Pinpointing Your Passion (Titus 2)

Sermon Series Spiritual Gifts 1110 x 624 (1)

Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God. 
Message 4 of 5: Pinpointing Your Passion
Scripture: Titus 2:11-14, The Voice
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 10/20/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. This message was inspired by the Network Curriculum by Bugbee, Cousins, and Hybels.

Reflection Questions
What do you notice repeatedly that breaks your heart?

Now let’s get honest. What annoys you, angers you? We’re not talking about an inconvenience. We’re talking about righteous anger. We’re talking about something that if it were changed, it would bring glory to God and new life to others.

Whatever you named is probably your passion.

Passion is the God-given desire that compels us to make a difference
Passion is like gasoline, it drives us. It’s energy, the movement of the Holy Spirit in our life, faith in action.

Passion is a good gift of God that can drive us to good. If the good gift gets twisted it can drive us to trouble. So we seek the Godly gasoline, the Godly passions- truth, justice, healing, belonging, empowering. Seek the things that bring life, things that matter. Making the wrongs right. Making the broken whole.

Passion is often described as hunger. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6

Passion will keep you up at night and get you up in the morning.

Titus 2:11-14, The Voice
11 We have cause to celebrate because the grace of God has appeared, offering the gift of salvation to all people. 12 Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy. 13 Watch for His return; expect the blessed hope we all will share when our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appears again.

Passion is associated with zeal and enthusiasm
en theos – possessed by God, “God within us”

When we come to faith we repent, we turn from our selfish ways to follow Jesus. This passage instructs us to “run away from the passions of this world, abandoning anything that leads us away from God.” We place our trust in Jesus, we turn to run towards God- aware, awake, alive in Christ, watching for the movement of God, expecting the movement of God.

We choose self-control so we may better help others. We live intentionality because we value the time, energy, and resources we’ve been given. We want to do the right thing. God calls us to follow Jesus in this adventure of the Christian life, the saving of the world.

14 He gave His body for our sakes and will not only break us free from the chains of wickedness, but He will also prepare a community uncorrupted by the world that He would call His own—people who are passionate about doing the right thing.

Passion is from the Greek root path meaning “to suffer.” That’s why the period from Jesus’ arrest to his crucifixion and death is called His Passion. Jesus suffers to end suffering.

Compassion- with passion, with those who are suffering. Most of the time our passion is to end some kind of suffering.

Jesus suffers and dies and rises again because he’s passionate about saving the world- ending evil, injustice, sin, death, shame for all time. He comes alongside us in his great compassion so that our suffering may end.

When we become Christians, when we become “little christs,” we say yes to compassion, yes to suffering so that suffering will end.

There’s good news, we don’t have to do it alone. Jesus prepares a community. As you think about what suffering God is calling you to do something about, who’s on your team? Who will you bring together or what group will you join? A single person can’t end malaria, but together we can.

We’re better together, stronger together. Different people each bring their spiritual gifts. We come together, we become the Body of Christ, and the world is made new. The Kingdom comes.

What suffering is God calling you to end and who is on your team?

Eleanor Josaitis, co-founder of Focus: Hope, in downtown Detroit, and she shared what caused her to become passionate about reaching the inner city.

While watching TV one evening in the late 1960s, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin about the March on Mississippi. She saw the brutality being committed against African Americans and decided something had to be done. She and her family moved from the suburbs to the inner city and began Focus: Hope, to dedicate the last 43 years of her life to “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice.” Eleanor had found her passion and she followed through with her words and deeds.

This past week Tee and I spent a great deal of time talking and it prayer over deaths of desperation. Deaths of desperation are a gentler way to talk about suicide.

There were three murder-suicides in Sarasota county last week. One seems to be a situation of domestic violence. The others are spouses caring for an incredibly ill spouse. The situation was overwhelming. The only way out seemed to be death.

ListeningCare to push back against the epidemic of loneliness, isolation, despair. Folks need someone to listen. It’s not counseling, brainstorming solutions, or fixing. It’s creating space for a person to be heard and received just as they are.

The topic isn’t important. Joys or needs could be shared. It’s about making connections.

We’re praying about how we can be trained more deeply so we can offer this deep training to the congregation. This may be something you’re passionate about. Lowering the suicide rate. Lowering the number of people who feel alone or in despair.

Acts 9:36-43. Tabitha/Dorcas  is described as “devoted to good works and acts of charity.” She dies and the community sends for Peter. When he arrives, the widows of Lydda beg Peter to raise her from the dead because she was the one who’d been caring for them when no one else would. She was their safety net when they had none.

Peter raised her from the dead. He answered the call of God to do something way beyond his abilities. Tabitha continued to answer the call to care for the widows of her community.

What would be it like to be so needed, so important to a group of people they begged for you to be raised from the dead?

At the end of your life, you’d like to look back and know you’d done something about … That passion we would name at your celebration of life and give God the glory for because you answered the calling God placed upon your life.

Pinpointing Your Passion Insert
Complete the worksheet to discover your passion. Your passion is where God invites you to serve. Combine your passion with your spiritual gifts, what God invites me to do.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God
You have a mission, You have a purpose, You are needed
What step will you take today to fulfill your calling?

Prayer: God we honor you and thank you for the spiritual gifts you give us through the Holy Spirit, for the passion and calling your place upon our lives. We are humbled before you, that you would desire us to help you save the world, but you do. You have said I need you and I want you. Help us to hear clearly and see clearly and step out in faith to love and serve alongside you.

Fill us with compassion and empathy. Fill us with fire to see good things come. Fill us Lord because we cannot do this in our own strength. We need you. We always need you.

We ask this in the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, and our Savior. Amen.

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Pinpointing Your Passion © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Learning to Pray- God, please help

God please help October

God, please help… for many of us, it’s our first prayer, our first time reaching out to God. It comes in the midst of tears or as a whisper in the night or a cry of anguish when we are in way over our heads.

Help, I lost my job
Help, I’m losing my mind
Help my kid to love me again
I’m so lonely, help me
I don’t know what to do, help
Help, I have cancer
Help, she’s going to leave me
This pain is unbearable, help me
Help, I can’t do this
help, I can’t stop doing this
Help, I hate my life

We don’t have to be taught how to ask for help. We’re born knowing how. We know how to cry out for a diaper change, or a bottle, or to be burped. Help! It’s as natural as breathing.

But somewhere along the way we grow up and start taking care of ourselves. We start buying into the myth we can become educated enough, rich enough, powerful enough not to need help.

The truth is we all need help. We will always need help.

Even Jesus asked for help. He often went off alone to pray so we don’t know what he said then. But we do know what he prayed on the Mount of Olives in Gethsemane the night before his death. (Matthew 26) He was vulnerable and honest in asking God for help and asking for help from his companions.

In her wonderful book Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers, Ann Lamott said, “There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making. Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through. It is the first great prayer.”

The truth is we all need help. We will always need help. When we know this and accept it, asking for help can again become as natural as breathing. In the asking, we realize God is already there, close as breath.

So let’s learn to pray by re-learning to pray.
It’s not important how you say it.
Just say it – real, raw, honest.
It’s as easy as finishing a sentence-
God, please help…

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Learning to Pray- God, please help © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

My Needs, My Hopes- a prayer based on Matthew 4

left human hand photo

Photo by Jonas Ferlin on Pexels.com

What would it be like to turn toward Jesus right now and place everything into His healing hands? All you are planning and working for. All you are feeling and longing for. All that weighs heavy upon you – for yourself, those you know, and our weary world.

God is near. God is good. God is strong to save.
Let us pray…

Jesus, my Light, my Savior
Breaker of Chains
Bringer of Grace and Hope

I’ve been carrying this by myself
I hear your call to repentance
The turning will save me
Save us

I’ve been trying to make it right in my own strength
I hear your Good News
The trusting will save me
Save us

I place every need into your healing hands
name your needs

I place every hope into your divine care
name your hopes

I’m listening
pause in silence

Thank you for receiving it all
Receiving me

In you, I find rest and wholeness
In you, I find life
Now and New and Forever
Blessed be your Name. Amen.

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My Needs, My Hopes, a prayer based on Matthew 4 © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

One Body, Many Members (1 Corinthians 12)

Sermon Series Spiritual Gifts 1110 x 624 (1)

Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God. 
Message 3 of 5: One Body, Many Members
Scripture:  1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 10/13/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God,

  • Come follow Me = call to relationship with Christ, call to salvation
  • Come follow Me = call to relationship with others, call to serve

You have a mission from God. You have a purpose.

God gives you spiritual gifts to help you figure out your calling to serve and fulfill your calling to serve. Spiritual gifts are divine enablement, like a superpower. God through the Holy Spirit arranges and empowers the superpowers for us to work together for the glory of God and the common good.

To help us understand this Paul gives us a metaphor- One Body with Many Members. We can understand a human body with many parts fulfilling their purpose, working together well.

This reminds me of Mr. Potato Head. 

  • Feet = spiritual gift of Apostleship, the divine enablement to start new things
  • Ear = spiritual gift Faith, faith comes through hearing (Romans 10:17), the spiritual gift of confidence in God
  • Ear = spiritual gift of Mercy, the divine enablement of being with people in pain
  • Eyes = spiritual gift of Wisdom, the divine enablement of seeing a consequence of choices and applying the scriptures in practical ways
  • Nose = spiritual gift of Discernment, the divine enablement of discerning truth from falsehood, good from evil, right from wrong. “Something smells fishy.”
  • Mouth = spiritual gift of Prophecy, the ability to speak truth to power
  • Hand = spiritual gift of Helps, little things done with great love
  • Hand = spiritual gift of Teaching

There are many more body parts for many more people and spiritual gifts. They work together for the glory of God and the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

  • Unity in Christ is incredibly important. In three verses, the word “one” is used 6 times. The word “all” is used 3 times. We’re better together.
  • All spiritual gifts are valuable and needed, thus all people are valuable and needed
  • So powerful and important, breaks down how the world divides us – Jews/Greeks, slaves/free (v. 13)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

We take the good gift of God and twist it into something it was never meant to be.

People not valuing their own gifts = self-exclusion
15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

Story of me freaked out I didn’t have certain spiritual gifts “all pastors have”. I had the false idea that there was a certain gift mix for pastors. 
I didn’t have- leadership, evangelism, shepherding, apostleship
I did have- administration, teaching, wisdom, mercy

The grace and truth- “Everyone in this room is called to be a pastor. Everyone in this room has a different gift mix. You will lead, you will answer your call in the way you are wired. You will bring your gifts to being a pastor.”

We are one body with many members. It’s not about solo-heroic leadership. It’s about us doing it together.

We value each other’s gifts and we do it together. That’s how we make disciples. That’s how we transform the world. That’s how we grow in grace. That’s how we do it- together.

Invitation to discover your spiritual gifts

God’s wired you and given you a mission. It’s good, so don’t self eliminate. God made you you. You’re important and needed.

People not valuing another person and their gifts = exclusion of others
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

We suffer together and we celebrate together. That’s what it means to be the Body of Christ, the Family of God.

Extended Quote by Nadia Bolz-Webber
Sermon on Spiritual Gifts (which, unfairly, doesn’t include snarkiness)
“This ended up being one of my more difficult weeks in recent memory and I found myself having no choice but to rely on the prayers and faith and wisdom and compassion of those brothers and sisters in Christ whom God has put in my life – because frankly I was tapped out. Which is hard because I’d so rather have all the gifts myself and not have to rely on others. But when it feels like a failure on my part that I don’t have the faith or compassion or prayer life or wisdom that I need, I just have to remember that the only real failure is when I fail to recognize that I do actually have all the faith and compassion and prayer and wisdom I need – it’s just that someone else in my life is holding it for me.

See, I believe that it is God’s intention that we need each other. Not in a creepy co-dependent having no boundaries type of way. But in a bearing the face of Christ kind of way because when I cannot see goodness, when I cannot see hope or beauty or the face of Christ in my own heart, in my own life, and through my own eyes I need you to do it for me.”

This is why we’re part of the Body. We need each other. We value each other. We can’t do it alone. We weren’t designed to do it alone.

Accept the invitation to discover your spiritual gifts, to know how valuable you are, how needed you are. God has a purpose for you- to bring glory to God and build up others.

Theme Verse for this series, 1 Peter 4:10-11
10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer- Jesus it is such a great grace that you offer us salvation. Even more so, you offer us the chance to join you in your saving work. You trust us that much. You empower us that much. Reveal to us our spiritual gifts. Reveal to us the calling that you’ve placed upon our lives so we may fulfill it together, so we may fulfill it for your glory, so we may fulfill it for the common good, so we may fulfill it for the building of your Kingdom. Help us to know that we know that we know how valuable we are to you and how valuable we are to each other. God, we ask by the power of your Holy Spirit, that all people would know their value, their purpose, their place in your Body. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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One Body, Many Members © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

Persons are invited forward to choose a flower, place the flower on the cross, and pray at the communion rail. 

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All Saints Remembrance © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Creed, Inspired by Sheridan Voysey

Abraham-and-the-stars

The Creed. Adapted and abridged from The Making Of Us: Who We Can Become When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned by Sheridan Voysey. Adapter unknown. 

The hand that spins the galaxies brought me into being.

The One who holds the stars has made me his own.

I am God’s child. My life is rich, my days are sacred.

I am held by a love that’s wider and higher than the farthest edges of this expanding universe.

I am a pilgrim in this world, in search of wisdom and wonder.

I will take new adventures.

And follow God into the unknown.

What I achieve is not as important as the person I become.

So I will seek to imitate the Nail-Pierced One.

I will step in the direction of my strengths and talents.

They are Spirit-given tools for my God-given tasks.

I will pay attention to my persistent aspirations.

They could be the whispers of God.

I will serve all I can and walk deeply with a few.

I will aim for great things but leave my legacy to God.

The path is long and the terrain at times hard.

Still:

I will not wish for another’s life.

I will take my place, play my part.

Something important will be missed if I don’t.

For the hand that spins the galaxies wants me here.

Sermon on Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12)

Sermon Series Spiritual Gifts 1110 x 624 (1)

Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God. 
Message 2of 5: Spiritual Gifts
Scripture:  1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 10/6/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Each and every one of us as followers of Jesus has a calling from God. We have a mission. We have a purpose for our lives.

The first calling from God is “Come, follow me.”

  • Call to a relationship with God
  • Call to salvation

The second calling from God is also “Come, follow me.”

  • Call to relationship, to follow Jesus out into the world  in relationship and service to others

Upward to God and outward to others- it’s cross-shaped. We have both callings.

The series theme verse is 1 Peter 4:10-11   
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

I have a call to be and a call to do. The big question is, “God, what do you want me to do?” We spend a great deal of time thinking about this and if we’re honest, we’re anxious about this. We’re trying to figure it out and we’re not sure and what if I make a mistake. I want to do the right thing, but it’s a hard thing…

Hear the Good News!
If you are a follower of Jesus, you not only have a calling from God
God gives you spiritual gifts to help you figure out that calling
God gives you spiritual gifts to help you fulfill that calling
God never asks you to do something without equipping you to do it

An easy way to think about spiritual gifts is to think of them like superpowers. Have you ever wanted a superpower? Which one did you want? (When I was little and going through my superhero stage, I wanted to be Lisa Super Steel Nurse.)

We have superpowers, spiritual gifts from God, and we get to join God in saving the world. It’s exciting and God wants us to know about this.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

God wants us to be informed about spiritual gifts.

Paul then goes into a section about how persons were unbelievers but now they are believers and their lives are to be transformed. You have salvation, you have the Holy Spirit, and you have spiritual gifts.

DESCRIPTION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

A Spiritual Gift is a Divine Enablement (v. 4-6)

  • A God-given superpower
  • Spirit, Lord, God activates spiritual gifts. This must be important because it’s repeated three times. You don’t have to fall into a vat of radioactive goop. You don’t have to be bitten by a spider. You’re given them for being a follower of Jesus Christ.
  • Variety of gifts, Variety of services, Variety of activities. There’s a great variety of gifts which must be important because it’s repeated three times.
  • Every believer has a least one spiritual gift, many believers have a few- a gift mix that makes you you (v. 7) No human possesses all the gifts. Each person possesses some. The gifts complement one another. We are better together.

Freely given by God

  • Just like salvation is a free gift of God. Just like God’s presence with us in the Holy Spirit is a free gift of God. Spiritual gifts are a free gift of God.
  • Spiritual Gifts cannot be earned or merited or chosen. They are distributed and empowered by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit chooses (v. 11) God is God. We are not.

Given for the benefit of others, the common good (v. 7)

  • Specifically to build up others and to glorify of God. Again, cross-shaped.
  • If you use your spiritual gifts for yourself, it’s like becoming a supervillain.

EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
This is the largest list of all the gift lists. There are two other lists plus other miscellaneous scriptures. How many can you find?

8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Wisdom– the divine enablement to apply spiritual truth effectively and practically to meet a need. Folks with the gift of wisdom hear the Spirit providing direction. They see consequences others have trouble seeing. Biblical Example: Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. – James 3:17

Prophecy– to speak truth to power in order folks can see the truth, in order folks can turn towards God and away from wickedness, in order for folks to be encouraged to do what is right, true, and good. Biblical Examples: Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus in Matthew 23.

Faith- We become followers of Jesus by faith, by placing our trust in Jesus to save us. The spiritual gift of faith is not only faith in God it is confidence in God. Unwavering belief, especially in the face of trouble. Biblical Example: David the shepherd boy facing Goliath.

Isn’t it exciting to think you have some of these superpowers! God has entrusted you with God’s presence. God has entrusted you with the filling of the Holy Spirit. God has entrusted you with a call on your life. God has entrusted you with spiritual gifts in order to know your call and fulfill your call.

Invitation to discover your spiritual gifts

The message concludes with the prayer before Holy Communion. 

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Sermon on Spiritual Gifts © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.