A Prayer for True Strength, Based on Ephesians 6

armor of God graphicFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Ephesians 6:10-11

Lord, you call us to mighty works
Sharing your Word
Helping others find you
To leading
Healing the sick
Caring for the poor, the orphan, the stranger
Speaking truth to power
Praying without ceasing
Building your kingdom on earth

Lord, you have said that in this world we will have trouble,
but take courage, I have overcome the world

We try to do things in our own strength
Our financial security
Our connections
Our achievements
Our expertise
Our stiff upper lip and bootstraps and big girl pants

We head into battle wearing our own armor
Or trying to borrow someone else’s

We fall victim to human ways
And the ways of our Enemy

Forgive us
Forgive us and renew a right spirit within us

Clothe us in your armor
Your armor alone
Clothe us in your truth
Clothe us in your righteousness
Clothe us in your Gospel of Peace
Your faith
Your salvation
Your Word
Your powerful Presence

That we may stand
That we may stand and withstand
That we may stand and withstand and stand firm
Strong in you and the strength of your power
For your power is made perfect in our weakness
In our vulnerability
In us claiming our need of you

For the victory and glory are yours,
Nothing can separate us from you
Not now
Not forever
Hallelujah!
Amen

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A Prayer for True Strength © 2018 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.

Sermon Recording- Stand (Ephesians 6.10-18)

feet with shoes

Message: Stand
Scriptures: Ephesians 6:10-18
This message was offered Sunday, 6/24/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Imagine walking through the grocery store. You and others are picking out their food as usual. Now imagine every person you encounter is wearing a sign revealing the truth of their life

  • New baby, no sleep for three nights straight
  • Caregiving for a sick spouse
  • Just lost my job
  • Grieving the death of my mother
  • Desperately lonely, how do I make friends?

All of a sudden, that trip to the grocery store is very different. You are seeing what is often difficult to see.

What would be on your sticker?

The truth is we must always be kind, we must always be compassionate because we never know what someone else is going through.

The trust is that when we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see on the outside.

Think about a time when you were going through something deep and dark,  something scary. something you have never faced before, or something that’s raising it’s ugly head again. There’s the stuff that you can see, but there’s the stuff you can’t see

  • emotional toll
  • mental exhaustion
  • weariness down to your bones

Then there’s your soul. What is going on with your soul?

Our soul is like an inner stream of water that gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of life.– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

In the midst of this trouble, is this stream of living water getting stopped, dammed up? Is it changing the direction? Is it going deeper than you could ever have imagined?  Is it drying up, like a desert, like a wilderness?

The song I cling to in the midst of trouble: Precious Lord take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

What gets the water flowing in my life is singing. And sometimes I can’t even get the words out and so I just let my soul sing.

What gets the water flowing again for you? Because when we face trouble its far than what we can see.

Sometimes we can see the source of the trouble

  • We’ve brought it on ourselves. The trouble is the consequence of a choice we made.
  • Sometimes its someone else’s choice. They want what they want and we’re an obstacle (through us) or a means to an end (use us). Or we just get caught it the backwash of someone else’s sin, the ripple effect and we’re collateral damage.
  • Or it’s the reality of living this side of heaven, the reality of living in a broken world. The Fall due to Original Sin is a universal condition. Every relationship is broken -with God, with others, with our true self, with the earth. It’s a reality on an individual level, group level, and systemic level.

There are times we can see the source of the trouble and there are times we cannot see it.  It’s far deeper. It’s plain old evil and an Evil One. It’s a cosmic organized struggle against God and the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 

  • We try to be strong on our own. This is not a battle we can win on our own and it’s not a battle we have to win on our own. That’s the grace of it. That’s the Good News of it.
  • Yes we play a part, we make choices, work, and strive but it is also about allowing ourselves to be strengthened by Almighty God. We can refuse or choose the strengthening. (Cooperating and collaborating with God)

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

  • Sometimes life feels like a battle. God wants to strengthen you and protect you.
  • We try to be strong on our own and we try to protect ourselves
    • Put on our own armor – financial security, connections, achievement, expertise, stiff upper lip, my big girl pants

It’s like David going out to fight Goliath, the giant. (That’s how our troubles can feel. King Saul wants David to wear his royal armor, his human armor. It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, weighs him down. David refuses and faces Goliath in God’s armor.

So much of what we are facing is beyond us, something we just can’t fix in our human strength.

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

The Whole Armor of God – Verses14-17

  • belt of truth
    • God helps us to know what is real and not real
    • God helps us hold on to perspective in the midst of pain
  • breastplate of righteousness
    • covers our heart so we stay in right relationship and have a heart of peace
  • shoes for your feet, make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace
    • The Gospel of Peace is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace
      • who Jesus is, his sacrifice, his salvation, his hope and healing, power, and promises
    • Jesus is the foundation, the strong rock on which we stand
    • Stand on the power of story = Jesus’s story intersects our story, thanksgiving and testimony to God’s goodness in the past and in the present
  • shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one
    • Evil One takes sniper shots after us, feels like we’re taking hit after hit after hit
    • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)
  • helmet of salvation 
    • Who I am in Christ- I am a child of God, I am beloved and blessed of God, I am made in the image of God and nothing can separate me from the love of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ
    • Know God’s voice and hear God’s voice. If I can’t hear it my brother or sister in Christ will speak it to me.
    • My mind stayed on the goodness of God no matter the circumstance. Nothing changes the goodness of God.
  • sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
    • Why we must read the word of God regularly
  • Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. It is always scripture and prayer. Always and forever.        

Call to action- Prayer Care

  • Pray with you after every service: Sundays after the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services, Wednesdays at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm
  • Become a prayer keeper  

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Withstand = take the hit, persevering, enduring, resilience

Stand Firm = push back against evil

The Evil One is our real and primary enemy – not other people, not ourselves, not God, not the system.

  • The Evil One devours and destroys and steals
  • The Evil One is a deceiver and liar
  • The Evil One twists situations into something they were never meant to be

That’s why we need truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and pray, pray, pray. When we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see.

You are not alone. You are never alone. You do not have to face it in your own strength. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 and prayer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Face to Face, Peter and Jesus (Luke 22, Job 1, James 1)

peters-denial

Message: Face to Face, Peter and Jesus
Scriptures: Luke 22:31-34
This message was offered Sunday, 3/11/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. It was inspired by the book Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire

Simon Peter was The Rock long before Dwayne Johnson

  • Peter started the last supper strong and sturdy. Jesus starts talking about his death and to love as I love. Peter replies, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
  • After the supper, when Judas and the mob of soldiers arrive in Gethsemane, Peter pulls his sword to defend Jesus. Did he make the first strike? Peter cuts off a slave’s ear. Jesus stops the fight, heals the slave, leaves with the soldiers under arrest.
  • When all the other disciples scatter, Peter and beloved disciple trail Jesus. Still solid as a rock.
  • But before dawn, Peter will crumble. Denial-Denial-Denial. Peter isn’t even able to stand up to the stares of a young servant girl.

What happened? Why do deeply faithful people blow it? Can you recover from it?

  • Sometimes we blow it because we make a self-centered choice, like Judas
  • Sometimes we aren’t prepared. We don’t have enough information. We don’t have the skills or connections we thought we did.
  • Sometimes we might be well prepared on a human level, but we aren’t spiritually prepared
    • In Mark 9:29, Jesus healed a child his disciples couldn’t. Jesus said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
    • Ephesians 6:12 say, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Sometimes we blow it because it’s the evil one at work

Luke 22:31-34. At the Last Supper, Jesus says to Simon Peter
31 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 And Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

Why did Peter blow it? One reason, Satan demanded to sift Peter like wheat. Satan demanded an extraordinary time of testing.

Look closely verse 31, Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat.

You ever felt this way? Life is crushing- health issues, strained relationships, financial stress, what’s safe now feels unsafe.

Satan made the same demand of Job in Job 1:9-12
9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”

God doesn’t bring the trial. God allows it. Satan demanded a crack at Job and now wants a crack at Peter. If he could break Peter, Peter the Rock, Peter the Gibraltar among the disciples, it would break the spirit of the movement.

Satan’s not going to repeat Job’s hell of losing everything- family, health, wealth, home, reputation. Satan chooses a different tactic for Peter- sift him like wheat.

3 Parts of Wheat
Straw = stock on which the heads of grain grow
Chaff = husk that holds the kernels
Wheat = Nutritious kernels themselves, the part you can eat

Get to that kernel, you have to sift it. That means 1. Threshing it and 2. Winnowing it

You can beat the heads of wheat with a stick. But for larger production you need

  • Threshing floor- a large, circular, flat, hard area to scatter the wheat.
  • Then an ox to pull a sledge- a large piece of wood (3×5 feet) with stones or iron spikes inserted into the bottom. This cuts and crushes and breaks the wheat all at the same time.
  • After that, the winnowing = using a large pitchfork or basket to throw the threshed grain into the air. The chaff will blow away and the good kernels fall to the floor.

Peter’s on the threshing floor

  • Do I grab a sword and fight? No, Jesus rebuked me for that in the garden.
  • Do I testify on his behalf? A lot of good that would do. I’m a fisherman and they’re influential, educated leaders.
  • Do I just watch and listen so I can rally the disciples in the morning?

Peter’s spotted and questioned again and again and again. The grinding of the sledge. Denial- Denial- Denial.

Peter hears the rooster crow. Peter turns his head and sees Jesus looking at him. Now it’s the winnowing. It’s all up in the air. Peter wants to catch everything that’s been flying out of his mouth and try again take a stand. It’s too late. He’s already falling.

The cutting, crushing, breaking, everything up in the air, the falling

It’s a time of extraordinary testing. We will face it, too. The good news is we can make our way through it and come out the other side stronger and better for it, just like Peter. How?

31 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Seeing Peter fail and fall, the Savior utters no words.

  • No “I told you so.”
  • No shaking of the head in disappointment
  • No lowering of the head in disgust

Jesus’ look is sympathetic, compassionate. It is a look of one who knows what it’s like to fall under the threshing of Satan. Jesus has been there, too. For forty days in a barren wilderness. He knows how crushing it is, how hard, how painful, how ruthless the adversary.

Jesus also knows God works it for good, for victory. Jesus shares that victory with us.

Why do deeply faithful people blow it? Sometimes it’s the evil one at work. Can you recover from it? Yes, yes and yes. God doesn’t bring the trial. God allows it. God works it for good.

31 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

James 1:2-4
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

Quote by John R. Wimmer in his book Blessed Endurance
The rejoicing we find here is not a shallow, syrupy, or optimistic refusal to admit that problems exist; instead, it is the realistic recognition of struggle bolstered by the decision to rejoice in knowing that God is working to bring us through strife to greater spiritual depth. James proclaims that suffering may be considered as joy when the encounter produces the spiritual virtue of steadfastness. And steadfastness, when allowed to flower into fullness, produces the most attractive bloom of all qualities: Christian maturity.

Peter is a smaller man now, without the thick husk that once surrounded his life. He is broken and he is bare. The chaff and the straw have been blown away. The good, heavy wheat remains and is collected for use.

In the time of testing, Jesus will see us through. We will be stronger and better for it.  Hold on to hope.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am 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.

Prayer: Steadfast in Your Strength (Ephesians 6:10)

be strong in the lord ephesians 6-10Ephesians 6:10
Be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of his might.

Lord God of Heaven and Earth
I am strong when I stand in Your strength

Help me to live that truth
Reveal it’s fullness
So that I may know that I know that I know
Down in my bones
One with my being
Re-member me
Steadfast in Your strength

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Steadfast in Your Strength by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.