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 -|—

.blog

Hey all,

The Heart of a Pastor is now the owner of http://www.heartofapastor.blog.  I decided to streamline my blog address as the new .blog domain names just became available. This shouldn’t mess people up (too much). I believe my old (and longer) address will redirect you to my site.

In any case, nothing is changing with this site, just the shorter address. So to close, I am not going to leave with you just an administrative update but rather with the Word of God:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

Have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Weeping to Strength

I look out into the world,
and I weep over what I see;
for I see a people lost;
as sheep without a shepherd.
I weep and wish people would turn and look;
seeing a loving Savior;
Jesus,
reaching out to them.

Oh, how I wish people would see Jesus.
Oh, how I wish people would see their destructive path.
Oh, how I wish people would repent and live.

But all I see is a world spiraling out of control;
a world racing toward a cliff;
a world hell-bent on destroying themselves.

Why, oh God, why?
Why can’t people see?
Why don’t people know?

And as I weep I also fear.
I fear for my own children.
I fear for my family.
I fear for how I will respond.

Will I be strong?

Oh God, Creator of heaven and earth,
grant me Your Spirit that I may be strong.
May I stand firm and rely on the armor
that only You can give.
Grant me, oh God,
the belt of truth,
 the breastplate of righteousness,
the readiness given by the gospel of peace, 
the shield of faith,
(with which I can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one),
the helmet of salvation,
 and the sword of the Spirit,
(which is the word of God).
May this armor be my strength.

But one last thing,
oh God,
may I not be passive,
but rather may I go forth into battle with your armor.
May I brandish the sword of the Spirit
with all love and grace.
And in the end, may You be glorified.

Be my strength and hope.
Be my peace and salvation.

Oh God, You reign forever and ever,
through Jesus Christ my Lord I pray,
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 -|—

God of Peace

God of peace,

Unpeace is something I do not desire.
Conflict is something that wears on me.
Discord is something the brings me down.

Oh God, bring me peace.

Waves batter against me.
Storms rage all about me.
Satan is working overtime around me.

Oh God, bring me peace.

People speak evil about me.
People plot against me.
People seek my demise.

Oh God, bring me peace.

Amidst the unrest it is tempting to take matters into my own hands.
Amidst the unrest it is tempting to lose the faith.
Amidst the unrest it is tempting to give up.

Oh God, bring me peace.

But then I remember that You have never promised peace
in this world.
You never promised that the road would be
easy.
You never promised to dismantle the storms
in my life.

You promised peace.
You gave Jesus.

So…

 Amidst the unpeace,
in this world.
Amidst the conflict,
in this world.
Amidst the discord,
in this world.

May I always know the peace of Jesus,
within.

God of peace,
I praise you.

The Pastor -|—