When the Spirit Chases You With the Message You Need to Hear

Freedom - A sculpture by Zenos Frudakis

Freedom by Zenos Frudakis

Themes of slavery and freedom keep chasing me this Lenten season.

The message seems to come from random places, but I’m confident this isn’t random. I trust the Holy Spirit is working all of this together for my good. There’s something I need to know and I need to know it now.

First, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 came up in my Scripture Reading Plan
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

This got me thinking about shrouds and shackles and slavery. How am I bound? It also got me thinking about the Spirit’s promise of seeing clearly and freedom.

In my morning sacred reading, I’m making my way through Jesus, a Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ. It’s glorious and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A couple of days after the Corinthians passage, my book reading discusses the raising of Lazarus from John 11. More shrouds and shackles! Lazarus is wrapped up like a mummy. The first scripture talked about slavery to condemnation and the law. Now it’s expanded to include slavery to sin and death.

And again the Good News- New Life, Resurrection, and Freedom in Christ! Unbind him!

Selections from John 11:34-44
34 Jesus said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” … 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. … 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

soar by scott erickson

Soar by Scott Erickson

Then came the scriptures associated with Sunday’s sermon on God freeing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. We serve a God who saves, a God who delivers us from shackles and shame and sin and death. That is our God!

Check out this promise from Exodus 16:6-7. In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord. 

Then this picture came my way. Soar by Scott Erickson. Isn’t it fantastic! All of his work is fresh and powerful.

This piece says to me, “Freedom in the Spirit.” I love the color, the movement, the joy, the flow, the overshadowing companionship.

This reminds me of what my friend Jenny Gehman said the Spirit told her about her word for the year, SOAR. The Spirit said to her, “SOAR- Sweetheart, Open And Rise.”

grit and virtue kimberly mead freedomThen this quote from Kimberly Mead via the great folks at Grit and Virtue. In freedom there is rest. Slaves don’t rest. Sabbath rest, Soul rest, is the fruit of freedom.

So here I am, praying for eyes to see and ears to hear as the Spirit continues to reveal what this means for me. What might all this mean for you, dear one? – Lisa <><

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When the Spirit Chases You With a Message You Need to Hear
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com)
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon- Self Reflection (2 Corinthians 3)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 4 of 5: Self Reflection
Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40-41; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/2/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire traditional worship service, including the message.

I have absolutely no control over the middle of my day. Every day is different. The unplanned and unexpected happen regularly. The only part of my day I have any possibility of anchoring is the beginning and end of my day, the bookends.

What I’m starting to do, and invite you to do, is to anchor, to ground the bookends of our day with spiritual practices that keep us connected to God.

I need these practices so that when the unexpected happens, troubles or joys, I’m ready for it spiritually.

Testimony of the Death of Hal Stanton
The death of the faithful is not a tragedy. It’s, of course, sad and we grieve. We love and we miss Hal.

But Hal was ready. He had conversations the days before his death that were full of peace, hope, gratitude, and love. His wife Margot was ready. This doesn’t diminish the sadness or grieving. We have the sadness and grieving while we are also anchored in the promises and hope of heaven. It can be both at the same time.

Hal’s kids were ready. While we were gathered around his hospital bed last night, we sang his favorite hymn, we spoke to him and held his hand, we prayed, and it was peace. We were all moving forward together in the light, love, and presence of God.

I want to be ready. I want to be ready to serve and love and have a good word from God. And I want to be ready when its time to go home to heaven. By the grace and power of Almighty God, we can be.

If I had to start from absolute scratch with spiritual practices, what would be the first three I would want to know, practice and teach? These timeless three create a sacred rhythm in our lives: Scripture, Stillness, and Self Reflection.

Scripture
We all need a scripture reading plan to read the Word of God for ourselves. In reading the Word of God we begin to know what’s God’s voice and what isn’t. We get grounded in the promises of God and the character of God. We’re strengthened by the stories of God’s people.

Click Here for a great reading plan for beginners
Click Here for a plan that covers the entire Bible

Stillness
Stop and spend time with God no agenda. We come simply, openly, honestly, just as we are. Our world is busy, full, and loud. I need stillness to remember- Be still and know that I am God and that I’m not God.

Click Here for last week’s message on stillness

Self-Reflection
Start your day with Scripture Reading and Silence. End your day by reflecting on it with God

All of these practices, including self-reflection, are rooted in Scripture.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?…

The presence of God is with us and in us and through us.

Lamentations 3:40-41
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The practices of scripture, stillness, and self-reflection bring us freedom. All of us can have unveiled faces before God. We can take off the mask and be real and honest. These practices bring transformation in our lives- we are made new, we are healed, we are forgiven, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

These practices are not only rooted in scripture but are also practiced throughout the history of God’s people. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits, wrote a set of reflection questions. They’re wonderful. They’re known as The Examen and are still used today.

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, wrote 22 questions. John’s an overachiever and a little compulsive. These questions are also wonderful and still used today.

Our set of 8 questions are a mixture of questions from many sources. They have the essence of Ignatius’ Examen and Wesley’s questions.

Self Reflection is a new practice for me. I start my day with scripture and stillness and end my day with self-reflection. Bookends. This is the sacred rhythm I’m trying out. Find the sacred rhythm that works for you.

When I did the self-reflection questions right before bed, I found I was way too tired. So I moved the practice to the end of my workday to help me transition from work to home.

Here’s what I noticed since using the self-reflection questions
It helps me decompress from the day.
It keeps me awake and alive in the Holy Spirit.
It helps me to be more intentional- eyes to see, ears to hear

I also noticed the longer I keep to the practice, the richer it becomes. It started off simple, even superficial. But as the days passed, I began to trust myself more so I could be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

Let’s walk through the questions.

1. What happened today?
Make a quick bullet list or write a narrative

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in others? In and through you?
This helps us not gloss over God’s presence. We practice seeing God, praising God, and testifying to it.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners. Jesus was a teacher. We are students. We are disciples.

4. What are you thankful for?
Gratitude opens us to the joy of the Lord which is our strength.

5. How are you feeling emotionally?
Be honest and seek Christ’s perspective

6. Where did you miss a Spirit-led opportunity of loving God, others, and yourself?
This is a lovely way of saying, “Where did you blow it today? Where did you embarrass the family of God?” 

We need a point of confession. There’s something about writing it down which relieves the burden of guilt (real or false). I’m not trying to hide it from God or take care of it in my own strength. There’s an old phrase, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” God please heal me, forgive me, and help me.

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This is the question of mission, purpose, and call. God help me fulfill your plan for me.

8. What will you do tomorrow to be more available to the movement of the Holy Spirit?
This is intention and action. By doing it late in the day, you already have the intention for the next day.

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Sermon- Self Reflection © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Three Key Steps for Spiritual Goal Setting

assorted color stained glass

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Pexels.com

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NRSV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The journey of faith is a journey of transformation- one degree to another. Expect to be transformed, embrace it, seek it. The Holy Spirit provides grace and empowerment for change. We provide receptivity and intentionality.

Transformation thrives in the company of grace-full friends. Gather 2 or 3 trusted souls. Answer the following questions for yourself and listen as others share. Listen without judging, offering an opinion, or sharing advice (fixing). Pray for one another now and in the coming weeks as you encourage one another in the Spirit’s good work.

1. Embrace the Possibilities

  • What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in your life? Name the spiritual goal.
  • Is this a God-sized vision or something safe you could do in your own strength?
  • How will this change bring glory to God and/or build up others?

2. Face the truth of the Problem

  • What keeps this from happening?
  • What is beyond your control?
  • What is your responsibility?
  • What mighty be push back from the evil one.

3. Take a step forward in the Process of New Life

  • What practical step must you take to do your part in the transforming work of God
  • Name it and set a deadline to complete it.

What questions would you add to this list?

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Three Key Steps for Spiritual Goal Setting © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.