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 new born 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 into 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 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.

Sermon Recording: God’s Grace, Seeking and Meeting

grace sermon series logo

Message: God’s Grace, Seeking and Meeting (message 1 of 3)
Scriptures: Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Luke 15:4-10; Romans 5:8
Offered 1/24/16, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Click for information on Revive Florida and it’s sponsoring organization, Time to Revive.

time to revive bracelet 800x

Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 15:4-10
Parable of the Lost Sheep
4 Jesus said, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Romans 5:8
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Christ Who Sees the Little and the Lost
from The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent by Pamela C. Hawkins

O Christ who sees the little and the lost:
the child,
the lamb,
the lost coin.
Widen my eyes with your compassion;
clear my vision with your justice;
soften my gaze with your tears for all who need my prayers today.
Amen.

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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.

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

Prayer: Far From Home (Matthew 2:13-15)

door-with-key2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Days 27 and 28 are set aside for worship and rest
Day 29 Reading: Matthew 2:13-15
Run For Your Life

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother,
and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you;
for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
– Matthew 2:13

Click Here for an insightful reflection by Rev. Magrey deVega on the 2015 refugee crisis in the context of Scripture and the Christian tradition. It’s entitled Jesus was also a Refugee.

To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life. The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear, in which the powers of hatred and violence rule, but the house of love, where God resides. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Prayer: Far from Home
Like Mary and Joseph
Circumstances beyond our imagining
Beyond our control
Take us far from home

Jesus, you are with us
You are our help and home

Like King Herod
Our desires for security, pleasure, and power
Lead us down destructive paths
Take us far from home

Jesus, you are with us
You are our help and home

Like the Magi,
Quests for wisdom and direction
A truth we can trust
Take us far from home

Jesus, you are with us
You are our help and home

No matter where we find ourselves
There is a future, with hope
Because Jesus, you are with us
You are our help and home

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

Prayer: Far From Home  © 2015 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Poem: Blood Trail (Luke 2:21)

blood drop on finger2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Days 20 and 21 are set aside for worship and rest
Day 22 Reading: Luke 2:21
Jesus is Circumcised

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child;
and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
– Luke 2:21

Poem: Blood Trail
Where did the bloodshed begin?
Follow the trail to its start

The last shall be first

A centurion’s spear
used in an indifferent stab,
declaring he’s done

A few steps back,
his rings are found
glistening like garnets,
each still moist
a ring of jagged nails
a ring of stinging thorns
a ring of prickly ridicule

More clues emerge
A spattered stone that made him stumble
Monstrous cast off from a ravenous whip
Trace from a Sadducee’s slap

Outside Jerusalem, salty crimson evidence
in the dark earth of a lonely garden
beside a vandalized tomb
atop a hill overlooking the city

An awl tests positive in Nazareth
Perhaps he was pierced while working with his father
A knife tests positive in Bethlehem
Sharp enough for Abraham’s mark on an 8 day old son
Sharp enough to cut the cord

First blood found

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

Poem: Blood Trail  © 2010 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 and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Worship Resource: We Thirst For You

This worship resource originally accompanied a sermon based on John 19:28 NIV:

Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

It would work well with any scripture with the theme of hungering and thirsting for God.
– Lisa <><

Worship Resource: We Thirst for You
The introduction to the song begins.
The music continues under all the scripture readings.

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 63:1 NIV
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

ALL SINGING:
We Exalt Your Name by Kari Jobe and Matt Maher (CCLI 5866478)
Verse 1 and Chorus 1

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 63:2-5 NIV
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!

ONE or ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 63:4-5 NIV
I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest of foods.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

ALL SINGING:
We Exalt Your Name by Kari Jobe and Matt Maher (CCLI 5866478)
Verse 2, Chorus 2a, Chorus 2b

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 63:6-7 NIV
I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.
I think how much you have helped me;
I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 63:8a NIV
My soul clings to you
repeat as desired

ALL SINGING:
We Exalt Your Name by Kari Jobe and Matt Maher (CCLI 5866478)
Ending

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We Thirst For You 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.

Day 29: Psalms of Wisdom

Today’s Reading
Psalms 90, 107, 111

For quotes and other scriptures related to Psalm 90, click here

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
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.”

Application
Are we to fear God? For most of us, fear implies dread, horror, and terror. We fear bullies, monsters, or tyrants. This understanding of “the fear of the Lord” isn’t helpful or truthful. It doesn’t draw us to God or reveal the true character of God. 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
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 selfish motivation
Pour out your wisdom upon us
That we may know you and adore you
And fulfill your will now and forever.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus,
Your Truth made Flesh,
Your Love made Sacrifice
Your Light to us and the world. Amen.

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

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