Sermon Recording- Come and See (John 1.35-42)

coffee hang out relationship

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 1 of 5: Come and See, Hanging Out and Making Invitations
Scriptures: John 1:35-42
This message was offered Sunday, 7/8/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

When you think of a missionary, what comes to mind?

  • Special people  who are identified and sent by a congregation
  • They have a calling from God and are trained to fulfill it
  • Mature, devoted followers of Jesus Christ
  • Often leave home to go to a far off, developing country
  • Might learn a new language
  • Might bring a skill like medical training, construction experience, knowledge of water purification techniques, teaching
  • Special people who choose a life of sacrifice, poverty, and danger
    • Praise the Lord that 2 of the 3 UMC missionaries in the Philippines have been released. Continue to pray for the release of Miracle.

Missionaries fulfill the great commission literally- They Go!

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20 

Our job in fulfilling the great commission is to recognize and affirm their call, to support them in their training and mission work with our prayers, our money, and by sending supplies. Occasionally we might go on a short-term mission trip, but they stay “in country.”

This model no longer works. The world has changed. America has changed. America is now a missionary territory.

In the story of my family, there are 5 generations without faith in Jesus Christ. That’s 100 years.

We now live in Post Christendom America. Christianity no longer has preferential treatment in our society. It’s sometimes subtle and sometimes it’s downright hostile.

  • 24/7 work week + increased workloads, the need for 2 income families, job plus a side hustle, jobs in retirement
  • So many options for how to spend our time and money
  • So much pressure to raise “well rounded” kids who are committed to sports plus arts plus making great grades

Many of us came to faith when all you had to do was build a church and people would come. It was part of the culture.

How many of us trained to be missionaries? Very few! Therefore there is no shame in not knowing how to do this. We’ll spend the next few weeks reclaiming the missionary heart, prayers, and practices of our spiritual ancestors.

Take a breath. It’s ok if this is new for you, even uncomfortable. It is for me as well. I’ll be learning and trying out new things right alongside you. God’s power will be made perfect in our weakness.

So where do we start? We start simple just like they did in Bible times. We hang out with people. We build a relationship, build trust. Be a great friend. Care about folks with no agenda. God will open the door for deeper discussions.

Read John 1:35-42

Understand Who You’re Hanging out with/Inviting

This pie chart helps us understand the US population’s relationship with Christ and his church. Different groups are best reached in different ways

pie chart us population relationship with christ

Group 1 = Green and Gold Areas of the Chart

These persons have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus. (Scripture, Prayer, Holy Communion, Serving Others). They know church language, are comfortable in a sanctuary and in worship, and are comfortable around other Christians.

  • Dark Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants one or more times per month.
  • Light Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants less than once per month but more than just Christmas and Easter.
  • Gold (20%) name themselves Christians, have had a church home in the past but not currently, and are open to reconnecting to active participation with a congregation.

Group 1 Invitations = Come and See  

  • Easy to hang out with persons in this group because we have so much in common
  • Because of their experiences, you can invite these persons directly to church activities and worship

Group 2 = Orange area of the chart (20%)

These persons also have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus but are now uncomfortable at a church and around other Christians. They may have been hurt by a church experience. They may be angry at the church or at God. They may be ashamed of something or just adopted new priorities. They are closed to reconnecting with a congregation and maybe even faith itself.

Group 2 Invitations = We’re different

  • This takes much more prayer and relationship building.
  • Help persons discover our congregation is different from the hurtful one they previously experienced.
  • Different might mean relationships, theology, style, values, motivation, and/or goals.
  • Build trust, pray, and invite them to meet other Christians or try inviting them to events which will meet felt needs

Group 3 = Blue Area of the Chart (40%)

This represents persons who have little to no experience with the words and ways of Jesus. If the orange group is done, the blue group is none. All they know about Christianity is from TV, movies, and novels. (how often is that accurate?) They may have never stepped foot into a sanctuary. Coming to worship might feel like walking on Mars. They may not have had a Christian in their family or friends for generations, have never had a Christian in their family/friends, or even know a Christian.

For me, the longer I am a Christian, the fewer people I know in this group. I need help in this area.

Group 3 invitations = Go!

  • Reaching persons in this group is similar to foreign mission work.
  • It’s about cross-cultural relationship building on their turf rather than the church campus.
  • Invite them to out for coffee or for a meal, activity together

Your mission should you choose to accept it: Make space to hang out with people. Be a real friend. Really care. No agenda. Listen deeply. Be consistent. Treat people as people, not as a project.

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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 © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Persecuted People (Acts 5.12-42)

Sermon Series Website What is Church

Sermon Series: What is Church?
Message 6 of 6: Persecuted People
Scriptures: Acts 5:12-42
This message was offered Sunday, 5/27/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Why do we come to Jesus? What are we looking for?

  • Forgiveness
  • Comfort
  • Healing
  • Hope
  • Life, everlasting life
  • Love
  • Meaning, purpose, to be part of something greater than ourselves

The same was true for the earliest followers of Jesus

Acts 5:12-16
This is what it looks like when the people of God are on Fire, Full of the Holy Spirit, faith-full in word and deed

  • V 12 Many signs and wonders- People are experiencing transformation, healing, deliverance on such a scale it must be God. The city was different because of the love and good works of the faith-full.
  • V 12 All together-  working together as Body of Christ
  • V 13 Held in high esteem- known in the community, reputation for love and good works both in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns
  • V 14 More than ever believers were added to the Lord. The first followers were making disciples of Jesus Christ. They were fulfilling the great commission. (Matthew 28:16-20)

When you come to Jesus are you looking for adventure? Are you reading to join Jesus in healing the sick, bringing good news to the poor, releasing the captives, battling evil, and changing the world?

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The Lord’s prayer also includes “Deliver us from evil.” There is a cost to fully following Jesus. When you battle evil, it’s going to fight back.   

Sermon Subpage Header roman prison

A story of the brave Christians in Cuba

Verse 13 says, “None of the rest dared to join them.” Even though the Christians were doing great things by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though they were respected by the people, it was still dangerous to publically associate with the Christians.

17 Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, 18 arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.

There’s an old question to check your commitment to Jesus. “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” There was no doubt Peter and the Apostles were followers- preaching, teaching, healing, caring for the poor. They were loud and proud. They were battling evil and evil is going to make them pay, first by imprisonment.

God provided for their escape. Did they run, no! Even though they were just arrested, they kept preaching and teaching publically.

Reading Acts 5:19- 28
Jewish leadership is jealous of so many people coming to faith and the Christian’s high regard of the people. The Jewish leadership is scared. They fear the crowd will believe Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, that they killed him, and the crowd will now stone them for it.

In verse 28, the apostles are accused of filling Jerusalem with their teaching. What would it be like if Sarasota were filled with the teaching of Jesus? Siesta Key?

What kind of effort would that take? Every single one of us equipped to share the gospel, testify, pray with people, invite people. Every single one of us, and all the other Christians in town wanting to do it, brave, courageous. Every single one saying, “This is the most important thing I do because this has eternal consequences.”

Reading Acts 5:29-39
They take a stand for Jesus then they start sharing the Gospel with the Jewish leadership! The leaders’ main mission is to protect the word of God, the temple, the worship of God from false Messiahs. Gamaliel reminds them that if Jesus is the Messiah, what the apostles are doing cannot be stopped. You could actually be fighting against God. If not, it will fail and fade.

Here we are over 2000 years later still following Jesus. The Gospel did not fail or fade. This gives us the courage to share it. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

39b They were convinced by him, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42 And every day in the temple and at home, they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

Why do we come to Jesus? What are we looking for?

  • Come to Jesus for the adventure
  • Come to Jesus. Take up your cross. Suit up, warrior. Get in the game.
  • Come to Jesus. Battle evil. Change the world.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it’s risky. There is a cost, but it’s of God. If it’s of God- nothing will be able to stop it.

Renewing our Commitment to Christ, His Mission, and Church
1. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

2. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

3. Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

4. According to the grace given you, will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy Church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world? 

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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 © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

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.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 1, Go

01 GoThe thought behind the photo:
This is the parking lot exit sign at Community United Methodist Church in DeBary. It reminds me that the mission field is all around me. I have the joy and privilege of joining Jesus in his saving work every day. – Lisa <><

As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think. ― Wendell Barry, Jayber Crow

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28:19-20 NRSV
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The December 1, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 2:2-5 [The Message]
There’s a day coming when the mountain of God’s House Will be The Mountain – solid, towering over all mountains. All nations will river toward it, people from all over set out for it. They’ll say, “Come, let’s climb God’s Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.” Zion’s the source of the revelation. God’s Message comes from Jerusalem. He’ll settle things fairly between nations. He’ll make things right between many peoples. They’ll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won’t play war anymore. Come, family of Jacob, let’s live in the light of God.   

Today marks the first day of Advent. A time in the church where we prepare…to wait. But by the beginning of Advent, we have already been prepped by commercials for that big thing we are waiting for: Christmas. The sales following Thanksgiving come earlier and earlier, and this year, some stores opened just hours after folks would probably be having their second slice of pumpkin pie.

A quick walk around the downtown storefronts and one wouldn’t have to use much imagination to be transported to a wintery wonderland in another time and place where visions of sugarplums dance in our heads.

In this passage from Isaiah, however, we are shown another time and place; another vision. A place that we don’t need commercials to prep us for. A place that we long for. A place where justice reigns and God’s house will be established. A place where implements of war and destruction become instruments for peace. A time and a place where the brokenness around us is transformed.

Seems impossible, doesn’t it, to envision this new reality? When is this day coming? The idea of checking off a Christmas shopping list sometimes seems the more attainable task.

But what if we journeyed toward that mountain together and started by saying that today was the day when we would start living and walking in this light of God?

Will you go?

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Reader's Theater: The Lame Man is Healed (Acts 3)

The Beautiful by Matt Rodriguez

Reader’s Theater Script for Acts 3:1-20 (NRSV)
For three voices. It would be easy to add non speaking roles and simple staging to this script to fully dramatize the story. (the crowd, the lame man, John, etc.)

VOICE ONE:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. A man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple.

VOICE TWO:
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said,

PETER:
Look at us

VOICE TWO:
The man fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said,

PETER:
I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you;
in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk

VOICE ONE:
Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

VOICE TWO:
All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

VOICE ONE:
The man clung to Peter and John. All the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people,

PETER:
You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. You rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

By faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.

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Be sure to check out more work by Matt Rodriguez and the other artists at the Rodriguez Project.

Acts 3:1-20 (NRSV) from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

arrangement © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

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

Jesus the Vine: Bearing Fruit

half-dead-half-alive-tree

Half Dead, Half Alive- an oil painting by Bryna B.

John 15:1-2, 8, 16a (NRSV)
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit… My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples… You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…”

From a vine we look for grapes,
and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life.
– Matthew Henry

In the promise of an ‘abiding’ presence God’s Easter people find not some abstract speculation about a distant or imaginary Trinity, but an invitation to experience the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a saving and liberating presence in the midst of our day-to-day world. – James Boyce

For an incredible poem entitled Pruning by Steve Garnaas-Holmes, click here

Matthew 3:8
Bear the fruit that comes from repentance.

At the word of the prophet
we seize our cutting tools
as if repentance is all slashing and lopping,
and, yes there is pruning,
but the real energy that gives light in this darkness
is not shame at what is wrong or dead,
but delight and hope for the fruit that is alive,
that is hidden deep in soil, deep in winter’s buds.
Repentance is not the “No” of self-disappointment
but the “Yes” of seeking, protecting, nourishing
what might otherwise be choked off.
It’s not mere impatience with what is,
but patience for what is coming to be.
Don’t start with the dead branches.
Start with the fruit. It’s in you.
That’s what kind of tree you are.
– Steve Garnaas Holmes, Fruit of Repentance

Jeremiah 8:13 (NRSV)
When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.

God expects fruit- the fruit of faith, the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of believing and praying and trusting and seeking and serving. This is an active faith, alive and growing and multiplying. This is a deep faith, rooted in the eternal truth of Christ. – Lisa <><

Prayer for the Fruit of Faith
ONE VOICE:
Jesus, Abiding One,
You welcome us
and give us the joy of welcoming others.
You pour grace into our hearts
and give us the joy of extending grace to our neighbors.
You share good news
and give us the joy of spreading your news throughout the world.

ALL VOICES
We lack nothing.
Our branches are full of leaves.
We seem to blossom, but where is the fruit?

ONE VOICE:
Where are the bodies healed for your glory?
Where are the minds enlightened by your majesty?
Where are the captives rejoicing in your freedom?
Where are the saved crying out in thanksgiving?

ALL VOICES:
Something is wrong.
Some of us think we know.
Some of us don’t want to know.
You know.
Show us before our time has passed.
Show us before we wither and die.

Time of silent listening

ONE VOICE:
Give us the courage to hear and to trust.
Grant us grace to turn and connect.
We surrender to your pruning.

ALL VOICES:
We want to bear fruit for you.
Fruit that is good.
Fruit that will last.
Fruit that comes season after season after season.
We believe.
Help our unbelief.
Amen.

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Prayer for the Fruit of Faith © 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 two other posts on John 15, click here and click here

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

Mark Day 11: The Fig Tree

The Accursed Fig Tree by James Jacques Tissot

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 11 Reading:
Mark 11

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.
– Mark 11:20 (NRSV)

Observation
Mark 11:12-14, 20-25 On his way to the Temple, Jesus looks for figs on a fig tree. Not finding any, he says, “May no one every eat fruit from you again.” (vs. 14) The next day, Peter notices the fig tree has withered from the roots. Jesus uses the fig tree to illustrate how the nation of Israel is not bearing fruit for God, especially the religious leaders who are especially charged to do so. Jesus also uses the opportunity to encourage the disciples to pray specifically, boldly, and in faith, believing that they have already received what they have asked for. (vs. 24)

Application
Many scholars agree that Jesus would have had in mind such passages as Jeremiah 8:13: “When I wanted to gather them, says the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.” The fact that Jesus was hungry and approached the fig tree looking for fruit illustrates his identity and authority as the Judge of Israel who finds that the nation, despite its “leafy” appearance, has not produced the fruit God desired…. The destruction of the fig tree stands as a continuing testimony to any nation, institution, church or person that God demands fruit of his creation. – Dr. Mike Feazell

God expects fruit- the fruit of faith, the fruit of believing and praying and trusting and seeking and serving. This is an active faith, alive and growing and multiplying. This is a deep faith, anchored in eternal truth.

Prayer
Lord Jesus,
You welcome us and give us the joy of welcoming others.
You pour grace into our hearts and give us the joy of extending grace to our neighbors.
You share good news and give us the joy of spreading your news throughout the world.

We lack nothing.
Our trees are full of leaves.
We seem to blossom, but where is the fruit?

Where are the bodies healed for your glory?
Where are the minds enlightened by your majesty?
Where are the captives rejoicing in your freedom?
Where are the saved crying out in thanksgiving?

We want to bear fruit for you.
Fruit that is good.
Fruit that will last.
Fruit that comes season after season after season.

Something is wrong, but we don’t know what.
You know. Give us the courage to hear and to act.
Show us before our time has passed.
Show us before we wither and die.
We believe. Help our unbelief. 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.