Sermon Recording- The Witness of Prayer (Philippians 1, Numbers 6)

prayer group hands

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 2 of 5: The Witness of Prayer
Scriptures: Philippians 1:1-11; Numbers 6:24-26
This message was offered Sunday, 7/15/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Click Here for Bishop Ken Carter’s Story: The Gospel, a stranger, and the burnt ends of the brisket

What about this story speaks to you?

We live in a missionary age. Less than 20% of the American population actively practices the Christian faith.

So where do we begin as hometown missionaries? We begin by hanging out with people, really listening, really caring. Treat people are people, not projects.

As we share back and forth, needs are revealed. This leads to praying. Hometown missionaries need to know how to pray out loud when the moment presents itself.

1. The questions

Be gracious and humble. Prayer is never imposed or forced on someone.

  • How can I best pray for you?
  • May I pray right now? May I offer a blessing?
  • May I touch your shoulder? May I hold your hand?
  • Take your time. Make space to help the person realized God is already present. Look the person in the eye.

The witness of prayer: When I was in seminary, I was walking with a classmate. I shared a concern and asked for prayer. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and said, “Let’s pray now.” It was so meaningful, I still remember is 20 years later.

2. Pray out loud

A. Offer a Sentence Prayer: Name for God + Verb + Name of Person

  • Lord, help my friend Steve
  • Jesus, strengthen Lori
  • Holy Spirit, fill John with wisdom

You’ve been listening to the person, so you know the need.

B. Offer a blessing: Consider memorizing Numbers 6:24-26 (The Priestly Benediction/Blessing God gave to Moses and Aaron). Write the blessing on a piece of paper and put it on your mirror as you brush your teeth or near your computer screen.

Here’s what it means:

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;

  • May the Lord constantly bring good into your life
  • May the Lord protect you and guard all that is sacred and precious about you

25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

  • Imagine how a person’s face lights up when they hold a baby. God’s face shines on you in the same way. This is a reminder that God delights in you. May you know how beloved you are.
  • Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting better than what we deserve. We all need grace. Grace upon grace.

26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

  • Imagine you walk into a room and a person is working at a computer. The person stops what she’s doing and looks up at you, giving you her full attention. God is fully attentive to you. God is here, already at work, already reaching out to you, loving you.
  • May you know God’s presence and peace

Remember to continue to make space after the prayer or blessing. Often, the realization of God’s presence causes the person to want to talk more, to share even more deeply.

3. Follow up – The Evidence of Prayer 

As in the story, promise to continue to pray. Follow up with the person with a written note, text, call, or Facebook message. A written prayer can be read again and again. Offer something simple- I’m praying for you. I’m here for you

When you see the person, offer something simple like “It’s so good to see you.” Leave space to let them lead the conversation.

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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- 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.

Worship Resource: Let in the Light (Matthew 2:1-12)

star light2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 24 Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
The Star

We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him
– Matthew 2:2

Worship Resource: Let in the Light
John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

One: Let in the Light

Luke 1:78-79
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

One: Let in the Light

John 12:46
Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world,
so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.”

One: Let in the Light

John 8:12
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”

One: Let in the Light

Psalm 84:11-12
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is everyone who trusts in you.

One: Let in the Light

Silent reflection and/or words of invitation

Closing: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)

Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

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Be sure to check out a wonderful prayer based on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled The Star.

This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Compilation: Let in the Light © 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.

Worship Resource: Love is Here

Worship Resource: Love is Here
Instrumental music begins and continues underneath the readings and the singing.

ONE SPEAKING: Isaiah 55:1-3a NIV
The Lord God says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Verse 1 and Chorus

ONE SPEAKING: John 7:37-38 NRSV
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Verse 2 and Chorus

ONE: Luke 4:16-21 NRSV
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

ALL SINGING
Love is Here (CCLI Song # 5325139)
Made popular by Tenth Avenue North
Bridge twice and Chorus 2 twice

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Love is Here compilation © 2013 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 more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

John Day 2: What are you looking for?

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 2 Reading:
John 1:29-51

Bringing the Word to Life
“Come and see.” Invite friends and family to a worship service, small group meeting, an Easter event, or to join you in a service project.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
When Jesus turned and saw them following he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “Where are you staying?”
– John 1:38 (NRSV)

Observation
John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus. Now that Jesus has begun his public ministry, John starts to literally point his followers to Jesus so that they will become his followers. Jesus also invites people to be his followers himself.

Application
I put myself into the scripture and see Jesus asking me, “What are you looking for?” What am I looking for this Lenten season? Over the years I’ve been more and less disciplined in my looking, and more and less guilty about it. I am always looking for something real, something that will last, something I can trust. Where will I find it? The key is the disciples’ answer, “Where are you staying?” Where are you staying Jesus? Where are you at work? Who are you hanging out with? What’s important to you? You’re what I’m looking for and that’s where I want to be.

O Lord, this my soul is wider than the world, its longing from depths deeper than any valley, the pain of desire is more troubling than the faint lost bell notes. Only thyself canst fill so vast an emptiness. – Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs

Prayer
Jesus, you see us searching and come near. So often we don’t know what we want, but we keep searching anyway. Save us from distraction and foolish rambling. Save us from getting lost in work, in ritual, in things that do not last. You want to be found and known. You understand the deepest longings of our hearts. You alone can answer the hungers of our soul. Thank you for inviting us to come and to see and to stay with you. We just want to be with you, no matter what that means. Help everyone to hear your invitation and to know they are welcome, too. In your name we trust and pray. Amen.

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For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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