Order, Words, & Voices 10.16.22

Order, Words, & Voices

10.16.22 A Messy Faith (Judges 11:29-40)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: Lynn

Blessed Be The Name of the Lord 

Standing on the Promises v 1, 3

Call to Worship and Lord’s Prayer Pettys

Reading Pettys

Song: Lynn

One thing remains

I Need Thee Every Hour vs 1, 3

Message Messy Faith Rick

(Leave the Messy Faith Slide on screen share for entirety of message)

Song: Lynn

I Surrender All vs 1,4

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voice

Music

Blessed be Your name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Verse 2

Blessed be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name

Pre-Chorus

Ev’ry blessing You pour out I’ll

Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in Lord

Still I will say

Chorus

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Verse 3

Blessed be Your name

When the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s all as it should be

Blessed be Your name

Verse 4

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Bridge

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Verse 1

Standing on the promises 

of Christ my King

Through eternal ages 

let His praises ring

Glory in the highest I will shout and sing

Standing on the promises of God

Chorus

Standing standing

Standing on the promises of God my Savior

Standing standing

I’m standing on the promises of God

Verse 2

Standing on the promises I now can see

Perfect present cleansing in the blood for me

Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free 

Standing on the promises of God

Chorus

Standing standing

Standing on the promises of God my Savior

Standing standing

I’m standing on the promises of God

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer

Welcome to those online and those in person with us this Sunday. God’s word reminds us continually of God’s character, the life of Jesus shows us, in real time, the love of the Father, God’s Spirit consistently challenges us to trust God’s power, might, love, and grace.  God uses flawed humans, humans such as us. God’s call promises us God’s presence even when we do not see the evidence. God calls us to lay down pride and arrogance and exchange them both for humility and holiness. Join me as we pray to God, the God of truth.

(Slides) Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our trespasses, while we forgive those who trespass against us.

And God, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading [No Slides]

Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through the promised land on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, whatever comes out of the doors of my house shall be the Lord’s, and will be offer it to God as a burnt offering.” 

So Jephthah crossed over to fight against the Ammonites and the Lord gave them into his hand. Jephthah inflicted a massive defeat against the Ammonites. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites.

After the battle, as Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah, his daughter, his only child, was the first to come out to meet her father with timbrels and dancing. When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Oh no! My precious daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.” 

The daughter said to him, “My father, now that the Lord has given you vengeance against your enemies, the Ammonites, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to the vow you made. Before you do fulfill the vow, first grant me two months, so that I may go and wander on the mountains while grieving my virginity with my companions.” 

Jephthah said, “Go,” and he sent her away for two months. So she departed with her companions. At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who sacrificed her according to the vow he had made. So there arose an Israelite custom that 40 for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Judges 11:29-40

Music [Slides]

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

(REPEAT)

Your love

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant in the trial and the change

One thing remains

One thing remains

Chorus

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

(REPEAT)

Your love

Verse 2

On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never ever have to be afraid

One thing remains

One thing remains

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

(REPEAT)

Your love

In death in life I’m confident and

Cover’d by the power of Your great love

My debt is paid there’s nothing that

Can separate my heart from Your great love

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

(REPEAT)

Your love

I need Thee every hour

Most gracious Lord

No tender voice like Thine

Can peace afford

I need Thee O I need Thee

Every hour I need Thee

O bless me now my Savior

I come to Thee

I need Thee every hour

In joy or pain

Come quickly and abide

Or life is vain

I need Thee O I need Thee

Every hour I need Thee

O bless me now my Savior

I come to Thee

Message – Messy Faith [Leave Messy Faith Slide on screen share for message]

A third grade Sunday School teacher asked her students to write a letter to God, a young student named Raphel asked God this.

Dear God, If you give me a Genie lamp like Aladdin, I will give you anything you want except for my money or my chess set.

Raphael, 3rd Grade

A response that is probably an assumed in many of our prayers.

In 312 AD, military leader Flavius Constantine I looked up and saw a cross in the sky emblazoned with the command, “By this sign, conquer!” He went on to become Caesar Constantine the Great leading armies into war under the banner of the cross of Christ. Once it became known that he now favored Chrisitanity those wanting to please and impress the emperor quickly made an expedient conversion to Christianity. Constantine outlawed crucifixion to honor the death of Jesus and made hanging the new official mode of execution. The empire could still dominate, victimize and terrorize, but it would do so in a way that “honored” Jesus. For many of the new converts influenced by Constantine, their faith became very messy, the mixing of their understanding of Christianity that came primarily  from Constantine’s action with the practices of their former pagan practices of faith. (Josh Way)

Faith can get messy fast. Take a bit of this and a full measure of that and soon you have unknowingly created your own unique faith. Albeit, all the elements are borrowed and mixed together, still it can easily become a faith that is not really dependent on a true God. Sometimes these self created faiths lead us to some great disappointments, frustrations, and moments of devastating defeat – while in the darkness, blinding us to our own messy faith.

Whether it be a third grader or a world leader, faith requires a constant openness and curiosity to the full truth of and about God.

A native American pastor friend speaks to his own broken heartedness due to the high suicide rates and drug and meth addictions and deaths in his tribal communities. He tells of the messiness he encounters in the faith of his people. A messiness that is less about their tribal religious customs and more about the impact of the hand of the white christians that have touched and harmed his people for centuries. Revelations upon revelations of actions, such as the Boarding School graves recently found, that do not match up with the God of Love he tells them about. It is messy and it is confusing, and the impact is devastating.

We all have this messiness in our faith. Truths that are missed because of wrong teachings mixed with our own life lessons learned by the lives of those we allow to influence us. 

Our story today is a story of a messy faith on the part of a father and his daughter. A messy faith that leads both into suffering and pain.

The father was named Jephthah, a man who would be a judge in the time between Joshua and the Kings. A descendant of Joseph, Jephthah’s father was a member of the tribe of Manasseh, yet Jephthah belonged nowhere. 

  • Jephthah was a product of childhood trauma, abused by his own siblings who banished and disinherited him because his mother was a prostitute. His faith was shaped by the stories of the victorious faith of his ancestors, stories of a God who rescued and led, stories that collided with his reality of rejection from his own family. His faith was blurry.
  • Jephthah, as a young teen, possibly even as an adolescent, he was left to life on his own. He gathered a group of men like himself, misfits and rejects. Together they shaped a life, a family, for themselves – they became self made warriors taking what they needed while becoming a military force to be reckoned with. His faith was in survival.
  • As Jephthah’s reputation began to rise, his own brothers and their tribe began to sink. The armies of the Ammorites were preparing for a strike on the Israelites, an attack that would bring calamity on the tribe of Manasseh. The brothers too had learned of Jephthah’s growing skill of fighting and for leading a group of warriors so they went to Jephthah begging for his help. Their heads hung low recognizing the shame of their past abuse in light of their current desperation. Jephthah’s faith was now vindication.
  • Jephthah does not bitterly reject them leaving them to defeat, instead he seeks revenge, not just against the enemies of his people but also against the arrogance of his own family. He agrees to lead their armies but only on the condition that he will be their leader even after his victory on the battle field. A condition that is accepted. Jephthah faith is now in earthly power.
  • Jephthah shows an amazing understanding of the facts of God’s working among his own people. He remembers the battles that God led the Isrealites to fight, he remembers the history of past battles for the promised land, and the full details of the new inhabitants along the way – who took the land from who long before the Isrealites even arrived. He knows of God’s might but he has failed to understand the heart of God. He does not know the compassionate God who despised the evil religious practices of abuse, human sacrifice, and brutality in the acts of worship of the former inhabitants of the promised land. Jephthah’s faith is one of dominion.
  • God’s Spirit moves Jephthah to war, filling him with the power to fight and the power to lead. God is present with Jephthah, a call from God to battle is an assurance of victory – yet Jephthah foolishly needs more. In his exuberance for the battle and a reliance still on his own strength, he make an ‘if/then’ vow, a promise to God. He promises God, the God who is leading him into a battle and a victory, Jephthah promises to sacrifice whatever, or whoever, comes from his house to greet him after the battle is complete. His faith is now messy.
  • After the war, as Jephthah can see his home, the first to run from the house is his daughter, his only child running to him rejoicing in his victory and return. Jephthah’s faith was flattened, lost.

Later, in the time of the prophets, the prophet Hosea would sum up Jephthah’s problem in one sentence from God, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

This was a time of celebration, instead it became a moment of regret. It was an opportunity for humility and repentance, instead it became an unholy call for pride and arrogance. Instead of recognizing his own failings, his own lack of understanding of God and God’s leading, Jephthah responded to this devastating moment by casting blame onto his beloved daughter. 

“Why were you the first one out of the door?!” he screamed.

Jephthah’s daughter’s response is equally troubling, she seemingly accepts her unvoiced fate without questions. This may have been that she was accustomed to her dad’s impulsive statements always knowing that they eventually would harm her. It may be that she had fully accepted the messy faith of her father and therefore this made sense. It could have been that she now considered her own sacrifice made victory possible by her faith. Her response was not to investigate options, to search for truth and see if this was really expected by God – instead she chose to grieve for herself and the life she would not be permitted to live.

It is a horrendous event which surprisingly met with no resistance or doubt. It would make sense for the daughter to submissively accept her fate knowing the lack of personhood that women held. However, Jephthah could have known and done better instead of repeating his own heritage of being the victim of abuse. He could have gone to God instead of pridefully hanging onto his messy faith.

It is a tragic story but not an irrelevant story to us today. We too are still vulnerable to the risk of a messy faith. While we focus on other beliefs, other traditions, even other Christians and their practices, we fail to see and recognize the most powerful influence that mess up our faith. Social Scientists are now saying that credible research is showing that for the first time in our country politics and politicians have an inordinate influence on our faith. While, at past times faith influenced our politics, now we are in an unprecedented time when our politics hold greater influence over our faith. Pastors, and religious leaders, now report individuals seeking to know more about their church or ministry, the questions are now primarily political and only marginally theological. 

Politicians and their supportive pundits, slanted cable and internet news services, political agenda groups using religious language with limited credible scripture, false prophets dressed as religious leaders, and lazy believers that listen only to what they have been told to hear and to believe only that which they have been told to believe, all are allowed, by us, to keep us in the dark – to make an evil mess of our faith.

While a large portion of believers fall into this trap, an increasingly large number of believers are, instead, choosing to walk away from their faith. Walking away because they recognize the answers they receive offer no relief in their reality.  They are finding that efforts to answer their questions offer little condolence or hope.

Sometimes we have to realize that there is not always an answer but, instead, our question provides an avenue. In the story of Jephthah’s daughter we are left hanging, the question of ‘Why did God not stop this?” remains unanswered. Maybe it is not meant to be answered, maybe it is a call to look seriously at our faith, to critique our own investment, or lack thereof, in our knowledge of God, to weed out the false teachings that have been ingrained in our thinking – maybe an unanswered question is a platform pushing us to seek God with a greater veracity. To eliminate the wrong that we are believing and to replace it with the truth of our graceful, compassionate, merciful, grieving God.

Practicing Jews still lament the death of Jephthah’s daughter yearly. In one traditional means of lament they listen to and voice the following words –

‘She has no name, has neither face nor eyes for they were burnt by fire. She sought her beloved but found him not, no kisses, no child, she is the song of nothingness. She loved her father, a great mighty warrior. She ran after his love, she praised, she danced, but he responded with anger. He said she hurt him, she caused him grief. He raised the knife, she lay on stone.  Her father will die at a good old age – where was the angel to stop his hand. Where was the sacred messenger? Who is this God. why does he hide, can he hear her cries, does he see her tears?’

We face the same questions, we are uncomfortable with the unanswering voice – the daughter was a victim of her earthly father’s messy faith. The same messiness that still is allowed to exist in our faith today, permitted to enter in, to mix with the God of truth, and to hide the God of presence. The story of Jephthah is a story of believer’s failure to seek and know God beyond the pages of a man made tract, or an human created theory of end times, it is a failure to understand the God of correction and instead replace him with acts of earthly dominion and human strategized victory. It is a confrontation of the unholiness that exists and influences our own faith. And the question for us, as we recount this story, falls in the ending of the lament of the women’s death.

‘From the forest of our lives into the clearing, rain falls on the mountaintop

soaking the wordless stone on which she died, year after year, like the truth of her tears. Will the pain be acknowledge, will the cries be heard?’

We are confronted with the challenge to our faith see, will we see and hear as God sees and listens?’

Thousands of years later the question still hangs in this moment. Will we see the rain falling, seeking to wash away the unholy messiness, allowing us to see the painful impacts of our own messy faith. Will their moments, will those moments hidden from our sight, lead us to address our messy faith?

Music  [No Slides]

Verse 1

All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

Chorus

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee my blessed Savior

I surrender all

Verse 4

All to Jesus I surrender

Lord I give myself to Thee

Fill me with Thy love and power

Let Thy blessing fall on me

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee my blessed Savior

I surrender all

Community [Slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday,Guest Speaker Stephen Reeves, Executive Director Fellowship Southwest
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Continues this Wed, October 19 (I Peter 3)
  • [Slide] Cleveland County Crop Walk, Today, Sunday October 16 @ 1:30pm, locally and globally , register at Crop walk at Andrews Park
  • CBF Celebrating Excellence Dinner next Sunday evening (Sam Noble Museum), We have table with 6 (free) seats available, speak with Rick if interested in attending. Speaker Paul Baxley Executive Coordinator for CBF

Closing Peace [Slide]

May the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction [Slide]

“Depart now in the fellowship of God the Father and as you go, remember: By the goodness of God you were born into this world. And by the grace of God you have been kept even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed even as you are being redeemed. So go in peace.”

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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