God Calls, Jonah Refuses (Jonah 1)

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Sermon Series: Jonah, a Hard-Hearted Prophet Meets the God of Grace
Message 1 of 5: 
God Calls, Jonah Refuses
Scriptures: Jonah 1:1-3
Offered 7/9/17 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

The message opens with the story of Mandy Harvey, a deaf singing contestant on America’s Got Talent. (Click here for a video.) Mandy tells her story then sings a song she wrote entitled, “Try.” Mandy had every reason to stop trying- to give up on her talents and dreams in music, but she didn’t.

What talent has God given you? What dream has God given you to bless the world?

What’s stopping you from trying? We have a boat load of excuses- I can’t afford it. I don’t have enough education. I don’t have the time. I’m too old/young. I have too much responsibility. It’s too risky.

Beware my friends. There’s tremendous risk in hiding a talent and running from a dream, especially when they’re from God. That’s exactly what Jonah did. God calls Jonah. Jonah refuses and that refusal turn into rebellion.

There are 2 types of calls 
1. “Who I am” call – God blesses and empowers us with gifts, talents, life, purpose, etc. Jonah understood his “who I am” call. Jonah son of Amittai literally means “Dove, son of Truth.” Think of the dove associated with the story of Noah’s Ark. The dove brings grace and good news. Think of the dove associated with the Baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings the powerful, anointing of God.

Jonah is a faithful, effective prophet of God. Jonah is a gifted, skilled, and anointed seer. Jonah reveals the word and purposes of God to Israel’s king. It was grace and good news that Israel would expand its boarder under King Jeroboam.

2. “What to do” call– a specific mission assignment. Jonah is to “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (vs. 2) It’s a clear message from God of where to go and what to do. God said get up and go! Instead Jonah shut up and fled.

Problem was not misunderstanding. The problem was willingness. Jonah didn’t want to try. Jonah had every reason not to try
1. Nineveh wasn’t a Jewish city with a Jewish King. Nineveh was the magnificent capital city Assyria, a threatening, enemy superpower.

2. Nineveh was 550 miles away. Imagine that trip on donkey or on foot.

3. Jonah had no desire to preach to “those people.” They were enemies and Gentiles and pagans. He didn’t want to be labeled a “traitor” prophet by his own people.

4. God is a God of grace and mercy. God might extend forgiveness to his enemy and Jonah didn’t want that.

5. Jonah didn’t want to ruin his reputation. If he called out against the city and God spared it, his prophecy didn’t come true.

No God. It’s too risky. Too hard. You’re asking too much.

Does Jonah pray? Nope. Does he ask for help? Nope. Does he go? Nope. Jonah buries his talent, abandons his call, and runs away from the presence of the Lord. (mentioned twice in verse 3)

Jonah refuses and Jonah rebels and it breaks his relationship with God.

The Bible is full of examples which inspire us to greater faith and great acts of service. There are also examples for us to look to and avoid. Jonah is one of them.

How often are we more like Jonah than we want to admit? It doesn’t have to be this way. Step out in faith – try. God has tremendous faith in you. More than you have in yourself. God knit you together in your mother’s womb for a purpose. God empowers you with talents, gifts, graces, and experience for a purpose. Jesus died for you for a purpose- that you might be saved AND that you might join him in saving the world. Step out in faith – try

What is in your power to do for others? Do you have skills to teach and mentor others? Are you in a position to help alleviate suffering financially? Are you a great listener? Prayer Warrior? Organizer? Storyteller? Gardener? Share your testimony? Make an invitation? Do you have creative gifts in writing, music, dance, or art? Are you good with your hands in a way that you can offer practical assistance to people?

Step out in faith – try
You are the hope of the world- try

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.

If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – Ceasing (Mark 6)

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Message: Ceasing 
Scriptures: Mark 6:30-32
Offered 1/1/17, New Year’s Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Classic New Year’s Resolutions
1. Exercise, eat right, lose weight
2. Quit smoking, drinking, drugging
3. Get serious about my spiritual life
4. Budget, pay off debt, save for the future
5. Organize my house
6. Organize my calendar so I can do more in less time. If I keep my scheduled focused, I can work more efficiently, do more things in less time.

Being Productive
1. Makes me feel important, needed
2. Keeps the adrenaline pumping. You can be addicted to stress.
3. Hurry keeps everything on a safe superficial level. Depth takes time. I don’t have to look closely at my relationships or my situation or my soul. I don’t have to feel my feelings fully. I’m fine as long as I’m busy. No, we’re not fine we’re sick.

Hurry Sickness – an unhealthy, continuous internal drive to accomplish more, achieve more, experience more in less and less time. More and more has diminishing returns. It keeps us from living well and ultimately destroys our soul.

John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith.
It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Do you want a life like this, or do you want something different?
Jesus offers an alternative.

Mark 6:30-32 NRSV
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Ceasings = Solitude, Silence, Slowing, Sabbath
Ceasing distraction and noise and trying to do it in our own strength
Ceasing hurry. Ceasing in order to seek.

Jesus practiced ceasing regularly throughout his ministry
1. At the beginning he spent 40 days alone in the wilderness and at the end he spent the night in Gethsemane before crucifixion
2. Spent the night alone in prayer before choosing the disciples
3. Time away after the death of John the Baptist
4. After feeding the 5000, after healing a leper, after the 12 returned from preaching/teaching

Verse 31 says they were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. That sounds like us.

Jesus was busy, but never hurried
Busy = full schedule, many activities, demanding
Hurried = unhealthy inner drive, keeping up appearances, proving yourself
Hurry is based on fear and worry.
Hurry is constantly preoccupied, never fully present.

Busy = constantly reminded of God and my need of God
Hurried = unavailable to God

Vance Havner said, “If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart in a while.”

Jesus’ Cure for Hurry Sickness is Ceasing
Solitude Silence Slowing Sabbath
Creating space to listen. Trusting God will provide.
Stopping the self medication stimulation, distraction, and society scripts
Allowing God to hit the reset button

How to practice ceasing?
Quiet time, quiet place
Little ceasings throughout the day

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recordings- Simeon’s Song (Luke 2)

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Time to catch up on the sermons. Thanks for your patience. – Lisa <

 

 

Message: Simeon’s Song
Scriptures: Luke 2:21-38
Offered 12/25/16, Christmas Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

How do we persevere in faith? How do we finish well? Consider Luke 2:25
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

Prayer: Rest on Me
Holy Spirit, as you rested on Simeon and Anna, so rest on me.
Keep me expectant and open to your appearing.
Fill my speech with stories of your praise and glory.

Holy Spirit, you reveal salvation to every person. Reveal it again to me.
Shine your light on every motivation, on every hidden thing.
Pierce my soul, so nothing I say or do opposes you.

Holy Spirit, as you guided so many that first Nativity, so guide me.
Continue to point me forward; eyes open, steady and true.
Lead me to a faithful end,
so I may rest in peace forever with you, with others, and with my true self.

I trust and pray in the name of the Promised One, Jesus Christ,
my Savior and Savior of the World. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- What are you Searching For? (Matthew 2)

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Journey of the Magi by James Tissot

Message: What are You Searching For?
Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12
Offered 12/24/16, Christmas Eve, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Why We Three Kings is my least favorite Christmas Song.

  • More than three people traveled from far away lands to find Jesus, the new born King. A huge caravan was needed to make the long trip. It was large enough and grand enough to get King Herod’s attention when they came into Jerusalem.
  • They brought more than three gifts. They opened treasure chests of gifts (Matthew 2:11) which included gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • They weren’t kings. The Magi were an ancient combination of scientist and priest. They were wise interpreters of dreams and studied the heavens for answers and signs. They were powerful, well connected, and influential, but not kings.
  • By the time the Magi planned their trip, financed the trip, and completed their long and difficult trip, Jesus was no longer a babe in the manger. He was a year or so old.

The Wise Ones are seeking. They are doing the best they can to figure out the answers, and so are we. God honors and answers our seeking.

What do they bring?

  • Gold- They expect to find a king. They were searching for a leader who is worthy to be followed, worthy to give our allegiance.
  • Frankincense- Used to offer prayers. In the ancient world many rulers, like Caesar, proclaimed themselves gods. They were searching for something greater than themselves, the Divine, one who is worthy to be worshiped.
  • Myrrh- Used for embalming and used as medicine. They were looking for one who would bring them healing and wholeness.

We’re looking for the same things.

Like us, the Magi go to the logical place looking for those answers. They go to King Herod, the bearer of empire and worldly power. Herod the Great, the one who rebuilt Judea, brought relative peace to the region, and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, a wonder of the ancient world.

Herod was also a literal madman. Paranoid of any threat to his power and position, he had multiple family members murdered including his wife, mother-in-law, a couple of brothers-in-law, and three of his children. Herod is the villain of the Christmas story. The only things we find with him are deception and violence.

The Wise Ones eventually make their way to Bethlehem. They find the Child and they find what they are looking for.

  • They find One who is worthy to be followed. Jesus, the One who will shepherd the people, who will tend the flock. In the city of David, they find One who is a good shepherd, a servant King, who will lay down His life for the sheep.
  • They find One who is God, who is worthy to be worshiped. Not someone who is pretending to be God, nor someone who sits on the throne of his own heart. Jesus, the One who is worthy to sit on the throne of our hearts. The Word of God made flesh. The Love of God made real. The One who is always near, always good, always strong.
  • They find the One who brings us hope and light and healing and wholeness. Truth, not lies. Life, not violence and death.

What do they do? They lay their gifts before Him and they lay themselves before Him and they rejoice with exceedingly great joy for they have found what they are looking for.

The good news my friend is Jesus will still be found. God honors and answers your seeking. Jesus is what you’re looking for.

The Wise Ones do not return by way of Herod. They return home new and by a new road. Let us do the same.

This sermon recording concludes with a time for prayer and a Great Thanksgiving before Holy Communion.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recordings- The Angels’ Song (Luke 2)

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Message: The Angels’ Song
Scriptures: Luke 2:8-20
Offered 12/11/16, the first Sunday of Advent, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

It was a Roman custom that the birth of a Roman emperor was announced by great poets and orators with declarations of joy, peace, and prosperity. The announcement of the birth of the Savior of of the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was announced by heaven itself. First a herald angel, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Then a multitude of the heavenly host, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

It is a Cross-shaped announcement. First out – great joy for all people, a Savior, the Messiah. Then up- the Lord. Then up- glory to God in the highest heaven. Then out- and on earth peace.

The angels don’t visit Mary and Joseph that night. They’ve already had their angel visits and are busy with the birth. They don’t visit the high priest, King Herod, Quirinius, or Emperor Augustus. The powerful already think they are favored.

The angels proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world to shepherds, a group who is definitely not thought of as favored. It’s one of the worst jobs of the ancient world. Shepherds are stereotyped as lazy and dishonest because they often live off land belonging to others and care for flocks belonging to others. They were known as smelly, poor, homeless, uneducated, powerless.

Folks laughed at the idea of a “good shepherd,” an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp. Yet David of Bethlehem was one long before he was king and long before he was promised his throne would never end and long before he was promised the Messiah would be his ancestor.

The babe in the manger will be one, too. Our Jesus, our Good Shepherd, will lay down his life for the sheep.

We’re the sheep. We’re the rag tag shepherds. The message is for them and for us.

“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord….Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

This Good News is for us and all people.

This Good News is to bring us great joy, lasting joy, joy beyond circumstance.

This Good News is that we we have a Savior, so we can stop trying to save ourselves and stop thinking we can’t possibly be saved.

This Good News is that we have a leader and Lord who is trust-worthy and thus worthy to be followed.

This Good News is that God gives us peace in Christ Jesus.

Wait. What? Peace?
The time of Jesus’ birth was a time of occupation and oppression, not peace. Bethlehem was overflowing with Roman military carrying out a mandated migration and registration.

Our age is not a time of peace. School shootings, mass incarceration, cyber attacks, human trafficking, misuse of power, economic insecurity and uncertainty, terrorism, war. Our world is more and more angry, corrupt, and violent. This is the age of Aleppo.

We think of peace
1. as the absence of worry- good health, financially secure, all is well with those I love.
2. as the absence of conflict, injustice, and war

Jesus, the night of the last supper, the night before he gave himself up for us said,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. —John 14.27

Sounds like the Angels’ song. Do not be afraid. You’ve been given a Son, a Savior, The Lord God in the flesh. You’ve been given peace.

Peace isn’t about absence. It’s about presence. We are given the Son, the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. God is with us. 

Peace in Hebrew is Shalom.  Shalom means fullness; having everything you need to be whole, to be yourself. The Angels’ song is that peace is not the absence of war. Peace is not health, wealth, all is well with those I love. Even if we somehow find it, it doesn’t last, it doesn’t save us, doesn’t make us whole.

Peace not the absence of struggle and suffering, but the presence of God who is Love. God’s presence in us brings fullness and wholeness, the literal meaning of salvation. God’s presence brings the fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, and peace – the three themes of the Angels’ song. The presence of Jesus is the present of peace.

Peace I Give You by Steve Garnaas Holmes. Imagine Jesus saying this to you…
I give you the quiet peace of this present moment: without hurry, fear or need to be elsewhere, but right here, right now, as you are, at rest.

I give you the strong peace of yourself: the peace of forgiveness and my delight in who you are, with no need to prove yourself or do better.

I give you the vibrant peace of oneness with all living things, the peace of deep belonging, and reconciliation with all people

I give you the life-giving peace of my own spirit, my love, trust and courage beating in your heart, my presence in your soul.

I give you the joyous peace of trust— trust in your life and its goodness, trust in the Beloved and your belovedness

I give you the renewing peace of healing, of blessing hidden even in struggle and pain, of trust that even in suffering all shall be well.

I give not as the world gives, from the outside, but from within, by your being created, and it cannot be taken away. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

Prayer from Prepare the Way by Pamela C. Hawkins
I want to be at peace, O God,
protector of the frightened,
refuge for the wandering.

I want to speak for peace, O Christ,
hope whispered to the bruised,
welcome sung to the embattled.

I want to live in peace, O Spirit,
forgiveness in my heart,
kindness in my hands;
trusting, trustworthy;
loving, beloved.

I want to be at peace, O God
with you,
with me,
with others.
This is my Advent prayer. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Mary’s Song (Luke 1)

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Message: Mary’s Song 
Scriptures: Luke 1:46-55
Offered 11/27/16, the first Sunday of Advent, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Click Here for the video of Norah and Mr.Dan

Perhaps what we need most is a transforming vision, a vision that’s deep enough, one that can take us from where we are to a new place; one that opens the future up to hope. More than anything, we must become people of hope. – Miriam Therese MacGillis

We have hope because God will right the wrongs.
Mary describes this in terms of reversal.

  • The lowly are raised and the lofty are brought low, so all may know the saving grace of God (vs 52)
  • The hungry are filled with good things and all that is not good is revealed to be empty (vs 53)

This isn’t socialism and it isn’t a sunshine and lolly pops reversal of fortune, this is reversal of future.

  • Sin separates, so God in Jesus reverses it, bringing reconciliation and relationship, breaking down the dividing walls.
  • Sin breaks, fractures, shatters, so God reverses it, mending and re-membering
  • Sin disorders and creates chaos, so God brings order and peace
  • Sin twists a good gift of God into something it was never meant to be, so God reverses it to it’s rightful use. The rightful use of medicine, food and drink, love and sex, buying and selling. The crooked are made straight and the rough places, a plane
  • Sin wounds and sickens our soul, so in Jesus God restores our innocence and brings us healing
  • Sin disintegrates. Everything falls apart. Everything goes to ash. God reverses it. Salvation means wholeness. In Jesus, we become integrated, wholehearted people. People of integrity. God breathes life into dust.
  • Sin brings death. In Jesus we are raised to life- new life, true life, eternal life. Reversal is redemption and resurrection.

From Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body by Missy Buchanan
Lord, I need a big dose of hope today.
None of the pie-in-the-sky kind.
Not even a pretty-sure guess.
I need the real kind of hope that brings lightness to a heavy day.
I am tired of gritting my teeth,
trying to swallow the pain that is my reality.
When I look back on my life,
I see how you proved faithful time after time.
There were moments I thought you had forgotten me
only to discover you were holding me so close I couldn’t see.
So if the stubborn pain refuses to subside for a while,
I will still whisper your name in praise.
Refocus my mind on you, Lord. Only on you.
It is there I find hope.

Click Here for the Live Hope, Give Hope December devotion described at the end of the message.

Click Here to check out Incendiary Magnificat by Steve Garnaas Holmes

I long to bear your justice, O God,
to the captives and captors,
to the bullies and the bullied.

I long to balance my life, O Christ,
to be fair and faithful.

I long to stand with
the falsely accused,
the poorly loved,
the cruelly silenced.

I long to speak your justice, O Spirit,
to sing Mary’s song,
to sit with poor shepherds,
to whisper God-with-us,
God-with-us,
Emmanuel.

I long to bear your justice, O God,
to be clothed with mercy
and emboldened by truth.
This is my Advent prayer. Amen.
– Pamela C. Hawkins, Prepare the Way

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Gratitude and Glory Sightings, a Thanksgiving Message (Luke 13)

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Message: Gratitude and Glory Sightings, a Thanksgiving Message 
Scriptures: Luke 13:10-17
Offered 11/20/16, the Sunday before Thanksgiving at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

There’s more to thanksgiving than saying thank you, there’s testimony.
Thanksgiving = Gratitude and Glory Sightings

What is a Glory Sighting?
• God teaches you something or reveals something to you
• God answers a prayer (yes, no, wait)
• God is apparent in the midst of a situation
• God gives you the chance to speak or serve

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.