Soft and Steadfast, a prayer based on Hebrews 3 and James 1

soft-heart-cruel-world-2

Based on Hebrews 3:7-14, The Voice Translation and James 1:19-25, NRSV

Merciful One, soften my heart

Save me from hardheartedness
From evil and deceit
From mutiny and unbelief

Turn and return me
From wandering away
From petrifying slowly

Make my heart pure
Open to you
Wanting what you want

Make my heart true
Confident in you and your Word
Hearing and Doing

Make my heart noble
Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
Rejoicing in your direction

Jesus
Heart of my heart
Keep me soft and steadfast in your nail scarred hands

Extended quote by John R. Wimmer, Blessed Endurance
The words joy rejoice as they appear in James and First Peter do not mean what they seem at first glance. 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. Yes, it may be tough if not impossible to rejoice when suffering, but such joy will not take the form of emotional jubilance or elation.

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.

Authentic Christian maturity, then, is a steadfastness that we attain not by denial. It is a quality that, like any other kind of maturity, accrues with age, hard work, and a lot of bruising experience. It is the ability to redirect our thoughts beyond immediate woes in order to realize the spiritual growth that results from tests of faith.

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Prayer: Soft and Steadfast © 2017, updated 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a message for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

What are you looking for, based on John 6 and Psalm 63

Bread of Life by Kennedy A Paizs

I am the Bread of Life by Kennedy A Paizs. “I want to desire Jesus as much as I desire to eat each day to sustain my physical life.”

John 6:25-27
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Why am I looking for Jesus?
Am I just looking for the goodies?

  • provision- the fill of the loaves
  • an entertaining story on the side of a mountain
  • comfort and blessing since so much of life is insecure
  • an escape to a better place beyond this life

There is a huge difference between using Jesus as a means to an end and desiring a relationship with Jesus for who he is. – Lisa <><

Prayer:
Jesus, you offer me yourself
Not a philosophy to follow
Not a commodity to use
Not a means to an end

You offer me you
Flesh and Blood
Bread and Messiah

Forgive my shallow desires for your bread alone
They dishonor and cheapen the fullness of you

Open me to your great gift
Every part
Open me to give myself in return
Every part
Amen

Prayer:
Jesus, forgive my false following
My misplaced priorities
For using you instead of loving you

Nurture true faith and trust in me
To love you first and always
To love you for you
as you love me

Reorder my consuming
Feasting on your presence
You are my bread, my drink, my life
I love you

Psalm 63:1-8
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings, I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

For more on the themes of seeking, hungering, and false ways we seek to satisfy, look to Junk Food, a prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

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What are you looking for? © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The King is Coming, a Sermon for Palm Sunday

The King is Coming, a Sermon for Palm Sunday
Scripture: John 12:1-19; Zechariah 9:9-10

Offered Sunday, 3/29/2021 via Facebook Live at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

The King is coming
The people announced it.
It filled the streets like the perfume filled the house the night before.
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”

The King is coming.
The disciples remembered it.
Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Hosanna! The King is coming, triumphant and victorious
Riding into Jerusalem just like Solomon did centuries before
Ending the dispute over who’s the one true King

Jesus, Jesus is the King of kings
Greater than the Roman war machine
Greater than the Pax Romana
With Jesus its Eternal Peace-
wrong made right through humility, and vulnerability, and sacrifice
Eternal Peace- Pax Eterna

Zechariah 9:10
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Hosanna! The King is coming. The Anointed One- the Christ
Anointed by Mary in gratitude and love for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead
Anointed by Mary, blessed to reign as King forever
Anointed by Mary, blessed to bear God’s grace as high priest forever
Anointed by Mary, a holy sacrifice anointed for death
The last sacrifice ever needed
A sacrifice so great it overcomes all sin, all death, for all time

Hosanna! The King is coming. The King over death.
Jesus raised Lazarus
Only a few days later he’ll lay down his own life and take it up again
Hosanna! The King over death. And he will raise us up as well.
Hosanna! The King over death.
All the little deaths. All the little injustices.
All the big deaths. All the big injustices.
Hosanna to the King over death.
Hosanna! Save now.

This is why so many are going after him.
He raised Lazarus from the dead.
This spectacular miracle.
This quick, spectacular fix.

This is what the people were testifying to.
Hosanna to the King of Israel. Hosanna to the King over death.

How many will go after him when his work becomes small?
When his work becomes slow?
When his work becomes sacrifice?

How many will go after him when his work includes our work?
When his work includes our “yes” – our time, our prayer, our money, our hands, our sacrifice
When the hungry come and Jesus says, “You feed them”
When the night of anguish comes and Jesus says, “stay awake, watch and pray with me”
When it’s time to deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow
Follow the King- the King of kings, the King of death, the King of sacrifice

Hosanna! The King is coming
The leaders said, “what can you do, the world has gone after him
Have you gone after Him?
Are you following him?
testifying to him?
serving him?
trusting him?

The King is still coming
The gracious King
The King of kings
The King of death
The King of sacrifice

Our humble King
Our King, triumphant and victorious
Let us go after Him

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You can find us live on Facebook Sundays at 9 AM and 10:30 AM, and Wednesdays at 8 AM.

© 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Series- Wild Man, the Life and Witness of John the Baptist, Parts 3-5

Sermon Series- Wild Man, The Life and Witness of John the Baptist
Message 3 of 5: Increasing and Decreasing
Scripture: John 3:22-30, John Answers His Disciple’s Concerns

Offered Sunday, 3/7/2021 via Facebook Live at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

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Sermon Series- Wild Man, The Life and Witness of John the Baptist
Message 4 of 5: Faith and Doubt
Scripture: Matthew 11:2-11, John’s Question from Prison

Offered Sunday, 3/14/2021 via Facebook Live at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

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Sermon Series- Wild Man, The Life and Witness of John the Baptist
Message 5 of 5: Bad Things Happen
Scripture: Mark 6:17-29, The Death of John the Baptist

Offered Sunday, 3/21/2021 via Facebook Live at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

This message includes a remembrance of the eight persons murdered in Atlanta a few days before. Xiaojie Tahn, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Yaun, Paul Andre Michels

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You can find us live on Facebook Sundays at 9 AM and 10:30 AM, and Wednesdays at 8 AM.

© 2021 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Cast Your Net Again (John 21)

cast your net again daniel bonnell

Cast Your Net Again by Daniel Bonnell

John 21:6
Jesus said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

Sermon/Poem
This poem was inspired by Matthew 13:47-50, John 21:1-14, John 12:31-32, Psalms 40:1-3, and the painting Cast Your Net Again by Daniel Bonnell. It could be voiced with one or two speakers.

Cast Your Net Again
It’s been a long night of fishing
We smell of bait and salt-
salt from the sea
salt from the sweat
salt from the tears
It’s a strange combination of perspiration and desperation

The sun is coming up
But our hearts remain in the deep
Not so much because we haven’t caught anything,
But because everything’s changed
He’s gone
our leader
our teacher
our friend
our future
We’re missing Jesus

He called us from our nets years before,
Come, follow me…
And that’s what we did
We gave up everything we knew
our homes
our world
our lives
“Fishers of men,” he said…

Now he’s gone and all that’s left is the nets…

empty nets…

Children, you have no fish, have you?
                                                                     No, no fish
Cast your net again and you will find some

Cast your net again,
We know this familiar foolishness
So we cast it…
we cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
Suddenly! So many fish!

The cry goes up with our hope
It is the Lord! It is Jesus!

He sank down to the bottom
Down to the mud and the darkness
Down to the pain and the brokenness
Down to our level

Until he was lifted up- lifted up on a cross
Up went the fists
Up went the mocks
Up went the stares
Up went the sign
King of the Jews

Down came the hammer
Down came the tears
Down came the blood
Down came the love
Down to our level
buried beneath waves of fear and injustice and sin
Buried beneath earth

He did as he promised
Now is the judgment of this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw all people to myself

It is the Lord! It is Jesus!
He is lifted up from the earth!
Up from the grave
Up goes the shout
Up goes the sun with the Son

Cast your net again, my Jesus
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
Draw us up from the bottom with you
Draw us up from the mud and the darkness
Draw us up from the pain and the brokenness
Draw us up from the selfishness and the loneliness
Draw us up from the fear and the hate and the sin and the death
Draw us up from the bottom with you

Draw us up, Draw us all, my Jesus
Fisher of men and women,
sober and addicted,
poor and prosperous,
infant and aged

Draw us up, Draw us all, my Jesus
Healthy and ill,
free and imprisoned,
questioning and confident

Draw us up, Draw us all
Fisher of nations and galaxies

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Cast your net again into the sea of humanity
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
Draw us up
Draw us in
We are caught in your saving embrace

Jesus says, “Now follow me.”
“Come, cast the net
Cast the net again and again and again and we will find some more
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
So many, so different, so beautiful
Use all your strength to bring them in
Have no fear, the net will not break.”

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© 2009, revised 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please, leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.