A Prayer and Reflection Based on Luke 10-11

summer in the scriptures luke (1)Prayer based on Luke 10:1-12
The Mission of the Seventy

This is the glory of your saving love
That you don’t just bless us
Heal us
Guard and guide us

That you don’t just forgive us
Redeem us
Save and sanctify us

For you, that is too light a thing

You make a place for us in your saving work
You call us and empower us
Each of us

You make a place for us in your family and a place for us in your plan
that we might experience your power and the wielding of that power
that we might experience the fullness of your grace

The glory of your saving love is
Your hope and your hope made real in the world
Your love and your love in action

Glory to you, Most Blessed Savior!
Glory to you, Lord of Mercy and Light!
Glory to you and to the fulfillment of Your Kingdom
in us and in all!
Amen!

Based on Luke 11:37-53
A wise person once advised me, when you come across scriptures where Jesus is instructing or correcting the Scribes and the Pharisees, stop, listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart. Pastors, small group leaders, and ministry leaders are often more like them than we want to admit. They were the “churched people” of their day. They too took their faith seriously, worshiped deeply, prayed and read the scriptures searching for God, answered a call, and studied hard to prepare themselves for leading God’s people, bore the responsibility and sacrifice of leadership.

Reflection and meditation on these texts keep us humble and soft in God’s hands. We need God’s grace and leading to avoid falling into the same enslaving practices.

In this light, let us reflect on Jesus’ warnings from Luke 11, often referred to as “the woes.”

Verse 42: Woe to you … for you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God
God, reveal in me where have I focused on rules and details above you.
Free me from the need to control and micromanage.
Free me from blocking access to your love and grace and justice.

Verse 43: Woe to you … for you love to have the seat of honor … and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
God, reveal where my pride, ego, and need for attention have become false idols.
Forgive me and heal me of judgmental attitudes that separate me from you and from others.

Verse 44: Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it
God, reveal every hidden thing I think and do which hurts others.
Reveal my hypocrisy.
Reveal where my attitudes and actions bringing contamination rather than community.
Lord, bury me with you and raise me to new life.

Verse 46: Woe also to you … for you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
God, reveal how my actions and expectations are burdening others unnecessarily.
Forgive me for placing myself above others and beyond accountability.
Humble me and grow in me a love and solidarity with all people.
Turn my faith into compassionate action.

Verse 47: Woe to you! For you … are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors
God, reveal how I am perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of previous generations.
Heal me and empower me to join you in breaking this cycle.

Verse 52: Woe to you… for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
God, reveal how I am making you and your ways confusing and difficult.
Grant me a hunger for your truth and kingdom living.
Help my words to match your words, my ways your ways, so others find you easily.

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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 <

The Glory of You Saving Love © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Reflection based on Jesus’ Woe’s © 2014 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.

Ash Wednesday: A Wilderness Prayer (Deuteronomy 8)

man desert path

God of the Ages
Our Deliverer and Provider
We bow in humility before your grace

You feed us with the divine
Your word
Your body

You quench our thirst with living water
A stream in the desert

You guide our feet through snares and snakes

You free us from slavery to sin and self and shame and death

You lead us the long way to holiness and home

Test our hearts
Have we exalted ourselves?
Have we forgotten you?

time of silent reflection and confession

Reveal the truth to us, O God
Exposed by your unrelenting light
Wiped clean with your Wilderness Wind

Grow in us wholehearted allegiance
that our blessing and devotion may never waver
that we may always recognize and trust your desire to do us good
Amen

For more on the themes of wilderness and confession, pray and reflect on Desert by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

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A Wilderness Prayer © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Based on Deuteronomy 8:2-3; 14-16

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon- Self Reflection (2 Corinthians 3)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 4 of 5: Self Reflection
Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40-41; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/2/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire traditional worship service, including the message.

I have absolutely no control over the middle of my day. Every day is different. The unplanned and unexpected happen regularly. The only part of my day I have any possibility of anchoring is the beginning and end of my day, the bookends.

What I’m starting to do, and invite you to do, is to anchor, to ground the bookends of our day with spiritual practices that keep us connected to God.

I need these practices so that when the unexpected happens, troubles or joys, I’m ready for it spiritually.

Testimony of the Death of Hal Stanton
The death of the faithful is not a tragedy. It’s, of course, sad and we grieve. We love and we miss Hal.

But Hal was ready. He had conversations the days before his death that were full of peace, hope, gratitude, and love. His wife Margot was ready. This doesn’t diminish the sadness or grieving. We have the sadness and grieving while we are also anchored in the promises and hope of heaven. It can be both at the same time.

Hal’s kids were ready. While we were gathered around his hospital bed last night, we sang his favorite hymn, we spoke to him and held his hand, we prayed, and it was peace. We were all moving forward together in the light, love, and presence of God.

I want to be ready. I want to be ready to serve and love and have a good word from God. And I want to be ready when its time to go home to heaven. By the grace and power of Almighty God, we can be.

If I had to start from absolute scratch with spiritual practices, what would be the first three I would want to know, practice and teach? These timeless three create a sacred rhythm in our lives: Scripture, Stillness, and Self Reflection.

Scripture
We all need a scripture reading plan to read the Word of God for ourselves. In reading the Word of God we begin to know what’s God’s voice and what isn’t. We get grounded in the promises of God and the character of God. We’re strengthened by the stories of God’s people.

Click Here for a great reading plan for beginners
Click Here for a plan that covers the entire Bible

Stillness
Stop and spend time with God no agenda. We come simply, openly, honestly, just as we are. Our world is busy, full, and loud. I need stillness to remember- Be still and know that I am God and that I’m not God.

Click Here for last week’s message on stillness

Self-Reflection
Start your day with Scripture Reading and Silence. End your day by reflecting on it with God

All of these practices, including self-reflection, are rooted in Scripture.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?…

The presence of God is with us and in us and through us.

Lamentations 3:40-41
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18
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.

The practices of scripture, stillness, and self-reflection bring us freedom. All of us can have unveiled faces before God. We can take off the mask and be real and honest. These practices bring transformation in our lives- we are made new, we are healed, we are forgiven, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

These practices are not only rooted in scripture but are also practiced throughout the history of God’s people. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits, wrote a set of reflection questions. They’re wonderful. They’re known as The Examen and are still used today.

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, wrote 22 questions. John’s an overachiever and a little compulsive. These questions are also wonderful and still used today.

Our set of 8 questions are a mixture of questions from many sources. They have the essence of Ignatius’ Examen and Wesley’s questions.

Self Reflection is a new practice for me. I start my day with scripture and stillness and end my day with self-reflection. Bookends. This is the sacred rhythm I’m trying out. Find the sacred rhythm that works for you.

When I did the self-reflection questions right before bed, I found I was way too tired. So I moved the practice to the end of my workday to help me transition from work to home.

Here’s what I noticed since using the self-reflection questions
It helps me decompress from the day.
It keeps me awake and alive in the Holy Spirit.
It helps me to be more intentional- eyes to see, ears to hear

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 trust myself more so I could be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

Let’s walk through the questions.

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

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in others? In and through you?
This helps us not gloss over God’s presence. We practice seeing God, praising God, and testifying to it.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners. Jesus was a teacher. We are students. We are disciples.

4. What are you thankful for?
Gratitude opens us to the joy of the Lord which is our strength.

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

6. Where did you miss a Spirit-led opportunity of loving God, others, and yourself?
This is a lovely way of saying, “Where did you blow it today? Where did you embarrass the family of God?” 

We need a point of confession. There’s something about writing it down which relieves the burden of guilt (real or false). I’m not trying to hide it from God or take care of it in my own strength. There’s an old phrase, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” God please heal me, forgive me, and help me.

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This is the question of mission, purpose, and call. God help me fulfill your plan for me.

8. What will you do tomorrow to be more available to the movement of the Holy Spirit?
This is intention and action. By doing it late in the day, you already have the intention for the next day.

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Sermon- Self Reflection © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

John Wesley’s 22 Self-Reflection Questions

selective focus photo of magnifying glass

Photo by Clement Nivesse on Pexels.com

Self-reflection was a founding and foundational practice of the early Methodists. John Wesley, Methodism’s main founder, wrote these 22 questions in 1729 for the private devotional use of the Holy Club, a group of Oxford University students who sought to live the fullness of the Christian life they read about in the Bible. These students became the leaders of early Methodism.

It’s amazing how fresh and useful the questions are today, even though they’re almost 300 years old. If you’re considering adding self-reflection questions to your spiritual practices, these questions would be a great choice. They’re timeless and proven. You could use all of them daily or a few each day so you cover all of them over the course of a week. – Lisa <><

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  7. Did the Bible live in me today?
  8. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
  9. Am I enjoying prayer?
  10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  17. How do I spend my spare time?
  18. Am I proud?
  19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  22. Is Christ real to me?

Rejoice Greatly- A Devotion for the Fourth Week of Advent and Christmas based on Handel’s Messiah

rejoice mountain people jump

Rejoice Greatly
Readings and Reflection for the fourth week of Advent and Christmas Eve and Day

SONGS FROM HANDEL’S MESSIAH:
There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field and Glory to God
Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion
Hallelujah Chorus

SCRIPTURES to read this week:
Luke 2:1-14
Zechariah 9:9-17
Revelation 19:1-8

REFLECTION QUESTIONS for this week:

  • Belly laugh with someone. Look for laughter and multiply it this week.
  • What do you need to do or not do in order to rejoice with all your soul this Christmas?

PRAYER:
Receive and Rejoice!
Rejoice with an indescribable joy. Inexpressible. Unspeakable.
A joy greater than words
A great and glorious joy. Loose. Liberated. Boundless.

Receive and Rejoice!
A joy worthy of new birth, of a living hope
A joy anchored in The Imperishable, The Eternal.
Undefiled and Unfading

Receive and Rejoice!
This joy was chosen for you. Destined for you.
Sanctified, sprinkled, and saved for you.
By the Merciful One. The One Who is With You.
Receive and Rejoice!
~ Receive and Rejoice, by Lisa Degrenia

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Rejoice Greatly
A Devotion for the Fourth Week of Advent
based on Handel’s Messiah © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.