Prayer: Wisdom and Reverenace, based on Psalm 111


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. – Psalm 111:10

Wisdom consists in doing the next thing that you have to do;
doing it with your whole heart and finding delight in doing it.
And this delight is the sense of the sacred.- Helen Luke

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
– William Shakespeare

Observation
In Psalm 111, the author praises God’s works (great, full of honor and majesty, wonderful, faithful, just) and God’s character (righteous, gracious, merciful, provider, trustworthy, redeemer, eternal covenant keeper, holy, awesome). All of this leads up to the last verse, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”

Are we to fear God? For most of us, fear implies dread, horror, and terror. We fear bullies, monsters, or tyrants- powers far greater than our ability to oppose.

This understanding of “the fear of the Lord” isn’t helpful or truthful. It doesn’t encourage growth or trust. It doesn’t draw us to God or reveal the true character of God. It often results in a less than healthy fear response- fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.

The point of the psalmist is literally lost in translation, the translation of the word fear. I find it helpful to replace the word fear with respect or reverence. When the deepest understandings of respect and reverence are linked with God’s awesomeness and otherness, we have a translation that draws us into worship, relationship, and the pursuit of God’s transcendent wisdom.

Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.

Assuredly, Loving Souls, you should go to God with all humility and respect,
humbling yourselves in His presence,
especially when you remember your past ingratitude and sins.
– Alphonsus Liguori

Truly humble people are grounded in reality;
they neither preen under illusions of greatness
nor suffer agonies of self-hatred.
– Paula Huston, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Re-new Your Spirit

Fullness of knowledge always means some understanding of the depths of our ignorance; and that is always conducive to humility and reverence. – Robert Millikan

Prayer: Wisdom and Reverence
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
Great and Faithful One
God of Honor and Majesty
Wonderful and just are your deeds
Your ways are trustworthy, gracious, and merciful

Draw us into reverent relationship with you
Save us from shallow understanding and falsehood

Pour out your wisdom upon us
That we may know you and adore you
That we may trust you and follow you
That we may receive your gifts
and use them to heal and bless and welcome
as you do

We ask this in the Name of Jesus,
Your Truth made Flesh,
Your Light to us and the world. Amen.

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

Breath Prayers Based on Luke 19-20

summer in the scriptures luke (16)

Silently pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Then silently pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply. Choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you. ⁠

Breath Prayers based on Luke 19:1-10
Jesus and Zacchaeus

IN: Jesus, I long to see you
OUT:

IN: Jesus, I long to know you
OUT:

IN: I rejoice in your welcome
OUT:

IN: You show me my riches
OUT:

IN: You show me my poverty
OUT:

IN: Jesus
OUT: I repent of my graft and greed

IN: Jesus
OUT: here is my gift for the poor

IN: Jesus
OUT: help me right my wrongs

IN: Today salvation
OUT: has come to this house

Breath Prayers based on Luke 20:9-19
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

IN: Jesus, open my ears
OUT: to your messengers

IN: I confess my greedy ways
OUT: Forgive me

IN: I confess my controlling ways
OUT: Forgive me

IN: I confess the violence in my heart and hands
OUT: Forgive me

IN: All that I have is yours
OUT:

IN: Help me honor
OUT: all you entrust to me

IN: Make me generous
OUT: Ready to share

IN: You are the Cornerstone
OUT: I receive you and bless you

_______________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Breath Prayers based on Luke 19-20 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Breath Prayers Based on Luke 15-16

summer in the scriptures luke (11)

Breath Prayers based on Luke 15:1-7
The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Silently pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Then silently pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply. Choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you. ⁠

IN: Jesus, I’m listening
OUT:

IN: Heal my grumbling, Jesus
OUT:

IN: Good Shepherd
OUT: Find me

IN: Good Shepherd
OUT: Find ____________

IN: Good Shepherd
OUT: Carry me

IN: Good Shepherd
OUT: Carry ____________

IN: Let us rejoice
OUT:

Breath Prayers based on Luke 16:19-31
The Rich Man and Lazarus the Beggar

Silently pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Then silently pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply. Choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you.

Inspired by the Rich Man
IN: Help me see
OUT: And share my blessings

IN: Grant me
OUT: A glad and generous heart

IN: Reveal who I
OUT: Can help today

IN:
OUT: Help me help

IN:
OUT: Save me from me

IN:
OUT: Have mercy on me

Inspired by Lazarus the Beggar
IN:
OUT: Satisfy my hunger

IN: Heal me
OUT: Help me

IN: You are with me
OUT: I am not forgotten

Inspired by the conversation with Abraham
IN: My choices
OUT: Ripple through eternity

IN: Help me share your truth
OUT: While there’s time

IN: Lead me to
OUT: a faithful end

_______________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Breath Prayers based on Luke 15-16 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

You Will Be Found, a prayer based on Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah 29:13-14
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Lord Jesus, we seek yousearch for god
We long for you
in the depths of our hearts
in the soul of our souls
down to our bones

Show us where our seeking is incomplete

Where all isn’t all
Where our hearts are splintered and scattered
by false loves and misplaced trust

You are already searching for us
finding us, choosing us
You are already delivering us
from our slave chains and imprisonments

We are found
You will be found
Glory to you, our Savior
Amen

Prayer based on Jeremiah 29 © 2017 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.

Sermon Recording- What are you Searching For? (Matthew 2)

journey-of-the-magi_james_tissot

Journey of the Magi by James Tissot

Message: What are You Searching For?
Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12
Offered 12/24/16, Christmas Eve, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Why We Three Kings is my least favorite Christmas Song.

  • More than three people traveled from far away lands to find Jesus, the newborn King. A huge caravan was needed to make the long trip. It was large enough and grand enough to get King Herod’s attention when they came to Jerusalem.
  • They brought more than three gifts. They opened treasure chests of gifts (Matthew 2:11) which included gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • They weren’t kings. The Magi were an ancient combination of scientist and priest. They were wise interpreters of dreams and studied the heavens for answers and signs. They were educated, respected, powerful, well connected, and influential, but not kings.
  • By the time the Magi planned their trip, financed the trip, and completed their long and difficult trip, Jesus was no longer a babe in the manger. He was a year or so old.

The Wise Ones are seeking. They are doing the best they can to figure out the answers, and so are we. God honors and answers our seeking.

What do they bring?

  • Gold- They expect to find a king. They were searching for a leader who is worthy to be followed, worthy to give our allegiance.
  • Frankincense- Used to offer prayers. In the ancient world many rulers, like Caesar, proclaimed themselves gods. They were searching for something greater than themselves, the Divine, one who is worthy to be worshiped.
  • Myrrh- Used for embalming and used as medicine. They were looking for one who would bring them healing and wholeness.

We’re looking for the same things.

Like us, the Magi go to the logical place looking for those answers. They go to King Herod, the bearer of empire and worldly power. Herod the Great, the one who rebuilt Judea, brought relative peace to the region and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, a wonder of the ancient world.

Herod was also a literal madman. Paranoid of any threat to his power and position, he had multiple family members murdered including his wife, mother-in-law, a couple of brothers-in-law, and three of his children. Herod is the villain of the Christmas story. The only things we find with him are deception and violence.

The Wise Ones eventually make their way to Bethlehem. They find the Child and they find what they are looking for.

  • They find One who is worthy to be followed. Jesus, the One who will shepherd the people, who will tend the flock. In the city of David, they find One who is a good shepherd, a servant King, who will lay down His life for the sheep.
  • They find One who is God, who is worthy to be worshiped. Not someone who is pretending to be God, nor someone who sits on the throne of his own heart. Jesus, the One who is worthy to sit on the throne of our hearts. The Word of God made flesh. The Love of God made real. The One who is always near, always good, always strong.
  • They find the One who brings us hope and light and healing and wholeness. Truth, not lies. Life, not violence and death.

What do they do? They lay their gifts before Him and they lay themselves before Him and they rejoice with exceedingly great joy for they have found what they are looking for.

The good news my friend is Jesus will still be found. God honors and answers your seeking. Jesus is what you’re looking for.

The Wise Ones do not return by way of Herod. They return home new and by a new road. Let us do the same.

This sermon recording concludes with a time for prayer and a Great Thanksgiving before Holy Communion.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon 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 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.