Walking on Water

Creator God,
when the seas billow
and the wind rages,
it threatens to submerge us in
fear,
dismay
and hopelessness,
but Jesus walks on the water.
Jesus is above the waves.
Jesus commands the winds.
Through our faith in him,
bid us to come to You and may we too walk on the water
and find peace in our souls.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

 

Sermon teaser ~ No Peace but Peace

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. [Matthew 10:34]

Of all of the head scratching things Jesus has said this is perhaps the head scratchiest of them all. I have not come to bring peace? That doesn’t sound like Jesus, right? I mean, he is the Prince of Peace, right? In John 14 he said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. In Luke 2, the angels sing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Everything we know about Jesus is one of peace. I feel at peace when I am near him. I feel at peace when I am in the Word. I feel at peace when I am praying. I think many of you could say those things as well. So, what is Jesus saying here; Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. That is what we need to explore. After all, if we are going to go out and make disciples of all nations, we had better get the message right because there are many that do not. Jesus did not come to bring peace to earth…but…he did bring peace. The issue at hand is this: What kind of peace did Jesus bring?


I can hardly wait to dive into this text 🙂

All praise and glory be unto God the Father through Christ Jesus my Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Calm

Father God,
Calm my spirit that I may worship You.
Calm my thoughts that I may fully think on You.
Calm my fears that I my proclaim Your goodness with my whole life.
Calm my pride that I may glorify You.
Calm my heart that I may see Your faithfulness.
For when fear and anxiety run my life,
I turn from You.
May that never happen.
Give me calm, that through Jesus Christ, I may enjoy You forever.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

“Inconvenient” Peace

Below is an opening paragraph for the sermon this coming Sunday (Advent 2). The theme is peace and the context is your life. The text doesn’t follow the lectionary but I’ve never been one to stay in line 🙂

So here you go:

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. [Luke 1:26-27]

We’ve heard this situation over and over again; a young girl betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was going to become pregnant during an inconvenient time. Actually, for Mary to become pregnant during the betrothal period, even by her own husband, would subject her to stoning; something that many of you have heard before. And to some it may sound like I am belaboring some basic biblical story details but these details are important. These details set the scene for the peace that Mary would soon receive following some incredible news. Because really, these details highlight the chaos in our own lives. They set the scene for God to enter our lives with Good News and at times that may seem inconvenient or at times we do not expect. And that’s exactly how God works. God works in situations and at times that we would not expect. God does this that God may receive the most glory because it is only God that can give peace during those “inconvenient” moments. And when one sees that God is in control in those moments, something amazing happens, as we will see with this young, betrothed, peasant girl.

May God surprise you during this Advent season and bring you an “inconvenient”peace. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants

Pursuing Christ is not an occasional hobby to receive some spiritual high but rather a way of life because he loves you.

The above quote is something I wrote and posted on my Twitter feed (Feisty Pastor, @EricSpeakingUp). I wrote it because of personal experience; using spiritual practices to feel good and/or (believe it or not) to ensure that things will go my way. I would engage in spiritual practices; diving into scripture, writing, reading theology books, praying and meditation, to find this closeness with God and thus feel this sense of peace. And I would continue this for awhile until something would happen or I would slowly fall out of “practice”. And after going through a low time or feeling nervous about something coming up, I would start all over again.

Basically, using God as a drug to deal with life.

The weird thing is, deep down inside, I knew something wasn’t right but yet I kept at it because God was (and is) always faithful. God gave me this sense of peace when I would pursue Christ. And of course God knew what I was doing but yet God continued to love me and bless me with this peace. Part of me wishes that God would not have done that because I definitely did not deserve it.

I am not sure what happened but some spiritual kick in the pants woke me up to the reality of what I was doing. Maybe it was God’s love that kicked me. Maybe this peace that surpasses all understanding overwhelmed me to the point of conviction. I am not sure, but whatever it was I saw the error of my ways. But more importantly, I saw what I was missing.

An intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The fact of the matter is, pursuing Christ is NOT a hobby. A hobby is something we do to take a break from life. It’s also something that does not consume one’s life (at least it shouldn’t). A hobby is only a part-time commitment. One of my hobbies is reading, but I only do that in my free time. Jesus being a hobby means that Jesus is not really part of your life. It means that you control the terms of the relationship. It means you are in charge. And this flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Lord. A lord is in charge, not the subject.

But also, it flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Savior. Jesus has saved me from my sins through dying on the cross. Through faith, Jesus has saved me from eternal condemnation. Through faith, Jesus gives a comfort that gives me strength no matter what this world throws at me. And therefore, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know this Savior better and be close to him ALL the time?

Knowing this and receiving this should move “pursuing Jesus” from hobby status to a way of life, and not to get a spiritual high to get through your day, but rather to get to know this Lord and Savior better and better. Pursuing Jesus, then, is something that is every bit natural as breathing is natural.

If pursing Jesus is only a part time activity or hobby in your life, then you don’t know Jesus; you don’t understand what he did FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus ALL the time because he loves you and has died and risen FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus not for some spiritual high but because you want a relationship with him. Pursue Jesus FULL TIME.

Pursue Jesus and live with eternal joy as you look forward to living with Him on high.

The Pastor -|—

Hold Me Tight ~ A Prayer

Holy Father,
Your wisdom is awesome.
Your timing is perfect.
Your faithfulness is great.
Your love is boundless.
Your grace is limitless.
Your compassion is comforting.

And it is in these qualities that I find peace for a restless soul.

And so I,
appeal to Your wisdom;
wait for Your timing;
bask in Your faithfulness;
cling to Your love;
give thanks for Your grace;
and rest in Your compassion.

May I always know this peace.

Holy Father,
in the midst of turmoil,
I am thankful for a peace that surpasses all comprehension.
So hold me tight,
and shake me awake when I mindlessly wander from You.

All praise and worship and honor and glory,
be unto You,
Holy Father,

forever and ever,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Peace in a Troubled World (John 14)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1, ESV]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:27, ESV]

Beautiful bookends to a beautiful chapter. The beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse begins with peace and encouragement to not have troubled hearts. Following this and up through verse 27 Jesus talks about:

Going to the Father
Preparing a place for us
Bringing us home to the Father
That he and the Father are one
In the mean time, giving the Holy Spirit
Not leaving us as orphans
Loving Jesus means loving the Father
The Father loves you

And finally: Peace
So therefore: Let not your hearts be troubled

What a beautiful discourse. And what a great reminder, because think about it, how often do you let your hearts get troubled? How often is your peace rattled?

~ You share your faith with your son or daughter, father or mother, friend or coworker and nothing. They still won’t accept Jesus and therefore it’s easy to become discouraged.
~ You just lost your job, money is tight, your health is not the best; and your heart is troubled about the future and whether things will ever get better.
~ A drunk driver kills someone one, yet another report of ISIS reigning terror someplace, the news reporting another murder involving domestic violence; and you wonder if peace will ever be a reality.

But Jesus says, Do not let your hearts be troubled. I got this. I have overcome this world. I have defeated death. Stuff may happen now that is unpeaceful and discouraging, but think on me. I give you a peace like nothing the world can give, so stop looking for peace there.

And it is this peace; the peace that only Jesus gives, that allows one’s heart to not be troubled. It’s thinking on Jesus that encourages our discouraged hearts. It is faith in the crucified and risen One that truly brings peace in an unpeaceful world.

No matter what you do; no matter how hard your search; no matter how hard you try, you are never going to find or create a situation where your heart will be completely free from trouble or discouragement. Maybe you can do something for the short-term, but there will always be something lacking without Jesus.

So turn to Jesus and let not your hearts be troubled. And know a peace that surpasses all understanding and surpasses anything that this world can promise.

Be at peace, my friends, and praise God always and forever.

God of peace, Your love and compassion and faithfulness is what we truly need in a love-less, compassion-less and faith-less world. May we turn to You and be at peace; knowing that Jesus died and rose that we may have a place at the Great Banquet table and a room in Your Mansion. What a joy to think on this promise. What peace. Thank You, oh God, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—