Growing in Resilience: Comfort Us, based on Isaiah 61.10

Isaiah 61 10 robesGrowing in Resilience
Day 22, Read Isaiah 61
Reflection: Comfort Us, based on Isaiah 61:10, NRSV

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Comfort us
Comfort us who mourn
When one suffers, we all suffer

Hear our lament for the ways we hurt one another and in turn hurt you
Our words weapons instead of life

Hear our wails for all shattered by sin and fear and shame

Hear our groans for all bent low beneath watching and waiting
for another in pain
or their own

Hear our tears for all captive to
their poverty
their addiction
their loneliness
their otherness

Hear our grieving for the powerful misusing their influence
The Forgotten… forgotten

Comfort us
Comfort us who mourn
Comfort us in your coming
Your freeing
Your healing

In your deliverance, there is a crown for our ashes
The oil of gladness pouring across tender brows till it pools in our clavicles

In the nakedness of our need you clothe us
Garments of Salvation
Robes of Righteousness
Jewels of our Belovedness
You dress us in your Victory
Wrapping us in your Joy and Delight
Swaddling us in your Promises made real

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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. 

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

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Teacher and Comforter (Isaiah 50, Matthew 4)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 15: The Messiah as Teacher and Comforter
Readings: Isaiah 50:4-11; Matthew 4:23-24

Isaiah 50:4, The Voice
The Lord, the Eternal, equipped me for this job— with skilled speech, a smooth tongue for instruction. I can find the words that comfort and soothe the downtrodden, tired, and despairing. And I know when to use them.

Matthew 4:23-24, The Voice
And so Jesus went throughout Galilee. He taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of the Kingdom, and He healed people, ridding their bodies of sickness and disease. Word spread all over Syria, as more and more sick people came to Him. The innumerable ill who came before Him had all sorts of diseases, they were in crippling pain; they were possessed by demons; they had seizures; they were paralyzed. But Jesus healed them all.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Word spoken in creation
So we would know light and new life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Word made flesh
So we would know grace and truth

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Word of Divine Comfort
Who hears our cries and draws near

You hear and you bear
You bear our disgrace and shame
You bear our burdens and disease

No one, no thing, no situation
Can stand against you
You, Eternal One, Eternal Word
You persevere while they come to an end

You
Our Savior
Our Sustainer
Our Shelter
Our confidence is in you

The next devotion will focus on Jesus’ suffering, which is also a major theme in Isaiah 50:4-11.

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Teacher and Comforter © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Prepare the Way of the Lord (Luke 3, Isaiah 40)

The Path of Light by outeq (aka Juuso K) via DeviantArt

The Path of Light by outeq (aka Juuso K) via DeviantArt

Malachi 3:1 NRSV
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

Luke 3:1-6 NRSV
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” (Isaiah 40)

Deprivation is neither the focus nor the final word of the wilderness. As the honey-eating John knew, the desert offers its own delights. What the wilderness gives us is a path that helps us perceive where our true treasure lies. And does not merely give us a path: empties us enough so that a path is made within us. Through us. Of us. A road for the holy to enter the world. A way for the Christ who comes.
Jan L. Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas

For a beautiful poem entited Prepare by Jan L. Richardson, click here

In this Advent season we prepare outwardly for Christmas: we hang lights and put up decorations, we bake goodies and wrap gifts. How will you prepare inwardly? The coming of Christ means that God will be incarnate: embodied, lovingly present, in the flesh in your life. Christ is coming into your life, into your heart, in a new way. Advent is a time to prepare a way for that to happen. God enters our lives without our planning or arranging; yet there are ways we can open the doors, and as the carol says of Jesus, “prepare him room.” – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Prepare the Way

Prepare Your Way in Me by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Prepare your way in me, Lord,
prepare your way in me, my Lord.

Make my rough places smooth,
the crooked make straight, my Lord.

Lay your hand at my root,
that I may bear fruit, my Lord.

Come and empty my heart
of all things but you, my Lord.

Guide my feet in your way,
fill me with your peace, my Lord.

Prepare your way in me, Lord,
prepare your way in me, my Lord.

We’ve turned Christmas into a sentimental feeling-fest. We get warm and fuzzy loving each other and feeling touched at the midnight candles and the pretty music. But listen to the scriptures and it’s actually all about God’s profound and even traumatic incursion against the unjust systems in this world, to create a new order. The mountains and valleys of wealth and power will be leveled. The rough places of exploitation and dehumanization will be smoothed. No wonder there’ll be “signs in the heavens and distress among the nations.” – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, A Way in the Wilderness

Click here for Comfort Ye by Steve Garnaas Holmes, a word of encouragement to those experiencing horror and abuse and those striving to bring justice and healing.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
– Isaac Watts

In muted whispers we articulate our hope;
Restore us again, O God of our salvation.
With mounting anticipation we prepare for your coming;
Revive us again, that we may rejoice in you.
Amidst rising hopes we turn to you, O God;
Show us your steadfast love.
Lord, let us hear now your words to us;
Speak peace to your people.
Faithful One, prepare our hearts to receive your joy;
the joyful kiss of righteousness and peace.
– Bill Treadway

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Prayer for a Loved One Near Death

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Ria Munk on her Deathbed by Gustav Klimt. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, I received an e-mail from a friend requesting prayer for herself, her family and her mom who was nearing death. I had to trust that the prayer could travel where I could not. My friend read the prayer to her mother, and God used it to bring peace. That was all God’s grace, not anything special about me or these words. God was already present and at work. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

It is a sacred honor to be with someone while they are dying. The veil between this life and the life to come is thin. It can be a stressful time, but also a holy time. In these times, and all the other times as well, cling to the presence and promises of God. God is near. God is good. God is strong to save. – Lisa <><

Psalm 23 NKJV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Jesus,
You are the Good Shepherd
We are the sheep of your fold
So is name the loved one

You love her and know she is moving towards death
You love her and promise she is also headed to a new life with you beyond death

We trust you are walking with her and her loved ones right now
We trust you will see her all the way through the shadowy valley
and into everlasting light with you

Help us to hear your voice and cling to your promises
Dispel all fear and guard every heart
Come with peace and provision
Come with strength and comfort
Come with salvation and hope

Our cups run over in praise and thanks
For your goodness and saving love
Lead her, and later all of us, home to you
Amen.

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Prayer for a Loved One Near Death © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Photo Quotes: Luke 7

Luke 07 13Luke 07 16Luke 07 47Luke 07 50Reading for the week of February 16: Luke 7
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

I decided to pick a few verses from this week’s reading to memorize. Some of my artist friends illustrate verses in various mediums as part of their devotional time, so I thought I’d give that a try, too. I used PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor, and really enjoyed the process.

God, I Need You

my god… i need you… by Zahra Jafari

Psalm 142:6a NIV
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need

The devout man has Jesus with him everywhere to be his comforter, and to him he says: ‘Be near me, Lord Jesus, always and everywhere.’ – Thomas à Kempis

Prosperous people already know they matter. They are already so secure in their human dignity that they usually don’t give it much thought. It is the poor whose attempts to claim their own dignity — small, but often so costly — need affirming. It is the poor and the weak, who are most aware of the need for comfort and refreshment all of us have. When things are going your way, it’s easy to forget that you depend on God for everything you have. It’s easy to begin thinking you don’t, that your power resides in yourself. The powerlessness of all human beings shows clearly in the lives of the poor. The rich can hide from it — for a time. But there is nobody who will not one day find himself bearing a load too heavy to carry alone. None of us are self-sufficient, however strong or weak or rich or poor we may be. We are all in need of comfort, in need of refreshment. Blessed are those who know their need of it early; they are the ones who will put themselves in the way of the Comforter. – Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, “A Little Refreshment! A Little Comfort!” (www.Day1.org, 7/7/96)

Hearing it so often, I believed for years that I was a failure anytime there was more on me than I could handle. If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, what is to be said of us when our burdens are more than we can carry? And why does the Lord offer us rest and salvation, if we are only given what we can do just fine on our own? We were never designed to do this alone. We were made for relationship. – Fanci Rosselot

Psalm 116:6 NIV
The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

Are not we all prone to be a little cocky and think we can handle things just fine? But let some trouble come, and how quickly we sense our inadequacy. Trouble is one of God’s great servants because it reminds us how much we continually need the Lord. Otherwise, we tend to forget about entreating him. For some reason we want to carry on by ourselves. – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Thread the needle.
Let go of everything, now, in this moment.
In the perfect poverty of prayer
walk away from it all to God,
poor and naked, alone and without recourse.
Utterly needy and dependent, fall helplessly
into God’s waiting arms,
where you will receive,
Beloved,
you will receive.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, The One Thing

Click here for another terrific post by Steve Garnaas- Holmes entitled Lay Your Burdens Down.

Worship Resource: God, I Need You
Instrumental music begins and continues throughout. The scriptures may be read by one voice aloud or projected on a screen for all to read silently. If projected, allow ample time for slower readers and reflection.

Psalm 79:8b NIV
May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.

ALL SINGING:
Traditional Setting:
I Need Thee Every Hour
United Methodist Hymnal #397, chorus only

Contemporary Setting:
Breathe as made known by Michael W. Smith
CCLI Song No. 1874117

Psalm 42:1-2 (NRSV)
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?

ALL SINGING:
Traditional Setting:
I Need Thee Every Hour
United Methodist Hymnal #397, chorus only

Contemporary Setting:
Breathe as made known by Michael W. Smith
CCLI Song No. 1874117

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 50:15 (NRSV)
Children of God, claim God’s promise,
“Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Persons are invited to pray for needs, silently or aloud. Close with the Lord’s Prayer.

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Click here for more excellent work by today’s featured artist, Zahra Jafari of Iran.

God, I Need You compilation © 2012 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 scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.