Growing in Resilience: Focus Me, based on Philippians 4.6-9

focusGrowing in Resilience
Day 31, Read Philippians 3-4
Reflection: Focus Me, based on Philippians 4:6-9

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Almighty God,
Most powerful, most near, most good
I surrender my worries to you
My overthinking, my foreboding, my dis-ease
I ask, you supply
I reveal my angst, my weakness, my reality
You bring goodness and mercy all the days of my life

Thank you for your steadfast love
You are Faithful Forever
Thank you for your saving power
You are Resurrection and Life
Thank you for grace upon grace

Your generosity overwhelms my fear
Your peace surpasses all I need and understanding
Guard my heart with your peace
Guard my mind with your peace
Guard the fullness of me in the fullness of Christ Jesus my Lord,
the Prince of Peace

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness:
Your truth, your honor, your justice
All are at work in your world

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness:
Your purity, your delight, your commending
All are at work in your world

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness:
Your excellence, your praise
All are it work in your world
All are at work in me, my situation, this very moment

Focus my attention, my power, my resources
To keep doing all you show me to be right
All I am learning and receiving and hearing and seeing in Jesus

Focus me on your promises that I may persevere
That I may grow in resilience and hope
That I may stay true no matter the season or situation
That I may be effective in bearing your grace and peace
And in bringing honor and glory to your name. Amen.

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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. 

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

Worrying, Believing and Trusting

trust1Matthew 6:25 (NRSV) 
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Extended quote from Freedom from Worry by Patricia Wilson
An old Swedish proverb says “Worry gives small things a big shadow.” It’s these “big shadows” that hang over your head like a great gray cloud of doom, gloom, and negativity. You may not realize it, but people around you can see that big shadow over your head because of how they feel when they are with you. As you worry and fret, your negativity takes the joy out of any moment and casts a stifling pall of unhappiness over any situation. …Sadly, the biggest shadows are usually created by the smallest worries built up in your mind. From a lost item to a blister on your big toe, those little worries compound in your mind until you feel overwhelmed and powerless. Corrie ten Boom writes, “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made a burden.” Paul said much the same thing: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Note that Paul couples thanksgiving with prayer. As your little worries begin to build up into big shadows, consider the ways in which God has blessed you. With the thought of those blessings in your mind, present your worries to God in prayer. Most importantly, remind yourself that no worry is too small for prayer.

When we ask why in our prayers, we have somehow recognized that we are permitted to bring every question, every issue, every confusion, and every struggle to God. We may not understand what’s going on, but God knows that we cannot pray authentically unless we can honestly express every thought and emotion.
– Steve Harper, Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

Sometimes it’s good to let them see you sweat even when it feels awkward. Fear seems to grow in the darkness of isolation. But when you expose it in the light of community, it tends to lose power. Sharing my fear is often the path that leads to courage. – Emily Freeman, Why You Need to Tell Someone How Scared You Are

No matter what you call it, worry is still sin. In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. Romans 14:23 says, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” That’s pretty clear to me. Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin…. Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It’s choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. – Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as if He Doesn’t Exist

Faith, as we see in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus’ usage of the same, is much closer to our words “trust” or “confidence” than it is about believing doctrines to be true (which demands almost no ego surrender or real change of the small self). We have wasted too many centuries now defending such an intellectual notion of Biblical faith. Real faith people are, quite simply, usable for larger purposes because they live in and listen to a much Larger Self.- Richard Rohr

The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust. Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God? I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go. You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t. – Peter Enns, Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

Luke 12:25 CEB
Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

Prayer: Free Me From Worry
Eternal One
Overcoming One
Author of Life and New Life
Free me from worry
Break the chains of discouragement
Loose the doors of perspective
That I may follow your Son on the path of purpose and hope
Amen

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For a worship resource entitled Trusting God’s Provision, based on Matthew 6:25 and following, click here

For a devotion entitled Psalms for Fearful Times, click here

Prayer: Free Me from Worry © 2013 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 use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Mark Day 3: Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure by Miki de Goodaboom

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 3 Reading: Mark 3

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.
– Mark 3:13 (NRSV)

Observation
It’s only the third chapter of Mark, yet the disputes continue to pile up around Jesus. Pressure is coming from many directions:

  • Jesus continues to heal while the Pharisees continue to plot how to destroy him (v. 6)
  • Jesus continues to heal while the desperate crowds press in, threatening to crush him (v. 9, 20)
  • Jesus continues to heal while the unclean spirits recognize him and cry out in fear (v. 11)
  • Jesus continues to heal, but his hometown neighbors, including his family, name him crazy or demon possessed (v. 21, 30)

In the midst of all this pressure, Jesus heals. He also gathers and names the twelve. In the midst of all this pressure he begins to mentor and empower them, for they will carry on the healing work of the kingdom when he is gone.

Application
Plotting, Crushing, Screaming, Accusing, Crying, Calling, Misunderstanding … Jesus’ life is demanding, loud and full of pressure. Pressures from strangers, demons, the needy, the religious leaders and even his own family. Yet Jesus seems focused and unaffected, grace under pressure. He displays stillness and wisdom in the midst of the chaos. He knows who he is and remains steadfast in fulfilling his purpose.

I can relate to the noise and the pressure. I want to better embody Jesus’ grace, wisdom and ministry of healing.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Prayer
Jesus, Prince of Peace, you are serenity in the storm, the still small voice when all around us is disaster and despair. We see you steadfast, faithful and sure in the midst of great pressure. Make us like you. Reveal your ways in our frailty. Help us to follow you through the chaos of our days. Grant us your clarity and focus. Empower us to always preach and heal with grace and wisdom. For you alone are our strength and hope, for you alone belongs the glory, now and forever. Amen.

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For more information on the Gospel of Mark Reading Plan, click here

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

Claiming Sabbath and the Bread of Life

Noonday Rest by Jean Francois Millet

We live in a work-work-work, busy-busy-busy, stress-stress-stress, flying down the road at 100 mph with your hair on fire culture. The 40 hour work week is long gone for many of us, especially with employers asking more and more of their workers rather than hiring more workers. With the advent of the internet, e-mail, text, tweet, Wi-Fi, laptops, 24 hour super stores, smart phones, online banking, online shopping and … and… and… it’s now possible to literally work 24/7/365.

One of the most radical things a Christ-follower can do in our culture is to practice Sabbath. Sabbath is a Hebrew word which literally means “to cease.” It’s so important to our well being, God models it for us in creation and makes it one of the Big Ten (commandments that is). God invites us to “cease” working, to unplug in order to rest and reconnect with God and others. Sabbath ceasing includes setting aside an entire day of the week for God and setting aside shorter daily Sabbaths throughout the rest of the week.

In Sabbath ceasing, God is also inviting us to cease worrying, striving, and straining to provide for ourselves and our loved ones in our own strength. God provides. (Matthew 6:25-33) When we cease the work and the worry, our actions embody faith and trust in God’s provision. We claim the Bread of Life, rather than the bread of anxious toil.

This worship resource was born out of a desire to accept God’s invitation to live differently, to reclaim all that God provides. May the peace of the Lord be with you, now and always. – Lisa <><

Claiming Sabbath and the Bread of Life
ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 127:1-2 (NRSV)
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Verse, chorus

ONE SINGING: John 6:48, 51 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life….I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

ALL SPEAKING
Give us this day our daily bread.

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Verse, chorus

ONE SPEAKING: Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Bridge twice, chorus twice, first two lines of the verse

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compilation © 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 music, scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.