Centerport United Methodist Church
The Pastors' messages comes from the December issue of our monthly church newsletter - The Focus.

A Verse for the New Year


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

 

    As I’ve thought about the best way to approach another new year, this verse from Philippians rang true to me. Rather than develop a long list of resolutions for my life and self-enhancement that would probably become a source of frustration, I’ve been contemplating focusing on one overall theme: Getting closer to God.

 

Maybe you think that’s fairly self-evident for a preacher. How can we be spiritual leaders if we’re not spiritually led? Sometimes the most obvious are truths are the easiest to overlook. Like everyone else, there are so many things I want to do and so many things I have to do that I get pulled away from the source that supplies the strength I need to do all those other things.

 

Paul reminds us that looking to God for guidance will yield much more that our own efforts can.

Do not be anxious about anything…It’s pretty hard to imagine never being anxious about anything---there’s plenty out there to worry us. Paul is simply saying, though, not to waste our energy expecting the worst. Believe in the best. God wants what is good and right for us. God yearns for relationship with us. The future looks a lot less scary with God at our side.

 

But in everything by prayer and petition…present your requests to God. We can carry every concern we have to the Lord in prayer. God wants to hear it all. There is nothing too great or too small. And what we take to God, we can trust with God, for, as Paul says in another place, all things work together for good in God’s hands. God is ready to listen when we are willing to speak.

 

And do it all with thanksgiving. For me, the single most important quality of a happy, contented life, is gratitude. As we identify our blessings, a well of thankfulness grows inside us, feelings of deprivation and a desire for more begin to fade, and satisfaction with life sets in. The more blessings we see, the brighter our life becomes.

 

C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia and many books on the Christian life, once said, “Put first things first and we get the second things thrown in. Put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” A life of prayer lived in communion with God helps us to focus on what matters most in life, those First Things, around which the rest of our lives should be shaped. Perhaps you know your First Things already: family, faith, loving others as God loves you. Maybe you need some time with God in prayer to locate—or re-locate—them.

 

Whatever they may be, I hope that you will find and focus on what matters most, and allow the secondary to flow from them. Let your worries be turned into prayers, find your peace in God’s goodness and mercy, and discover joy in centering yourself on the truly important. And do have a blessed New Year.

 

Grace and peace be yours,

 

 


Pastor Roy        

 


On Sunday, January 6th, during our worship service, we celebrated the Day of Epiphany, the arrival of the wise men, and we now enter the Season of Epiphany, the period of celebration of the incarnation and baptism of Jesus Christ. What does the word "epiphany” mean? An “epiphany” is when something reveals itself, or shows itself. In our church year, the Epiphany season is when The Son of God reveals his glory for everyone to see. For the next two months, we will be in the Epiphany season, and the Scripture readings, the hymns, the sermons – everything that you see and hear and sing and pray in our worship service…will serve one purpose, and that is this – to reveal to you, to show you, the glory of your Savior Jesus Christ.   
You can sum up the festival of Epiphany with one phrase: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT. Isaiah 60:1-2: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples…but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”  
“Arise,” …get up…move…God says to you, “Shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” The Bible pictures us and the and the rest of the world as a group of people living in darkness, people who have been consistently waiting for the sun to rise: “See,” God says, “darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples.”  
God sees our world as a very dark place. Spiritually dark. You can see evidence of spiritual darkness by looking around you. Look at the faces of the people around you, listen to them speak, and what you hear all too often is an outlook on life and opinions that lack joy, that lack enthusiasm, that lack optimism. There are       few discussion about hope or glory. If you look and listen, it becomes very clear, our world is a very dark place spiritually.  
But my Brothers and Sisters, the most frightening place to look, is within ourselves. Daytime TV celebrities will tell you that there is an incredible amount of good, and that an incredible amount of strength is found inside yourself: “If you would only reach deep within yourself, you would see how good you really are!” Unfortunately, this has not proven to be the case.   
Over and over again, people look within themselves for strength to bear up under trying circumstances, and that strength is not there. People look within themselves for something good, but the more closely you look within yourself, the more clearly you see that deep inside ourselves is an abundance of selfishness and materialism.  
God sees your soul as a very dark place, a place full of sin. Yes, “thick darkness is over the peoples, however, God says, “…but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” The Glory of the Lord… 
The birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ, is described in the Bible as the rising of the sun on a very dark place. The sun rises, and the darkness disappears.   
We often use the New Year as a chance for a fresh start, we make all kinds of resolutions about how we are going to change, what we will do differently this year vs. last year, how we will be better than before. For 2019, as Christians, as people of God, the resolution which we should make is: Committing to dedicate ourselves to letting the light of the Lord shine in our lives; Discovering how will we enable the Glory of God to be reflected in our works and deeds; Empowering ourselves through our relationship with Christ to get rid of the darkness that surrounds us.   
Understand that Jesus Christ was born into the world for the sole purpose of doing what neither you nor I could do on our own…to make everything right between us and God. Our sins are freely forgiven because Jesus has died for all of our sins on the cross. Because of Christ, everything is good between us and God. We have gone from darkness to light.  
This is the Season of Epiphany, it is a time when those who are trapped in the darkness of sin can know, see and believe in the glory of Jesus Christ. As this is a time when we learn to stop trusting in ourselves for salvation and begin trusting in Christ.  
His grace and forgiveness rises and shines on every person on this earth – every person is invited to believe in this child, to worship him, to find their salvation in him. No matter who you are, you too, can go from darkness to light. No matter how dark the world becomes, the light of Jesus Christ will never stop shining for you. Once the grace and mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ rises in your life, it will never stop shining.   
No matter how dark the world gets around you, Christ’s love will always shine in your life. Right now, we may spiritually be living in the darkness…but today we enter a new season…May this Epiphany season be the time when you see ever more clearly the Glory of the Lord, your Savior, Jesus Christ.  Welcome to Epiphany…Enjoy the Journey!

 

 

 

 

Brother Wayne Redman
Certified Lay Minister