Prayer based on John 2:13-25
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
You offer your house to the nations
for worship and prayer
forgiveness and healing
community with you and with others
Come and cleanse your house again
Forgive us for losing sight of your agenda
Forgive us for all the obstacles
we put in the way of people connecting with you
Come and cleanse your house again
Drive out the mistrust, false teaching, and prejudice
Turn over the tables of gossip, hypocrisy, and apathy
Empty us of addiction to money, things, and power
Come and cleanse your house again
Return us to humility, charity, and sacrifice
Fill your house with welcome, growth, and redeeming love
Bathe us in your grace and holiness
so everything we do draws people to you
and brings honor to your name
Prayer based on John 3:1-21
Nicodemus and Jesus
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:5-6
Pregnant with twins- Truth and New Life
Welcome home to my spirit
Let it be with me according to your word
Reveal yourself in my thoughts
Bring forth encouragement and counsel
Deliver righteousness and justice in every choice
Carry hope and healing in every touch
Give birth not just in me, but to a whole new generation,
a people so full of your gifts and power they never labor in vain
Open our eyes to the glory that is possible
Open our hearts to the great responsibility- is it of flesh or is it of you?
Open us to the fullness of you. Amen.
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.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Fill the hearts of Your faithful
And kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen. ~ Traditional Catholic Prayer. I first encountered this prayer on a Walk to Emmaus retreat.
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord. Amen. ~ Prayer by Dimitri of Rostov. This is my favorite prayer to use during Advent.
Come, Holy Spirit;
send down from heaven’s height
your radiant light.
Come, lamp of every heart,
come, parent of the poor;
all gifts are yours.
Comforter beyond all comforting,
sweet unexpected guest,
Rest in hard labour,
coolness in heavy heat,
hurt souls’ relief.
Refill the secret hearts
of your faithful,
O most blessed light.
Without your holy power
nothing can bear your light,
nothing is free from sin.
Wash all that is filthy,
water all that is parched,
heal what is hurt within.
Bend all that is rigid,
warm all that has frozen hard,
lead back the lost.
Give to your faithful ones,
who come in simple trust,
your sevenfold mystery.
Give virtue its reward,
give, in the end, salvation
and joy that has no end. ~ This is a modern translation by the Church of England of an ancient prayer, Veni Sancte Spiritus. Common Worship: Daily Prayer (c) The Archbishops’ Council 2005 by Church House Publishing
Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God Message 5 of 5: The Purpose Puzzle
Scripture: Luke 4:42-44
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 10/27/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. This message was inspired by the Network Curriculum by Bugbee, Cousins, and Hybels.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. -Mark Twain
Why was I born? Why am I here? What’s my purpose? If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you have a purpose, a mission, a calling from God. It isn’t a secret. God wants you to know your calling and God fills you with the Holy Spirit so you may fulfill it.
Jesus knew his purpose. It gave his life focus, intention, clarity, movement, and boundaries. The same is true for us.
Luke 4:42-44 At daybreak, he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus didn’t just say, “Follow me.” Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Come follow me and join me in the great adventure of saving the world. Salvation and service.
We’re thinking, “Of course Jesus knew his purpose, Jesus was Jesus! So how do I figure out my purpose?” Three things we can do immediately.
We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it.
We ask trusted, faithful friends to help us discern what we are hearing. We may have blind spots where they can see.
We look and listen for where Christ is already at work and join him in that work.
We can dive deeper into knowing our calling from God by understanding our God-given preferences, spiritual gifts, and passion.
THE POWER OF PREFERENCES Click Here for the worksheet
In line 1, write your name as you usually do. In line 2, write your name with your other hand. How does that feel?
Cross your arms. Now cross your arms with the other arm on top. How does that feel?
Your usual way of doing things is a preference. You could learn how to write with your other hand and cross your arms a new way, but you currently prefer to do it the way you do it. It’s what feels natural.
Preferences are neither good nor bad, they’re just preferences.
What energizes you? Reflect for a moment on how you serve others or see yourself serving others. Are you serving from a place of preference, something that feels natural to you?
A classic editorial cartoon– Which animal will climb the tree best? On your football team, which is going to be the best wide receiver? The best lineman?
Imagine someone teaching preschool Sunday school. It’s a disaster. The teacher is miserable and the kids are miserable. Why is this so? Could be many reasons.
Is it that they’re serving in a place they’re not called to serve, not wired for it? They’re doing it out of duty. “Someone has to do it.”
Is it because of a lack of training or confidence or help? Serving even in a way that is natural isn’t necessarily easy.
Has it become a chore, uninspired? They’re serving in a way that is too safe or too comfortable when they’ve called to do something else that stretches them beyond their comfort zone.
Our calling can change season after season in our life. Just because we’ve served in one way for a time, it doesn’t mean its still our calling. We can have a new calling in a new season.
Your preferred place of service should be a clear, intentional discernment of how God wired you coupled with the truth of your season of life.
Let’s look at the worksheet again. Ask the Spirit to reveal the truth and speak clearly. Each is a faithful choice. You’re choosing the best choices for you from among all the good choices, the best choice for this season of life.
Check all which energize you.
Working within the congregation
Working out in the community
Working behind the scenes
Working with people
Working with objects
Visioning for the future
Being part of a team
Working on my own
Your season of life- Given this season of life, what commitment to serving is God calling you to make? What is both challenging and sustainable for you right now? This will change over time. A parent of two small children is in a very different season than a recent retiree.
6 times per year
One big project a year
Putting Together the Purpose Puzzle- Holy Spirit + Spiritual Gifts + Passion + Preferences = My calling from God in this season of life
Holy Spirit – God with us now, our Guide and Guardian. Distributes and empowers our spiritual gifts
Spiritual Gifts – what God designed me to do
Passion- where God invites me to do it
Preferences- How I will do it
Examples of persons who have put together their purpose puzzle.
The litmus test for your calling from God? Does this glorifyGod and/or buildupothers?
Discover my spiritual gifts
Clarify my passions
Put my purpose puzzle together with a trustworthy spiritual friend
What do you notice repeatedly that breaks your heart?
Now let’s get honest. What annoys you, angers you? We’re not talking about an inconvenience. We’re talking about righteous anger. We’re talking about something that if it were changed, it would bring glory to God and new life to others.
Whatever you named is probably your passion.
Passion is the God-given desire that compels us to make a difference
Passion is like gasoline, it drives us. It’s energy, the movement of the Holy Spirit in our life, faith in action.
Passion is a good gift of God that can drive us to good. If the good gift gets twisted it can drive us to trouble. So we seek the Godly gasoline, the Godly passions- truth, justice, healing, belonging, empowering. Seek the things that bring life, things that matter. Making the wrongs right. Making the broken whole.
Passion is often described as hunger. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6
Passion will keep you up at night and get you up in the morning.
Titus 2:11-14, The Voice 11 We have cause to celebrate because the grace of God has appeared, offering the gift of salvation to all people. 12 Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy. 13 Watch for His return; expect the blessed hope we all will share when our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appears again.
Passion is associated with zeal and enthusiasm en theos – possessed by God, “God within us”
When we come to faith we repent, we turn from our selfish ways to follow Jesus. This passage instructs us to “run away from the passions of this world, abandoning anything that leads us away from God.” We place our trust in Jesus, we turn to run towards God- aware, awake, alive in Christ, watching for the movement of God, expecting the movement of God.
We choose self-control so we may better help others. We live intentionality because we value the time, energy, and resources we’ve been given. We want to do the right thing. God calls us to follow Jesus in this adventure of the Christian life, the saving of the world.
14 He gave His body for our sakes and will not only break us free from the chains of wickedness, but He will also prepare a community uncorrupted by the world that He would call His own—people who are passionate about doing the right thing.
Passion is from the Greek root path meaning “to suffer.” That’s why the period from Jesus’ arrest to his crucifixion and death is called His Passion. Jesus suffers to end suffering.
Compassion- with passion, with those who are suffering. Most of the time our passion is to end some kind of suffering.
Jesus suffers and dies and rises again because he’s passionate about saving the world- ending evil, injustice, sin, death, shame for all time. He comes alongside us in his great compassion so that our suffering may end.
When we become Christians, when we become “little christs,” we say yes to compassion, yes to suffering so that suffering will end.
There’s good news, we don’t have to do it alone. Jesus prepares a community. As you think about what suffering God is calling you to do something about, who’s on your team? Who will you bring together or what group will you join? A single person can’t end malaria, but together we can.
We’re better together, stronger together. Different people each bring their spiritual gifts. We come together, we become the Body of Christ, and the world is made new. The Kingdom comes.
What suffering is God calling you to end and who is on your team?
Eleanor Josaitis, co-founder of Focus: Hope, in downtown Detroit, and she shared what caused her to become passionate about reaching the inner city.
While watching TV one evening in the late 1960s, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin about the March on Mississippi. She saw the brutality being committed against African Americans and decided something had to be done. She and her family moved from the suburbs to the inner city and began Focus: Hope, to dedicate the last 43 years of her life to “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice.” Eleanor had found her passion and she followed through with her words and deeds.
This past week Tee and I spent a great deal of time talking and it prayer over deaths of desperation. Deaths of desperation are a gentler way to talk about suicide.
There were three murder-suicides in Sarasota county last week. One seems to be a situation of domestic violence. The others are spouses caring for an incredibly ill spouse. The situation was overwhelming. The only way out seemed to be death.
ListeningCare to push back against the epidemic of loneliness, isolation, despair. Folks need someone to listen. It’s not counseling, brainstorming solutions, or fixing. It’s creating space for a person to be heard and received just as they are.
The topic isn’t important. Joys or needs could be shared. It’s about making connections.
We’re praying about how we can be trained more deeply so we can offer this deep training to the congregation. This may be something you’re passionate about. Lowering the suicide rate. Lowering the number of people who feel alone or in despair.
Acts 9:36-43. Tabitha/Dorcas is described as “devoted to good works and acts of charity.” She dies and the community sends for Peter. When he arrives, the widows of Lydda beg Peter to raise her from the dead because she was the one who’d been caring for them when no one else would. She was their safety net when they had none.
Peter raised her from the dead. He answered the call of God to do something way beyond his abilities. Tabitha continued to answer the call to care for the widows of her community.
What would be it like to be so needed, so important to a group of people they begged for you to be raised from the dead?
At the end of your life, you’d like to look back and know you’d done something about … That passion we would name at your celebration of life and give God the glory for because you answered the calling God placed upon your life.
Pinpointing Your Passion Insert
Complete the worksheet to discover your passion. Your passion is where God invites you to serve. Combine your passion with your spiritual gifts, what God invites me to do.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God
You have a mission, You have a purpose, You are needed
What step will you take today to fulfill your calling?
Prayer: God we honor you and thank you for the spiritual gifts you give us through the Holy Spirit, for the passion and calling your place upon our lives. We are humbled before you, that you would desire us to help you save the world, but you do. You have said I need you and I want you. Help us to hear clearly and see clearly and step out in faith to love and serve alongside you.
Fill us with compassion and empathy. Fill us with fire to see good things come. Fill us Lord because we cannot do this in our own strength. We need you. We always need you.
We ask this in the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, and our Savior. Amen.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God,
Come follow Me = call to relationship with Christ, call to salvation
Come follow Me = call to relationship with others, call to serve
You have a mission from God. You have a purpose.
God gives you spiritual gifts to help you figure out your calling to serve and fulfill your calling to serve. Spiritual gifts are divine enablement, like a superpower. God through the Holy Spirit arranges and empowers the superpowers for us to work together for the glory of God and the common good.
To help us understand this Paul gives us a metaphor- One Body with Many Members. We can understand a human body with many parts fulfilling their purpose, working together well.
This reminds me of Mr. Potato Head.
Feet = spiritual gift of Apostleship, the divine enablement to start new things
Ear = spiritual gift Faith, faith comes through hearing (Romans 10:17), the spiritual gift of confidence in God
Ear = spiritual gift of Mercy, the divine enablement of being with people in pain
Eyes = spiritual gift of Wisdom, the divine enablement of seeing a consequence of choices and applying the scriptures in practical ways
Nose = spiritual gift of Discernment, the divine enablement of discerning truth from falsehood, good from evil, right from wrong. “Something smells fishy.”
Mouth = spiritual gift of Prophecy, the ability to speak truth to power
Hand = spiritual gift of Helps, little things done with great love
Hand = spiritual gift of Teaching
There are many more body parts for many more people and spiritual gifts. They work together for the glory of God and the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
Unity in Christ is incredibly important. In three verses, the word “one” is used 6 times. The word “all” is used 3 times. We’re better together.
All spiritual gifts are valuable and needed, thus all people are valuable and needed
So powerful and important, breaks down how the world divides us – Jews/Greeks, slaves/free (v. 13)
1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
We take the good gift of God and twist it into something it was never meant to be.
People not valuing their own gifts = self-exclusion 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body.
Story of me freaked out I didn’t have certain spiritual gifts “all pastors have”. I had the false idea that there was a certain gift mix for pastors.
I didn’t have- leadership, evangelism, shepherding, apostleship
I did have- administration, teaching, wisdom, mercy
The grace and truth- “Everyone in this room is called to be a pastor. Everyone in this room has a different gift mix. You will lead, you will answer your call in the way you are wired. You will bring your gifts to being a pastor.”
We are one body with many members. It’s not about solo-heroic leadership. It’s about us doing it together.
We value each other’s gifts and we do it together. That’s how we make disciples. That’s how we transform the world. That’s how we grow in grace. That’s how we do it- together.
Invitation to discover your spiritual gifts
God’s wired you and given you a mission. It’s good, so don’t self eliminate. God made you you. You’re important and needed.
People not valuing another person and their gifts = exclusion of others 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
We suffer together and we celebrate together. That’s what it means to be the Body of Christ, the Family of God.
Extended Quote by Nadia Bolz-Webber Sermon on Spiritual Gifts (which, unfairly, doesn’t include snarkiness)
“This ended up being one of my more difficult weeks in recent memory and I found myself having no choice but to rely on the prayers and faith and wisdom and compassion of those brothers and sisters in Christ whom God has put in my life – because frankly I was tapped out. Which is hard because I’d so rather have all the gifts myself and not have to rely on others. But when it feels like a failure on my part that I don’t have the faith or compassion or prayer life or wisdom that I need, I just have to remember that the only real failure is when I fail to recognize that I do actually have all the faith and compassion and prayer and wisdom I need – it’s just that someone else in my life is holding it for me.
See, I believe that it is God’s intention that we need each other. Not in a creepy co-dependent having no boundaries type of way. But in a bearing the face of Christ kind of way because when I cannot see goodness, when I cannot see hope or beauty or the face of Christ in my own heart, in my own life, and through my own eyes I need you to do it for me.”
This is why we’re part of the Body. We need each other. We value each other. We can’t do it alone. We weren’t designed to do it alone.
Accept the invitation to discover your spiritual gifts, to know how valuable you are, how needed you are. God has a purpose for you- to bring glory to God and build up others.
Theme Verse for this series, 1 Peter 4:10-11 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer- Jesus it is such a great grace that you offer us salvation. Even more so, you offer us the chance to join you in your saving work. You trust us that much. You empower us that much. Reveal to us our spiritual gifts. Reveal to us the calling that you’ve placed upon our lives so we may fulfill it together, so we may fulfill it for your glory, so we may fulfill it for the common good, so we may fulfill it for the building of your Kingdom. Help us to know that we know that we know how valuable we are to you and how valuable we are to each other. God, we ask by the power of your Holy Spirit, that all people would know their value, their purpose, their place in your Body. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.