Growing in Resilience: Soften and Save, based on Isaiah 48.4-6

pottery wheelGrowing in Resilience
Day 9, Read Isaiah 48
Reflection: Soften and Save, based on Isaiah 48:4-6

Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from long ago, before they came to pass I announced them to you, so that you would not say, “My idol did them, my carved image and my cast image commanded them.” You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it?

Merciful One, soften and save us
We are hardheaded
Obstinate
Obstructive

Merciful One, soften and save us
We are stubborn
Self-willed
Stiff-necked
Bearing the iron yoke of unhealthy pride and false idols

You alone can liberate us
Turn and return us
Metal to flesh
Ears to hear
Eyes to see
Minds supple in your truth
Lips open, declaring your saving power
A whole body rejoicing in our deliverance

Merciful One, soften and save us

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Soften and Save © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: The Too Proud Faces of Death, based on Isaiah 47.10-11

mourn sorrow

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Growing in Resilience
Day 8, Read Isaiah 47
Reflection: The Too Proud Faces of Death, based on Isaiah 47:10-11

You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me.” Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” But evil shall come upon you, which you cannot charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, which you will not be able to ward off; and ruin shall come on you suddenly, of which you know nothing.

Will wickedness always remain?
Will violence and war continue to claim their prey?
Will daily needs go unmet forever?
daily bread undiscovered
daily water contaminated
daily shelter out of reach
Will oppression and poverty and captivity shriek their horrid victory?
Will isolation entomb us?

It’s all death
The too proud faces of death
death of goodness
death of peace
death of provision
death of dignity
death of relationship

O Lord, will it always be this way?
Your answer?
No!

Oh, how we need this reminder!
This promise!
This truth!
This hope!
Oh, how we need this now!

Hear our cry, One True Living God
Wield your resurrection love
Yours is the power and strength
Yours is the victory
Reveal it now! Grant it now!
Your people coming before you and coming together and overcoming

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:54b-58 (NRSV)

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

The Too Proud Faces of Death© 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Release, based on Isaiah 43.18-19

healing hand lightGrowing in Resilience
Day 4, Read Isaiah 43
Reflection: Lead On, based on Isaiah 43:18-19

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Jesus,
You open the door to all that is hidden and hurtful
That we might let go of
All that is false and destructive
All that we think will save us but will not
All the guilt and shame we needlessly carry
All the regret that suffocates our future

silent prayers of confession

Jesus,
We release it all to you
Trusting your power and promise
You are doing a new thing
You are making a way
It’s bursting forth in us and our world
Hallelujah!

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Release © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording – Remember You Are Dust (Joel 2, Psalm 51)

ash wedensday with palms

Message: Remember You Are Dust
Scriptures: Joel 2:12-17; Psalm 51:1-12
I’m catching up on some 2017 sermons which haven’t been posted. This sermon was offered 2/26/17 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Breath in, Breath Out
Which is more important? Inhaling or exhaling?
Which is more important? What we believe or how we behave?

Belief and behavior both matter, just like inhaling and exhaling.
What we believe shapes how we behave.
How we behave demonstrates what we believe.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been walking through the book of James.
It’s a book which focuses on how the followers of Jesus are to behave.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Faith without works is dead.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

Much of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) also focuses on behavior.
Turn the other cheek
Go the extra mile
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Do not judge
Do to others as you would have them do to you

Likewise, Jesus’ parable of the final judgment (Matthew 25), as illustrated by the separating of sheep and goats, focuses on behavior. Those welcomed into the kingdom are those who
Feed the hungry
Give the thirsty something to drink
Welcome the stranger
Give clothing to the naked
Care for the sick
Visit those in prison

John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” This isn’t a sentimental, candy-coated feeling. This is love made real in our words and actions. In our sacrifices and steadfastness.

And yet, belief is critically important.
Without it, we are merely humanists
Without it, we are unplugged from the eternal
Unplugged from the “why” of our actions
Unplugged from the “how” of our strength to act

Placing our trust in Jesus Christ opens the way for the Holy Spirit to lead us and transform us: our behavior, our motivation, our perspective on what’s important, our love.

Our belief allows the Holy Spirit to shape us into the very likeness of Jesus.

Following Jesus is about the integration of belief and behavior. By cooperating with God’s grace, we become people of integrity. Integrated. We who are broken become whole. We are “re-membered.”

The integration of belief and behavior is so important we set aside time every year to reflect and focus on it.

  • We face our true selves in the light and love of Jesus.
  • We face our failures, our shortcomings in the grace of Jesus
  • We commit to continued growth in the likeness of our Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit

To help us do this, we use a symbol: ashes
The dirty smudge on our foreheads is the tangible reminder that we are all dust. We are all mortal. We are all imperfect people. Our time here is short. Make it count.

The dirty smudge on our foreheads is the tangible reminder of our humility. Humility, human and hummus are all from the same root word meaning “of the earth.” We have a common bond with all people and all living things. We are no better or worse.

The dirty smudge on our foreheads is the tangible reminder of our sorrow, a modern expression of the days’ people displayed their grief by wearing sackcloth and ashes. We grieve the spoiling and wasting of God’s good gift of life. We lament how we’ve hurt God, others, the earth, and ourselves. We mourn our sin.

The dirty smudge on our foreheads is in the shape of a cross. A tangible sign of the infinite grace of Jesus Christ that meets us wherever we are and loves us too much to leave us there.

Psalm 103:13b-14, The Voice
The Eternal shows His love for those who revere Him.
For He knows what we are made of
He knows our frame is frail, and He remembers we came from dust.

Jesus accepts us with all our contradictions between what we believe and the way we behave. Jesus draws us, invites us, and empowers us toward new life: A transformed life, a whole and holy life, where belief and behavior are fully integrated with his good and divine will.

Come, see how the ashes and the grace are good.

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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 © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – Generous Living (Luke 19.1-10)

zacchaeus

Soichi Watanabe’s Jesus And Zacchaeus

Message: Generous Living
Scriptures: Luke 19:1-10
Message 4 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 2/4/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Jericho

  • The turning point between Galilee and Jerusalem. Located in the Jordan River Valley near the Dead Sea
  • A fragrant and fertile place. Dates, palm-honey, myrrh, and balsam. Used to make fragrances, medicine, makeup.
  • Major trade center. Valued by Rome as a center of taxation. Rich, powerful tax collectors make sure the taxes are rendered unto Caesar, plus some extra for themselves.

Zacchaeus

  • Chief tax collector. Rich. Short.
  • What happens to short people, especially short men? They are teased. Many feel they must prove themselves.

Quote from Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire
Somewhere along the way to adulthood, Zacchaeus learned to compensate—first, to laugh at the jokes, and later, to fight back. And so, as he climbed the professional ladder, he stepped on anyone who stood in his way, anyone on the next rung up. He would show them, show them all. Someday they’d look up to him.

At last, he made it to the top—  a chief tax collector. King of the hill, controlling commerce. King of the hill, greasing his greedy little palms with the sweat of his neighbor’s brow. King of the hill, looking down over Jericho.

But the hill Zacchaeus rules is a dunghill, at least in the eyes of the people. For tax gatherers are despised as little more than ruthless bill collectors for a corrupt government. Even the Talmud looks down on them, allowing a Jew permission to lie to a murderer, to a thief, and . . . to a tax collector.

True, Zacchaeus has power. And he has wealth. But the stature he sought among others has eluded him.

What else eludes Zacchaeus? Friendship, belonging, salvation, meaning, love, healing, peace

Have you ever started down a path, only to find what you were looking for eludes you, too?

Now there’s hope
Zacchaeus has heard stories about this Jesus who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

  • Who ate and drank with them and stayed in their homes
  • Who changed the life of Levi/Matthew, the tax collector at Capernaum. Levi left a lucrative career, left everything to follow Jesus. This Jesus must be some man.
  • There’s even talk of him being the Messiah. Not just a rabbi, a healer, but a Messiah who’s a friend of tax collectors.
  • Zacchaeus is willing to look the fool for even a glimpse of Jesus. He runs. He climbs a tree. Zacchaeus literally goes out on a limb to get to Jesus.

Imagine all that Zacchaeus is feeling. His chest is pounding from the run and the climb. Jesus and his disciples are coming. Closer. Closer. Then Jesus stops right in front of him.
Their eyes meet. Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name. In front of all those people, Jesus asks if he can come to Zacchaeus’ home. Later, Zacchaeus makes Jesus his home.

Zacchaeus

  • Experiences a complete transformation. Not just part of his life, but the whole.
  • Zacchaeus chooses both repentance and reparation. He turns from walking in his own strength and plan to follow Jesus. (Repentance, Justification) He doesn’t stop there. He wants to make things right, live a new way. (Reparation, Sanctification)
  • Zacchaeus goes out on a limb to see Jesus and out on a limb to follow Jesus fully. He liquidates his war chest to care for the poor and compensate those he defrauded.

This is what our salvation should look like as well: complete transformation, not just part of our lives, not just enough to get into heaven. We turn. We follow. We live a new life. 

earn save give cover

John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

  • Gain = Earn. As followers of Jesus, we embrace hard, honest work. Zacchaeus will be looking for a new job or doing his current job in a very different way.
  • Save = Stewardship.  Zacchaeus realizes we are and have belongs to God. We are caretakers. My money, my possessions, my talents, my body, are not my own. As followers of Jesus, we embrace careful, farsighted, faithful management of everything God’s entrusted to us. Zacchaeus’s management will include caring for the poor and making right his old, evil ways.
  • Give = Generous Living

Earn all you can + Save all you can = the ultimate goal of generous living. We can trust and follow and give because Christ has already given everything for us.

Generosity by Steve Garnaas Holmes
True poverty and riches are in our hearts,
not our pockets.

Fear is the only prison that prevents us
from loving deeply,
from giving freely,
from living richly.

Generosity is the power that sets us free.
It melts the prison bars.
It fills the coffers of our hearts.

In generosity, regardless of circumstances,
even the penniless are not poor,
even the destitute are not alone,
even the flat broke are not afraid.

Give everything you have,
and you will be free
and unafraid

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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.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Deliverer of the Afflicted (Psalm 72, Luke 4)

Jesus, The Coming MessiahJesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 10: The Messiah as Deliverer of the Afflicted
Readings: Psalm 72; Luke 4:17-19

Psalm 72:12-14, The Voice
For he will rescue the needy when they ask for help!
He will save the burdened and come to the aid of those who have no other help.
He offers compassion to the weak and the poor;
He will help and protect the lives of the needy!
He will liberate them from the fierce sting of persecution and violence;
in his eyes, their blood is precious.

Luke 4:17-19, The Voice
The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:

The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
Defender of the weak and poor
You provide, you protect, you liberate

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Our Compassionate King
You offer your own body and blood
For all life, every life, is precious

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Bringer of Change and Justice
Finish your good and generous work

Have mercy, Lord of Hope
Draw near
Make us new

Release us from
the chains of this moment, born of imprisoned years
the blindness to our complicity, frailty, and poverty
the distractions and false calls of those who cannot help
the apathy keeping us from seeing, speaking, and caring
the weight of our needs stealing our courage to try
the slowness of change chipping away at our enduring

Have mercy, Lord of Hope
Draw near
Make us new

Chorus of Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Quote from The Talmud
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Deliverer of the Afflicted © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- The Lion of Judah (Genesis 49, Revelation 5)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 3: The Messiah as Lion of Judah
Readings: Genesis 49:8-10; Revelation 5:1-5

Genesis 49:9-10, The Voice
Judah is a lion cub; my son, who rises from the prey,
Who crouches down and stretches out like a lion,
and like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah;
the ruler’s staff will rest securely between his feet.
Until the One comes to whom true royalty belongs,
all people will honor and obey him.

Revelation 5:1-5, The Voice
And then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne, a scroll written both on the inside and on the outside. It had been sealed with seven seals. Then a mighty heavenly messenger proclaimed with a loud voice,

Mighty Messenger: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?

No creature of creation in all heaven, on all the earth, or even under the earth could open the scroll or look into its mysteries. Then I began to mourn and weep bitterly because no creature of creation was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into its mysteries. Then one of the elders consoled me.

One of the 24 Elders: Stop weeping. Look there—the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He has conquered and is able to break its seven seals and open the scroll.

Be sure to check out this wonderful article discussing the background of Isaac’s son Judah and how it informs the symbolism of the Lion of Judah. 

Jealousy is brutal and cruel. It turns the hearts of Jacob’s sons against bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, their younger brother, Joseph. “Let us kill him. Let us sell him into slavery.” They argue and plot as Joseph is lost to Egypt.

Years pass. Jacob grieves. Famine comes. Only Egypt has food. A disguised Joseph and his unseeing brothers are brought together again. He tests them, hoping for change. Will the brothers again betray a brother in order to better themselves? Will they allow Jacob’s new favorite son, Benjamin, to be lost to Egypt?

Judah steps forward. Something has changed. He will take punishment. He will take the place of his brother Benjamin in slavery. Judah claims his place as his brother’s keeper. Judah’s selfishness and jealousy and violence are conquered by compassion and sacrifice and genuine love.

Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Eternal King, conquers all sin for all time in the same way.

Selected lyrics from The Lion and the Lamb by Big Daddy Weave
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
You conquer evil with compassion and sacrifice
We bow before you and your powerful love

Hallelujah to Jesus!
You alone are worthy to reveal the mysteries of God
We await your word and desire to do your will

Hallelujah to Jesus!
True royalty belongs to you, forever and for always
We raise our song to honor and adore you

Jesus, Lion of Judah, make us courageous
Courageous enough to see our sin
Courageous enough to confess and change
Courageous enough to love our brothers and sisters and neighbors
Courageous enough to speak and sacrifice for their good

Show us and strengthen us and send us out, Holy One
that your Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven, Amen

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Lion of Judah © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.