A Prayer for True Strength, Based on Ephesians 6

armor of God graphicFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Ephesians 6:10-11

Lord, you call us to mighty works
Sharing your Word
Helping others find you
To leading
Healing the sick
Caring for the poor, the orphan, the stranger
Speaking truth to power
Praying without ceasing
Building your kingdom on earth

Lord, you have said that in this world we will have trouble,
but take courage, I have overcome the world

We try to do things in our own strength
Our financial security
Our connections
Our achievements
Our expertise
Our stiff upper lip and bootstraps and big girl pants

We head into battle wearing our own armor
Or trying to borrow someone else’s

We fall victim to human ways
And the ways of our Enemy

Forgive us
Forgive us and renew a right spirit within us

Clothe us in your armor
Your armor alone
Clothe us in your truth
Clothe us in your righteousness
Clothe us in your Gospel of Peace
Your faith
Your salvation
Your Word
Your powerful Presence

That we may stand
That we may stand and withstand
That we may stand and withstand and stand firm
Strong in you and the strength of your power
For your power is made perfect in our weakness
In our vulnerability
In us claiming our need of you

For the victory and glory are yours,
Nothing can separate us from you
Not now
Not forever
Hallelujah!
Amen

********
A Prayer for True Strength © 2018 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.

Sermon Recording- Stand (Ephesians 6.10-18)

feet with shoes

Message: Stand
Scriptures: Ephesians 6:10-18
This message was offered Sunday, 6/24/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Imagine walking through the grocery store. You and others are picking out their food as usual. Now imagine every person you encounter is wearing a sign revealing the truth of their life

  • New baby, no sleep for three nights straight
  • Caregiving for a sick spouse
  • Just lost my job
  • Grieving the death of my mother
  • Desperately lonely, how do I make friends?

All of a sudden, that trip to the grocery store is very different. You are seeing what is often difficult to see.

What would be on your sticker?

The truth is we must always be kind, we must always be compassionate because we never know what someone else is going through.

The trust is that when we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see on the outside.

Think about a time when you were going through something deep and dark,  something scary. something you have never faced before, or something that’s raising it’s ugly head again. There’s the stuff that you can see, but there’s the stuff you can’t see

  • emotional toll
  • mental exhaustion
  • weariness down to your bones

Then there’s your soul. What is going on with your soul?

Our soul is like an inner stream of water that gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of life.– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

In the midst of this trouble, is this stream of living water getting stopped, dammed up? Is it changing the direction? Is it going deeper than you could ever have imagined?  Is it drying up, like a desert, like a wilderness?

The song I cling to in the midst of trouble: Precious Lord take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

What gets the water flowing in my life is singing. And sometimes I can’t even get the words out and so I just let my soul sing.

What gets the water flowing again for you? Because when we face trouble its far than what we can see.

Sometimes we can see the source of the trouble

  • We’ve brought it on ourselves. The trouble is the consequence of a choice we made.
  • Sometimes its someone else’s choice. They want what they want and we’re an obstacle (through us) or a means to an end (use us). Or we just get caught it the backwash of someone else’s sin, the ripple effect and we’re collateral damage.
  • Or it’s the reality of living this side of heaven, the reality of living in a broken world. The Fall due to Original Sin is a universal condition. Every relationship is broken -with God, with others, with our true self, with the earth. It’s a reality on an individual level, group level, and systemic level.

There are times we can see the source of the trouble and there are times we cannot see it.  It’s far deeper. It’s plain old evil and an Evil One. It’s a cosmic organized struggle against God and the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 

  • We try to be strong on our own. This is not a battle we can win on our own and it’s not a battle we have to win on our own. That’s the grace of it. That’s the Good News of it.
  • Yes we play a part, we make choices, work, and strive but it is also about allowing ourselves to be strengthened by Almighty God. We can refuse or choose the strengthening. (Cooperating and collaborating with God)

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

  • Sometimes life feels like a battle. God wants to strengthen you and protect you.
  • We try to be strong on our own and we try to protect ourselves
    • Put on our own armor – financial security, connections, achievement, expertise, stiff upper lip, my big girl pants

It’s like David going out to fight Goliath, the giant. (That’s how our troubles can feel. King Saul wants David to wear his royal armor, his human armor. It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, weighs him down. David refuses and faces Goliath in God’s armor.

So much of what we are facing is beyond us, something we just can’t fix in our human strength.

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God

The Whole Armor of God – Verses14-17

  • belt of truth
    • God helps us to know what is real and not real
    • God helps us hold on to perspective in the midst of pain
  • breastplate of righteousness
    • covers our heart so we stay in right relationship and have a heart of peace
  • shoes for your feet, make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace
    • The Gospel of Peace is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace
      • who Jesus is, his sacrifice, his salvation, his hope and healing, power, and promises
    • Jesus is the foundation, the strong rock on which we stand
    • Stand on the power of story = Jesus’s story intersects our story, thanksgiving and testimony to God’s goodness in the past and in the present
  • shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one
    • Evil One takes sniper shots after us, feels like we’re taking hit after hit after hit
    • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)
  • helmet of salvation 
    • Who I am in Christ- I am a child of God, I am beloved and blessed of God, I am made in the image of God and nothing can separate me from the love of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ
    • Know God’s voice and hear God’s voice. If I can’t hear it my brother or sister in Christ will speak it to me.
    • My mind stayed on the goodness of God no matter the circumstance. Nothing changes the goodness of God.
  • sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
    • Why we must read the word of God regularly
  • Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. It is always scripture and prayer. Always and forever.        

Call to action- Prayer Care

  • Pray with you after every service: Sundays after the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services, Wednesdays at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm
  • Become a prayer keeper  

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Withstand = take the hit, persevering, enduring, resilience

Stand Firm = push back against evil

The Evil One is our real and primary enemy – not other people, not ourselves, not God, not the system.

  • The Evil One devours and destroys and steals
  • The Evil One is a deceiver and liar
  • The Evil One twists situations into something they were never meant to be

That’s why we need truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and pray, pray, pray. When we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see.

You are not alone. You are never alone. You do not have to face it in your own strength. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon and prayer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer for Violent Times

call to prayer and action

It breaks my heart to be posting this prayer yet again in the face of another mass shooting. The school shooting in Parkland, Florida marks the 29th mass shooting in the US in 2018, in just 45 days.

Yes, we need to pray.

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

But we must not stop there. James 2:14-17 reminds us

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.Prayer changes things and changes us. It calls us, leads us, and empowers us to join Jesus in his saving work.

It is time to pray and to act
To seek God’s wisdom and empowerment to respond
To call on God for peace
and to care for bodies before they are zipped into body bags.

This Lenten season I invite you to break from the usual custom of fasting or other form of self-denial and, instead, to fast from apathy. That means you set aside all your noncaring attitudes and move closer to the caring love of God. Even in its mildest form, apathy is a spiritual illness. The cure for apathy is also a spiritual one. … We must move from prayer to action.
– George Hovaness Donigian, A World Worth Saving

How are you responding in prayer and action? – Lisa <

Psalm 46:1 NRSV
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble

God our Refuge, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They run to lonesome places, screaming an alarm
Calm our hearts so we can find you above the fear

God our Strength, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They race to revenge, pounding with anger
Calm our hearts so we can hear you above the hammering

God our Help, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They rush to human strength, grasping for control
Calm our hearts so we can hold to your way, your truth, and your life

Calm our hearts so they may beat in unison with yours
So healing may flow over bodies and spirits broken by the chaos
So hope may fill families and communities devastated by violence
So compassion and peace and unity may rise up among all people

God our Strength, our Refuge, our Help
We entrust our lives to you
We step forward with you in your saving work
Amen

**********

Prayer for Violent Times © 2013 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.

Sermon Recording – The Firey, Unquenchable Love of Christ (Song of Solomon 8.5-7)

flaming-heart song of solomon 8

Message: The Firey, Unquenchable Love of Christ
Scriptures: Song of Solomon 8:5-7
Offered 2/11/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

It’s our Tradition at Trinity, Sarasota to offer couples the opportunity to renew their wedding vows the Sunday before Saint Valentine’s Day. Click Here for the liturgy we use.

Testimonies of the love between a couple, between friends, between a mother and son.

Joy Voyles quote: Chris is trying to keep under control while caring for his mom. It has been very hard on him. What a beautiful creation God blessed Nancy with. Though the time has been stressful for both Chris and Nancy, it also has allowed one on one time for them to share, pray and bond even more… maybe that was a blessing in disguise if you can call “pain” a blessing. Although, as I think about it… the pain of childbirth is a blessing… you reap the reward of a beautiful newborn in your arms and heart to love forever… Could it be the pain of leaving your body and moving into the arms of our Lord is a blessing of love to last thru eternity…

Song of Solomon 8:5-7
5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?
1. Coming up from the wilderness

  • Wilderness of the time before we know Christ
    • We wander in the desolation. Then we accept God’s love, are buried with Christ in baptism and we come up out of the wilderness. We are raised to new life.
  • Wilderness of an awful time in our lives
    • dry, barren, desolate, deadly. Christ is will us. Christ helps us to come through and come up out of the wilderness. We are raised to new life.
  • Wilderness of life this side of heaven.
    • Like the Hebrew slaves in Exodus, we cross the wilderness of this life to the promised land of heaven. We come up, raised to new life, eternal life

2. Leaning upon our Beloved Christ
Why do you lean?

  • For strength because you are weak
  • For support because the journey is long
  • For steadying because the footing is unsure
  • Because you just want to be near the one you love, your beloved

Charles Spurgeon Quote, Adapted
Beloved, there is no part of the pilgrimage of a saint in which we can afford to walk in any other way but in the way of leaning. … at the first, and at the last, still leaning, still leaning upon Christ Jesus; ay, and leaning more and more heavily upon Christ the older we grow.

Under the apple tree, I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.
Consider the details, the specifics, the intimacy with which Jesus knows us

  • Knows us within our mother’s wombs
  • Knows us at our first breath
  • Knows the hairs on our head, our every experience, the deepest longing of our heart

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;
A Seal

  • Makes an impression
  • Ensures something is real, authentic
  • Reminds us the reality is binding. There’s a permanence to commitment, a sense of security
  • Jesus desires to be the seal on heart (call to be) and the seal on arm (call to do)

for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.
1. What makes death strong?

  • Death comes for all people, just as Christ comes for all people
  • There’s a permanence to death. Total. Irreversible. The same is true for Christ’s love which is even stronger than death. Christ’s love overcomes sin and death and the grave with sacrificial love and resurrection love.

2. The Passion of Christ’s Love

  • The unrelenting longing and desire of Christ is to have an intimate, saving relationship with us
  • In his passion (healthy jealousy) Jesus doesn’t want to see anything come between us and our relationship with him.

Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
Christ’s passionate love is compared to fire

  • Fire has great power
  • It is alive
  • It is useful
  • It is unchanging, unquenchable, unstoppable
    • Nothing can put it out. Not even wave after wave of trouble. Not night after night of darkness. Not even death.

If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.
All people are made in the image of God. In this God gives us the ability to love and be loved. Love cannot be bought or sold; it is not a piece of merchandise. Only objects can be bought and sold. Love is not an object. People are never objects.

  • This is why human trafficking, pornography, and prostitution are scorned. They are outside God’s will because love and people are objectified.
  • Love is of infinite value. We cannot buy it or earn it.

Love of God in Christ Jesus  

  • Saves us from the wilderness
  • Something we lean upon always
  • More intimate than our first breath
  • Real, Authentic, Makes a lasting impression
  • Strong, Fierce, Passionate
  • Unchanging, Unquenchable, Unstoppable
  • Of Infinite Value
  • Offered to you as a gift

Accept the gift of God’s love

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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 join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer for Violent Times

pulse-orlando-shooting-001Psalm 46:1 NRSV
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble

God our Refuge, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They run to lonesome places, screaming an alarm
Calm our hearts so we can find you above the fear

God our Strength, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They race to revenge, pounding with anger
Calm our hearts so we can hear you above the hammering

God our Help, calm our hearts when evil abounds
They rush to human strength, grasping for control
Calm our hearts so we can hold to your way, your truth, and your life

Calm our hearts, so they may beat in unison with yours
So healing may flow over bodies and spirits broken by the chaos
So hope may fill families and communities devastated by prejudice and violence
So compassion and peace and unity may rise up among all people

God our Strength, our Refuge, our Help
We entrust our lives to you. Amen.

**********

Prayer for Violent Times © 2013 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.

Run Beloved, Run – a poem for All Saints Day

running feet

Hebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
By great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Run beloved, run
Lay aside every weight
Every worry
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Alive

Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Remember and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Run beloved, run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest step is yet to come

********
Be sure to check out Steve Garnaas Holmes reflection Cheer, on cheering on his niece as she ran the Boston Marathon and how that connects to our spiritual life.

Run Beloved, Run © 2014 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.

Prayer- When You Need a Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11)

shepherd carry sheep

This prayer claims the promises of Isaiah 40:11 on behalf of someone in need. Fill in names, pronouns, and details as best suits the situation.

Isaiah 40:11
He will feed his flock like a shepherd
He will gather the lambs in his arms
and carry them in his bosom
and gently lead the mother sheep

Good, Good Shepherd
Your word is a feast for _______________
Your companionship is the water of life
Nourish her, body and soul

Gather ____________ into your arms
Comfort her
Guard her

Carry __________ through this grueling season
Lift her spirits
Raise her from _____________________

Lead __________, now and always
Guide each step
Make the way smooth
So in all things she may see your faithfulness
So in all things she may testify to your power and hope
Amen

*****
Prayer- When You Need a Shepherd © 2017 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.