Take a Stand, inspired by Jeremiah 1.17-19

stand up speak out

Extended quote from Ragamuffin Reflections by Brennan Manning
The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”

Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize, because Jeremiah is Everyman and Everywoman.

Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NIV)
The words from scripture are found in regular type.

Get yourself ready!
There are things God leaves up to you
Your part of the preparation
Prayer and study and silence
Clearing out the crap so there’s space for what is coming

Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Rise now from the green pasture
From the still waters of comfort and slumber
Preparation leads to action
Sanctuary to Taking a Stand

Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
God alone is God
They do not deserve your reverence
Your awe
They are human
Dust and ashes, just like you

Today I have made you a fortified city,
an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land –
against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
The call is beyond you
So God makes you more than you
Steadfast
Enduring
Rock and Refuge
Living Stone
Rejected in the Redeeming
Like your Christ
Your Jesus

They will fight
But the battle is the Lord’s

They will fight against you but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

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On this same theme, consider also reading The Stream of Justice, a stirring encouragement to continue our efforts for peace, freedom, and justice. Written by Steve Garnaas Holmes for Martin Luther King remembrances and similar occasions.

Take a Stand © 2014 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.

Stand Up Speak Out graphic by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Send Us Forth, a prayer based on Mark 6.6-13

walk-shoes-walking-feet-grey-gravel-1-1024x534

Based on Mark 6:6-13 NRSV

Jesus,
In the midst of our changing times
In the midst of our brokenness
Our division
Our violence
Our prejudice
Draw us again to your side
Call us and send us in your name

Give us the courage to travel light
To divest and downsize
And embrace the freedom that it brings

Give us the blessing of being fully present
Of trusting you for provision for ourselves
And your saving work
In the moment it is needed

Give us the wisdom to know our role
To move on from failure and rejection
To move on from accomplishment and welcome
The authority you give us does not dictate response
Nor is our faithfulness measured by the response

Ours is to go and to offer
To proclaim your deliverance and offer healing for body and soul
To proclaim your welcome and offer blessing no matter the location
To proclaim your repentance and offer your salvation and hope

We bow, humbly, before the honor of you choosing us
Grant us the authority and grace and strength we need
Send us forth to do your bidding

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Send us Forth © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18, Hebrews 3)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 5: The Messiah as Prophet Like Moses
Readings: Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6

Deuteronomy 18:14-18, The Voice
Moses: The nations you’re going to displace seek guidance from people who practice divination and predicting. But the Eternal your God doesn’t want you to do that. He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me. Listen to him. This is just what you asked Him for on the day you gathered at Mount Horeb: “Don’t make me listen to the voice of the Eternal my God anymore! And don’t make me look at that blazing fire! I’ll die!” The Eternal told me, “They’re right. I’ll send them another prophet like you from among their own people. I’ll put My words in the mouth of this prophet who will tell them everything I command him to say.

Hebrews 3:1-6, The Voice
So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let’s turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess; and compare Him to Moses, who also brought words from God. Both of them were faithful to their missions, to the One who called them. But we value Jesus more than Moses, in the same way that we value a builder more than the house he builds. Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Moses brought healing and redemption to his people as a faithful servant in God’s house, and he was a witness to the things that would be spoken later. But Jesus the Anointed was faithful as a Son of that house. (We become that house, if we’re able to hold on to the confident hope we have in God until the end.)

Excerpt from an impressive article entitled 21 Proofs that Yeshua is “The Prophet Like Moses” by One for Israel, Messianic Jews in Israel. Messianic Jews have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and refer to him as Yeshua, the Hebrew version of his name.

  1. First off, He’s definitely from “among the brothers” of Israel, so that’s a good start. The Prophet must be Jewish, and Jesus’ heritage was from the tribe of Judah.
  2. Both were shepherds – Yeshua said, “I am the good shepherd”, and Moses also tended sheep – figuratively and literally.
  3. Both were sent to bring salvation after 400 years of apparent inactivity from God – the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, and the 400 years before Yeshua came had been notably silent years from God.
  4. Both fasted for 40 days and nights – Moses while on Mount Sinai, and Yeshua in the Judean desert, when being tempted by Satan
  5. Both spent time in Egypt as children (as Yeshua had to be hidden there for a while as a baby to escape Herod)
  6. Both were born at a time when evil kings pronounced death to all Jewish baby boys in the area – Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew baby boys to be drowned at birth, and Herod had issued a command to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Both were miraculously rescued from that threat
  7. Both were called by God to lead and save
  8. Both did miracles to testify to their God-given authority
  9. Both instituted a covenant of blood that brought salvation for many – Moses with the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts, Yeshua, Lamb of God, brought in the new covenant in his blood on the beams of the cross
  10. Both were given God’s public stamp of approval with an audible voice from heaven, heard by the crowd – Moses at Sinai, and Yeshua at his baptism
  11. Both gave up great riches to lead a humble life of service and poverty – Moses from the palace of the King of Egypt, Yeshua from the heights of heaven. Both were noted for their great humility (Numbers 12:3, Hebrews 11:26-27, Philippians 2)
  12. Both were initially rejected by the Jews when the foretold salvation didn’t seem as if it was going to happen. When Moses first challenged Pharaoh, things got a lot worse for the Israelites, leading to despair and anger. Yeshua’s crucifixion looked like a hopeless defeat. Both salvation situations initially looked like the promises were not going to come true. But they did.
  13. Both were criticized by their own families – Mary and Yeshua’s brothers in Mark 3:20-21, and Moses’ sister and brother in Numbers 12:1.
  14. Both were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of those they were leading, and to pay for the sins of their people – Moses in Exodus 32, and Yeshua’s own readiness to die on our behalf is evident in the Garden of Gethsemene
  15. Both miraculously provided the people with bread to eat – manna was sent from heaven for the Israelites and Yeshua famously fed the multitudes. Twice.
  16. Both were accepted by Gentiles – Moses’ father in law, a Midianite, instantly believed (Exodus 18:10-11) The Egyptians too came to believe that the God of Israel was real and true. And the non-Jews readily accepted Yeshua’s message of salvation.
  17. Under Moses, all those who believed him, those who followed the instructions and put the sacrificial blood on their doors, were saved from death. This means that all those who left Egypt had taken a step of faith and been saved. They were no longer just Hebrews ethnically, they had become a faith community. Similarly, under Yeshua, all those who appropriate his sacrificial blood, shed for us to save us from the power of death have entered into the faith community of those who follow Him.
  18. Seven weeks (50 days) after the Exodus, the Israelites waited upon God to receive the Torah – now that they had been saved, how then should they live? God gave Moses His covenant and instructions on how to live as a faith community. Seven weeks (50 days) after the resurrection, the disciples waited as Yeshua instructed them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the church was born – a new faith community, and a new way to live as believers.
  19. Both of their faces shone with the glory of heaven, as was noted by people who saw them – Moses had to wear a veil over his face because it was beaming so much, and Yeshua’s disciples saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  20. Moses chose 12 spies to explore Canaan, and Yeshua chose 12 disciples. Moses appointed 70 rulers over Israel, and Yeshua sent 70 disciples out to share the gospel.
  21. Moses led the people out from slavery into the wilderness. 40 years of wandering, hardship, and a lot of lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The promised land would come only later. Yeshua has redeemed us into  life with Him, still on this fallen earth. A limited time not without pain and struggle, and many lessons learned the hard way – but all with God’s help and presence. The life we were created for with no sickness, pain or death is yet to come.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who brings from on high God’s will and way of life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who feeds us with the Bread of Heaven, his very body

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Who leads us through the wilderness to God’s eternal promised land

Fill us with your Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
Forgiveness for all
Deliverance from all
Solidarity with all
Integrity above all
Amen

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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 Prophet Like Moses © 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.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- The Lion of Judah (Genesis 49, Revelation 5)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 3: The Messiah as Lion of Judah
Readings: Genesis 49:8-10; Revelation 5:1-5

Genesis 49:9-10, The Voice
Judah is a lion cub; my son, who rises from the prey,
Who crouches down and stretches out like a lion,
and like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah;
the ruler’s staff will rest securely between his feet.
Until the One comes to whom true royalty belongs,
all people will honor and obey him.

Revelation 5:1-5, The Voice
And then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne, a scroll written both on the inside and on the outside. It had been sealed with seven seals. Then a mighty heavenly messenger proclaimed with a loud voice,

Mighty Messenger: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?

No creature of creation in all heaven, on all the earth, or even under the earth could open the scroll or look into its mysteries. Then I began to mourn and weep bitterly because no creature of creation was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into its mysteries. Then one of the elders consoled me.

One of the 24 Elders: Stop weeping. Look there—the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He has conquered and is able to break its seven seals and open the scroll.

Be sure to check out this wonderful article discussing the background of Isaac’s son Judah and how it informs the symbolism of the Lion of Judah. 

Jealousy is brutal and cruel. It turns the hearts of Jacob’s sons against bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, their younger brother, Joseph. “Let us kill him. Let us sell him into slavery.” They argue and plot as Joseph is lost to Egypt.

Years pass. Jacob grieves. Famine comes. Only Egypt has food. A disguised Joseph and his unseeing brothers are brought together again. He tests them, hoping for change. Will the brothers again betray a brother in order to better themselves? Will they allow Jacob’s new favorite son, Benjamin, to be lost to Egypt?

Judah steps forward. Something has changed. He will take punishment. He will take the place of his brother Benjamin in slavery. Judah claims his place as his brother’s keeper. Judah’s selfishness and jealousy and violence are conquered by compassion and sacrifice and genuine love.

Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Eternal King, conquers all sin for all time in the same way.

Selected lyrics from The Lion and the Lamb by Big Daddy Weave
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
You conquer evil with compassion and sacrifice
We bow before you and your powerful love

Hallelujah to Jesus!
You alone are worthy to reveal the mysteries of God
We await your word and desire to do your will

Hallelujah to Jesus!
True royalty belongs to you, forever and for always
We raise our song to honor and adore you

Jesus, Lion of Judah, make us courageous
Courageous enough to see our sin
Courageous enough to confess and change
Courageous enough to love our brothers and sisters and neighbors
Courageous enough to speak and sacrifice for their good

Show us and strengthen us and send us out, Holy One
that your Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven, Amen

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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 Lion of Judah © 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.

Parable of the Talents: Fearless or Fearful? (Matthew 25.14-30)

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

John of the Cross wrote that “In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of sheer foolhardiness, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point, and like sinning against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32) the poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness for clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground. John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation.”
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. –Tertullian

Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Whatever you do you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving ahead requires us to face the present with its hardships and afflictions, knowing that these, too, are part of the way. To do this requires a measure of courage, that word formed from the Latin cor, or heart. In such circumstances, the challenge before us is not simply to avoid losing our heart. Rather, it is that of finding our heart, of living “heartfully.” – Mark S. Burrows and John H. Ohlson, Love is a Direction from Weavings, Aug/Sept/Oct 2012

Click here and here and here for three thoughtful reflections on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Zephaniah 1:12
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
… and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
– Henri Nouwen

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For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please leave a message in the comments.

Run Beloved, Run – a poem for All Saints Day

running feetHebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
By great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Run beloved, run
Lay aside every weight
Every worry
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Alive

Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Remember and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Run beloved, run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest step is yet to come

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Run Beloved, Run © 2014 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.

Prayer for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

prayer group handsHeavenly Father, thank you for a spiritual home
For the legacy of those who have gone before us and welcomed us

Lord Jesus, thank you for your church
For the legacy of your word and witness across the world

Holy Spirit, thank you for renewing your church in every age
Unify us, Renew us, Reform us now

Make courageous and steadfast and persevering
in sharing your grace and Good News
in living your merciful, transforming love
in the building of your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven

Inspire us and defend us and send us out, Holy One
For the honor and glory of your name alone, Amen

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Prayer for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
© 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.