of the way, the group you know called Christians. However, this is not a new sect, or even an unsanctioned religion. It is a continuation of the same faith as my fellow Jews, that are in this room, also practice. It is the path of this faith I have practiced since birth. It is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, it is the pursuit of Moses, it is our deliverance.”
  1. “In no way did I defile the temple, in fact, I was there only after having gone through the actions of purification in order that I would not, indeed, defile that Holy Place.”
  1. “The only reason I am here, the only offense these men have against me, is that I believe in the resurrection, which is fully congruent with Jewish belief.”

Paul’s unique path had prepared him for this moment, it had prepared him for these accusations, it had prepared him for his own cheerful defense. 

“God, set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace. Of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But, God was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles.” (Galatians 1:13-16).

Is it possible that the time Paul spent between God saying “Cheer Up” and Paul saying “I cheerfully make my defense” was spent pondering his own path. Thinking through his entire life time line. A time spent seeing how everything in life had prepared and brought him to the point. Being born in Tarsus, being a Roman citizen, brought up as a greek speaking Jew, an unyielding passion for his Jewish faith and the promises of a redeemer, a trip to Damascus, a moment in Antioch, and so much more. Is it possible that Paul’s week between ‘Be Cheerful’ and ‘I Am Cheerful,’ involved a realization that, instead of regret, his path had prepared him for all that God needed in order to prepare him for the path.  Is is possible that Paul, in recognizing God’s presence throughout his path, good and bad, led Paul to a trust, a peace, a courage, a comfort, that was impossible before. 

Is it possible that our path has done the same? Is it possible that we can look back in order to confidently look forward?

Let’s Pray

Music

Thy Word

CCLI Song # 14301

Amy Grant | Michael W. Smith

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

When I feel afraid
And I think I’ve lost my way
Still You’re there right beside me
Nothing will I fear
As long as You are near
Please be near me to the end

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering
Jesus be my guide
And hold me to Your side
I will love You to the end

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path

#2 TWO Video Community

Song – Tenderness (Bensound)

Community      

Live & Online

Benediction

So it is time for us to go out, to go amongst the other descendants of God.

To join with the beloved of God, those He created, those He calls to His purpose..

To walk with God’s descendants as well as with his children.

It is time for us to look back at our path and recognize that God can be trusted with our path ahead.

It is time that we go out with God’s compassion.

It is time that we go out with God’s mercy.

It is time that we go out with Joy.

It is time that we go out with Peace.

t is time that we go out with Love.

Closing Peace

May the grace, peace, joy, love, and hope 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!

Closing Audio

Spotify Calm Jazz

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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