Order, Voices, Words

June 26, 2022

Pre-Worship Audio (SLIDE 1)

Call to Worship (SLIDE 2)                   Hannah (online)

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

George MacDonald

Songs  (23 Slides)

Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

Praise is rising

Eyes are turning to You

We turn to You

Hope is stirring

Hearts are yearning for You

We long for You

‘Cause when we see You

We find strength to face the day

In Your presence

All our fears are washed away

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of

Hearts returning to You

We turn to You

In Your Kingdom

Broken lives are made new

You make us new

‘Cause when we see You

We find strength to face the day

In Your presence

All our fears are washed away

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Friend of God

Who am I that You are mindful of me

That You hear me when I call

Is it true that You are thinking of me

How You love me it’s amazing

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me

That You hear me when I call

Is it true that You are thinking of me

How You love me it’s amazing

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

God Almighty

Lord of Glory

You have called me friend

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

Prayer  (1 Slide)          Kristin

Scripture  (6 Slides)

Genesis 3:6-13, 21-22

 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 

Acts 4:32-5:11

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the salesand put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Film Clip  (1 Slide)

Response  (1 Slide)     Kristin

Consider the file drawer of your life. Think of all the things it might contain. Your joys and highlights. A childhood of friends and school, lessons, and laughter. It also contains sadness and loss. Moments of pain. We access these as needed. We tell stories. We relate wisdom. We relive times with those who are gone. A file drawer exists in our minds and in God.

But what about those files we don’t like to consider. Our shortcomings. Words said in anger. Actions done in haste. Secret sins we don’t want anyone to know about. While we know in our minds that God is aware, do we ever consider what that means for us? If God knows all the hidden files, how can God still love you? If God has access to our petty ways, hidden even from our own selves, is it possible for us to be used by God?

I invite you to pause. Let’s take moment of silence together and as we finish I will step aside and ask Andrew to pray for us. In silence we are often confronted by our sins and we avoid those places. Today, let us linger and consider what it means that God has welcomed us and loved us, even knowing the files we keep hidden. This minute may feel like an hour, but I invite you into the space where God knows all about you and loves you still. Welcome into the still and silent space before God.

Prayer   Andrew  (online)

Songs  (31 Slides)

Build Your Kingdom Here

Come set Your rule and reign

In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray

Unveil why we’re made

Come set our hearts ablaze with hope

Like wildfire in our very souls

Holy Spirit come invade us now

We are Your church

We need Your pow’r in us

We seek Your kingdom first

We hunger and we thirst

Refuse to waste our lives

For You’re our joy and prize

To see the captives’ hearts released

The hurt the sick the poor at peace

We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause

We are Your church

We pray revive this earth

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here we pray

Unleash Your kingdom’s pow’r

Reaching the near and far

No force of hell can stop

Your beauty changing hearts

You made us for much more than this

Awake the kingdom seed in us

Fill us with the strength and love of Christ

We are Your church

We are the hope on earth

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here we pray

You Are Good

Lord You are good

And Your mercy endureth forever

(Repeat)

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

Lord You are good

And Your mercy endureth forever

(Repeat)

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

Yes You are

Yes You are

Yes You are

So good so good

Yes You are

Yes You are

Yes You are

You are good all the time

All the time You are good

You are good all the time

All the time You are good

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

For who You are

For You are good

Message   (SLIDE Number 64)            “Let’s Get Real”                      Kristin

Welcome back to the early days of the church. Last week we were reminded of the coming of the Spirit, with its blessing of diversity and welcome of all people. God recognized and sent the message of good news to all people present in their own languages, thus blessing them right where they were. The very first sermon quoted those words from Amos,

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
1Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

It’s a message that is sometimes lost to us, but it is essential that we remember the church was given, from the start to men and women, young and old, and people of all nations. It was given to people in whatever condition they were currently in: young or old; slave or free; male or female. No one had to change who they were to receive the Spirit; they merely had to change their heart to follow God rather than themselves. You may recall that the first act of the Spirit to invite people in was to speak to them in their own heart language. Come as you are! God welcomes you just as you are!

Since we last saw the early church it has begun to thrive. Peter preached a very long sermon on Pentecost, thus giving all preachers the authority to preach for far too long! Three thousand people heard the message and joined the Kingdom. (1 SLIDE) Acts 2:42-47 describes a community which cares for one another deeply and sacrificially. This community experiences the awe and wonder of miracles on a regular basis. These are miracles of healing, release from prison, and the unification of diverse people in the worship of one God. It surely is a miracle that all these people have managed, through the work of the Spirit, to live in this interwoven fashion. And more people are joining their ranks daily. (Slide 66 leave up for the rest of the sermon)

One of the people who joins the movement is Joseph. Joseph, who the disciples have renamed Barnabas, is the first non-disciple we meet in Acts. He is an important figure in the early church. It is Barnabas who first brings Paul to meet the disciples. They are, of course, fearful to meet this man who has been persecuting the church and they don’t trust his motives. Barnabas was the first to trust Paul’s conversion and bring him into the fold. The friendship of these two men was sealed and they traveled together extensively to share the good news. It was only a disagreement over another disciple, John Mark, that led them to travel separately. John Mark had not been as dedicated to the traveling and Paul was ready to leave him behind. Barnabas insisted that he be allowed to come back and so the friends split, Barnabas and John Mark going one way and Paul another. Barnabas had a quality that allowed him to see the possibilities in people, to believe that God could use anyone, even someone who once threatened the church. He could bring people together and work toward common goals. It was this quality that led to his name change. Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement,” was a name given to express how the disciples felt about him.

We are introduced to Barnabas first as a person of generosity. Acts 4 tells us that he sold a field he owned and laid the money for that field at the apostles’ feet. It would be used to support those in need. As the scripture explains, people would do this from time to time. His actions are held up as an example to us and to these first believers. Barnabas is an encourager in his words and his actions.

Barnabas is such a good example that we are immediately introduced to a couple who imitate him. They too sell a field which they own, bringing the money to lay at the apostles’ feet. What they do differently from Barnabas is to keep back a portion of the funds from the sale, leaving only a portion to give to the church.

You may ask, what’s so wrong with that? Wasn’t the money theirs to share as they please? Apparently, it was. Peter says this very thing to Ananias. “What this field yours before it was sold? And wasn’t the money from the sale at your disposal?” When Peter later questions Sapphira about the matter, he questions her on the amount of the sale to see if she will corroborate this story that the offering they brought was the full proceeds from the sale. From our position 2000 years down the road, it’s a bit murky what the problem was. While it isn’t completely clear if the issue is lying about the sale price, or if it is keeping some for themselves, we can say for sure that the deception is the issue. Peter tells Ananias he has lied to both humans and to God. He tells Sapphira that she has tested the Spirit of the Lord. It is not the money, but the lie, which condemns them. It is a lie born from a desire to imitate the faith of Barnabas, to receive the same accolades as he by declaring they have acted as he did. They are wearing a Barnabas mask instead of coming to God just as they are.

Consider again that early church, where each one has been welcomed as they are. While God is working on them in their hearts and spirits, there is no requirement that the believers meet a set of guidelines dictating their every action. The church is still working out what it means to belong, but they are quite clear that the Spirit has invited in an amazing diversity of people. And so, the gifts of each person are celebrated. While Paul has not yet written 1 Corinthians 12, these words are born out of those early church years.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Ananias and Sapphira have compared their offering to what Barnabas offered. Knowing it was different, yet desiring to exhibit the same devotion as he, they have come with their gift under false pretenses. They have come in deception. And who have they tried to deceive? Not just humans, but God.

This couple we find at the creation of the church has a lot in common with another biblical couple. Adam and Eve, the husband and wife we find at the creation of the world, also attempt to deceive God. After eating from the tree at the center of the garden, they suddenly discovered their own shortcomings. They realized they were naked, that something was missing, and they hastened to find leaves and skins to cover up. This attempt at deceiving God worked about as well for them as it did for Ananias and Sapphira. God immediately calls them out on their lie.

These two couples have another common experience. These couples, given the chance to reply as individuals before God, choose instead to go along with each other, to continue in the lie as a couple. When God asks Adam if he has eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree, Adam exclaims that his wife made him do it. Eve blames the snake. Sapphira is given the opportunity to answer on her own for her actions. She sticks to the story her husband gave.

There is no way for us to determine from this brief passage if Sapphira was culturally obligated to agree with her husband. There were more restrictive expectations for women socially and politically at that time. It’s clear from Paul’s writings that the man was considered the head of the household, and of the wife. This structure was common to Roman households. But recent investigations show greater opportunities for independence with the Greco-Roman social system than we once believed. Even married women could inherit and run businesses and retain the money they earned in that business. Within the New Testament, we have plenty of evidence that women were free to lead churches, support disciples, and even serve as deacons. Joanna, from Luke 8:3, is the wife of Chuza, a property manager for Herod. Joanna opted to follow Jesus and help support his needs, leaving Chuza at home. It isn’t clear if Chuza approves or not, but Joanna is honored for her work. Phoebe and Lydia are both leaders of local churches and recognized by Paul as such. Priscilla and her husband, Aquilla, co-lead a church and when they are mentioned, she is mentioned first, indicating leadership. Euodia and Syntyche are named as church leaders in Philippi. Tabitha, whom we will discuss next week, is named as a deacon. It’s safe to assume that there are multiple ways that husbands and wives, men and women, can relate in the New Testament.

In the same way that no one can generalize how marital relationships work in our culture, we cannot generalize how Sapphira relates to Ananias.  No one can say for sure if she was forced to submit to him and back him up. As we have seen, there was opportunity for women in their culture to express their independence and perhaps she is doing just that by choosing to agree with her husband. What we do know for certain is that she had “full knowledge” of Ananias’ actions. Given the chance to independently tell the truth, to stand on her own before Peter, she opts instead to go along with her husband. Her loyalty to him takes precedence over her loyalty to God. And Peter, upon hearing her give the same response as her husband had done, cries out, asking how she could conspire with him in this deception. She is judged on her own actions, not on those of her husband. Adam couldn’t fall back on blaming Eve. Eve couldn’t fall back on the snake. Neither can we blame Ananias for Sapphira’s choice to join him in the deception.

The outcome for Ananias and Sapphira is the same as it was for Adam and Eve: death. While discussing this difficult passage with my own pastor, he suggested, tongue in cheek, that I title this sermon, “You lie, you die.” Obviously, I went another direction! But it is true that the consequence of their deception of God was death. For Adam and Eve, death wasn’t instant, but death entered into the human story from that moment. For Ananias and Sapphira, death is instant.

Let’s pause for just a moment and recognize that this passage is quite difficult. I firmly believe that Rick and Andrea left town during this time just so he could avoid preaching on this. Most everyone reads this passage and is immediately thinking, “What on earth? God killed them for something so small as a few bucks?” Read carefully with me. Nowhere does it say that God struck them down. Nor does it say that Peter killed them. The sentence reads, “When Ananias heard this, he fell down dead.” Sapphira hears that her husband died, and she will as well, and “At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.” I am hesitant to assign blame to God for their deaths because that’s not how this sentence reads. It’s not that Luke is afraid to assign divine blame for deaths. In Acts 12:23 we read that “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Neither God, nor the angel of the Lord, is held responsible for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. It is, rather, a reaction to being caught out in their own deception.

There is a lesson for us here, perhaps symbolic, but still useful. Masking ourselves before God brought death to this couple, and to all of us through Adam and Eve. Jesus came to defeat death, opening the door for us to be fully present with God, as ourselves. Covering up, masking up, being someone whom we are not before God is a return to that state of sin and separation. Our attempts to deceive others and God result in our death. It may not be as dramatic or instant as Ananias and Sapphira, but we experience a separation between ourselves and God. That is the death of a relationship, a death of our self-worth. There is a division that comes between us and others when we weave in deception. Someone shared a quote with me this week, from an unknown source. It says, “We don’t suffer for our sins, but because of them.” The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are a great example of this. Because of their deception, they suffered a death of communion with God and others.

And why did they choose to lie? Perhaps they felt that their acceptance wasn’t certain unless they could offer to the congregation what Barnabas did. Their deception may have come from shame, a shame that they couldn’t share as much as he did. The juxtaposition of these two stories may be more than simply a good and bad example. It may be a lesson to us tied back to the Pentecost story. God welcomes us as we are, in whatever condition we come. Our circumstances are well known to God. Our stories, our homes, our histories, our needs, our cultures, all the things that we come with are a part of the great diversity of the humanity which God created. Consider that at its core, the issue here is that they have broken the two greatest commandments. They were to love God with all of their heart, mind, and soul, yet they hid themselves from God, lying to God about their offering. And they neglected to love and value themselves as they loved others. They created a false image, covering their shame just as Adam and Eve covered theirs, creating a deadly break.

When we think we aren’t enough, when we start trying to be like others to please God, we lose ourselves. We die to all that God has made us to be. We die to the possibilities that God created for us within our own communities, cutting ourselves off from all God has for us. Consider Peter, the leader of this new movement, who never was one to hide behind a mask. He said whatever came to his mind, he betrayed Jesus before the crucifixion, he rushed fearlessly into all sorts of situations. He was an imperfect man. Peter was always just exactly who he appeared to be, and God was able to use him as he was, to mold Peter and help him become all God meant for him to be. His example to us is that we can love all of whom God made us to be, creating an opening for God to mold and shape us, making us better able to love and serve others.

It may be that we are not yet all we wish to be, that we are striving to be more like Barnabas or Paul or Lydia or Esther. What great examples they give us, with worthy goals to strive for in our lives! But for today, right now, let’s strive to love God and ourselves openly and fully. When we love ourselves with an honest love, we see all the great possibilities for God to work in us and through us. By loving ourselves honestly, we can agree with God on things that need to improve within us. This is what God asks, that we live fully into the people God has created us to be, striving to be more Christ-like each day, and living honestly together in the Kingdom.

Musical Response  (Four Slides)
Just As I Am

Just as I am without one plea

But that Thy Blood was shed for me

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee

O Lamb of God I come I come

Just as I am Thou wilt receive

Wilt welcome pardon cleanse relieve

Because Thy Promise I believe

O Lamb of God I come I come

Community  (no slide)   Kristin

Passing the Peace  (1 slide)   Kristin

Peace before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet.

Peace within us,
Peace over us,
Let all around us be peace.

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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