The Gospel text for today is Luke 12:49-56. My focus is on verse 51 where Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division. Actually, Jesus came to bring peace through division. More can be heard on our congregation’s website after the video of the sermon is posted.
So with that I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy with the Gospel text in mind. To God be the glory. Amen.
It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God. Through Jesus Christ You give us peace with You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit we are being remade. Your Word is life. Your Word is truth. Your Word pierces our soul and will one day divide us from this world as we stand before you purified and holy. Oh God, may we not be seduced by the allure of worldly peace. May it’s beckoning song be ignored. May its deceptive appearance be uncovered. Oh God, we give you thanks that Jesus was born to die that we could have hope and one day live peacefully with You without interruption. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
These verses in Psalm 119 really struck home for me. The psalmist is pleading for help to remain true to God’s law and not be seduced away. There are many people twisting scripture to their own advantage. There are many pressuring the Church to become more “relevant” and thus the temptation to seek peace with the world. May I stand firm on the Truth of scripture as challenges come from all sides. God help me.
It’s You that I long for, oh God.
It’s in You that I place my life.
But the world persecutes me, God,
And thus I have nothing but strife.
When will You come to my defense?
When will Your Spirit comfort me?
How long must I endure attacks?
Oh God, it’s You I long to see.
False teachers teach their own message,
And in Your Word they do not stay.
They preach a word that’s not from You,
So keep me true that I won’t stray.
They fight and shout and long to stop,
Your Word of hope – Your Word that saves.
But it’s Your love that gives me life,
So may I stand and be so brave.
When the world fights hard against me,
You’re my salvation and my shield.
It matters not what they can do.
My life is Your’s so I won’t yield.
As the Lord’s Prayer ends, we are taught to say “Amen”. Amen means, yes, it shall be so. When asked by the disciples about how to pray, Jesus said, When you pray, say… He gave us the words and thus it makes sense that God is pleased with the words we pray. It is like a teacher giving you the answers to the quiz. It behooves you to use them. Here, in this prayer, we can be confident that we will get that for which we pray. So when you pray, say with confidence: Amen!
How should I pray?
You have given us the words;
words pleasing to You,
so we know we’ll be heard.
For You’re our Father,
Holy are You.
Your kingdom is coming.
Your glory is due.
And what do you want?
Our hearts to believe;
Satan’s schemes to be defeated;
Your Word to be received.
You’re the Great Provider.
The Forgiver of my sins.
May I forgive others,
and when tempted may I win.
And now I have the words,
to lay at Your feet,
pleasing to Your ears,
perfect and complete.
Yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory.
Yes, it shall be so,
for I am in Your story.
To write poetry draws me deeper into the Word or closer to whatever I am writing about. It challenges me to think more deeply and to reflect more clearly. Words matter. Nothing is simply random. And so I praise my God for inflaming the heart of this pastor to draw closer to Him in such a way.
With that being said, I am working on two more poems. One is based on Psalm 119:81-88 and the second one is the final installment in the Lord’s Prayer poem series, “The Doxology”. I look forward to sharing these with you soon. May these poems, written to the glory of God, also draw you closer to our Father as they have drawn me.
As a parent of two school-aged children, my thoughts these days are for the many teachers who are either starting classes or are preparing to receive students in the coming weeks. I could not do the job they do and thus I am thankful God raises up people who have a heart for teaching. A teacher is a one-of-a-kind. They show love, commitment, and dedication that few can understand. They have a heart for children as they, mold, shape and nurture the hearts of our precious little ones. They endure stress, judgment and criticism, often from those who do not understand. I can’t imagine what it takes to be a teacher, but God knows. Would you join me in praying for teachers, staff and administration, as this new school year begins. It is to them that I dedicate this poem.
A teacher’s heart is special and dear.
And to my child it’s always near.
Love and sacrifice and caring too.
A teacher’s heart will always come through.
It is unique for it’s Your design.
All it’s qualities You did assign.
I can’t imagine a heart without,
A grace that runs all the way throughout.
Oh God would You bless our teacher’s hearts.
And from them would You never depart.
Keep them and hold them close to Your side.
And may Your Spirit in them abide.
Psalm 121 is favorite for many. It is a great reminder to me that God is the only true Helper in this life. Yet, we all too often look to other things and people of this world for help, but they will all let us down. God, though, never rests. He never tires. He never takes time off. God will always stand guard over you. God will never fail. Let us give Him thanks and praise for being our Helper…
My Helper, oh my Helper,
the defender and Keeper of my life,
my eyes often scan the horizon of this life,
Trying to find anything and anyone to make things right.
But You, oh my Helper, my Lord and my God, I give You thanks for,
You are always here.
You are never distant.
You are never oblivious to my needs.
So why, oh why would I look elsewhere?
After all, You are the maker of everything.
You are the giver of life.
You are the great I Am.
You, oh my God and Helper,
You never get tired.
You are never distracted.
You never take time off to recuperate,
for You are the sovereign God,
and I am Yours,
thus nothing will ever strike me.
Nothing! Nothing, will ever strike me with You by my side,
for my life is hidden with Jesus Christ in You.
As my eyes rise to see the horizon of my life,
may they see You as my Helper, Lord and God.
In all that I do,
In everywhere I go,
Now and forevermore,
You are my God.
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. [Luke 12:51 ESV]
Seems like a strange thing for Jesus to say. After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace? Doesn’t he give peace that surpasses all understanding? When the disciples see him after his resurrection Jesus says, “Peace be with you“. So why would Jesus say something like this? Well, look carefully at what he says, Do you think that I have come to give peace ON EARTH? That’s the distinction. Here on earth, there will be division on account of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t come with the intent to divide people but rather knowing that the Gospel would do just that because people are sinners. In John 15, Jesus warned his disciples that if the world hates him they will hate them. And isn’t that the truth. Yet, many people are so afraid of division. Can’t we all just get along? I am all for getting along with people, but when it comes to the Gospel, we must stand firm. We must respect people. We must love people. We must listen to people. But when it comes to the Gospel, if division occurs, then so be it. It is better to be at odds with the world than with God. Amen? The Gospel will produce division. That we have seen, but don’t mistake what Jesus says. He IS still the Prince of Peace and he DOES give a peace that surpasses all understanding. Standing firm on God’s Word in Jesus name, you can have peace in the midst of division. May your witness then, bring peace to people who are at odds with the Gospel. Amen!