We take communion at Unity four times a year. Our worship service today focused on the Lord’s Supper and the unity among Christian believers. The text for the sermon is Matthew 26:26-30. The Lord’s Supper 1) Connects us to the past 2) Unites us in the present and 3) Give Hope for the future.
Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in Southern Baptist Churches. My sermon is simply entitled “Life.” Let’s go beyond politics and abortion, while not ignoring those things, and recognize God as the creator of life. We are called to respect human life as he does and we are all the sheep of his pasture.
*I am recovering from illness and apologize for clearing my throat and a few coughs. We didn’t even try to record a sermon last week and I am glad to be feeling much better.
Financial Peace University is a 9 week course produced by Dave Ramsey. The class is designed to teach you how to become debt free, prepare for the future and get couples on a plan together. Here is a short video about what FPU does and why:
FPU classes will start at Unity Baptist on Tuesday, March 7th. The course runs for 9 weeks with each weekly meeting lasting about an hour and a half. The cost of attending a local class and meeting with a small group is less than ordering the DVD’s and taking the course alone. When you sign up for a local class you will also receive online access to the same lessons. You can easily catch up if you miss a class or wish to review a lesson again.
In the coming weeks we will be looking at FPU in greater detail and listening to the personal testimony of just a few of the 2.7 million families that have benefitted from this training over the past 20 years. We will host a preview and begin signing people up on Sunday, February 19th. It’s not too early to sign up now! Use this link to register for our class and order materials directly from FPU.
Note: Services were cancelled due to weather concerns, but the Epiphany sermon would have sounded something like this.
Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding. It follows Christmastide on January 6th (back when December 25th was the beginning of the 12 Days of Christmas instead of the final day of 3 months of Christmas).
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. -Matthew 2:1-12 ESV via Bible Gateway
If you’ve ever heard someone say “I’ve had an epiphany” what they probably mean is they have just realized something. A true epiphany is more of a discovery than coming to a realization. We know from the Matthew 2 text that the wise men made a long journey. They were more likely from Persia than the Orient but I won’t get into all the many things we don’t know about them right now. We do know they were wise, journeyed from afar, brought precious gifts and obeyed the Word of the Lord. When they saw Jesus and his mother they fell down and worshipped. They were led to an even more valuable treasure than anything they had brought with them.
Jesus would later talk about seeking treasure in a series of parables. When the woman with 10 coins lost one (Luke 15:8-10) she lit a lamp and swept her entire house, and called on her friends to rejoice with her when she found it. When a man found a treasure in a field (Matthew 13:44) he sold all that he had so he could buy that field, much like collector of pearls who sold all his others so that could purchase the pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Neither the magi nor the examples in Jesus’ parables accidentally stumbled onto something. They sought diligently for the treasure they eventually found. They worked hard, devoted time and effort and sacrificed possessions of lesser value. No one accidentally pursues righteousness. You might drive around aimlessly and find a nice farmer’s market or antique store, but no one wanders into the Kingdom of God. We must be deliberate and intentional on life’s journey. It may require a little effort and sacrifice. But what we find will far surpass anything we give up.
UPDATE: Saturday, January 7
No church services, classes or small groups will meet on Sunday, January 8th.
The snow we have on the ground, including the icy sheen on the roads, will probably stick around another day or two. The high temp today may not get above freezing and wind chill will be as low as 5 degrees. I will post something in the morning for Epiphany.
Stay safe, warm and dry. Peace and God bless.
On the one hand, Sunday always follows Saturday. On the other hand, today is the first day of a new month and a new year. It’s hard not to notice taking down a calendar and starting a new one, or correcting our error when writing the date for a few days. We celebrate the new beginning and resolve to improve ourselves, or perhaps look with expectant hope that the next year will be different than the last.
God is always doing something new. His mercies are new every morning and he is always planning ahead… way ahead.
On Christmas Day I had the rare opportunity to light the center Christ candle in our Advent wreath. We don’t normally have a Christmas Eve service and this was the first time Christmas came on Sunday during my pastorate at Unity.
Why do we light candles to celebrate the birth of Christ? Why are there lights on the tree or Christmas lights at all for that matter? Join us as we look beyond the birth story to see who Jesus is and why he came into the world.
The angels proclaimed “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” The shepherds found the babe as the angels said, but is there peace on earth? Those who seek Christ can have peace even in a world that does not. He himself is our peace. -Ephesians 2:14
In 1918 the WMU Christmas Offering became the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Today the Foreign Mission Board goes by the name International Mission Board but the needs Lottie Moon wrote home about have not changed.
The national goal for the 2016 offering is $155 million. The goal for our local church is $350. Consider the need, consider the life-changing power of the Gospel, and prayerfully consider giving during this Christmas season.
Lottie Moon was 32 years old when she enter the mission field in China, and she stayed for 39 years. To learn more about her life and mission work, including her now famous letters home from the field, click this link.