Sermon Recording: Recognizing a Heart of War (James 3.13-18)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

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

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace

We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.

As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.

James 3:13-18 The Voice
13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.

Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.

Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.

  1. God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
    • Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
    • Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
  1. God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God

Max Lucado quote                                                                         
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!

God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.

But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.

All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.

Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.

anatomy of peace boxesThis limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.

  1. Better-than box
    • I see the world as competitive, troubled
    • I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
    • I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
  1. Worse-than box
    • I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
    • I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
    • If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
  1. I Deserve box
    • I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
    • People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
    • I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
  1. Must be seen box
    • I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
    • I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?

My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin

What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.

You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.

Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.

If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.

Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion,     the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.

Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.

Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.

Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.

Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.

Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.

Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.

Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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.

Sermon Recording: Cultivating a Heart of Peace (Matthew 5.43-48)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 1 of 4: Cultivating a Heart of Peace
Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48
These are the notes from a message offered 9/16/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Read Matthew 5:43-48, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. God desires to perfect us in love.

Video: Tiffany Jenkins, A lady got mad at me at the drive through, my response

What stands out to you in this video?

  • She’s honest about her feelings (punch her in the throat)
  • She broke the cycle of conflict with an act of generosity and kindness. She used made a choice about how to respond.
  • She looked below the surface to imagine what might really be going on empathy
    • “Those people who are hardest to love need love the most”
  • She saw the person as a person
  • She believes changing our words and actions can change the world

Tiffany Jenkins has a heart of peace.

Bishop Ken Carter Quote: A heart at peace is not about just being nice to another person. It is the refusal to exaggerate our differences, and the refusal to go to war with another person. A heart of peace seeks to break the cycle that escalates our conflicts through working at the relational level and sees the other as a person created in the image of God.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

way of being diagram the anatomy of peace

What we see is the behavior. What a person is doing and saying. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Below the surface is where that behavior is born- our thoughts, feelings, wounds, beliefs, and sin color how we see the situation and how we see others.

The angry woman in the drive-through had a heart of war. We see her behavior- the frustration, anger, impatience, overreacting. We don’t know why she has a heart of war- what’s going on below the surface, but we can see the result.

  • She didn’t see Tiffany or her child as people. They’ve become an obstacle to be overcome, a problem to be fixed.
  • The angry woman felt her needs mattered more than the needs of those around her, including Tiffany

A Heart of War can lead to all kinds of destruction and injustice. If you are no longer a human being to me, I can take advantage of you, hurt you, oppress you, enslave you.

There’s another option- a heart of peace. 

  • Seeing people as people, not as objects or obstacles or problem to be fixed
  • You are real to me, as real as I am to myself. I see you.
  • Your cares and concerns matter just as much as my own. I value you.

This idea, seeing and valuing people, is rooted in Genesis 1:26-27. 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You are made in the image of God. You and every person you meet. God’s intention for you is goodness and wholeness, freedom and blessing. God has the same intention for every person you meet.

Thank You for extending me your heart of peace, your generosity of spirit towards me and my family following the death of my grandmother. We were wrapped in a warm blanket of cards, prayers, words of consolation and help.

Ten family members gathered around the table following my grandmother’s graveside service. Yes, we remembered her, but there was also laughter and a spirit of hope, of looking to the future.

We hadn’t all been together for 7 years. I was hoping and praying for peace. It isn’t always that way when a family gets together, when we go to work, go to school, go to the condo board meeting, or even in a drive-through. Now the political season is in high gear with its ugliness and accusations.

Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to foster peace in the midst of evil, controversy, and conflict.

How do we do it? Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

  1. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it in our own strength. This is about hearts of stone becoming hearts of flesh and that is a work of God.
    • Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
  2. Depart from evil. Ask God to reveal the ways you contribute to conflict and leave them behind.  Pray for healing, forgiveness, and strength to live a new life in Christ.
  3. Do good. Seek Peace. Pursue it. Intentionally learn new ways of being and behaving.

Cultivating Peace

  1. See people as people made in the image of God
  2. Look below the surface for what’s really going on
  3. Break the cycle of escalation. The war stops with me. Choose carefully how to respond.
  4. Help the situation, do good

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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.

Growing in Resilience: Your Spirit and Your Heart, based on Isaiah 57.15

Sacred Heart 3Growing in Resilience
Day 18, Read Isaiah 57
Reflection: Your Spirit and Your Heart, based on Isaiah 57:15, NRSV

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

High and Lofty One
Be with me
Forgive me and Heal me
From naming myself better or worse than others
From projecting and protecting a self-image
From claiming I deserve at another’s expense

Renew and Revive my spirit and my heart

Grant me compassion
Teach me judgment without being judgmental
Boundaries without guarding too much
Love without agendas

Grant me courage
Teach me truth without using it as a weapon
Engagement without abuse
Confronting without a win/lose mindset

Grant me hope
Teach me peace without apathy
Rest without laziness
Patience without despair

High and Lofty One
Grant me your spirit and your heart

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Your Spirit and Your Heart © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.