Calm Our Hearts, a prayer in the face of evil (Psalm 46)

In solidarity and sorrow with all who are persecuted for their faith, or for any other reason. It is evil and must end. Let us pray and work to this noble end. – Lisa <><

Psalm 46:1, NRSV
God is our refuge and our strength,
a very present help in times of trouble

God our Refuge, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They run to lonesome places, screaming an alarm
Calm our hearts so we can find you above the fear

God our Strength, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They race to revenge, pounding with anger
Calm our hearts so we can hear you above the hammering

God our Help, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They rush to human strength, grasping for control
Calm our hearts so we can hold
to your way, your truth, and your life

Calm our hearts so they may beat in unison with yours
So healing may flow into all brokenness
So hope may fill all devastation
So compassion and peace and unity may rise up among all people

God our Strength, our Refuge, our Help
We entrust our lives to you
We step forward with you in your saving work
Amen

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Calm Our Hearts © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Saint Patrick and Psalms of Protection (Psalm 59)

celtic-cross-cropPsalms 59, 62, 124 are all psalms of protection. This devotion is based on Psalm 59.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress. – Psalm 59:16

Observation
In Psalm 59, the Psalmist describes living in a dangerous place. Each evening violent gangs roam the streets like wild dogs, bloodthirsty and hungry for trouble. (vs. 6, 14, 15) These enemies are pride-filled, mocking the authority’s inability to stop them. (vs. 7) The Psalmist is confident that God will stop them. God will deliver and protect. God is a shield, a fortress, and a refuge in the day of distress.

Application
Sometimes our choices place us in dangerous situations. Our action, inaction, or words play a role in the creation of enemies. Sometimes danger finds us and we are left to wonder at the cause. We experience random hate, thieving, or violence.

God’s protection is for the entirety of our lives- not just our bodies or our property. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we seek to live a Godly and reconciling life. The Holy Spirit’s counsel saves us from the ravages of revenge, bitterness, and unforgiveness. We are empowered to take Godly action in the face of injustice and violence, to speak the truth, to heal, and to transform lives and situations. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide the ultimate shield. They may hurt us, they may even kill us, but we are safe now and always in God’s eternal refuge and home. – Lisa <><

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere when human lives are in danger, when human dignity is in danger. – Elie Weisel

It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts. What starts conflicts and persecutions, what marks the genuine Church, is the word that, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims and accuses: proclaims to the people God’s wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God’s reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws – out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity. -Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

The Breastplate of St. Patrick
Mark Herringshaw writes: “The prayer is often called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” because it seeks God’s protection in a world of both tangible and invisible dangers. Though Patrick of Ireland lived more than 1500 years ago his prayer asking that God would cover him is just as relevant today. Who of us haven’t wrestled with the haunting fear of living in this unpredictable world? Patrick’s solution: Run to God!”

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous people

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

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This post was originally part of a Summer in the Psalms Bible reading plan. In this plan, psalms are grouped based on common themes. Click the link – Psalms Reading Plan

Please leave a comment for more information the use of this devotional in other settings.

Sermon Recording: Recognizing a Heart of War (James 3.13-18)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Psalm 34:14        Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace

We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.

As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.

James 3:13-18 The Voice
13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.

Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.

Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.

  1. God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
    • Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
    • Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
  1. God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God

Max Lucado quote                                                                         
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!

God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.

But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.

All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.

Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.

anatomy of peace boxesThis limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.

  1. Better-than box
    • I see the world as competitive, troubled
    • I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
    • I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
  1. Worse-than box
    • I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
    • I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
    • If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
  1. I Deserve box
    • I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
    • People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
    • I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
  1. Must be seen box
    • I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
    • I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?

My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin

What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.

You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.

Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.

If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.

Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion,     the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.

Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.

Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.

Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.

Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.

Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.

Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.

Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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.

Growing in Resilience: The Too Proud Faces of Death, based on Isaiah 47.10-11

mourn sorrow

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Growing in Resilience
Day 8, Read Isaiah 47
Reflection: The Too Proud Faces of Death, based on Isaiah 47:10-11

You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me.” Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” But evil shall come upon you, which you cannot charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, which you will not be able to ward off; and ruin shall come on you suddenly, of which you know nothing.

Will wickedness always remain?
Will violence and war continue to claim their prey?
Will daily needs go unmet forever?
daily bread undiscovered
daily water contaminated
daily shelter out of reach
Will oppression and poverty and captivity shriek their horrid victory?
Will isolation entomb us?

It’s all death
The too proud faces of death
death of goodness
death of peace
death of provision
death of dignity
death of relationship

O Lord, will it always be this way?
Your answer?
No!

Oh, how we need this reminder!
This promise!
This truth!
This hope!
Oh, how we need this now!

Hear our cry, One True Living God
Wield your resurrection love
Yours is the power and strength
Yours is the victory
Reveal it now! Grant it now!
Your people coming before you and coming together and overcoming

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:54b-58 (NRSV)

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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. 

The Too Proud Faces of Death© 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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.

Prayer- Sew Your Good Seed (Matthew 13.36-43)

harvesting-grains wheat

Based on Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus, life this side of heaven is so hard, so troubled, so broken. Evil is twisted into everything. All is corrupted, entangled. Will there ever be peace, truth, justice? How do we hold on to hope?

Remember the seed
You sew the good seed, Jesus
It will grow

At the End of the Age, you will bring a harvest of grace and salvation. You will send your angels to collect all the sin. The separation. The corruption. The brokenness. The self-serving. The abusing. The violent. The envy. The resentment and the wrath. The greed, the fear, the diseased, the shame.

This is not your seed.
You sew the good seed, Jesus
It will grow

At the End of the Age, you will open wide your saving embrace to receive us and all that enslaves us. You will collect us and burn away all that is broken and soiled and wrong, that we may shine like the sun with you forever and for always.

Help us Jesus. Help us listen and help us follow and help us trust. Sew your good seed deep in us, in your church, and in the world, that we may grow and look to you and hope. Amen

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Sew Your Good Seed © 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.

Save my Soul Good Gardner, a prayer based on the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13.1-9)

seed-sower-jeremy-sams

Based on Matthew 13:1-9

Save my soul, Good Gardener
Evil flies in wanting to steal my hope
Work piles up, insecure boulders ready to crash, leaving no room to root
My faith begins to wither as does our relationship
Distractions grow, choking my gratitude
my perspective
my spirit

Guard me
Guide me
Deliver me
Clear the land
Weed then seed
Nourish the soil of my soul
I long to blossom and bring forth your fruit, a hundred fold

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Save my Soul Good Gardener © 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.