The message opens with the story of Mandy Harvey, a deaf singing contestant on America’s Got Talent. (Click here for a video.) Mandy tells her story then sings a song she wrote entitled, “Try.” Mandy had every reason to stop trying- to give up on her talents and dreams in music, but she didn’t.
What talent has God given you? What dream has God given you to bless the world?
What’s stopping you from trying? We have a boat load of excuses- I can’t afford it. I don’t have enough education. I don’t have the time. I’m too old/young. I have too much responsibility. It’s too risky.
Beware my friends. There’s tremendous risk in hiding a talent and running from a dream, especially when they’re from God. That’s exactly what Jonah did. God calls Jonah. Jonah refuses and that refusal turn into rebellion.
There are 2 types of calls 1. “Who I am” call – God blesses and empowers us with gifts, talents, life, purpose, etc. Jonah understood his “who I am” call. Jonah son of Amittai literally means “Dove, son of Truth.” Think of the dove associated with the story of Noah’s Ark. The dove brings grace and good news. Think of the dove associated with the Baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings the powerful, anointing of God.
Jonah is a faithful, effective prophet of God. Jonah is a gifted, skilled, and anointed seer. Jonah reveals the word and purposes of God to Israel’s king. It was grace and good news that Israel would expand its boarder under King Jeroboam.
2. “What to do” call– a specific mission assignment. Jonah is to “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (vs. 2) It’s a clear message from God of where to go and what to do. God said get up and go! Instead Jonah shut up and fled.
Problem was not misunderstanding. The problem was willingness. Jonah didn’t want to try. Jonah had every reason not to try
1. Nineveh wasn’t a Jewish city with a Jewish King. Nineveh was the magnificent capital city Assyria, a threatening, enemy superpower.
2. Nineveh was 550 miles away. Imagine that trip on donkey or on foot.
3. Jonah had no desire to preach to “those people.” They were enemies and Gentiles and pagans. He didn’t want to be labeled a “traitor” prophet by his own people.
4. God is a God of grace and mercy. God might extend forgiveness to his enemy and Jonah didn’t want that.
5. Jonah didn’t want to ruin his reputation. If he called out against the city and God spared it, his prophecy didn’t come true.
No God. It’s too risky. Too hard. You’re asking too much.
Does Jonah pray? Nope. Does he ask for help? Nope. Does he go? Nope. Jonah buries his talent, abandons his call, and runs away from the presence of the Lord. (mentioned twice in verse 3)
Jonah refuses and Jonah rebels and it breaks his relationship with God.
The Bible is full of examples which inspire us to greater faith and great acts of service. There are also examples for us to look to and avoid. Jonah is one of them.
How often are we more like Jonah than we want to admit? It doesn’t have to be this way. Step out in faith – try. God has tremendous faith in you. More than you have in yourself. God knit you together in your mother’s womb for a purpose. God empowers you with talents, gifts, graces, and experience for a purpose. Jesus died for you for a purpose- that you might be saved AND that you might join him in saving the world. Step out in faith – try
What is in your power to do for others? Do you have skills to teach and mentor others? Are you in a position to help alleviate suffering financially? Are you a great listener? Prayer Warrior? Organizer? Storyteller? Gardener? Share your testimony? Make an invitation? Do you have creative gifts in writing, music, dance, or art? Are you good with your hands in a way that you can offer practical assistance to people?
Step out in faith – try
You are the hope of the world- try
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.
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.
The Wizard of Oz characters lament, “If I only had a brain, a heart, a home, the nerve.” What “If I only had a” is really “If I only were a”? It’s not a question of having a thing or a circumstance. It’s a longing of being. The Scarecrow wants a brain, but really means he longs to be a smarter person. The Tin Man wants a heart, a desire to be an emotionally whole person. Dorothy wants to go home. Could this be her way of saying she wants to be a person who is less impulsive or a person who makes better decisions or thinks through the consequences of choices? Lion wants nerve, to be a courageous person who is ready to be who he was created to be.
They think the wizard is going to give them these things and then they’ll live happily ever after. Instead, the wizard places them in danger and then merely points out the obvious. They’ve already found what they were looking for. Where? In each other. In caring for each other, supporting one another, seeing each other through trials, mentoring, and inspiring one another they have become what they longed for. What they really needed was a friend.
– Lisa Degrenia <><
John 15:15 NRSV
Jesus said, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”
From The Way of Transforming Discipleship by Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant
I have a hunch that if Jesus were to walk down the streets of your town or city today, he would look around at all those who are isolated and disconnected and say something like this:
“Come to me, all you who want to belong, and I will give you a table to sit around. Come to me, all you who feel disconnected. Come to me, all you who are lonely, cut off, rejected, and marginalized. Come to me. Come home. Come be part of the family that I want to share with you.”
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.
This prayer was adapted from a post by Steve Garnaas Holmes on his wonderful site, Unfolding Light. A single voice reads the regular print while all present read the bold print. (2 Timothy 1:6) Consider following this liturgy with each person lighting a candle or striking a match. – Lisa <><
You have a treasure in you,
a seed of glory planted from stars,
a song written for only you to sing.
You have gifts to give.
The treasure is buried,
and it may take some digging to recover.
The song is forgotten,
but still hidden in your bones.
Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.
Nothing that happens to you
can remove it, no fear or shame
destroy it, no failure ruin it.
It is who you are.
Rekindle the gift.
Listen for the quiet voice,
the Spirit of Life
singing in you.
Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.
Listen… and sing.
Tune your life to its melody.
Let it sing in you,
let it sing you into life.
Rekindle the gift
that is God within you.
Give God this joy— for it is
God who is singing.
Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.
Be sure to check out another wonderful prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes on the theme of spiritual gifts entitled Not Lacking based on 1 Corinthians 1:4-7.
Ploughman With Woman Planting Potatoes by Vincent Van Gogh
You give the gifts
You make the way
Encourage all who our discouraged, including your beloved [NAMES]
Grant them persevering faith
Open their eyes to all the blessing and grace surrounding them
Open their ears to the truth of their talents and calling
Open their hearts to the hope
that this season of planting will bring forth beautiful and lasting fruit
The harvest is coming
Keep their hand to the plow
Workers at the Boliden mining and smelting company in Rönnskär, Sweden. (1935) Photo by C.G. Rosenberg via Wikimedia Commons, adapted.
Isaiah 41:6-7 NRSV
Each one helps the other,
saying to one another, “Take courage!”
The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.
This passage from Isaiah is part of a larger passage concerning trusting in the power of false gods rather than the power of the One True Living God. When trouble comes, those who do not pursue God try to handle it themselves. They huddle together to make better and stronger idols- thinking their wit, their skill, their power will turn the tide. How often believers cling to the same course of action. Lord have mercy. (Click here for a prayer on this topic entitled You Save us from Every Foe.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, noticing this tendency in his own time and place, reminded us
Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial … They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.
Yet, I couldn’t help being struck (haha pun intended) by the mutual encouragement and teamwork of this passage. Instead of going it alone, they join together. What would it be like to redirect these good gifts from trying to save ourselves into intentional, mutual cooperation with one another and the movement of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t this what it means to be God’s people? – Lisa <><
Each one helps the other
Lending a hand
Recognizing the gifts
Teaming up to create something
Strong and Beautiful and Lasting
“Take Courage!” one cries
All hear and are heartened
“It is Good!” another declares
Spurring on the grueling, brutal labor
It is hard and it is good
It is worthy work
One could not do it
But many can
many gifts, one spirit
And how much more
When many become
One in Spirit
One with Spirit
Make us one
One in desiring
One in trusting
One for the Greater Good
One with one another
One with You
One in You
One for You