A Prayer Inspired by the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)

beatitudes 3

Matthew 5:1-12 NRSV
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus,
We receive your blessings and pray for the Holy Spirit to make them real in our lives.

Renew a right spirit within us, a poor spirit, a spirit which knows our deep need of your grace and deliverance. Free us from trying to save ourselves. Free us for the fullness of your kingdom.

Soften our hard hearts with the gift of tears. Help us mourn our brokenness and the brokenness of our world. Help us feel it fully. Help us welcome the refreshment of your comfort and share it well with others.

Generous Savior, you fill each person with gifts, talents, and strength. Open us to meekness, that we may gladly surrender them to your authority and discipline. In our hands, they are often weapons. With you, they are refined for your glory and the common good.

Bread of Life, sour every false and destructive appetite, that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness alone- a right relationship with you, a right relationship with others and between others, a right relationship with ourselves, a right relationship with your creation.

We bless you and honor you for your unending mercy, a flood of grace, pouring out and spilling over. Make us mercy-full. May all people know you like this.

Suffering One, break our hearts as yours is broken. In the breaking, create in us clean hearts, pure hearts, undivided hearts. Our deepest desire is to see you at work in us and all around us and to one day see you face to face.

In your grace, please don’t stop with our hearts. Re-Birth us fully in the breaking and creating. Named your beloved, your children, forever.

Make us
One with you and each other
One in your great work of peace
One in your words and ways
One in commitment to reconciliation and righteousness
One in facing of falsehood
One in the bloody bonds of persecution
One in your joy
One in your promises
One on earth and one in heaven
Amen

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A Prayer Inspired by the Beatitudes © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Move On (Philippians 3.14)

2019 07 22 Press On Prayer

Greetings Dear Ones,
Why was the blog so quiet last week? I was away at the Warren Willis Camp. I had the joy of leading worship for 168 middle school campers. 5 sermons in 5 days! Whew…

This week I’m writing prayers and liturgies to submit for next year’s United Methodist General Conference worship. It feels big with all that’s going on in our denomination. Thank you for your prayers. I so want to be faithful and helpful.

The theme verse for the conference is Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The image of pressing on captured my heart. Journeying, persevering, springing, sprinting, running, pursuing, reaching out, moving forward, moving on.

This reminded me of the moment in the musical Sunday in the Park with George, where George has lost his way. He wants to explore the light, to get through to something new, but he doesn’t know how. His great grandmother, a loving witness from the distant past, encourages him to step out in faith, to try, to move on.

Maybe you needed to hear this encouragement today as well. Just keep moving on.

We do not press on in fear
anxious and competitive

We do not press on in duty
obligated and mechanical

We press on in hope
In your abiding presence
In your saving love
Your love, O Christ, urges us on

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Move On © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Walk the Walk (Ephesians 4)

sit-walk-stand 

Sermon Series: Sit Walk Stand
Inspired by Watchman Nee‘s book Sit Walk Stand, a study of Ephesians

Message 2 of 3: Walk
Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-6
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 5/26/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Click Here for more information on the Ephesians Reading Challenge
Read the entire book of Ephesians 3 times in 3 weeks

The main theme of Ephesians: Moving with Christ from death to life. Christianity is a movement, a journey of faith.

In his book, Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee divides the book of Ephesians into three main sections.

  • Sit, chapters 1-3
    • Sitting with Christ, Sitting in Christ, our identity and being
  • Walk, chapters 4-6:9
    • Walking with Christ, movement of faith
  • Stand, chapter 6:10-24

“Walk” is used in the Book of Ephesians

  • Hard to find depending on what translation you use
  • Most often translated life in the NRSV and NIV translations
  • Easier to find in the King James Version and New King James Version (used 8 times)
  • The Ephesians Reading Challenge: Read the entire book of Ephesians 3 times in 3 weeks. It’s 6 chapters long, so read chapter 1 Monday, chapter 2 Tuesday, and you’ll finish on Saturday.

Ephesians 4:1 NRSV
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Ephesians 4:1 NKJV
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

If a person is really living their faith we say they’re Walking the Walk. What does Walking the Walk look like?

  • Moral, Just, Trustworthy
  • Commitment to Christ
  • Caring
  • Value fellowship/community
  • Passionate
  • Visible joy
  • Makes an impression – like footprints in the sand

Barefoot-Walking on path

Walking the Walk

  • The practical living of faith in Jesus Christ
  • Our life in Christ out in the world by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us
  • Our lives look different because we are walking with Christ. They make an impression.

Ephesians 4:1 NKJV I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

We display who we are in Christ in our conduct and our choices. It’s for everyone to see. Who we are in what we do. Our being is shown in our doing.       

  • Jesus says, “You are the Body of Christ.” Our faith is lived out in our flesh. Incarnation, skin in the game
  • They will know you are Christians by your love- your loving words your loving actions, your loving choices, sacrifices, generosity, life

Show Me from Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady
Words Words Words I’m so sick of words. I get words all day through. First from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do? Don’t talk of stars burning above. If you’re in love show me. Tell me no dreams filled with desire. If you’re on fire show me.

Show that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. Show that the Holy Spirit is at work in you. We leave our former walk/way of living for a new walk/way of living with Christ. We turn, we repent and we become a follower of Jesus Christ. Our life looks different because we are moving in a new direction with a new motivation.

Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 2:10 NKJV For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:1-6 NRSV I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 5:8 NKJV For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV   See then that you walk circumspectly (watchfully, awake, intentionally), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

This is a life worthy of giving your life to.

mlk protesters win by loveRev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote on Loving Your Enemies
To our most bitter opponents, we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

There is an idea of Christianity that what it means to be a Christian is to be nice, to follow the laws of the land, to attend church, give money to charity, and do some volunteer work.

That version of Christianity does not require the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That version of Christianity does not require the power of the Holy Spirit living in you and through you.

It can be done in mere human strength. It is humanism. It is Star Trek. They boldly go where no one has gone before because they’ve pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. They have discovered the technology for it, they’ve learned to be better people who make better choices.

The transformation that happens in a life because of Jesus Christ, because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work, is what Dr. King described. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Christianity is a life so transformed it makes an impression. You walk into a room and people sense the character change in you brought on by the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Christianity is a life that takes our baptismal vows seriously and lives them out

  • I renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of my sin.
  • I accept the freedom and power God gives me to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
  • I confess Jesus Christ as my Savior, put my whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as my Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.
  • According to the grace given to me, I will remain a faithful member of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representative in the world.

It is time for a robust, alive faith. It’s time for a faith that does scary things. I want to walk as a child of the light. It’s scary to say this because now you and God can hold me accountable. Ok Jesus, what are you going to ask of me?

And yet, it is what real faith is. I want to be known as a child of the light. I want to be known as a person who walks the walk. I pray you want to be known the same way. This is who you are in Christ. This is the fullness of walking the walk.

Prayer: God we recognize we cannot walk the walk in our own strength. We recognize that it’s so good to just be comfortable. We recognize there’s something bigger and great which you are calling us to. So fill us with your Spirit. Make us alive in you.

Fill us, so it overflows with all we come in contact with. Fill us with your mercy and grace so it overflows as we walk. Fill us with your power so it does abundantly more than we can ask or imagine as we walk.

Lord, we know this filling comes first by sitting in you. We cannot walk unless we sit. We will sit in your presence. We will sit with your Word. We will rest in you and receive so we may walk.

Thank you for teaching us this truth. May our lives bring you glory. May your Kingdom come through us. Amen.

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Walk Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Ending Your Day with Reflection Questions

I read an article recently about the benefits of ending your day with several reflection questions. I’ve found the practice helpful and thought you would as well.

Reflection is an ancient practice, with references in the Bible (Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Ignatius of Loyola encouraged the practice with the early Jesuits, as did John Wesley with the early Methodists.

Here’s what I noticed
As you walk through the questions, you decompress and let go, you also rest in knowing where you’re headed the next day, both of which foster better sleep.

More importantly, questions like these keep us self-aware and awake to the Holy Spirit. As we answer the questions we hear from God and move forward in the journey of faith. Never forget faith is a movement. We are followers of Christ, moving forward with intentionality, constant discovery, and growth. Our growing bears fruit in our words, actions, and service to others.

I also noticed the longer I keep to the practice, the richer it becomes. It started off simple, even superficial. But as the days passed, I began to be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

write journalHere are the questions I’m using. They came from several different sources. I answer them by writing in a journal.

1. What happened today?
Make a quick bullet list or write a narrative

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see God at work in others? In and through you?
Each day can bring a new testimony to God’s grace, provision, and power.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners

4. What are you thankful for?
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

5. How are you feeling emotionally?
Be honest and seek Christ’s perspective

6. How did you fall short of loving God, others, and yourself?
Ask for and receive Christ’s forgiveness and freedom

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This could be about a relationship, your work, a situation, your ministry, etc.

8. What will you do tomorrow to move forward with Christ?
Answer this in relation to question 7

What questions would you add to this list? I look forward to hearing about your time with God and to seeing the great and good changes this practice will bring in your life.
– Lisa <><

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NRSV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

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Ending Your Day With Reflection Questions © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Growing in Resilience: Lead On, based on Isaiah 42.16

walk-shoes-walking-feet-grey-gravel-1-1024x534Growing in Resilience
Day 3, Read Isaiah 42
Reflection: Lead On, based on Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known. I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them. 

Darkness looms before us
Isolation, Prejudice, Falsehood,
Division, Fear, Hardheartedness,
Evil, Injustice, and Oppression in all the forms they present themselves

We are blind
Unable to see the answers
and the other

We are blind
Groping for a path through this valley of shadows
A way forward

We are blind, but we are not forsaken
You see what we cannot
And you are near
With us and for us

Even the darkness is not dark to you
The night is as bright as the day

The way is unknown to us, but not to you
It is new to us, but not to you
You go before us
Leading
Guiding
Leveling the ground
Turning the darkness into light

Hallelujah!
Lead on, Savior
Lead on
We surrender and follow
Lead on!

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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. 

Lead On © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Sermon Recording- My Story, God’s Story (Titus 3, 1 Peter 3)

group conversation

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 3 of 5: My Story, God’s Story
Scriptures: Titus 3:3-7
This message was offered Sunday, 7/22/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

The Classic Testimony- Your Conversion

Consider these helpful questions when writing and sharing the story of how you came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Speak as you would normally speak. Keep your testimony to 2-3 minutes.

My Life Before Christ

  • What did my life revolve around?
  • Where did I get my security, identity or happiness from?
  • How did those things begin to let me down?

How I Came to Christ

  • When was the first time I heard the gospel? What were my initial reactions?
  • When and why did my perspective begin to change toward Christ?
  • What were the final struggles that went through my mind just before I accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation and new life?
  • Why did I finally decide to follow Jesus? (or deepen my commitment to Jesus, or give Jesus complete control of my life)?

My Life After Coming to Christ

  • How is my life different now? List some specific changes in your character, attitude, and perspective on life.
  • What motivates me now? What do I live for?
  • Even though my life still isn’t perfect, how does knowing Christ help me deal with that fact?

Testifying to our Hope- The stories of God at work along the journey of faith 

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) … Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

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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
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A prayer for moving (Genesis 12)

Snoopy-movingJune and July are often months of moving, especially for United Methodist pastors who are appointed to new congregations. This prayer is for them and all who find themselves heading to new places. It’s based on Genesis 12:1-9.

The Lord God calls Abram (and Sarai)
Pack your things
Move your family
Travel far, to a place unfamiliar

He/She/They obey
Yes, they are established
Yes, it is difficult

He/She/They trust
They keep listening
They keep praising the Lord God
as they move farther and farther into the unfamiliar

Help me to trust you as well
You do not call and abandon
You are ahead of us on the journey
You are the journey- the way, the truth, the life

You guide and guard
You encourage and reassure and show signs
You and your way brings blessing for me
for my family
for the world

Deepen my trust
that I may be faithful in all things
and a blessing for the generations
Amen

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A Prayer for Moving © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
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