Order, Words, & Voices 11.06.22

Order, Words, & Voices

11.06.22.22  (I Samuel 2:1-10)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Lord’s Prayer

Opening Songs: Lynn

Trading my sorrows

Bless the lord

Call to Worship and Lord’s Prayer Steve

Reading Grace & Lily

Song: Lynn

We Fall Down with Holy holy holy

Message I Samuel 2:1-10 Rick

Song: Lynn

Take Time To Be Holy

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music

I’m trading my sorrows

I’m trading my shame

I’m laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness

I’m trading my pain

I’m laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord amen

I am pressed but not crushed

Persecuted not abandoned

Struck down but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse

For His promise will endure

That His joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow 

may last for the night

His joy comes with the morning

I’m trading my sorrows

I’m trading my shame

I’m laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness

I’m trading my pain

I’m laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord amen

Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up 

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass 

and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing 

when the evening comes

Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love 

and You’re slow to anger

Your name is great 

and Your heart is kind

For all Your goodness 

I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons 

for my heart to find

Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

And on that day 

when my strength is failing

The end draws near 

and my time has come

Still my soul 

will sing Your praise unending

Ten thousand years 

and then forevermore

Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

Worship Your holy name

Lord I’ll worship Your holy name

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: An Ephraimite named Elkanah had two wives and two sons.

Response: He was a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

Leader: His wife Peninnah birthed the two sons.

Response: His wife Hannah birthed no children, no sons.

Leader: In their culture, not having children was considered a disgrace on the woman.

Response: To not have any sons was a curse on the woman’s future.

Leader: It was a time when women were consider ‘less than.’

Response: It was a time when women’s voices were not heard.

Leader: Elkanah’s wife Penninah bullied Hannah, taunting her about not having any children, not having any sons.

Response: She was probably jealous, she recognized that Hannah was the favored wife.

Leader: So, Hannah prayed, she prayed loud, showing her heart to God and man.

Response: The priest who heard Hannah’s prayers thought she was drunk.

Leader: All people had, and have, a voice that is heard by God – God heard Hannah’s prayers, God answered Hannah’s prayers.

Response: Hannah did not quit praying.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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, 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 Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart rejoices in you Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, all because I rejoice in your salvation. There is no one holy like you Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like you God. Mankind must not go on boasting so very proudly, mankind must not let arrogance come out of our mouth; for you Lord are the God of knowledge, and with you God, actions are weighed.

The bows of the mighty are broken to pieces, but those who have stumbled strap on strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease to be hungry. Even the infertile woman gives birth to seven, but she who has many children languishes.

The Lord puts to death and makes alive; God brings down to Sheol and brings up. The Lord makes poor and rich; Go humbles, He also exalts. God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage heap seating them with nobles and giving them a seat of honor as an inheritance;

The pillars of the earth are yours Lord, and you set the world on them. You watch over the feet of your godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for a person shall not prevail by might. Those who contend with you Lord will be terrified; there will be thunder in the heavens against them, God will judge the ends of the earth; God will give strength to His king, God will exalt the horn of God’s anointed.”

I Samuel 2:1-10

Music

We fall down

We lay our crowns

At the feet of Jesus

The greatness of mercy and love

At the feet of Jesus

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy 

is the Lamb

Holy holy holy

Lord God Almighty

Early in the morning

Our song shall rise to Thee

Holy holy holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons

Blessed Trinity

Holy holy holy

All the saints adore Thee

Casting down their golden crowns

Around the glassy sea

Cherubim and seraphim

Falling down before Thee

Which wert and art

And evermore shalt be

Holy holy holy

Lord God Almighty

All Thy works shall praise Thy name

In earth and sky and sea

Holy holy holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons

Blessed Trinity

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy 

is the Lamb

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy

And we cry holy holy holy is the Lamb

Message – Immersive Faith

I Samuel 2:1-10

[Screen Share slide 1 as Rick approaches podium – leave screen share up until after slide 9]

[Slide 1

[Slide 2] This morning we awoke to a miracle, a human-made miracle, nonetheless, this morning, those of us in states that have daylight savings time received an extra hour. We got more time!

Time is the proverbial dilemma that faces humans across the spectrum of different faiths and of those who claim no faith. Time is an element of our human reality that is unique to humans. 

[Slide 4] Time clashes as our faith intersects with our reality.  We ask “Why does God take so long?” or “Why is God absent during my difficult times?” 

[Slide 5] This question is the unspoken prayer of Hannah. Hannah who surely asked  ‘How many more prayers do I have to say, how many more times do I have to endure society and Peninnah’s taunts, how many more times will God be silent?’ 

Hannah, over a long period of time, said a lot of prayers. Finally, she uttered a prayer that she had not yet said yet, a prayer she had not been willing to say yet, a prayer that contained a promise to God, a prayer said at the right time for Hannah and for God 

[Slide 6] “Lord of armies, if You will indeed look on the affliction of me, Your bond-servant, and remember me, and not forget me, Your bond-servant, but will give me, Your bond-servant, a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (I Samuel 1:11)

[Slide 7] Only one time in this prayer Hannah mentions the injustice inflicted on her, and three times, Hannah reminds God, and probably herself, that she has made a decision to serve God regardless of her suffering. This significantly frames Hannah’s heart even in this moment of misery. – 

[Slide 9] ‘God, regardless of your answer, or your absence, I am your servant. My heart will still follow you, my mind will still belong to you, I will serve you.’

[End Screen share]

For Hannah, God had a divine and an earthly purpose in her time of waiting, the years of prayers that seemed to be unheard, there was the reason God had seemed absent. It was not a cruel test given by God to prove that Hannah was ready for this child, it was an essential moment for Hannah to be ready for this child, a child of great purpose. This child, while still a child, would be called by God to confront the powerful Priest Eli, he would, as a young adult, anoint the first King of the Isrealites, and then, while that first King was growing increasingly paranoid and violent while still in power, Samuel would be called by God to risk anointing the replacement King. Samuel would be a ruler in a time when there was no ruler. He would be a guide in a time when the Isrealites desperately needed a guide, a time when they did not yet realize they needed a guide, a time when everyone did what was best for them alone, they only did ‘what was right in their own eyes’. He arrived on the scene at the end of the times of the Judges and served as the first prophet in the time of the prophets. 

Samuel’s nature would have to be a man with a vulnerable tender heart towards God and Man, yet God’s calling would also require him to stand strong in the face of adversaries and threats. He would need his mother’s continued and consistent prayers even though she would have to pray from a distance. There was a reason God waited to reveal the answer to Hannah’s prayers. There would be alot on his shoulders, and there would need to be an ‘all in’ immersion of both of his parents.  

[Slide 10 Leave screen share up until after slide 11

So, after Hannah had come to a place where she was ready to make the promise to God that she would release her son to God’s calling, a time when she was truly ready to make that sacrifice, ‘The Lord remembered Hannah, and it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him of the Lord.” (I Samuel 1:19b-20)

So, when the time came to release her son Samuel, Hannah, spoke to Eli the priest. She revealed her promise to God as well as God’s answer to her prayers, and then she stuck to her promise, she willingly fulfilled her pledge.

[Slide 11] “Pardon me,” she said to the priest on her yearly visit to the temple,  “As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this boy, and God, who I have prayed to for decades has granted me my request. Now I have dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” (I Samuel 1:26-28)

[End Screen Share]

And then Hannah, once again, said a prayer, but this one was not a prayer of need, it was a prayer of praise and rejoicing, a song of praise, but a prayer in grief nonetheless. After this prayer, Hannah, along with “Elkanah, returned to their home at Ramah. But the boy stayed in order to attend to the service of the Lord before Eli the priest.” (I Samuel 1:11). Hannah would return once a year to see Samuel bringing him a new robe.

This praise of God was a prayer of immersion into her memories of who God was and what God had done, as well as his promised presence. In her new grief, as she left her young child, she needed, in order to survive, to remember that she could continue to trust God. It is important to understand, and it is necessary for us to be able to apply Hannah’s reality to our reality, that Hannah returned back to the same basic circumstances that caused her so much grief. There would still be taunts by Peninnah because Hannah would still be childless, she would still be looked down upon by society, because  it would still look like she had no future. The difference now, however, was that her faith had grown over those years of prayer, her faith had been affirmed and secured as she had this personal faith real life experience that God was present.

Dr. Chan Hellman refers to this as our memory muscles. A affirming moment or success which we hold to as a motivator and foundational strength treasure that assures us that we can, and are able to, move forward. We call it faith, faith that grows and with each knowledge of truth moment, with each real life personal moment of holy, with each answer from God we recognize, with each experience of God’s presence. Growing mental and cardio muscle mass that serves to get us through the future moments when we need muscle to survive.

In our lives, there are two layers of humanity, both were present in Hannah, at the same time. For Hannah, one layer was the reality of loss, she was, understandably, grieving that her son would not be returning home with her, the other layer is the reality of who God is, the ‘whats’ about God that she has learned in her struggle. This layer of evidence, arrived at in the midst of  those prayers, supports and upheld the layer of her painful reality that was waiting for her at home. Hannah was able to continue on, and did survive, in her new state of loss and grief, of taunting and injustice, all supported by the other layer that held that memory muscle, a recognition of who God is and and what she personally has witnessed God did and was doing. 

Hannah begins her praise prayer saying, “I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation.” (I Samuel 2:1 MSG) 

This is not a prayer of resentment and bitterness as one would expect, it is truly a prayer of sincere and authentic praise. Instead of grieving on the layer of life reality, now Hannah stands on this layer of muscle that reminds her that God can be trusted even when the passing of time tells her otherwise. Hannah’s prayer of rejoicing is not voiced from the layer of grief and loss, that layer will never be able to speak of rejoicing. However, it is possible to rejoice in the layer of her recognition of who God is. Standing on this layer of reality unseen, the layer that reminds her of her proven God, that she jumped fully in, she immersed herself in praise – praise of the God who is and the God who always will be.

She is rejoicing, not because God gave her a son or that her son is chosen by God for mighty acts, she does not actually mention that. Hannah is rejoicing in the God who has heard her prayers, the God who is present and the God who will be present even as things go back to her miserable normal reality. This layer of life has revealed to her that God hears the voices of the downtrodden, the dismissed, the marginalized. She has spent her entire life being looked down upon within and outside her home, considered ‘less than’ by society, she has been an object of pity and rejection to all that know her. She has also faced the reality that in her elderly years she will be dependent on that pity for her own survival. Now, she was free from that, now this voiceless marginalized person was heard and she recognizes that there is a layer of life she has failed to recognize. Those painful, seemingly unanswered prayers, have opened her eyes to the reality most never see.

In her prayer, Hannah is laughing at those who arrogantly think of themselves as better than others. Those that dismiss her, discriminate against her, that talk in hushed and harsh tones about her. She is talking about those in her household, those in her community, those in the religious community, those in the power of politics. Now, however, she is confident that her strength comes from the God of strength not the favor of others. She has also realized that she does not have to accept the lies they say or think about her. She knows better, she now has the muscle of the layer of truth. 

Hannah now as, and if, she chooses to remember, has muscle, the tools, of knowing that God hears her prayers. She no longer lives wondering if God even cares for a societal outcast like her, she no longer questions if God has abandoned her. Her tears and her pain are no longer mandated by others. She knows something they do not know, God is present. Even when her pain appears again, when the feelings of isolation present their ugliness again, Hannah knows a higher truth. Now she can laugh at the ignorance of society, now she can grieve over the fact that they have not seen this faith building layer supporting her life.

When Andrea and I, back in 2006, were looking for a house to fit our growing family, Andrea was looking at the practical elements, enough closet space, plenty of bathrooms, good schools, close to a grocery store – I was looking for trees. I find trees energizing and wonderful, at this point we had five kids so I wrongly assumed that they would rake leaves, so there was nothing not to love about trees. We found the perfect house with a yard full of trees, and once we moved in, I began planting more trees. One of those trees was a Redbud on the side of our house. Then, a couple of years ago, when that tree had grown along with the growth of my kids – I decided I wanted to move that tree.  Even though it had more than doubled in height, the trunk still seemed small so I figured it was doable. 

At the moment I voiced this plan to my very patient sons, they  attempted to educate me on what was going on under the surface that I clearly could not see – how the roots of that tree were at least the depth and width of the height of the tree. In the end, the tree remained on the side of our house.

You see, our lives are lived out above the surface. We can physically see, emotionally feel, and we can only experience one layer, the layer of what is going on in our lives above the surface. Hannah saw, and experienced, only the injustice above the surface, she felt only the pain. As she prayed and saw nothing going on above the surface that revealed the activity of God, she was restricted from seeing hope. It would have been easy to give up, to accept the labels placed on her by others, it would have been easy just to settle into the pain, to live life as a victim in bitterness and pain. However, she kept praying. With each prayer her roots grew a little stronger, she began to see a little better. Just as the roots of my tree grow in a way to support the visible life above, those prayers were growing her roots for what life, above the surface, had ahead for her. Those roots grew her to a place where she would be ready to bear this son, to release this son to God, to be an avenue of God’s will in the world. 

Hannah still went home devastated, she would still be an object of scorn and pity, still the focus of cruel comments by others, still a marginalized person that was forgotten by those who supposedly followed the same God as Hannah. However, in the midst of those prayers, her own roots had grown to support her, now her tears were not of the agony of following a God who was absent, now her tears were living proof that she had moved to the layer of life that reminded her that God was present, that she was strong, that she was not desolate, dismissed, regardless of what society thought they saw in and about her. She now could cry and laugh at the same time, reassured because she now stood on the layer of truth.

The story of Hannah is a story of God not being a God of time, but the God of the right time. It is a story of God’s mostly unheeded call to followers to love justice, kindness, and humility.  It is a story of a call to sacrifice God’s gift just after the gift has been received. It is a story of a society that sees and labels others in ways that are deceitful, hateful, and very unGodlike. It is a call for all believers to see what is unseen, to live, in the midst of reality, remembering truth, while, at the same time, to constantly seek to better know the God of truth.

OCC Banquet

Music 

Take time to be holy

Speak oft with thy Lord

Abide in Him always

And feed on His Word

Make friends with God’s children

Help those who are weak

Forgetting in nothing

His blessing to seek

Take time to be holy

The world rushes on

Spend much time in secret

With Jesus alone

By looking to Jesus

Like Him thou shalt be

Thy friends in thy conduct

His likeness shall see

Take time to be holy

Be calm in thy soul

Each tho’t and each motive

Beneath His control

Thus led by His Spirit

To fountains of love

Thou soon shall be fitted

For service above

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, Atoning Joy, I Samuel 25:2-31
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study begins Wednesday, November 30 at noon Wednesday for three weeks. We will have an evening study if there is interest expressed (speak with Rick)
  • Thanksgiving Dinner, Sunday, November 20, details to come this week

Closing Peace

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

Benediction

“May God give you the grace not to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but Love.”  

(William Sloane Coffin)

Order, Words, & Voices 10.30.22

10.30.22  (Ruth 1:1-22)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Lord’s Prayer

Opening Songs: Christian

To God Be The Glory

Jesus Messiah

Call to Worship and Lord’s Prayer Rick

Reading On Line – Kelly

Song: Christian

Holy, Holy, Holy

Message Ruth 1:1-22 Rick

Song: Christian

Oceans

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music

To God Be the Glory

To God be the glory 

Great things He has done

So loved He the world 

That He gave us His Son

Who yielded His life 

An atonement for sin

And opened the life gate 

That all may go in

Praise the Lord  Praise the Lord

Let the earth hear His voice

Praise the Lord  Praise the Lord

Let the people rejoice

O come to the Father 

Through Jesus the Son

And give Him the glory 

Great things He has done

O perfect redemption 

The purchase of blood

To every believer 

The promise of God

The vilest offender 

Who truly believes

That moment from Jesus 

A pardon receives

Praise the Lord praise the Lord

Let the earth hear His voice

Praise the Lord praise the Lord

Let the people rejoice

O come to the Father 

Through Jesus the Son

And give Him the glory 

Great things He has done

Great things He has taught us

Great things He has done

And great our rejoicing 

Through Jesus the Son

But purer and higher 

And greater will be

Our wonder our transport 

When Jesus we see

Praise the Lord praise the Lord

Let the earth hear His voice

Praise the Lord praise the Lord

Let the people rejoice

O come to the Father 

Through Jesus the Son

And give Him the glory 

Great things He has done.

Jesus Messiah

He became sin 

who knew no sin

That we might become 

His righteousness

He humbled Himself 

and carried the cross

Love so amazing 

love so amazing

Jesus Messiah 

Name above all names

Blessed Redeemer Emmanuel

The Rescue for sinners 

The Ransom from heaven

Jesus Messiah Lord of all

His body the bread 

His blood the wine

Broken and poured 

Out all for love

The whole earth trembled 

And the veil was torn

Love so amazing 

Love so amazing

All our hope is in You

All our hope is in You

All the glory to You God

The Light of the world

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Today, we see the story of two women

Response: Two women who shared nothing 

Leader: Actually, before their stories merged, they shared less than nothing. 

Response: Their Nationality, Faith, and even their God, all conflicted 

Leader: Their peoples were enemies, their peoples despised each other. 

Response: But the God of love brought them together 

Leader: That is what the God of love seeks to do

Leader: And then, they became family. 

Response: In crisis, in grief, and in sacrifice, their souls were connected. 

Leader: They shared those things that were most important in their lives, the things they held most dear. 

Response: They walked with each other bearing the burden of the other. 

Leader: Their lives exhibited the love of God

Response: The motivating force that led them through pain and loss, 

Leader: Through suffering, desperation, and hopelessness 

Leader: Their lives are a witness to us of a life of selflessness

Response: Their sacrifice gives us a picture of Jesus relentless selfless love

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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

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

Reading (On Line – Kelly – Spotlight – No Slides)

It was after Joshua led the Isrealites into the promised land and before David was named the first King of Israel – it was the time of the Judges. It was the time when there was not yet a king in Israel; and a time when ‘all the people did what was right in their own eyes.’ It was a brutal time made worse by a famine in the land of Israel. 

Because of an ongoing famine, a man from Bethlehem named Elimelech went to live outside of the promised land in the country of Moab with his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion. They entered the land of Moab and remained there. 

After Elimelech died, the two sons married Moabite women, one was named Orpah and the other was Ruth. Ten years later, the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died – Naomi was left without her husband and without her sons while Ruth and Orpah were left without their husbands.

Naomi heard that there was food back home so she departed with her two daughters-in-law to return to her homeland. 

But, after a bit, Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, return to your mother. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant you both a place of rest, and a life in the house of your future husbands.” Then she kissed them both, and all three women wept. 

However, they said to her, “No, we are going to go with you to your people.” Naomi replied, “Go back to your parents. What hope will you have if you go with me? It is ridiculous to think that I could have two more sons and that you would wait for them to grow up! No, my dear daughters; life now is much more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has come out against me.”

The three raised their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and returned to her land and her people, but Ruth clung to Naomi.

Naomi said to Ruth, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; go with her.” Ruth said, “Do not plead with me to leave you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you.” Naomi quit pressuring Ruth to go home when she saw that Ruth was determined to go with Naomi.

So Naomi and Ruth traveled on to Bethlehem. 

Ruth 1:1-19

Music

Holy Holy Holy

Holy holy holy 

Lord God Almighty

Early in the morning 

Our song shall rise to Thee

Holy holy holy 

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons 

Blessed Trinity

Holy holy holy 

all the saints adore Thee

Casting down their golden crowns 

around the glassy sea

Cherubim and seraphim 

falling down before Thee

Which wert and art 

and evermore shalt be

Holy holy holy 

though the darkness hide Thee

Though the eye of sinful man 

thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy 

there is none beside Thee

Perfect in power in love and purity

Holy holy holy 

Lord God Almighty

All Thy works shall praise 

Thy name in earth and sky and sea

Holy holy holy 

merciful and mighty

God in three persons 

Blessed Trinity

Message – Relentless Selflessness

Ruth 1:1-22

Screen share left up through slide 11

[Slide 1] ‘Now it came about in the days when the judges governed…’ (Ruth 1:1)

[Slide 2]It is called an opening crawl, the first details of the story that give you the raw details you need to be ready for the action to begin. Probably the most memorable opening crawl was read by audiences on May 25, 1977, which said…

[Slide 3] “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away… It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, ….”

This, minus the John Williams’ soundtrack, works to do the same as this first words of the story of Ruth…

[Slide 4] ‘Now it came about in the days when the judges governed…’ (Ruth 1:1)

You may remember that the time of the Judges was a time summed up in the repeat line ‘everyone did what was right in their own eyes.’

[Slide 5] It is much like the opening crawl of the story of Noah, ‘the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.’ (Genesis 6:5). In Ruth, as in Genesis, our opening description tells us that it was a difficult time to live. Those that governed were largely a selfish and brutal bunch who did evil, and with the exception of Judge Deborah, the judges did not end well. This was also true of the people, they too had become distant from God, seeking to only do what would be best for them – they only did what was right for them without concern for others. 

[Slide 6] It is an odd introduction for a story of two women who were relentlessly selfless in their lives. A story that hinges on two women who probably aren’t meant to be nice to each other let alone sacrifice their lives to lift each other up. It is a story of two individuals who in a time of very not niceless, these two were nice, they were kind, they were good.

[Slide 7] In the television show The Good Place, which takes place in the afterlife, the character Chidi, who was an moral ethics philosophy professor on earth, is once again tasked to train others in ethical living. He is basically given the job of challenging the others in the afterlife to consider the question, “What do we owe to each other?”

[Slide 8] He eventually answers his own question by saying, “So why do it, then, why choose to be good everyday if there is no guaranteed reward we can count on now? I argue that we choose to be good because of our bonds with other people and our innate desire to treat them with dignity. Simply put, we are not in this alone.” (Chidi, The Good Place)

[Slide 9] British economist, Minouche Shafik refers to our answer to this question of  “What do we owe to each other?’ as the social contracts that exist in all societies of the world. 

[Slide 10] “Everyone participates in the social contract every day, and we rarely stop to think about it. Yet social contracts shape every aspect of our lives, including how we raise our children and engage in education, what we expect from our employers, and how we experience sickness and old age. All of these activities require us to cooperate with others for mutual benefit, and the terms of that cooperation define the social contract in our society and the shape of our lives. 

[Slide 11] Laws and norms underpin these daily interactions. In some societies, the social contract relies more on families and communities for mutual support; in others, the market and the state play a greater role. But in all societies, people are expected to contribute to the common good when they are adults in exchange for being looked after when they are young, old, or unable to care for themselves.” (Minouche Shafik, 2021)

We often look at the story of Ruth as being a simple story of love, first between a woman and her daughter-in-law, then between the daughter-in-law and the man who rescues her. But this interpretation fails to see the many nuanced layers in this very heavy story. It is not a safe story, it is a story of a violent time and two women who have not only suffered great loss but choose to risk losing what little they have left. It is not really a love story as much as it is a story of risks, survival, and ultimately survival. 

To understand this story we must also understand the story of the story, we must understand the writing story of the story. While the story of Ruth took place during the time of the Judges, it was probably not written during the time of the Judges. It was also probably not written during the time of the Kings, rather, it was probably written after the exile, after the Persians conquered the Babylonians and where therefore the oppressors of the Israelites as they returned to Jerusalem and the promised land. 

A time when the Isrealites were concerned about how much control they would have over their own lives and how much of their own boundaries would be respected. Most notably though, was a concern about if they would still be a people. This concern of many Israelites was leading to a nationalism which sought to exclude those that were not ‘true Jews’, that were not of Jewish blood. It was a time when old romanticized tradition was coming into conflict with all the advances in their relationship with God during their time in exile, divisions were rising up. In this time enters the story of a women who passed many years before, a woman who was not only not a Jew but is a Moabite, an enemy of the Isrealites. A women would be one of only five women listed in the lineage of Jesus. A woman who reminded them of their call to a relentless selflessness.

So, during this time in history, four centuries before the birth of Jesus, as the Isrealites were turning inward, this story is written, a story that needed at this time to be written and heard. A story is told of another time when everyone was living selfishly, nevertheless, a time when two women chose another path. A time not unlike our own time.

“Ruth explores questions of life and faith highlighting themes- the untimely

death of people we love, food shortages, financial & political instability,

unemployment, community responses to those in need, as well as

immigration and racial differences. There are other layers of themes

such as empty and full; finding home and hope; of bread and belonging;

as well as repair, resilience, resistance and redemption!” 

(Mark Greene from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity)

Geographically, Ruth’s homeland was right next to the homeland of Naomi. Israel and Moab shared a border. Both nations may have seen similar in many ways including culture and language but otherwise they were a world apart. The two nations and their citizens were in frequent conflict that went back before the Isrealites had fully occupied, or even arrived at, the promised land. The story of Ruth, in many ways, is an Old Testament version of Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan – a story that is told to define who is our neighbor we are called to love.

The story of Ruth, however, is not just a story of Ruth. It is also a story of Ruth’s mother-in-law was an Isrealite, an Isrealite who was a foreigner in a foreign land.  A family of foreigners who had lived out the call to love the foreigner. Although they themselves were foreigners in Ruth’s homeland, Naomi’s family had fully and unconditionally embraced Ruth and Orpha, giving both women an up close view of what it meant to follow the God of the Isrealites and the call of love lived out for them to see. They taught Naomi about God not through their voiced words but through the message of their lives. Their message was concrete, it was living proof.

Ruth is a message of evangelism, but an evangelism that is totally foreign to our own thoughts of sharing our faith. Our mode of evangelism uses the tools of judgment and condemnation, we focus on sin and hell – Ruth and Orpha had heard the message of God through the love, acceptance, and embrace of this Naomi and her family. 

Ruth selflessly gives up living with her own people, having a husband to

provide for her, and a family of her own, in order to provide for Naomi’s needs to of companionship and care. On Naomi’s part, we also see a reflection of her own selflessness as she relentlessly attempts to persuade Ruth to return to her home. Naomi tried to reinforce the futility of staying expressing the fact that she could in no way meet the needs of Ruth. Both women show us how to love the one who had been a stranger.

Ruth stops the loving argument with the words, “Do not plead with me to leave you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you.” In the original text these words were not said with the future tense of the word ‘will’ but instead they were words of present tense. ‘Your people are my people, your God is my God.’

We usually look at the story of Ruth and Naomi and focus on the Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz. The one that rescues these two women, who brings them hope, who gives them back a future. We usually come away from this story focusing on our redeemer – Jesus Christ. However, there is another equally powerful and relevant story. A story that we would get even if we only had chapter one of the book of Ruth. A story that would start with hopeless and, in an earthly say, end with hopelessness. A story that would present us the harsh reality of being human and leave us there. However, limited with just this one chapter we are given a story of the hope that is present even when we see no hope. The story, even when we just have chapter one, shows us that there is still love in the worst of life.  

Chapter one alone teaches us God’s desire for us as humans, struggling to live in the realities of our human existence. A reality that is often hard and painful, a reality where there is not always enough and the struggles are often endless, a reality that brings pain, misery, and confusion. It is in this reality, and in the reality of Naomi and Ruth, that we see God’s desire for us to be his hands in the midst of this mess we call our reality. To be and do good, to let our lives be a conduit of God’s love, to be the essence of hope when our reality has no hope to share. 

This is why Jesus prayed, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Not a prayer about dominion or victory but a prayer of being and doing – being the reflection of God and doing the work of God. Ruth and Naomi, in this one chapter, which does not give us a happy earthly ending, in this chapter we see the how of being the good on this earth that God created for good.

Music 

Oceans

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown 

Where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in 

deepest waters

Your sovereign hand  

will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and 

You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where 

my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper 

than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Saviour

I will call upon Your name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, Immersive Thanks, I Samuel 2:1-10
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Concludes this Wed, November 2 (I Peter 5)
  • [Slide] Norman Cultural Connection invites you to an event today. COMING HOME: Re-membering, Reconnecting, Repatriate, Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 3:00 PM  1950 Beaumont Drive

Closing Peace

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

Benediction

“May God give you the grace not to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but Love.”  

(William Sloane Coffin)

Order, Words, & Voices

Order, Words, & Voices
10.23.22 Guest Speaker Steven Reeves (Luke 18:9-14)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs:                                 Christian
Great is thy Faithfulness
In Christ Alone

Call to Worship and Lord’s Prayer                    Segun & Linda

Reading                                    On Line – Isaiah

Song:                                     Christian    
Be Thou My Vision

Speaker Introduction                            Rick

Message            Luke 18:9-14                       Steven Reeves

Song:                                        Christian
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

Closing Peace                                Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Music
Great is thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, 
O God my Father
There is no shadow 
of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, 
Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, 
Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning 
new mercies I see
All I have needed 
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, 
Lord, unto me

Summer and winter 
and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars 
in their courses above
Join with all nature 
in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, 
mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning 
new mercies I see
All I have needed 
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, 
Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin 
and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence 
to cheer and to guide
Strength for today 
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine 
with 10, 000 beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning 
new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, 
Lord, unto me

In Christ Alone

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

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

(Linda) Please join in response as Segun leads us in our call to worship responsive reading.

Leader (Segun): Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s love endures forever.
Response: Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.

Leader: Those God redeemed from the hand of the foe, those God gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Response: Some wandered in desert wastelands,

Leader: They found no way to a city, to a place where they could settle.
Response: They were hungry and thirsty.

Leader: Their lives seemed to fade away as they cried out to the Lord.
Response:  God delivered them from their distress.

Leader: God led them to a place where they could settle. 

(Segun) Please Join us in praying the prayer of Jesus.

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 (On Line – Isaiah/No Slides)

Jesus told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Music

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art
High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

Speaker Introduction (No Slides)

Stephen Reeves serves as executive director of the independent Fellowship Southwest and directs advocacy for the Cooprerative Baptist Fellowship. Reeves had also served as director of public policy for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and as staff attorney for the Washington-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Reeves is a national leader in the effort to reform predatory lending practices, and has led CBF to be more active in advocacy for immigrants and refugees. Stephen is co-author of The Mission of Advocacy: A toolkit for congregations.

Message – Stephen Reeves (No Slides)

Luke 18:9-14
No Manuscript Available

Music 

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar 
the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
 Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
 I will not boast in anything
No gifts no pow’r no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, Relentless Selflessness, Ruth 1:1-22
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Continues this Wed, October 26 (Luke 18:9-14)

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

Benediction
“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.”

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.”

Order, Words, & Voices 10.02.22

Order, Words, & Voices

10.02.22 Collaborative Faith

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: How Great Thou Art Christian

Lord I Need You

Call to Worship Steve M.

Song: Breathe of Me Breath of God Christian

Reading Judges 4:1-7 On Line – Mitch & Duffy

Message Collaborative Faith Rick

Song: What A Friend We Have In Jesus Christian

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music (11 Slides)

How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds

Thy hands have made

I see the stars

I hear the rolling thunder

Thy pow’r thru’out

The universe displayed

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

And when I think

That God His Son not sparing

Sent Him to die

I scarce can take it in

That on the cross

My burden gladly bearing

He bled and died

To take away my sin

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

When Christ shall come

With shout of acclamation

And take me home

What joy shall fill my heart

Then I shall bow

In humble adoration

And there proclaim

My God how great Thou art

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

Then sings my soul

My Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art

How great Thou art

Lord I Need You

Lord I come I confess

Bowing here I find my rest

And without You I fall apart

You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord I need You oh I need You

Ev’ry hour I need You

My one defense my righteousness

Oh God how I need You

Where sin runs deep 

Your grace is more

Where grace is found is 

where You are

And where You are Lord I am free

Holiness is Christ in me

Where You are Lord I am free

Holiness is Christ in me

Lord I need You oh I need You

Ev’ry hour I need You

My one defense my righteousness

Oh God how I need You

Lord I need You oh I need You

Ev’ry hour I need You

My one defense my righteousness

Oh God how I need You

My one defense my righteousness

Oh God how I need You

Call To Worship/Lord’s Prayer [Slides at Prayer]

The first four of the ten commandments concentrate on our worship of the one true God.  ‘You shall have no gods before the one true God’. ‘You shall have no idols to the false gods’. ‘You shall not abuse the name of God’. And the fourth is, You shall “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God… The Lord has blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.”

Twentieth century German theologian Karl Barth calls the corporate observance of the Sabbath Law, and the Sabbath day itself, an ‘Interruption’. 

A call on us to limit our work, to not allow it to be our identity. A day of humble submission and respect directed to God. An opportunity to turn from thoughts of our work and achievements and instead to recognize the heart and meaning of God’s work. An intentional and deliberate day, a moment, for us to reflect individually as well as cooperatively on God and His work. A contemplative deliberation of our own salvation. The call challenges us to a consistent recurring interruption of our work with a Sabbath. A holy interruption giving us a holy day every week – allowing us to then see the holy in every day of the week. (Karl Barth, paraphrase)

Today, we gather for this interruption to the daily routines of life. This morning, we gather for this moment of interruption, we set aside those things that demand our attention, and instead, we consider the heart and meaning of God and God’s holy work. Today, we rest, we pause, we reflect. While every other moment of our lives may seem to be absorbed, in this moment, in this interruption, our attention is on God.

May we now fous ourselves in this interruption with the prayer of Jesus, please stand and join together with me.

[Slides Begin] 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.

‘Please be seated.’

Music (3 Slides)

Breath on Me Breathe of God

Breathe on me breath of God

Fill me with life anew

That I may love what Thou dost love

And do what Thou wouldst do

Breathe on me breath of God

Until my heart is pure

Until with Thee I will one will

To do and to endure

Breathe on me breath of God

Till I am wholly Thine

Till all this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine

Reading [No Slides]

Once again, the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord gave them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, and Sisera, the commander of Jaban’s army. Soon, the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help, for Sisera had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years.

At that time Deborah was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah in the hill country of Ephraim, where the Israelites came up to her for judgment. 

Deborah summoned Barak, the leader of the Israelite’s army and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Position yourself at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera to meet you with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand.’ ” 

Barak said to Deborah, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Deborah said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak and his warriors.

When Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the troops who were with him. Deborah said to Barak, “Get Up! For this is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. The has Lord gone out before you.” 

So Barak went with ten thousand warriors following him. And the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and all his army into a panic before Barak; Sisera got down from his chariot and ran away. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; not one was left.

Sisera fled to the tent of the woman Jael who came out to meet him saying, “Come in to me; have no fear.” So Sisera went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug. Sisera said to her, “Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you if anyone is here say, ‘No.’ ”But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg and a hammer and, going softly to Sisera who had fallen asleep from weariness, Jael drove the peg into Sisera’s temple, until it went down into the ground and he died.” 

Judges 4:1-21

Message – Collaborative Faith [6 Slides]

Judges 4:1-7

After the Babylonian exile, and the return to the promised land, the name ‘Jew’ became the accepted name for the people who had been set apart by God. A promised people who traced their ancestry back to Abraham and the promise given to him by God. 

A name is a significant label, it is usually given to us without our input – we grow into it or we spend our lives attempting to prove it wrong. Rapper Kanye West recently changed his name to Ye. Musician Prince, at one time, changed his name to a symbol which could not really be voiced, so people began referring to him as ‘The artist formerly known as Prince.’ 

The promised people began with the name ‘son of Abraham’, then they became the ‘sons of Isaac’, then, the ‘sons of Jacob.’ Then, they were welcomed to Egypt as the ‘Hebrews’ – a name most likely derived from the Hebrew words ‘eber’ or ‘ever’ meaning‘ ones who crossed over’. ‘Crossed over’ conceivably referring to Abraham’s journey across to Canaan and his descendents journey from Canaan crossing over the Euphrates River into Egypt. This name was just a name until it became a derogatory slam as the Hebrews transitioned from welcomed guests to despised and enslaved foreigners. These Hebrews, however, labeled themselves ‘Israelites’, named after their ancestor Jacob, who God had renamed Israel.

And so in today’s passage, the Isrealites, were living between their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and their eventual slavery in Babylon. During which time they learned about the God of whom they knew little about. They learned, they followed, they disobeyed, they rejected, they were corrected, they cried out to God, they were delivered, they experienced peace, then they did it all over again, and again. 

Moses, followed by Joshua, consistently instructed the people to Obey the Torah, the Law of God. The people did, but mostly they did not. They entered the promised land and soon failed to do what God told them to do which was to wipe out all the residents of Canaan, the promised land. This sounds harsh but the reason was – the Canaanites were evil and the Israelties were weak. God knew that if they were absorbed by the Cannaanites, or if the Isrealites aborbed the Canaanites, the Isrealites would eventually adopt and incorporate the practices of the Canaanites – life practices that were morally corrupt and religious practices that included child sacrifice. The Israelites did not remove the Canaanites and therefore, as God knew they would do, they became like the Canaanites – meaning – you usually could not tell the two peoples apart. 

So, after the death of their leader Josua, God gave the Isrealites the Judges. Not like a courtroom judge but more like a regional military mafia thug leader, leaders who were as evil, if not worse, than the Canaanites. It was a brutal time for the Canaanites and for the Isrealites – largely because of these Judges. These Judges were all ultimately horrible except for the one female of the bunch – a judge named Deborah.

This one bright spot in the book of Judges is Deborah who is full of faith in the God of the Isrealites and gifted with power from God of the Isrealites. As the Canaanites were unifying together to wipe the Isreaites from the land of Canaan Deborah called on the military leader Barak to give him God’s instruction for the battle against the invading Canaanite army. It was a simple plan that was enough, it detailed the pre-organization required of Balak as well as the work that God would do and the victory that God would give to Balak. Balak accepted the call on one condition, the condition that Deborah would join Balak on the battlefield. Deborah agrees but cautions Barak that, if she does go with him, he will not be the proclaimed hero. The hero would instead be a woman.

It is a story that puts a spotlight on the different perspectives as well as the different expectations that bring us to an understanding, or misunderstanding, of the story.  You have probably heard this story taught or preached in a way that sets Balak up to be a:

  • A coward
  • A misogynist
  • Basically,  self absorbed prideful arrogant wimp

Why else would Deborah have to bait him to accept God’s call? The only way to overcome his cowardice would be to appeal to his vanity. The only way to create in him a reason to go to battle would be to keep a woman from being glorified. Essentially, Deborah had to take this shell of a human being and convince him to trust God by appealing to his ego and his male arrogance.

What if that is not an accurate understanding of Barak and Deborah? What if this is more a story of two people who understand faith, and especially understand the value of the collaboration of their mutual faith? What if Barak understood that faith is holy when it is vested in the true God, and holyer when it is multiplied by a combined alliance of others of that shared faith.

What if Deborah’s motivation was not to goad Balak into accepting God’s call but to test it? What if she wanted to make sure this was not all about an egomaniac who would eventually use this victory to gain more power for himself? What if she wanted to see if he was willing to follow as well as to lead? What if she needed to know he understood that leading armies into battle would still require following the God of the Victory in the Battle?

What if both of these individuals understood Proverb 27:17 long before the writer of Proverbs was even born? What if they both grasped the idea of Iron Sharpening Iron? What if both knew that they were the iron that needed sharpening?

What if…?

Long before a team of experts engineered the iPhone, Steve Jobs had an idea of a phone unlike all other phones. He also recognized that he needed others to make his idea a reality.

Long before Christians had multiple Bibles scattered on shelves and in drawers throughout their house, a team of past and present collaborators worked with Johann Gutenberg to make God’s Word available to the average believer.

Long before we were able to sit in a dentist chair and have a quick Xray of our teeth, Pierre Curie shoveled back breaking mounds of earth to assist his wife Marie in discovering the radioactive element radium.

[Slide] “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other, but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 

[Slide] Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc. 4:9-12)

[Slide] “If, then, there is any comfort in Christ, any consolation from love, any partnership in the Spirit, any tender affection and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 

[Slide] Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. 

[Slide] Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming human likeness. 

[Slide] And being found in appearance as a human, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:1-8)

So let’s step back to that name, for Deborah and Barak and the ten thousand man army, the name was Israelite. This name was not just their bond, it was not just their nationality, rather, it was the defining mark of their faith, a faith now reinforced with ten thousand and two Isrealites. An army glued together by a shared faith, and a faith given by a name, a name based on their common ancestor Jacob, an army about to face the army of Sisera. That opposing army, led by Sisera, is estimated by ancient Jewish historian Josephus, to have amounted to 900 chariots, 40,000 generals, and possibly upwards of 4 billion soldiers, dwarfing the 10,002 Isrealites now ready for battle. They shared a common faith built on a common God, identified by a common name, strengthened by a common trust – a trust in and a trust on the God of their name – Jacob’s God. The God of promise. There was sheer power in the armies of Sisera, but there was more power in the army of the God of Balak, of Deborah, and of their much smaller armies. This power, a faith collaborated among this small gigantic group that would never need to use their swords because the God they trusted had gone before them. 

We boast in our armies until we face the full force of our battle

We trust in our house until we see the fortress of our foe

We hold to our knives until we feel the sting of their swords

We crouch securely in the cave until we hear the boots of our attacker

And yet, 

We know a strength when we stand together

We experience a peace when our trust is shared

We identify by the one who has gone before us

We hold to hope of the promise repeatedly assured

And so we commit,

To hold on tight to the one who is faithful

To affirm our faith in our mutual redeemer

To strengthen our stance in our collaborated trust

To grasp the reality even when it is invisible to our sight

For,

We do not go alone into darkness without the foreknowledge of light

We do not go together armed only with human might

We know that our hope rests in the creator almighty

We know in our very core lives the God who is power, justice, and love

Let’s Pray.

Music  [3 Slides]

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer

O what peace we often forfeit

O what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer

Blessed Savior Thou hast promised

Thou wilt all our burdens bear

May we ever Lord be bringing

All to Thee in earnest prayer

Soon in glory bright unclouded

There will be no need for prayer

Honor praise and endless worship

Will be our sweet portion there


Community [Slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, Guest Speaker Randy Ridenour, Professor of Philosphy at Oklahoma Baptist University
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Beginning this Wednesday, October 5 (5 weeks)
  • [Slide] Cleveland County Crop Walk, Sunday October 16 @ 1:30pm, locally and globally, Food and Shelter has doubled it number of clients served by 100% since Covid hit (numbers have not gone down)

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.”

Order, Words, & Voices 09.25.22

Order, Words, & Voices

09.25.22 When You Have No Voice

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: To God Be the Glory Lynn

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Call to Worship Renee, Christian, Nikki, Emily,Linda

Song: My Deliverer is Coming Lynn

Reading Numbers 27:1-11 On Line – Randy

Song Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord Lynn

Message When You Have No Voice On Line – Rick

Song: Way Maker Lynn

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music [Slides]

To God be the glory great things He has done
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin
And opened the life gate that all may go in

Chorus

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Verse 2

O perfect redemption the purchase of blood
To every believer the promise of God
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives

Chorus

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Verse 1

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be

 

Chorus

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Verse 3

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Call To Worship/Lord’s Prayer [Slides at Prayer]

[Renee] Our Call To Worship today comes today from Psalm 40 verses 1-10 and 16-17. These are King David’s earnest words of thanks and gratitude for God’s deliverance combined with words that reveal David’s continually growing understanding of the God he seeks to worship and praise. 

[Nikki] Psalm 40 is a proclamation of our ever present voice, a reminder that we have a voice even in times when we are the most silenced.

[Christian] “I waited patiently for the Lord; God bent down to my level and heard my cry. God drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 

[Linda] God put a new song in my mouth, a song immersed in praise sung back to our God. May we all see, fear and put our trust in the Lord.

[Emily] Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. God, you have multiplied, O Lord God, your wondrous deeds and even your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with you. 

[Renee] Were I to attempt to proclaim all your wondrous deeds and try to tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

[Nikki] You do not desire sacrifice and offering, instead you give me an open ear to hear. You do not require burnt offerings and sin offerings, instead you give me eyes to see.

[Linda] I search your Holy Words to find what it is that you desire of me, what I am to do, and as I discover your truth I respond with the words,  “Here I am; I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

[Christian] I do not restrain my voice from telling the glad news of your deliverance to the great congregation. I have not hidden your redemptive words within my heart, instead I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

[Emily] May all who seek you God rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation constantly say, “The Lord is great!” God, I am poor and needy, but you take notice of me. O my God, You are my help and my deliverer; I will trust your presence and your timing.

(Psalm 40:1-10, 16-17)

[Nikki] Please stand and join together as we use our voices to share in the prayer that we first hear from the voice of Jesus.

[All] [Slides Begin] 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.

Music (Slides)

 

Chorus

My Deliverer is coming
My Deliverer is standing by (2X)

Verse 1

Joseph took his wife and her child
And they went to Africa
To escape the rage of a deadly king
There along the banks of the Nile
Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing
They were singing

Chorus

My Deliverer is coming
My Deliverer is standing by (2X)

Verse 2

Through a dry and thirsty land
Water from the Kenyon heights
Pours itself out
Of Lake Sangra’s broken heart
There in the Sahara winds
Jesus heard the whole world cry
For the healing that would flow
From His own scars
The world was singing

Chorus

My Deliverer is coming
My Deliverer is standing by (2X)

Bridge

He will never break His promise
He has written it upon the sky

Chorus

My Deliverer is coming
My Deliverer is standing by (2X)

Chorus

My Deliverer is coming
My Deliverer is standing by (2X)

Reading [No Slides]

Zelophehad, a man of the Tribe of Manasseh, a tribe whose land came within the promised land not east of Jordan (where the Reubenite and Gadite tribes chose to keep their land)

Then the daughters of Zelophehad, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, came forward. The four sisters stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the congregation of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the congregation of Korah but died for his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”

Moses brought their case before the Lord. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. You shall also speak to the Israelites, saying: If a man dies and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. It shall be for the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

Numbers 27:1-11

Music [Slides]

Chorus

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

Verse

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

Chorus

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

Verse

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

Bridge

Holy holy holy
Holy holy holy
Holy holy holy
I want to see You

Message – When You Have No Voice [No Slides]

Numbers 27:1-11

In the summer of 1962, on a hot and humid Arkansas Sunday, two cars came to pick up Lela Mae and her nine youngest children—ages two to 14—and take them 150 miles to Little Rock’s bus terminal. Lela Mae had believed the promise of a local segregationist lawyer, a promise that she was going to have a better life for her children, better jobs and better housing if she got on a bus heading north. Southern segregationists, furious over civil rights advances that dominated the 1950s, were determined to prove that the northern states were hypocrites in their concern for anyone who did not share their skin color. Part of the false promise made to almost 200 Arkansans included a personal greeting from the President of the United States once they arrived in Hyannis Massachusetts. As the buses grew nearer to Hyannis, the passengers quickly changed into their nice interview clothes expecting job interviews would be the first thing to be done upon arrival, after meeting the president of course, and then they would proceed to their new homes and lives. Instead, they realized they were part of a political stunt as they were dumped near the Kennedy house, over a thousand miles from home. (‘Reverse Freedom Rides’, Gabrielle Emanuel, 02.29.22)

These people tricked into boarding the bus did so out of a human cry for dignity, a human cry for a voice. A cry to not be victims but to have a seat at the table just like other humans. 

The daughters of the passed Zelophehad – Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, had recently become invisible. While gender assigned them a lesser place in society, the death of their father, and absence of other male family members, was about to make them totally undefined and non-existent. They were crying out for a human right to a voice and personhood.

So, the five women, in much the same stance that five women stood before you this morning, stood before Moses, the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. For these five women it was surely an intimidating moment. Nevertheless, they stood for justice – they stood challenging a long unchallengeable way of thinking.

These women were third generation Isrealites out of slaverey. Their father was second generation. With no remaining male family members, the lineage of the women was about to end. No male to carry on the family name and no male to claim the promise of personhood for their family.

Old Testament land inheritance laws are a bit muddied, but what happens here with the women in Numbers 27 is a game changer in the understanding of the inheritance laws. Previously, the understood guidelines were basically that ‘a man’s principal heirs were the sons born to him by his wife/wives). In the absence of sons, the next in line were the deceased father’s brothers,paternal uncles, and finally the nearest kinsman of his clan.’ (Bruce Wells, Professor, Saint Joseph’s University)

Land was sustenance and land was existence. Society told these five women they had only one known option, become invisible until a man chose them to be his bride. As they thought about this ‘only’ option they realized that this option also made their father invisible and their ancestors invisible. The more they considered this ‘only’ option the more they realized that it was a truly unacceptable option. They came to a holy alternative, they decided to question the status quo, to challenge the standard way of thinking – it was a risky unprecedented move. This action, to question and challenge, could have ended with an official decision making them, and their lineage, permanently invisible.

However, they did it anyway, they stood before Moses, the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting bringing their call for justice. Through them, from this point forward, women were not invisible in regard to inheritance issues. These women, and all women, had made a successful call for personhood, and it reverberated for generations.

Moses and the leaders heard the plea from these women and, instead of falling back on the usual response, they chose to take the challenge to God. God agreed with the women. The way it had always been done was questioned and challenged and justice prevailed. The issue of  personhood was changing from being a cultural issue to being an issue of God’s creation, God’s created.

It is important to grasp that all of this took place before the Isrealites crossed over the Jordan into Canaan, the promised land. It was before Moses’s final teachings, it was before any battles were won to gain control of the land, it was before Moses said his final goodbyes and even before Joshua was anointed as the replacement for Moses. It was long before there was actually any land to acquire, any land to divide. 

This is what makes this entire story, and especially the gall of these five women, even more extraordinary. They were seeking justice for themselves, their family, and even for their ancestors based solely on a promise. The actual plea they made was still conceptual. There was no land, only a centuries old promise of the land. Yet, it was that promise that served as the foundation of their passion. It was their belief that ahead of them was their promised land, and that in that land they too would have a seat at the table as well as a voice. 

Look at the lessons of truth we see in this small story!

  • The women faced a lifetime of living as victims or, instead, taking the risk, they set their sights on personhood.
  • God affirmed his promise to the earthly powers that had control that these women were of equal standing among all of God’s creation. 
  • God was not bound by man’s misunderstood interpretations of the law and life.
  • Moses and mankind exhibited an amazing understanding of authority in asking God before falling back on their own way of understanding truth. 
  • Trust in God was the thread that weaved throughout this entire story. The women trust God enough to take a risk, the men trust God enough to lay down their pride and arrogance to ask God.
  • The women’s fight for personhood ended up not just being for them. In the end, they stood for all marginalized people whether due to gender or any other labels. Their cry went far beyond land and inheritance. Their risk gave them a voice, but, in doing so, opened the ears of the leaders so that they too would hear God’s voice.

Our lesson – Once we have risked letting God take us outside the box, we have no preparedness for where he will take us. Our only preparation is to listen to the voice and direction of God trusting God all the way.

Heber Brown III, former Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md grew tired of visiting members of his church for diet-related illnesses. He was exhausted offering just prayers and scripture at their bedsides. He knew they were invisible, they lived in a produce desert. He wanted to put feet and hands to his prayers through God’s truth. The closest grocery store to the church, one that offered fresh produce, but it also was a high end business – he thought maybe there could be a partnership. As he went to look into the possibilities he wondered the aisles of the store landing in the fresh produce section. There he found an amazing array of produce. Then, as he looked at the prices it hit him that even in a partnership, any partnership would be another effort at charity, it too, would not give his people dignity or a place at the table. This would not bring the people to true personhood. He left frustrated without talking to the leadership of the store and headed back to Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. He knew the people needed a road to personhood not just another version of victimhood. Reverend Brown thought of the daughters of Zelophehad. He thought of their desperate out of the box thinking, their passion to be seen and heard. He wondered what risky act like standing in front of Moses and elders would look like. He was tired of the standard lie he told himself that the problem is just too big to solve. As he arrived across the street from the church he took a look – there, he says, he had an 

epiphany. If we couldn’t afford fresh food, why not use church land to grow our own? That’s just what we did. On about 1,500 square feet of our church’s front yard we now grow greens, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, and herbs. We sell the produce at rates that beat the pricing of local markets and the garden has deepened our ties to our local community as well. The vision grew to the point where now under the banner of the Black Church Food Security Network, I help other African American congregations establish gardens on their land and link the churches with historically marginalized Black farmers to provide a pipeline for fresh produce from “soil to sanctuary.” I realized rather quickly that what we were being led by God to do in our ministry context was not simply transactional, but rather transformational.”

This story is not about feeding the hungry, housing the unhoused, it is not about wars and injustice, it is not about gender inequality, it is not a call to action. It is a call to question and challenge. To search for the truth and decide if the interpretation of truth you are given is truly true.

Five women, sisters, chose to stand against the ingrained traditional way of thinking – the ‘Godly ways’ according to those before them. They stood against the thought that change cannot happen. They refused to believe that God stood with injustice instead for justoce. They chose to not sit as victims and, instead, stand for change. They joined a parade of the countless individuals and organizations that have challenged and questioned the long held translations and interpretations of God’s truth.

The Syrophoenician woman, knowing that she was considered unclean by the followers of Jesus, still challenged Jesus on his statement comparing her to the dogs. Jesus agreed and changed the view of the disciples forever.

Gentile Conelius was instructed by God to speak with the Jewish Christian Peter. Knowing that was unacceptable to Peter’s interpretation of God’s people he hesitated and soon Peter entered Cornelius house. Changing Christianity forever.

The bible is replete with stories of those who asked questions and voiced challenges. Stories of those sought personhood knowing that they were created for nothing less.

Are you ready to take the risk and do the work to follow the footsteps of five invisible women who just wanted a seat at the table?

Let’s Pray.

Music  [Slides]

Verse 1

You are here moving in our midst
I worship You I worship You
You are here working in this place
I worship You I worship You

Chorus

(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are

Verse 2

You are here touching ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You
You are here healing ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You

Chorus

(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are

Tag

That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are

Bridge

Even when I don’t see it You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it You’re working
You never stop You never stop working
You never stop You never stop working

Chorus

(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are


Community [Slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday,  Collaborative Faith, Judges 4:1-7
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Beginning Wednesday, October 5m (new start date) at noon (5 weeks)
  • Cleveland County Crop Walk, Sunday October 16 @ 1:30pm, locally and globally, Food and Shelter has doubled it number of clients served by 100% since Covid hit (has not gone down)

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.”

Order, Words, & Voices 09.18.22

Order, Words, & Voices
09.18.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs:         How Great Is Our God            Christian
                Build My Life

Call to Worship                                Rick

Song:             I Love You Lord                Christian    

Reading            Exodus 15                    In Person – Martha

Lord’s Supper/Song    I Love You Lord                Christian/Rick

Message            A Witness                    Rick

Song:             How Can I Keep From Singing        Christian

Howdy                                    

Closing Peace                                Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music  [8 slides]

How Great Is Our God

The splendor of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
The Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

Build My Life

Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You

Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
We live for You

Holy there is no one like You
There is none beside You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me

I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken

Call To Worship/Lord’s Prayer [13 Slides]

Call To Worship
When humans worship God the creator, articulating our praise and adoration because of who God is and what God has done, we are, whether we realize it or not, summing up the praises and adoration of the whole creation.  

This is why our physical expression is natural. As we sing, pray, and dive into the word that is God’s good news – in all of this, we recognize who God is, and all that God has done. 

As we go deeper allowing praise to impact our innermost parts, through repentance, forgiveness, our humanness experiences the physical relief and settling of peace, and the relief of joy – for that moment, our burdens are lifted. 

And as we allow our minds to dig into deep thought and consideration, our hearts to fill our eyes with tears, our hands raised or our heads bowed, or, it may even be that a solitude plants us in our seat to absorb God to whom our focus has turned  – in that moment, in this moment, everything ceases to be about us. 

This is what was happening when Moses and the Isrealites began spontaneously singing and dancing after their successful crossing of the Red Sea. 

This also explains why Miriam and all the women picked up tambourines and continued singing and dancing throughout the throng of stunned, and now free, Israelites. This is why we gather, this is why we sing, listen, and pray. 

Yes, we will soon be thirsty again, we will soon forget the provisions of the creator, grumbling will replace our praise. But, in this moment, as the waters calm, we praise because we remember. May we now share in this moment. May we now join the Isrealites and permit God to set our feet on dry ground and may we now look back and gaze upon all that God has done. 

May we set aside concerns about future chariots, horses, and soldiers. May we lay aside coming storms and as well as our probable hunger and thirst. May we, in this moment, recognize and remember our mighty, loving, compassionate, merciful, and grace filled God. May we worship, may we praise.

Prayer [Please stand and share in the voicing of the Lord’s Prayer and then remain standing following the prayer] 
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, and deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Amen.

Music (1 slide)

Music

I Love You Lord

I love You Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
O my soul rejoice
Take joy my King
In what You hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound
In Your ear

Reading [No Slides]

After God rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh and his armies, Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted. God has hurled Pharoah’s horses and drivers into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense, God has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord reigns for ever and ever.”

As Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophet, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver God has hurled into the sea.”

Exodus 15:1-2, 18-21
Lord’s Supper/Music (No Slides]
Introduction
The observance of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is often approached as a holy moment restricted to those who are holy and able to come to the table in a state of holiness. However, when Jesus first instituted this practice, he did so at a table full of his disciples, men who had no real idea what he was talking about, who probably felt that Jesus was acting unusually weird. It was a group that included one who had already betrayed Jesus, and another who refused to believe that he could be the next to betray his friend. It was also a group who after this holy time, would argue about which of them would be the greatest. No, they were not a holy group, they were humans, humans who needed God’s grace, humans who needed this holy moment to prompt them to remember all other holy moments. This was a moment much like the moment when the Isrealites spontaneously sang and danced in recognition of God’s mighty work. It was, and it is for us today, a moment when we, together, remember that God was human just like us and took our humanness to the cross, and that Jesus was also, and is also, holy, unlike us – and that he hung on that cross to death and then walked out of the grace to life. Like the Isrealites at their rescue and redemption, today we do the same at our rescue and redemption, we eat and we drink, remembering the act of the almighty God in the flesh and in the divine. As we open up the and eat the bread, let us remember and rejoice.

[music plays while elements are distributed and partaken of]

Music

I Love You Lord

I love You Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
O my soul rejoice
Take joy my King
In what You hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound
In Your ear

Message -a witness [16 Slides]
Exodus 15

The Isrealites were having a party, and, at this point, if there ever was a group that had a reason for a party – the Isrealites did. They were now free, they were no longer slaves. They were now humans and not property. And now, they had a sea between them and Pharoah. God was the guest of honor at this party.  This party also involved the first party song, actually it is the first song sung documented  in the Bible.

The song was told the story of God and their experience with God,

[Slides] “I will sing to the Lord, for God is highly exalted. Both horse and driver have been hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense; God has become my salvation. The Lord is my God, and I will praise God, my father’s God, and I will exalt God. 

[Slide-leave up to next slide] The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. God has hurled Pharaoh’s chariots into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered the mall; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.”

The song told all their their story of deliverance that was accomplished by God’s mighty hand. The more they sing, the more it stuck in their minds. As they sing, Moses’ sister, the prophetess Miriam, runs and grabs her tambourine, and all the women run and grab their tambourines (apparently this was something they was always kept accessible, it was even a priority when you were dragging your luggage across the sea bed while being chased by Pharoah’s armies). The women began playing the tambourines and singing the constant vital reminder.

[Slide-leave up to next Slide] “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

It was a party where everyone was involved and everyone was going to go home with a lasting significant party gift, the forever echo of their story in song. More importantly, a story of their great and almighty God, as witnessed by their own eyes, feet, arms, mind, emotions, and every part of their being.  
Since they did not have paper and pencil, they did not have the printing press, most of them were not literate – this story needed to resound for them and that was best done in a song. A song that would remind their minds and fill their hearts. It was the evidence of what God had done – a moment that could only be believed if you had, yourself, experienced it…which they had. The song was actually their debriefing, a moment to consider all that had happened and all that they had seen. A moment, and a song, that would be a vital stepping stone for the trust and strength they would need in future days..

It was a moment that came out of an intense experience orchestrated by God.  If we go back a couple of chapters we see the behind the scenes workings of God to bring them to this moment.

[Slide] ‘When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. 

[Slide]They are not ready to trust me in battle yet.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for [thinking they were ready for battle.]’ (Exodus 13:17-18)

[Slide] ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites they are to camp by the sea. Pharaoh will think that the Israelites are wandering around Egypt in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.” 

[Slide] And, God continues, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart regretting letting them go, so he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will see that I am the Lord.” 

[Slide] So the Israelites did this.’…and then as Pharoah and his armies were advancing on the Isrealites ‘the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 

[Slide] That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 

[Slide] And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.’ (Exodus 14:1-5, 29-31)

[No Slide]In this orchestrated moment we see and understand everything else about the story of the deliverance of the Isrealites. Everything was done in order that the people would realize that their deliverance came from God, that their deliverance was by God. In this Sea Parting moment had experienced God’s power personally, it was through all five senses, they saw, they heard, they touched, tasted, and even could smell the water. It was personal which is what they needed. They had fully witnessed the power of the Almighty God. They saw that God could be trusted, and was present, even when they would be up against any wall – an unforgiving sea or a mighty army.

Ten times they had seen the heart of Pharaoh hardened and, in response, the power and might of God was present. This eleventh time, as their backs were against the sea, a moment when they could not help but feel the hopelessness of fear, God was present. 

[Slide] Christian Writer Donald C. Fleming says, “The song that Moses and the people sang was more than just a song of rejoicing over a fallen enemy. It was above all a song of praise to God, whose character the people had come to know better in the events of their deliverance from Egypt. 

[Slide] God was the God of power who saved God’s people and overthrew their enemies, a God of frightening majesty and holiness who so directed the forces of nature that arrogant, rebellious people were destroyed. Yahweh executed God’s judgment on Egypt’s gods and proved to God’s people that the Lord was the only God. 

[Slide] Moreover, God was their covenant Redeemer, and was faithful to promises.  In addition the victory gave Israel confidence for the future. As God overthrew mighty Egypt, so God would too overthrow less powerful nations that Israel would meet on the journey ahead. 

[Slide] Having redeemed God’s people from bondage, God would surely bring them into the land they had been promised. (Donald C. Flemming)

[No Slide] The power of this song, like the power of this moment, was to prepare the people for the battles ahead, the moments where they again will feel as if they are backed against the sea. Will they keep this story in their minds and hearts and continue to remember the details of the experience?  Will they let this understanding enhance their understanding of God through the experience? Will they allow this to lead them to a true worship of God?

When Peter, James, and John witnessed Jesus with Moses and Elijah, Peter’s first response was to freeze this moment in time – to stay there on the mountain. He desired to remember the moment and hold only to the experience. Peter, James, and John would need this experience as they went on to survive as Jesus was arrested and then as they led the New Testament Church. However, Peter attempted to push them to stay in the moment, the experience. “Let’s build houses and just live up here, me and the guys could watch Moses, Elijah, and Jesus talk and hang out forever1” His focus was on the experience, not how it could help him better trust God. Staying on the mountain, trying to always replicate the experience would stunt their growth and cripple them as leaders. They need to move forward.

On the other hand the prophet Isaiah also had a moment, an experience with the true God, through which Isaiah experienced the power of the Almighty God. When it was time for him to move on and grow from the experience he was ready.  ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

We cannot stay in a moment, we must allow the moment to grow us in our trust of God and to move us forward.

When the Isrealites saw, experienced, and felt the mighty nature of God, when they, through the avenue of a song, remembered the details of God’s power, they faced a decision. Do we stay here on the opposite side of the sea from Pharoah smugly taunting him or do we move forward to God’s promise? Do we relegate this experience to a great memory, or do we go forward with it? Do we allow it to lead us to true worship of the true God? Do we allow this to move us to worship which will move us to a deeper knowledge of God and trust in God? Do we stay here or they do we take this experience, this enhanced understanding and go forward?

This was a crucial moment, the very next thing we see with the Isrealites, actually in chapter 15, is a crisis. They are hungry and thirsty and yet had no water or food. They began complaining, grumbling about Moses and forgetting the God who was present as well as mighty. 

NT Wright theorizes that there are ‘two golden rules at the heart of spirituality. [Slide] (1) You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines. Those who worship sex become obsessed with their own attractiveness or prowess. Those who worship power become more and more ruthless. So, what happens when we worship the creator God whose plan is to rescue the world which will be accomplished by Christ the Lamb who was slain? The answer comes in the second golden rule of spirituality, because you were  made in God’s image, [Slide]  (2) Worship makes you more truly human. When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image  you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive.’ (NT Wright, 

Let’s connect the dots:

  • God rescued the Isrealites from slavery through ten mighty acts. But, God knew that through the personal acts these people did not make a personal connection between themselves and God. It had all happened from afar. Moses,  God, and sometimes Aaron, were the ones involved with Pharoah, not the average Isrealite.
  • God sent the people out of their way to shield them from a battle they were not ready for and to another moment they desperately needed.
  • God set the Israelites backs against the sea leaving them with unswimmable waters on one side and Pharoah’s approaching armies on the other.
  • God gave the people a first person moment with God. The waters split and the Isralites reached the far side before the armies reached them. Personal- they experienced it with all five of their senses.
  • God let nature take its natural course, the waters fell, destroying Pharaoh’s army and resources.
  • The Isrealites debriefed through a song they would remember and recite, lyrics detailing their personal encounter with God, this would be the beginning of their journey of trusting God. Their worship of this God would deepen as their knowledge and understanding of the God they worshiped grew. They would be the witnesses of this moment to those not present in the moment.
  • The Israelites’ trust of God would grow as their experiences with God continued.

Is your worship dependent on your growing understanding of God or is it stuck somewhere in the desert?

Let’s Pray.

Music  [4 slides]

There is an endless song

Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart (want to sing)

Community [2 Slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday,  When you have no voice, Numbers 27:1-11
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Beg. September 28 at noon (5 weeks) – seeking interest for evening study

Closing Peace [1Slide]
May the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction [1 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 you even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed and you are being redeemed. So go in peace.”

Order, Words, & Voices 09.11.22

Order, Words, & Voices
09.11.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs:     We Cry Out                        Lynn

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer                        Rick

Song:         Open My Eyes That I Might See        Lynn
            Great Things

Reading        Exodus 4:10-26                    In Person – Nikki
                                        On Line – Randy

Song            Oceans                        Lynn

 
Message        I Got You                        Rick

Song:         Open Our Eyes Lord                Lynn    

Howdy                                    

Closing Peace                                Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music  [12 slides]

We Cry Out    

Verse 1
Oh Lord we cry out we’ve been lost
We need Your mercies oh God
We repent for our ways and we turn to You again

Chorus
Oh God we cry out for Your mercy
Oh God we cry out for Your grace
Oh God we cry out set us free
Oh God we cry out once again (once again)

Verse 2
Oh Lord we cry out we’ve been lost
Change our hearts to Yours oh God
We repent for our sin and we turn to You again

Chorus
Oh God we cry out for Your mercy
Oh God we cry out for Your grace
Oh God we cry out set us free
Oh God we cry out once again (once again)

Call To Worship/Lord’s Prayer [10 Slides]

Call To Worship
Worshiping the God we see at work in Jesus is the most politically charged act we can ever perform. Christian worship declares that Jesus is Lord and that therefore, by strong implication, nobody else is. 

Our acts of worship, whether corporately or silently alone, commit us to alliance, to following Jesus, to being shaped and directed by him. Worshiping God reorients our whole being, our imagination, our will, our hopes and our fears away from this world. 

Worship orients us to a world in which love is stronger than death, where the poor are promised the kingdom, to a world reflecting the holiness and faithfulness of God. 

Worship plants a flag that supersedes all the flags of nations including our own. Worship challenges tyrants who think they are, if not divine, at least holy. 

Worship creates – or should create, if it is allowed to be truly itself – a community that marches to a different beat, that keeps in step with the Lord. We are the Body of the Messiah. (NT Wright, Simply Jesus 217-218)

Prayer [Please stand and share in the voicing of the Lord’s Prayer and then remain standing following the prayer] 
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, and deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Amen.

Music (32 slides)

Open My Eyes That I May See (Open My Eyes)

Verse 1
Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free

Chorus
Silently now I wait for Thee
Ready my God Thy will to see
Open my eyes illumine me
Spirit divine

Verse 3
Open my mouth and let me bear
Gladly the warm truth everywhere
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share

Chorus
Silently now I wait for Thee
Ready my God Thy will to see
Open my eyes illumine me
Spirit divine

Great Things

Verse 1
Come let us worship our King
Come let us bow at His feet
He has done great things
See what our Savior has done
See how His love overcomes
He has done great things
He has done great things

Chorus
O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

Verse 2
You’ve been faithful through every storm
You’ll be faithful forevermore
You have done great things
And I know You will do it again
For Your promise is yes and amen
You will do great things
God You do great things

Chorus
O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

Bridge
Hallelujah God above it all
Hallelujah God unshakable
Hallelujah You have done great things

Chorus
O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

(REPEAT)
You’ve done great things

Ending
You have done great things
O God You do great things

Reading [No Slides]

[Nikki] Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who makes humans mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it me, the Lord. Now go, and I will be with you, I will tell you what to say.” But Moses begged, “Please send someone else.” 

[Randy] God’s anger was kindled against Moses, and God said, “What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? You know that he can speak well. I will tell you what you are to tell him to say. He will speak for you to the people; he will be your voice, and you shall guide him behind the scenes as to what to say. Take this staff in your hands, with which you shall perform the signs.”

[Nikki] Moses went back and said to his father-in-law Jethro, “Please let me return to my own people in Egypt and see if they are still living.” Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” God then said to Moses, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who were seeking your life are dead.” So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt carrying the staff of God in his hand.

[Randy] The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power, but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you will say to Pharaoh, ‘God says to you: Israel is my firstborn son, yet, when I said to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” You refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

[Nikki] As Moses and his family and workers were on their return to Egypt, at a place where they spent the night, God met Moses and tried to kill him. But,  Zipporah, Moses’ wife, took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, touched his feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So God let Moses alone.

[Randy] God then said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So Aaron went, and met Moses at the mountain of God. There, Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord, and all the signs God had given. Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and performed the signs in the sight of their people. The people believed, and when they heard that God had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Exodus 4:10-26
Music 17 Slides]
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Verse 1
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand

Chorus 1
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Verse 2
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Chorus 1
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Bridge
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

Chorus 2
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Message – I Got You [19 Slides]
Exodus 4:10-26

[Slide 1- leave slide up for these three paragraphs] As we stood on an extremely crammed subway, attempting to keep our bags from rolling into others at every ‘stop and go’ of the train our train made an unexpected jolt forward, I was thrown backwards. In the midst of my fall I heard the words, “I got you.’ Almost immediately, I realized that the large scary looking man standing behind me was now holding me, keeping me from hitting the ground.

‘I got you’, I don’t think I will ever forget the voice. ‘I got you’ It would be a perfect Hallmark movie moment except that he already seemed tired of me by the time I thanked him later.

Chapter 4 of the book of Exodus may be one of the most stuffed full chapters in the bible. 

  • As a whole, it is the story of Moses going from hiding to avoid everyone, the Egyptians as well as the Isrealites – to his journey with his brother Aaron and his wife Zipporah to return to Egypt. 
  • It is a story of Moses, a story of Aaron, and a story of Zipporah. 
  • It is a story of the anger, patience, and grace of God. 
  • It is the story of the determination of God in his calling of us. 
  • It is a story of a mark of blood to identify an entire people. 
  • It is a story of doubt, of unfaithfulness, of the fear of God, and mostly, the mighty power of God’s calling. 
  • It is a story of God and a story of man and God.

It is also possibly among the 10 weirdest Bible chapters in the entire Bible.

It is a layered collection of stories – each layer dependent on the other layers.

  • The layer of the story of Moses, who, after 40 years on the run, had an unexpected run in with God. 
  • A story of God calling Moses back to Egypt to deliver the Isrealites and a story of Moses pleading with God to choose someone else. 
  • A story that reveals the anger of God towards Moses’ resistance to God’s call, and, at the same time, a story that depicts God’s patient grace in wooing Moses to accept this journey. 
  • The most important thing to recognize about Moses, however, is his struggle with faith – it may be more accurate at this point to say religion rather than faith. 
  • Moses was born Israelite, raised with the worship practices of the Egyptians and their gods but also had a sprinkling of the Jewish practice of worship of their monotheistic God. 
  • After Moses’ marriage, he probably accepted the religious practices of his father in law Jethro, who was a Midanite priest. 
  • Midianites were the descendants of Abraham and his second wife Keturah (or third depending if you count Hagar a wife). The specifics of the Midianite worship are fuzzy but may be more reflective of the worship of Egyptian gods than the God of the Israelites. 
  • The household practices (including faith) of Moses, his wife Zipporah, and their children was most likely Midianite
  • There is no record of Moses’ circumcision, although many Jewish Midrash writers believe Moses, along with Adam, Seth, Noah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Job  were born circumcised. (Midrash of Ki-Tetze, & Rabbi Nathan)
  • Moses was probably a bit of a mess in regard to spirituality, person devotion, and the God or gods he claimed to worship. Moses definitely held a majority of the blame for not circumcising of his son, he probably had not shared the elements of his own faith(s) with his son or family. 
  • Hesitancy may be the biggest factor in Moses’ apathy towards his own faith and that of his family, a hesitancy to commit, an apathy towards trusting any of the God, or gods, of his religions.
  • The layer of Moses’ brother Aaron 
  • Aaron was called to be a mouthpiece for God’s message through Moses. 
  • Aaron’s calling is not voiced in the pages of the Torah, or our bibles, but nevertheless he appears to have accepted with an open heart.
  • The layer of Moses’ wife Zipporah
  • Originally impressed by Moses’ kindness, however, she appears to have had no voice in her own marriage to Moses. 
  • It is possible she was determined to stick with the religion of her father rather than accept the practices of the worship of the God of Jacob. 
  • The fact that her son was not circumcised may have been as much her determination and disbelief in the God of Jacob as it was Moses apathy to commit to any faith.

The layer of Zipporah’s father Jethro

  • A descendant of Abraham and his wife Keturah
  • A Midianite priest, not a Jew.
  • Probably aligned more with the Egyptians than the Hebrews, 
  • Jethro took in Moses for 40 years and gave his daughter Zipporah as a wife to Moses. 

The thread that brings these layers together is, of course, the mission of deliverance for the Israelites.  A thread that requires personal faith, acceptance, surrender, encouragement, and sacrifice.

As we approach the layers of Exodus 4, Moses was still trying to figure out who he was. 

  • Was he Egyptian or was he Hebrew, or, was he Midianite.  
  • Was his God the God of the Isrealites or the gods of the Egyptians and possibly the gods of the Midianites? 
  • Could hold on to all the faiths that have touched his life? 
  • Did he have to sacrifice all but one of these faiths? 
  • Was he truly ready to take on the label of just one of these faiths? 
  • Was he really ready to even be identified as a person of any faith? 
  • Was he ready to lead his family to accept one faith over the others? 
  • Was it his place to lead his family to turn their back on the gods of their grandfather Jethro? 
  • Was Moses ready to make this the sacrifice, was he ready to lead them to the same sacrifice? 

As God met Moses, Moses’ faith was a frayed thread. His hesitancy to take a stance held him back from full surrender to God – full trust in only one God.

This was not a unique hesitancy in humankind during Moses’ time, it is not a unique hesitancy in our time. It is the same thread that holds us back from the fullness of God’s calling, or, as Jesus called it, a full and abundant life. 

Seldom is our core problem that we are sinners, nor is it because of forces and influences outside of our control. Those are actually just byproducts of our true foundational hesitancy – we fail, or refuse, to trust God. Without that trust, the issues of sin and blame are a waste of time.

Moses’ calling was to proclaim to Pharoah, the Egyptians, and to the Isrealites that “Israel is God’s firstborn son” yet he, Moses himself, was resistant to fully believe that. No wonder he couldn’t speak well, he didn’t believe fully. His issue was not sin, it was not outside forces, it was his heart and his mind. His life made it obvious that he did not trust God with those persons and things most precious to him.

Let’s look at the basics of the story

  • [Slide 2] Moses meets God (God in the form of a burning bush). God tells Moses that he, Moses, is to be God’s avenue of deliverance for the Isrealites.
  • [Slide 3] Moses deflects God’s call with a series of questions for God such as  ‘What is your name?’ and statements of insecurity such as ‘I don’t talk good.’
  • [Slide 4] God answers, confronts, and even provides visual illustrations countering Moses’ questions, statements, and doubts.
  • [Slide 5] Moses still attempts to avoid God’s call – kindling God’s ‘anger against Moses’ climaxing with God gifting Moses his brother Aaron to speak for Moses. Aaron was Moses’ ‘I Got You’ person for Moses on this journey.
  • [Slide 6] Moses asks his non-Hebrew father in law for permission to leave and do as God had instructed. Possibly another attempt to resist God thinking that Jethro will surely say ‘no’ to the exit of Moses, his daughter, and his grandsons – Jethro’s answer of ‘yes’ and “go”.
  • [Slide 7] God, with his anger still kindled, determined to kill Moses. Much like God’s wrestling match with Jacob this takes place after dark. A bizarre moment that is, quite frankly, a moment too deep for us to even consider.
  • [Slide 8] Zipporah influences the outcome of God’s plan to kill Moses by circumcising their son. She took a stance on the God she now believed in, a stance that came out of the fear of God. Zipporah was the next ‘I Got You’ person gifted by God to Moses.
  • [Slide 9] A less hesitant and more confident Moses meets with Isrealite leaders in Egypt telling them all that God said to which, ‘The [leaders] believed, and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that God had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.’ Moses is fully in thanks to Zipporah’s ‘I Got You’ moment.

God called Moses to a mission. The call itself holds a promise for Moses, not a promise of comfort, safety, or even success, but  a promise that God would be present with Moses. A promise that God was his true ‘I Got You’. Through the events of chapter 4  Moses recognizes that the only way he can follow God and lead others is if he trusts God fully, a belief sufficient enough to sacrifice his spiritual options and trust only God. 

[Slide 10 – I Got You – leave up through slide 11] Later on, the Isrealites were turned back from their initial entry into the promised land because they failed to trust God. For their own good they were denied entry because their trust was not ready. This entire population, who were all to be the ‘I Got You’ persons for each other, to be the reminders to each other of the faithfulness of their God – reminding each other that God, indeed, was their ‘I Got You’ – failed to be there for each other.

[Slide 11 – leave up through Slide 12] NT Wright says, “God calls us to active participation, to a new life that is both God’s gift and a deeply humanizing power, a new breath within us.” (NT Wright, Broken Signposts 65)

[Slide 12 – leave up through Slide 13] Moses’ calling was to be a light to the Israelites as well as to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The calling was simple – show them God, speak truth, live out a dependence on God, and God’s truth, daily in front of the eyes of all God placed in Moses’ path. This is our calling as well.

[Slide 13 – leave up through slide 14] The problem was that Moses was going to Egypt to rescue the circumcised people of God. For Moses to have an uncircumcised son would be blatantly hypocritical. Moses could not do this, he would be carrying the false gods of the Egyptians to the people who knew the one true God. Moses’ personal life had to be in order. This is our problem as well.

[Slide 14 – leave up through slide 15] Moses’ biggest hurdle to trusting God was his own reflection in the mirror. He only saw and heard what he thought and believed about himself. ‘I can’t speak. I don’t know who I am or what I believe. I am a fraud and they all know it. I’m not ready for this. I’m not good enough. No one will support me on this journey, I will be all alone.’ This is our hurdle as well.

Moses had an eyesight problem, he did not see what God saw in him. He did not see what God had been preparing him for his entire life. This is where our eyesight fails as well.

Following the resurrection, Jesus stood on a beach, feet in the sand, visiting with his disciple Peter. Three times Jesus asked Peter the question, “Do you love me” Peter’s defensiveness rises with each time the question is asked. 

[Slide 16] “Peter, do you love me?”
”Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
“Feed my lambs.”

[Slide 17] “Peter, do you love me?”
”Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
“Tend my sheep.”

[Slide 18] “Peter, do you love me?”
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go. Follow me.”

[Slide 19] Offended and exhausted, Peter nodded toward the disciple John, “What about him?”
Jesus answered, “How is John your business Peter? Follow Me!”

In this brief uncomfortable conversation with Jesus, Peter’s pride, arrogance, position, and entitlement was chipped away, sacrificed – all these unholy things that had to be wiped away before Peter would be ready to be the apostle during the beginning of the church. For Moses it was the need to let go of the old in order to be able to fully be able to grab ahold of the true, to trust God. 

For us, the call requires the same – What keeps us, what keeps you from fully trusting, and following, God?

Let’s Pray.

Music  4 slides]

Open Our Eyes

Verse
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus (X 2)

Community [3 Slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday,  Exodus 15:1-21, ‘a witness’
  • [Slide]  Fall Bible Study – Beg September 28 at noon (5 weeks) – seeking interest for evening study
  • [Slide] Lunch & learn with Dr. Samuel L. Perry; Topic: Christian Nationalism and the Local Church, This Wednesday, September 14 11:30am – 1:00pm. Free Lunch and copy of Book, RSVP required and space limited. Registration link at gfnorman.com 

Closing Peace [1Slide]
May the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction [1 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 you even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed and you are being redeemed. So go in peace.”

Order, Words, & Voices 08.28.22

Order, Words, & Voices

08.28.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song: One Thing & He Leadeth Me Lynn

Prayer Rick

Reading Genesis 39:1-20 In Person Segun 

On line Sherri

Song: I Will Trust In You Lynn

Message Unfair Rick

Song: I Will Trust In You Lynn

Howdy/Community Dave, Segun, Sherri

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music [23 slides]

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

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

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

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

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

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

Your love never fails

It never gives up

Never runs out on me

One thing remains

One thing remains

He leadeth me O blessed thought
O words with heavenly comfort fraught
Whate’er I do where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me

He leadeth me He leadeth me
By His own hand He leadeth me
His faithful follower I would be
For by His hand He leadeth me

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom
By water’s calm o’er troubled sea
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me

He leadeth me He leadeth me
By His own hand He leadeth me
His faithful follower I would be
For by His hand He leadeth me

Prayer [5 Slides Midway through]

God, you are the God of presence. You, O God, were present with Joseph as he sat in a prison for a crime he did not commit, you were present as Elijah hid in the back of a cave fearing the vengeance of a Queen, you were present with Jesus as he sat in a jail cell listening to cries outside his window screaming for his execution. Even when we do not see or sense your presence, you are there. Help us to trust that you are always with us, so that we might live faithfully in this world. 

[Slides Begin] [Join me as we voice the Lord’s Prayer]

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, and deliver us from evil.

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

Amen.

Reading [No Slides]

[Segun] Jacob settled in Canaan, the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. When Jacob and Rachel’s son, Joseph, was seventeen years old, he was shepherding the flocks with his brothers, the sons of the servants of Rachel and Leah. Joseph brought a bad report of his brothers to Jacob. Jacob, now called Israel, loved Joseph more than any other of his children because he was the son of his old age, and he made Joseph an ornamented robe. But when his brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than them, they hated Joseph and could not speak peaceably to him.

[Sherri] Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. Joseph said to his brothers, “Listen to the dream I had. We were all there, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

[Segun] Then Joesph had another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 

[Sherri] When Joseph told the second dream to Jacob, his father sternly corrected him saying, “What kind of dream is that? Are we all, me, your mother, and your brothers, going to bow before you?” So now, Joseph brothers were even more jealous of him, and his father kept the matter in mind.

[Segun] Later, Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his robe and threw him into a pit. With Joseph sitting in the pit, the brothers sat down to eat, and when they looked up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead on their way down to Egypt. Joseph’s Brother Judah said to the other brothers, “What will we gain if we kill Joseph? Instead, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, after all he is our brother, our own flesh.” 

[Sherri] The brothers agreed. As the Midianite traders passed by, they lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And the Midianites took Joseph to Egypt.

[Segun] With Joseph gone, and money in their pocket, the brothers took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood and took it to their father Jacob saying, “We found this coat, it may have been the coat you gave to Joseph, we are not sure.” 

[Sherri] Of course Jacob recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” Israel tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Everyone tried to comfort Israel, but he refused to be comforted. By this time the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharoah’s guard.  (Genesis 37:1-11, 23-36)

Music [23 Slide]

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wondering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty warrior King of the fight
No matter what I face You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Truth is You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Message – Unfair… [? Slides]

Genesis 39:1-20

[Slide 1 – leave up to slide 8] There are two threads woven through the life of Joseph. Both are a blessing and both are a curse…sometimes at the same time. The first thread is [Slide 2] Clothing – a very elemental basic need which can define the difference between life and death, but for some it can be the very definition of our personality and presence. The second thread [Slide 3] Favor/Affirmation is not a need in the sense of life or death, but more of an ethereal need. A need that carries us mentally and emotionally through life, a needed boost to our confidence and a subtle motivator that lifts us up when we most need lifting up.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow list these two threads as being the base, and then the foundation of the very tip, of our hierarchy of needs. 

Over the past weeks, we have observed some miserable folks, all of whom have been treated in ways that are unfair, undeserved, unredeemable, unimaginable, and even unconscionable.  The curtains of the lives of Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and last week’s story of Dinah give us just a miserable perspective on a life burdened by the choices of others. Each story left us with a stench in our nostrils and an echoing in our minds of injustice and mistreatment, silenced voices and unnoticed lives.

Today, as we look at the story of Joseph we get a much broader view. We get to see Joseph from teenager to grown adult. We see him through multiple trials, mistreatment, victories, setbacks, and ultimately the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. Joseph’s story, quite frankly, is painful, it is a story which I would rather skip to the ending, skipping the pain. But, if that were the case we would be unable to see ourselves in this story. For it is the middle of Joseph’s life that allows us to see our own lives. [Slide 4] Joseph’s story is our story, it is  the preparatory flicker of the story of Jesus. The story of Joseph is our reference point for the apostle Paul’s words he spoke in Hebrews 12 – 

[Slide 5] “…let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  [Slide 6] Consider Jesus who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart…Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. [Slide 7] Pursue peace with everyone and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble and through it many become defiled.  Hebrews 12:1b-3, 12-15

To understand the breadth of what Paul is saying let’s first look at Paul’s use of the same words elsewhere.

[Slide 8] “We know that our old self was crucified with Jesus so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

Romans 6:6-7

The sin, sin that entangles us, is not just our personal sin, we must realize this to proceed with truth but to also navigate life in this world while still holding on to our faith – Paul is also speaking to the sin of humanity, the sins of those around us and those far from us historically and geographically. I may genuinely seek to care for God’s creation, but I will still be left with the impact of abuses of others. I may chose to seek and speak truth, but I will still be living with the impact of those who spread  deceit and conspiracies. It is not just my own sin that negatively impact me.

Jesus was without sin, but still, there on the cross Jesus was covered in the sin of all mankind – not his sin, the sins of others. We all bear the brunt of sin, that weight of all of sin becomes the weight of sin we all carry. While we see in Joesph a young man who was not perfect, who faced correction just as we all do, but the pain and misery he experienced was not just the results of his sin.

Let’s look at these two threads through the extraordinary, and yet very disturbing and unfair, life of Joseph. We first meet Joseph as a sixteen/seventeen year old teenager. A bit cocky, seemingly unaware of social clues, blind to his own entitlement, yet strangely attuned to the presence of God. The first of two sons/children, to Jacob and Rachel, and the eleventh son, twelfth of thirteen children to Jacob. Right away, on our first introduction we see the these threads of clothing and favor become a burden.

Jacob shows his unabashed favor of Jacob by giving just him, not his siblings, a beautiful coat – a still clueless Joseph wears the coat, he wears it a lot, which quickly becomes a constant reminder to the brothers that Joseph is dad’s favorite. 

Next, Joseph tells his brothers of two dreams. Both dreams were prophetic, predicting a future status and greatness for Joseph. Again, a clueless Joseph, while wearing the same cursed coat, highlights his own favoredness by telling his siblings. When Joseph tells Jacob, his father attempts to educate Josphe on the fact that no one likes a showoff, and his brothers respond by hating Joesph even more, a whole lot more. Soon, the brothers have stolen Joseph’s coat, sold Joseph into slavery, and reported to their father Jacob and that his favorite son is dead.

The story goes on as the slave traders sell Joseph to Potiphar the captain of the Egyptian Pharoah’s guard. Potitphar was quickly impressed by Joseph’s intelligence and, yet again, favored Joseph enough to make him the master of the household. Potiphar’s wife also favored Joseph, but not for his intelligence. She sought to seduce him but Joseph consistently rejected her advances until the only escape was an actual escape, Joseph fled from her and in running away, she ripped off his garment, holding it screaming that she had just been assaulted by Joseph. 

Joseph now lands in prison, treated worse than a slave, now treated as a criminal of the most disgusting kind. Favored by no one, now wearing the ripped clothing of a nobody. During his time in prison there were glimpses of hope, but none came to fruition. It wasn’t until the Pharaoh had his own dream, that Joseph was remembered and favored once again. Joseph was favored again and quickly rises to second in command to the most powerful man in all of Egypt. 

Now in a position to either prove a point and curse his enemies with his favoredness and royal clothes, or he could use this favoredness, and these clothes, to bless all, including his enemies. He chose the later, ultimately not just saving all the Egyptians from starvation but also his brothers and entire family.

Notice the change that has taken place so far in the life and actions of Joseph. No longer cocky and blind to others, now seeking to bless rather that missing the pain of those around. But we must also remember the pain along the way, the time spent in misery and waiting, the endless waiting, the apparent absence of God. The isolation, powerful but still miles away from family, considered unclean and unacceptable to those that surrounded him, alone.

Joseph’s story ends with Joseph favored and clothed. Reconciled to his family and respected by his enemies. The most powerful ruler in the world, came to him with favor and gratitude and Joseph gave a destitute people the seeds needed to sustain life. When his brothers came repentant and fearful, Joseph raised up their heads and gave them forgiveness and hope. When Joseph ultimately settled with his family, he settled in the clothes of royalty, and the favor of the nations. 

[Slide 9 – leave up for 2 paragraphs] As we take a full view of Joseph’s life, we actually see three threads woven through his story. Clothing, Favor, and Promise. The tip of Masolov’s hierarchy. Joseph had now experienced the finality of the promise given to him way back when he was a teen. The difference now is that he is ready to see the completion of the promise through the eyes of gratitude, compassion, mercy, grace, and love. A Perspective he didn’t have as a cocky, seemingly socially unaware teen, blind to his own entitlement and privilege. 

Here is the key for Joseph, he understood that even in slavery he could be free as long as he kept his perspective focused on the promise. He grasped the essential nature of not living life as a victim, even when he was a victim, because what he saw was God’s future. Somehow, ans this is the amazing aspect of Joseph’s journey, he always remembered the promise of God, he always filtered the events of his path through the power of God’s promise. He never allowed any moment, set back, or even victory, to define who he was.

Joseph held on, even when no one else stood by him, even when God seemed distant and absent. Even as a teen, Joseph sood alone. His father tried to silence him and his brothers tried to eliminate him. Joseph was alone in living with this promise – but, he held on, even in despair he held firmly and knew this was his hope. When he was victim of his brothers sinful brutality, Joseph knew this was not the final chapter – he chose to not live as a victim, he looked ahead. When he was sold as a slave, he continued doing his best enriching a master  who would disappoint Joseph. When success crumbled, instead of leading to freedom he sat in prison, still  knowing this was not the end of this story. He helped those who hurt him, he assisted those who imprisoned him, and he remembered the promised hope set before him.

See, a victim stays in a pit, but one who chooses to not be a victim climbs out. Slavery is a reality, but the impact depends on our state of mind as much as our actual circumstances – freedom is living on a different path even in the bottom of a dungeon cell when no one on the outside is willing to advocate for us. 

This is not to say there was not pain, that there was no doubt, that there were not times whenJoseph desperatly cried out to God. There will undoubtedly be pain. It would be a rejection of all the examples of the believers in scripture and even more, it would be a willing blindness to our reality to suggest that pain and misery do not exist. But, the takeaway of the story of Joseph is about our life, a full look, a full life. A demonstration of the life that Jesus came to give us all. 

Joseph suffered, he was treated unfairly, he grew out of his teen arrogance, he succeeded, he was framed and imprisoned, he saved a nation, and all the surrounding nations from starvation. Joseph forgave. Joseph worked to see others succeed. Joseph survived. Imprisonment did not stop him, slavery did not define him, victimhood did not stick to him. He held to the God who gave the promise that carried him through a life of suffering, rejection, and pain. He lived life in peace, he lived life in fulfillment, he lived because he was looking ahead to see God.

Promise. 

Herbert Lockyer counts that there are over eight thousand promises in the Bible. For most Bibles that equals out to over five promises per page. Promises such as

“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:32

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.”

John 11:25

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” 

John 14:1-3

“And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.”

I Corinthians 6:14

“Creation itself will be set free from its enslavement to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Romans 8:21

And of course, “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Incidently, a promise that took seventy two years for the people to be able to see.

We too, stand on promise. We too, hold onto promise. We too, go through times alone and times of pain. We too do not do them out of the notice of God, nor do we go through them in a place too distant for the promise of God to hold true. We stand, we persevere, we live, we seek, we flourish on the promise of God.

Let’s Pray.

Music  [5 slides]

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Community/Howdy 

  • Howdy…. [No slides] Interview

Dave: Today’s Howdy online and unperson interview is with Segun Bodunde who is here with us unperson, and Sherri Stiger who is on line from McAlester, OK.

  • Where did you grow up?
  • If you are employed, share with us the work that you do, if you are retired share the work you did before retirement.
  • Share three facts with us about yourself that we may not know.

Community Announcements [2 slides]

  • [Slide] Next Sunday,  The God They Did Not Know, Exodus 1:8-2:10
  • [Slide] Miserable Endings, Wednesday Lunch and Bible Study, ? @ noon, schedule at gfnorman.com, bring your own lunch. Final summer study, Hezekiah, II Kings 18-20

Closing Peace [1Slide]

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

Benediction [1 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 you even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed and you are being redeemed. So go in peace.” 

Order, Words, & Voices 08.21.22

Order, Words, & Voices

08.21.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song Cornerstone & Holy Holy Holy Christian

Prayer Rick

Reading Genesis 34:1-29 Nikki & Dona

Song Seek Ye FIrst Christian

Message Vengeful Forgetfulness Rick

Song Seek Ye First Christian

Howdy/Community Steve

Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music [10 slides]

Cornerstone

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name

(REPEAT)

Christ alone cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm He is Lord

Lord of all

When darkness seems to hide His face

I rest on His unchanging grace

In every high and stormy gale

My anchor holds within the veil

My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm He is Lord

Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound

Oh may I then in Him be found

Dressed in His righteousness alone

Faultless stand before the throne

Christ alone cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm He is Lord

Lord of all

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy

Lord God Almighty

Early in the morning

Our song shall rise to Thee

Holy holy holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons

Blessed Trinity

Holy holy holy

All the saints adore Thee

Casting down their golden crowns

Around the glassy sea

Cherubim and seraphim

Falling down before Thee

Which wert and art

And evermore shalt be

Holy holy holy

Though the darkness hide Thee

Though the eye of sinful man

Thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy

There is none beside Thee

Perfect in power

In love and purity

Holy holy holy

Lord God Almighty

All Thy works shall praise Thy name

In earth and sky and sea

Holy holy holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons

Blessed Trinity

Prayer [5 Slides Midway through]

God, you have chosen to be the friend of sinners, you have chosen to be our friend. Lord, we are grateful that your life, death, and resurrection cleanses us from our sins. May you plant peace in our hearts where sin once ruled. Father, may that peace bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.

[Slides Begin] [Join me as we voice the Lord’s Prayer]

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, 

As we learn to forgive the trespasses of others.

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

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

Amen.

Reading [No Slides]

[Nikki] Hamor who was the prince of the region, had a son name Shechem who took Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and laid with her by force. Afterwards, he went to his father, Hamor, and begged, “Get me Dinah to be my wife.” Hamor went out to speak to Jacob, around the same time as Dinah’s brothers were coming in from the field. When the brothers heard they were indignant and angry, because Shechem had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Dinah.

[Dona} Hamor said to Jacob, “My son Shechem loves your daughter with all his heart; please let them get married. As a result, your sons will marry our daughters and our sons will marry your daughters. You will live among us, and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it and get property in it. Let me find favor with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me your sister to be my wife.”

[Nikki] Jacob’s sons were angry because Shechem had defiled their sister Dinah. The sons said to Hamor,  “We cannot give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. You will have to become as we are and every male among you will have to be circumcised. Then your sons will marry our daughters, and our sons will marry your daughters, we will live among you and become one people. If you will not do this we will leave with our daughters.”

[Dona] Hamor and Shechem said yes and did not delay getting circumcised. Then they  spoke all to the men of their city, saying, “These people are friendly with us; let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters.” 

[Nikki] Hamor and Shechem continued persuading their contemporaries, “If we do this they will agree to live among us, to become one people – we just have to all be circumcised like the sons of Jacob. Their livestock, property, and all their animals be ours. Only let us agree with them, and they will live among us.” And all who went out of the city gate heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

[Dona] Before the men were healed and pain free from the circumcision, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, took their swords and came against the city and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. Then the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, they took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their children and their wives, all that was in the houses,.

Genesis 34:1-29

Music [1 Slide]

Seek ye first the kingdom of God

And His righteousness

And all these things

Shall be added unto you

Allelu alleluia

Message – Vengeful Forgetfulness [10 Slides]

Genesis 34:1-29

A couple of weeks ago I said to a fellow pastor, “I am so ready to be done with Jacob!” I was tired of his manipulative self-centeredness, but even more, I was tired of the damage left in the wake of his life. Basically, looking back, I was tired of the honest realistic account of this human who reveals to us our own humanness, and our own human mess. It reveals that nothing is new.  

But, last week we saw the impact of Jacob’s life, but this was a look at a life in the midst of being transformed and changed by God, Jacob by no means became perfect, but his selfishness became a little less selfish and the manipulation became a little less manipulative. The time taken in the old testament to tell the story of Jacob gives us an honest realistic account of  humans and the human mess revealing the process of transformation that is the same process for us – if we, too, are willing to allow God to do the work, if we are to allow Jesus, the evangelist of transformation, to do the work of salvation in our lives.

This week, we are still looking at Jacob, but we see him in a very different stage of life. He is still the husband to two wives, sisters and competitors for his affection, each struggling through her own battle with jealousy; two servants, each of which also are the mothers of some of Jacob’s children – a role neither asked for but were pimped out Leah and Rachel, their masters. And, the addition of twelve or thirteen children (he either has a newborn at this time or one on the way) who surely brought Jacob to regret many of own youthful transgressions.  Jacob has 11 or 12 sons at this point, who range in age of a thirty year time span. And, what may be his real shock of life, he now has a teen age daughter named Dinah, as in around a sixteen year old. Imagine, she was done with puberty, she had her driver’s license, and she was ready to conquer the world, but still she was constantly under the overly watchful eye of parents who had learn how to keep a watchful eye from their parents and grandparents not to mention the watchful eye of these brothers. All of who felt that Dinah should remain at home and in no way interact with the world. And so the story begins.

[Slide] “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the region… (Genesis 34:1)

The New Living Bible may give us a better look at this significant opening statement.

[Slide] “One day Dinah, Leah’s daughter, went out to visit some of the neighborhood girls… (Genesis 34:1, TLB)

She was going to the mall to hang out, to see what was going on. To see the life that she wasn’t experiencing under the thumb of this football team of older, controlling, brothers.

This is a pretty accurate filter for us to use as we begin an understanding of this story. Dinah was getting out of the house for a while in order to see what was going on with the other teen girls. She wanted to live a little, like all the other girls were living. So, she went out to see what she was missing. 

And she saw the world, and she saw the one guy that everyone wanted to see. She saw the son of King Hamor, she saw Shecham, probably the most eligible single guy within miles. Dinah had probably seen Shechem before, as her father, Jacob, would graze his cattle on the land of Hamor, Shechem’s father. 

Jacob and Hamor tolerated a relationship with each other because it was a mutually beneficial relationship- mutual to both men. Neither probably cared for each other but they could use each other, and each sought to milk the relationship for all that was possible and even more in the future. 

So, Jacob’s relationship with Hamor caused this whole story to be very complicated, fiscally risky, and actually life threatening. 

[Slide] “Shechem, son of King Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he took her and raped her.” (Genesis 34:2 TLB)

[Slide] “Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the King of the land, saw Dinah, he took her and lay with her and raped her.” (Genesis 34:2 NASB)

[Slide] “Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, King of the region, saw Dinah, he seized her and lay with her by force.” (Genesis 34:2 NRSU)

While this moment is described as rape. With the nuanced help of historical experts and the recently enlightened thought we have gained through the Me Too movement, we can see this as more than just a rape. Rape, in the writers during the Old Testament times, would frequently use the word rape, even when the act was not a violent act. Often times it was a consensual act on the part of the victim. However, it was used to express a sexual act that should not have taken place, an act that could doom the future of the participants, especially the female. While this engagement between Dinah and and Shechem may have been consensual, it was still an act violating Dinah. If nothing else, the fact that Shechem was a man of political power, and that his father held the fate of Jacob’s business in his hands, it would be easy to understand how a teenage girl could easily be considered a victim of such a uneven power dynamic. 

The odd thing in this story is that Shechem is truly in love with Dinah, and that DInah does not express a desire, nor does she seek a way, to return to the home of her father, mother, and brothers. 

There are two different possibilities of what is going on in the mind of Dinah at this point:

  • She recognizes the cultural thought that since she had sex outside of marriage she has been truly defiled, she is now forever unclean. No one will marry her and no one will accept her, even her family. She had no choice but to stick with Shecham. 
  • She truly shares the love for Shechem that he has for her. She hopes to spend the rest of her life with him.

Hamor and Jacob speak about their 2 children marrying, but Jacob is distracted by what his sons will do when they come in from the fields and hear the news of Shecham and Dinah. Then, Jacob becomes silent and the story no longer is truly about Dinah. The story becomes about the mob mentality that comes on the back of Dinah’s brothers’ pent up rage at the injustices of their own lives. From this point, until Dinah’s brother kill Sheceam, his father, and their community, Dinah is silent, nothing else is said about her, she is just used so the bothers can execute their vengeance, fully forgetting the why and who of their rage. It is not until the brothers force her to return home that we hear anything about her again.

On their own, long before checking on their sister, long before they even remember to rescue her from Shecham’s house, they jumped into mob mentality. And, in the midst of the calculated mob mentality, they put aside everything good and devise a plan of deceit and manipulation to not only punish Shechem, but to brutally kill Shechem and all of his family and community. 

And in the midst of all of this, they forget their hurting sister. They forget that she too is human and has a voice. They forget that she needs them more than she needs their acts of misplaced retaliation. 

In the midst of their vengeance, they forgot the reason for their vengeance. It was no longer about her, their sister, but more about themselves.

That is what happens when we become consumed in a state of vengeance without first seeking the facts. When someone has hurt us, or those close to us, the pain, if we permit it, grows to become a monster that just wants to lash out at the first opportunity. When vegeance takes the place of healing and purpose we lose our ability to see anything but the rage of retribution.

  • [Slide] Vengeance leads us to forget who we are. The brothers of Dinah used their precious identifier of circumcision, a sacrificial mark that that identified their God and served as a reminder of the glue that held them to a promise. But the brothers they allowed this to mark of God’s Fatherhood to be cheapened and meaningless. They not only forgot their sister, but they forgot their God.
  • [Slide] Vengeance leads us to turn our backs on loved ones in order to hold on to our anger and rage. Regardless of Dinah’s thought threads, she was a young teenager, now left alone, confused and facing a future of misfortune. She was facing life as an outcast, the brothers, in her view, were taking away her only hope.
  • [Slide] Vengeance is selfish – it is a selfish act in response to a pain that is seldom our pain to confront.  There is no redemption in vengeance, there is no gain in vengeance, only destruction. The acts of Dinah’s brothers diverted even Jacob’s attention from his daughter to, instead, the actions of her brothers.
  • [Slide] Vengeance is the an unholy rush to not be held accountable to the promises of God, to the teachings of Jesus. God says Love God and Love others. Jesus said, I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

(Matthew 5:44)

[Slide] Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment,” (Matthew 5:21-22)

[Slide] And, Jesus put this into practice when, as he hung on the cross as an innocent man, hanging in our place, he looked upon those who had screamed for his execution, and said to God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I entered the hospital room of an elderly lady who had only recently found out that cancer had spread throughout her body and was now feasting on her brain. A handful of relatives were in the room as the family had been notified there was not long until she would be non-responsive. As I approached her bed I asked what she was thinking about at this moment. She responded that she was thinking about heaven. As we began to speculate on the subject a relative interrupted to loudly share her disgust with the healthcare system, particularly the inconveniences that were caused. I knew this relative and had heard her complaints before but this time there seemed to be an added element of venom and hatred in her voice and her posture. Suddenly, the room was filled with the vengeful voice of this very vocal woman and suddenly the idea of talking about heaven was a far away concept – at a time when it was a very near reality. We never got to talk about the peace and comfort of eternity, instead, we were infected with the hostile voice of this loved one – one who had been forgotten in this moment. The moment had been stolen. The one in pain, the one who needed the moment most was denied the precious opportunity and it was never given back to her.

God calls us to love, not to make the pain of others our opportunity to enact vengeance.

God calls us to love, just as Jesus did as he hung on the cross for each of us.

God calls us to peace, just as he exampled throughout his earthly life.

God does not call us to hatred, God does not call us to hang onto our own hurt or the hurt of others, grasping the resentment and bitterness. 

God calls us to abundance, a fullness of life, not a life shackled and hindered by anger and vengeance.

Music  [1 slide]

Seek ye first the kingdom of God

And His righteousness

And all these things

Shall be added unto you

Allelu alleluia

Community/Howdy [2 Slides]

  • Howdy…. [No slides] In Person Wave

Community Announcements

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, Unfair…, Genesis 39:1-20
  • [Slide] Miserable Endings, Wednesday Lunch and Bible Study, Wednesday @ noon, schedule at gfnorman.com, bring your own lunch. Elijah I Kings 17-19

Closing Peace [1Slide]

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

Benediction [1 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 you even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed and you are being redeemed. So go in peace.” 

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