Pursuing Peace- Messages, Reading Plan, Book Discussion

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to foster peace in the midst of evil, controversy, and conflict. Grow your understanding and skills in peacemaking through our upcoming Sunday messages, Bible reading plan, and book discussion sessions.

Sunday Messages
September 9
Cultivating a Heart of Peace
Matthew 5:43-47; Genesis 1:26-27

September 16
Recognizing a Heart of War
Galatians 6:13-18; Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 6:1-6

September 23
Out of the Box
Mark 6:30-34; John 8:1-11

September 30
Helping Things Go Right
1 Samuel 24; Ephesians 4:1-6

Bible Reading Plan
How does this passage reveal the nature and will of God?
What is the big idea and why is it important?
Is there an example to follow or avoid?
Lord, help me apply the truth of this passage to my life today!

September 2-8

  • Genesis 1:26-27
  • Ezekiel 36:26
  • Matthew 5:43-47
  • 1 John 4:7-12
  • John 14:15-27
  • Micah 4:1-5

September 9-15

  • Galatians 5:13-26
  • Galatians 6:13-18
  • James 4:1-10
  • Luke 18:9-14
  • Romans 12:3-5
  • Matthew 6:1-6

September 16-22

  • Mark 6:30-34
  • Matthew 5:1-16
  • Psalm 51
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Mark 14:3-9
  • Matthew 7:1-5, 12

September 23-29

  • Luke 10:25-37
  • 1 Samuel 24
  • 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
  • John 8:1-11
  • Luke 15:11-32
  • Ephesians 4:1-6

book anatomy of peaceBook Discussion Sessions
Read The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute. If you live in the Sarasota FL area, come to one or more of our book discussion sessions. If you live outside the area, consider forming a discussion group of your own.

Sunday, September 16 at 4:00 pm
Panera on Bee Ridge & Cattlemen

Thursday, September 20 at 9:00 am
Caribou Coffee & Einstein Bagels
Corner of Bee Ridge and Tamiami Trail

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Pursuing Peace © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use these resources with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Labor Day

The Carpenter by Nathan Greene

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.
– Albert Einstein

An extended quote from All for Jesus
by Charles Spurgeon
To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.

He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him.

He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament.

He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.

He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.

To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel…

Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven in which were all manner of beasts and four-footed creatures, which he was bidden to kill and eat, and when he refused because they were unclean, he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, saying, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common” [Acts 10:15; 11:9].

The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables… He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar – if you know what you are and live according to your high calling.

You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live.

The sacred has absorbed the secular.

Prayer for Labor Day
VOICE ONE: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, you declared your work good and so do we. Empower us to continue your good work through the labor of our minds and hands.

VOICE TWO: This Labor Day Weekend, pour out again your blessing and strength on all who work. On those who make it possible for us to have food on our tables:
Farm workers, truckers, grocers, cooks, and restaurant employees
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work to keep us healthy:
Doctors, nurses, technicians, researchers, and medical manufacturers
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who inspire us and lead us to greater good:
Inventors, explorers, religious leaders, teachers, writers, artists, and mentors
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who facilitate needed products and services:
Office workers, managers, and administrators
Retail workers, bankers, lawyers, politicians and accountants
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who make our lives easier and safer by the sweat of their brow:
Warehouse workers, construction workers, janitors and sanitation workers
Police officers, fire fighters, and those who serve in the armed forces
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work with the poor, the abused,
the dangerous and the dying
Social workers, counselors, and therapists
Hospice workers and corrections officers
Those who work in shelters, soup kitchens, and halfway houses
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: Gracious God, help all workers, especially those in authority over other workers, to carry themselves with honor and integrity. Keep them safe from harm and injustice. Provide the opportunities, benefits and pay needed to sustain them and their loved ones.

Those who are looking for employment are invited to stand. Persons may also stand on behalf of a friend or loved one who is looking for employment. Those seated around them lay a hand of blessing and support on them for the remainder of the prayer.

VOICE ONE: Strong and Merciful One, we also commend to your blessing and care those who are unemployed or underemployed. Guard them against discouragement and discrimination. Relieve them of worry and anxiety. Meet their needs for hearth and home and health. Come quickly with a fulfilling job with a trustworthy employer.

VOICE TWO: God of Life, deliver us and all people from greed, corruption, and predatory business practices. Open eyes to sustainable and just solutions so workers of all nations will mutually prosper. Lead us as we work, so nothing we do is for self alone, but for the common good and for your glory.

VOICE ONE: We ask all this in the strong name of Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, the Rabbi of Galilee, who taught us to pray

Close with all praying the Lord’s Prayer

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Click here for an excellent Labor Day Prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Click here, for more information on the beautiful work of today’s featured artist, Nathan Greene

Prayer for Labor Day © 2011 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.

For more information on the art and the use of this prayer in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Sermon Recording- Send Me (Isaiah 6.1-8)

Sermon Series World missions 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 5 of 5: Send Me
Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8
This message was offered Sunday, 8/5/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Isaiah encounters the One True Living God. I imagine it would be like standing in the middle of a holy circus: spectacular, blindingly colorful and bright. Yet the presence of God is so thick the light is coming through a milky veil of smoke and incense.

Next comes the magnificent creatures. God is surrounded by Seraphs: powerful, awe-full creatures. The highest order of angelic beings, associated with light, passion, and purity.

The creatures are praising God, calling out who God is. (That’s what praise is) Holy, Holy, Holy… Lord of the Hosts Heaven… the Earth full of God’s glory. The power and glory of God are over both heaven and earth.

The call is so loud, everything is shaking. The call is so loud you feel it in your chest, it rattles your teeth and your bones.

How could Isaiah think, breathe, let alone speak?

Isaiah can’t help himself. He is undone. He is fully self-aware. He knows he’s not worthy of being in God’s holy presence. None of us are.

Verse 5: And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

  • Can Isaiah cleanse himself? – No!
  • Forgive himself? – No!
  • Save himself? – No!
  • Can any of us? – No!

God knows this and acts

Verse 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”

Notice God takes care of both the guilt and the sin. But look at what it takes! For Isaiah to be forgiven it takes a terrifying angel holding an equally terrifying coal coming straight for Isaiah’s mouth. Thank God for Jesus that we don’t have to go through that!

We could stop the story right here.

Isaiah’s story is mystical and dramatic and unique, yet, we can still connect with it. It’s a classic salvation story.

  • Our eyes are opened to the presence of God, to the beauty and power and love of God
  • We are undone
  • We realize we cannot save ourselves. We are separated from God by sin and everything we try to bridge the gap falls short. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • We speak the truth. We confess who we are and our deep need. God comes with mercy, healing, forgiveness in Jesus. We are saved. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead you will be saved.

Lord Jesus, thank you for seeking me and welcoming me. Thank you for your life, death, and resurrection. I place my trust in you as the leader and forgiver of my life. Forgive me, cleanse me, save me.

We can stop the story right there, and far too many of us do. Undone and done.

This isn’t the end of the story. God doesn’t just come with mercy, healing, forgiveness, and salvation. God comes with coal.

With that fiery coal comes…

  • tongues of fire dancing on our heads, like Pentecost. We are filled with the Holy Spirit in order to share who God is and how God saves.
  • a fire in the belly to join God in saving the world. A new life with new meaning, a new purpose, and new priorities
  • a fire in our hearts, a longing for the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven
  • a call to action

Verse 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

After Isaiah is saved God calls. God doesn’t look at Isaiah or mention his name. God sends out a call across the heavens and it’s available for anyone to respond.

Isaiah makes the courageous decision to draw God’s attention again, “Here am I; send me!” It’s an immediate response- no apathy, no excuses. “Here am I; send me!”

Singing: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…  Wait! I’m not holy enough. I’m not trained enough. Go anyway- God provides the forgiveness and you will learn as you go.

Singing: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine... Wait! I’m not brave enough. I’m not strong enough. Go anyway-  You don’t have to do this in your own strength  God fills you with the power of the Holy Spirit. And you don’t have to do it alone. God sends companions to go with you.

Singing: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine... Wait! What if I fail? You’ve already failed if you don’t try. God’s just asking you to try.

Singing: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/ This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

God sends out a call across the heavens and it is available for anyone to respond. Respond, “Here am I, send me.”

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

 

Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.

Sermon Recording- Sharing the Gospel (Acts 10.34-48)

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 4 of 5: Sharing the Gospel
Scriptures: Acts 10:34-48
This message was offered Sunday, 7/29/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Summary and reading of Acts 10, the story of Peter sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with Cornelius

This is a classic missionary story from the Bible

  • Peter is well trained. He’s been walking with Jesus for 3 years and is now a leader of the early church. He prays and receives visions from God.
  • Peter has a clear calling from God and has received an in-person invitation to travel to a foreign territory to share the Good News with people from another culture.
  • Peter arrives and is immediately welcomed and accepted. He immediately proclaims the good news in a beautiful, eloquent, and theologically perfect way.
  • The people immediately place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized.
  • Peter and the believers who came with him stay a few days to further disciple the new believers.

This is like a 30-minute sitcom. Everything works out perfectly with a happy ending. It doesn’t usually work this way.

Often we are one small part of a long chain of spiritual encounters. Every part is important and valuable.

  • Maybe we plant seeds, building relationship, and trust.
  • Maybe we have the change to pray with someone or share a testimony.
  • Maybe we are the ones to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  • Maybe we are the ones who encourage and disciple a person after they come to faith.

We need to know how to help at every point in the process, including how to share the Good News in graceful and simple ways.

Below you will find the drawings which accompany the explanation on the recording. This method of sharing the Good News is called The Bridge. 

If you want to add scriptures to your explanation, consider using these passages from the book of Romans. They’re often called The Roman Road.

Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 5:8
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For a slightly different version of The Bridge by the Navigators entitled One Verse Evangelism, click here 

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School

student college dorm

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School
We offer this blessing during worship the second Sunday in August. This is usually the last Sunday our college students are in worship before they return to school.

The students are invited to stand where they are seated. (Option: If the congregation is small enough, the students could be introduced at this time and/or given a gift.) The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand and lay a hand of support and blessing on the student closest to them.

Option: The blessing may begin with an invitation for the congregation to offer their own prayers for the students silently or aloud. The following prayer concludes the time of blessing.

ONE: Holy One,
Bless and protect these college students
as they leave us to begin another school year.

Keep them encouraged and full of hope.
Surround them with godly influences and opportunities.

Fill them with discernment,
that they may remain focused, disciplined and far from foolishness.

Grant these students the mind of Christ-
that they may grow in your wisdom and truth
that they may serve with both power and compassion
that they may carry your light throughout their campuses

Thank you for these students
and for providing the resources for them to continue their education.
Thank you for family members, friends, teachers, and coaches
who have mentored and supported them so that this day might be possible.
Thank you for creating us with the capacity to think, speak, discover and reason.
We rejoice in these good gifts from you and give you the honor and glory for them.

Receive our thanks and extend your blessing in the name of Jesus,
who saves us and leads us and teaches us to pray…

Finish with all praying The Lord’s Prayer

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Blessing College Students as They Leave for School © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

 

Come By Here, a prayer for hope

cropped-white-flowers3Thank you to my friend, my colleague, my sister of the same Father, Tee Ormiston, who sent me this moving and powerful prayer in a time of need. Thank you also for permission to share it here. – Lisa <><

Lord With Us
Come by here
Enter In, we pray
Please Abba, Enter In.

We claim-
… the Very Light of the World,
Lord With Us
…transfigured…
to illuminate
the unnameable crevices…
Lord With Us
Come By Here
Enter In
Abba, Father,
Enter In.

Almighty Healer-dissolve
The encroaching dimming of Interior Joy…
Lord With Us
Come by here
Enter In
Abba, Father,
Enter In.

Redeemer, Savior,
Claim, again, the Borrowed, the Holy,
Ray of Hope
Lord With Us
Come by here.
Enter In.
Abba, Father,
Enter In.

Alpha and Omega
… now moisten dulled twinkle of eye…
Gradually, gently quicken the sadness of spirit…
Lord With Us
Come By Here
Enter In
Abba Father
Enter In.

Author of Love, Only, especially…
Whisper, call into weighted heart…
Lord With Us
Come by here
Enter In
Abba Father
Enter In.

Hallelu, Lord With Us, Come By Here…
Enter in…
Again…
And, yes Lord, again…
Hallelu, Lord With Us
Come by here.

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Come By Here © 2018 Tee Ormiston