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What Is The State Of Your Union?

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ANNOUNCEMENTS                        Psalm 27:''The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?''


*OPENING HYMN                            Spirit of the Living God  (1 me, 2 us) #150

*INVOCATION AND LORD'S PRAYER                 O God, Creator of all of the Universe, we stand in awe when we realize You loved each and every one of us so much that You sent to us the Christ, our Savior. We give You our love.   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.  AMEN.


Passing the Peace

SCRIPTURE READING                     (Isa 9:1-4 NLT)  "Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. {2} The people who walk in darkness will see a great light--a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow. {3} Israel will again be great, and its people will rejoice as people rejoice at harvesttime. They will shout with joy like warriors dividing the plunder. {4} For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them, just as he did when he destroyed the army of Midian with Gideon's little band."


OFFERING                 (Isa 55:2 NLT)  "Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!"


*PRAYER OF DEDICATION            Deepen our satisfactions, O God, with the joys of openhearted and openhanded giving.  As you have given your best to us, may we seek to give our best to you.

CHILDREN'S STORY TIME  Treasures of the Snow


PRAYER         Heavenly Father,

   forgive us for the many times

   that we could have spoken Jesus' name but did not.

Forgive us for the many times

   that we could have shown the way but we kept silent.

Forgive us for the many times

   that we did an act of love but never said why.

Forgive us for being afraid,

   for not speaking,

   for often not even thinking like Jesus' fisherfolk.

We repent of these unfaithful ways,

   and turn again to answer Jesus' call

   to reach out to the broken and the lost.

(Continue praying silently.)

In the name of Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven.

Now celebrate Jesus' forgiveness

   by answering the call to faithful witnessing,

   now and always.  Amen.

*PREPARATIONAL HYMN             "Christ for the World We Sing" #545

SCRIPTURE TEXT     (1 Cor 1:10-18 NLT)  "Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won't be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. {11} For some members of Chloe's household have told me about your arguments, dear friends. {12} Some of you are saying, "I am a follower of Paul." Others are saying, "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Peter," or "I follow only Christ." {13} Can Christ be divided into pieces? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? {17} For Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News--and not with clever speeches and high-sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. {18} I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God."

SERMON                    What Is The State Of Your Union?

Matthew views Jesus as the prophetic fulfillment of the liberation movement spoken of by Isaiah. A universal liberation movement for the entire world would begin in an ancient pocket of political oppression -- the land of Zebulon and Naphtali. There is an interesting change in Isaiah 9:2 as quoted by Matthew. In Isaiah, it is the people who walked in darkness who have seen a great light and those who lived in the land of deep darkness on whom the light has shone. In Matthew it is those who sat in darkness and those who sat in the region and the shadow of darkness who have seen a great light. Matthew's image conveys more of a sense of the darkness of prison. People don't so much walk in prison or live there; they merely sit on their perches like birds in a cage. Incarceration immobilizes its victims. In proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of God, Jesus is initiating a movement of spiritual liberation.

The arrest of John is Jesus' signal to commence his ministry. Following his baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus leaves Nazareth and establishes residence in Capernaum, which is situated along the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is the Anointed One who brings the light of eternal truth to this cosmopolitan, yet sin darkened, region. From that time, Jesus begins the proclamation of the good news: ''Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near'' (v. 17). He initiates the reign of God by calling his disciples together as the nucleus of the redemptive community of witness. Andrew, Peter, James and John perceive the urgency of the call and immediately leave their worldly pursuits.

Matthew 4:12, 13"When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. {13} But instead of going to Nazareth, he went to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Jesus moved from Nazareth, his hometown, to Capernaum, about 20 miles farther north. Capernaum became Jesus’ home base during his ministry in Galilee. Jesus probably moved (1) to get away from intense opposition in Nazareth, (2) to have an impact on the greatest number of people (Capernaum was a busy city, and Jesus’ message could reach more people and spread more quickly), and (3) to utilize extra resources and support for his ministry.

Jesus’ move fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1, 2, which states that the Messiah would be a light to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, the region of Galilee where Capernaum was located. Zebulun and Naphtali were two of the original 12 tribes of Israel.

Matthew 4:14-16{14} This fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy: {15} "In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River-- in Galilee where so many Gentiles live-- {16} the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined."

By quoting from the book of Isaiah, Matthew continues to tie Jesus’ ministry to the Old Testament. This was helpful for his Jewish readers, who were familiar with these Scriptures. In addition, it shows the unity of God’s purposes as he works with his people throughout all ages.

Matthew 4:17{17} From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."

The “Kingdom of Heaven” has the same meaning as the “Kingdom of God” in Mark and Luke. Matthew uses this phrase because the Jews, out of their intense reverence and respect, did not pronounce God’s name. The Kingdom of Heaven is still near because it has arrived in our heart.

Jesus started his ministry with the same message people had heard John the Baptist say: “Turn from your sins.” The message is the same today as when Jesus and John gave it. Becoming a follower of Christ means turning away from our self-centeredness and “self” control and turning our life over to Christ’s direction and control.

Matthew 4:18{18} One day as Jesus was walking along the shore beside the Sea of Galilee, (The Sea of Galilee is really a large lake. About 30 fishing towns surrounded it during Jesus’ day, and Capernaum was the largest). he saw two brothers--Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew--fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen.

Matthew 4:18-20{19} Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!" {20} And they left their nets at once and went with him. Jesus told Peter and Andrew to leave their fishing business and begin fishing “for people,” helping others find God. Jesus was calling them away from their productive trade to be productive spiritually. We all need to fish for souls. If we practice Christ’s teachings and share the Good News with others, we will be able to draw those around us to Christ like a fisherman who pulls fish into his boat with nets.

These men already knew Jesus. He had talked to Peter and Andrew previously (John 1:35-42) and had been preaching in the area. When Jesus called them, they knew what kind of man he was and were willing to follow him. They were not in a hypnotic trance when they followed but had been thoroughly convinced that following him would change their lives forever.

Matthew 4:21, 22{21} A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets. And he called them to come, too. {22} They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

James and his brother, John, along with Peter and Andrew, were the first disciples that Jesus called to work with him. Jesus’ call motivated these men to get up and leave their jobs—immediately. They didn’t make excuses about why it wasn’t a good time. They left at once and followed. Jesus calls each of us to follow him. When Jesus asks us to serve him, we must be like the disciples and do it at once.

Matthew 4:12-23         Invitation From A Jogger             Tom and Stuart McLean had been with their father in his growing business for three years. Their father was an electronic genius and had developed some exotic products that fit a very narrow customer need in the industry. When Stuart graduated from M.I.T. with a degree in engineering, he had accepted his father's offer to come into the company as his older brother had done two years before. In three short years the father and his two sons were the chief cogs in the business.

   While Tom and Stuart enjoyed working with their father, their work didn't give them much physical exercise, so they put on their jogging shoes in order to get back into the physical shape they both enjoyed in college. After gradually getting into shape, they settled into a jogging routine, and eventually covered three miles per day. By the sixth month of their regular jogging they began to recognize other joggers on the trail, occasionally nodding to them or greeting them with a smile.

   One day as they neared the end of their three miles, an African-American jogger joined them. He said very little other than a greeting, but joined them again during the following week. On one of those days he sat with them in the locker room of their club and chatted with them after they all finished their showers. "How would you like to join me in a project I'm thinking of starting?" he asked during their chat.

   "What do you have in mind?" Stuart asked.

   "I came from the bad side of town," he started to explain, "and I'm going to go back there and set up programs for the kids. I was lucky, because I got an athletic scholarship to go to college, but most of those poor kids have got nothing to look forward to," he continued.

   "Well, that's all well and good," Tom commented, "but what are you going to do? And ... and this kind of thing usually takes money ..."

   The man went on to explain his plan and what it would do for the young people in the poor neighborhood from which he had come.

   "But who's sponsoring you?" Stuart asked, not wanting to demean what the man was proposing, but at the same time knowing it takes money to do things like this.

   "No one is sponsoring me," the man replied. "The need is so great, I can't help believing that somehow we'll make it. I'm quitting my job to get into this project ... how would you guys like to join me?" The three of them were dressed by now and the brothers said parting words to the other man and headed for home.

   On the way home Tom said, "Craziest thing I ever heard of," not quite convincingly.

   "Yeah, perhaps so," Stuart agreed. "You know, we were raised in a pretty privileged home and don't really know what poverty means."

   "So?" Tom replied. "What are you driving at?"

   "Let's help him," Stuart challenged.

   "Are you crazy too?!" Tom accused.

   But they talked about it, and sat in the driveway giving it more thought before entering the house. Their dad was watching the 6:00 news. "Dad," Tom stuttered, "Stuart and I are leaving the company."

   "What did you say?" their dad asked, not quite believing what he had heard.

   "It's a long story," Stuart began.

Matthew 4:23{23} Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed people who had every kind of sickness and disease."

Jesus was teaching, preaching, and healing. These were the three main aspects of his ministry. Teaching shows Jesus’ concern for understanding; preaching shows his concern for commitment; and healing shows his concern for wholeness. His miracles of healing authenticated his teaching and preaching, proving that he truly was from God.

Jesus soon developed a powerful preaching ministry and often spoke in the synagogues. Most towns that had 10 or more Jewish families had a synagogue. The building served as a religious gathering place on the Sabbath and as a school during the week. The leader of the synagogue was not a preacher as much as an administrator. His job was to find and invite rabbis to teach and preach. It was customary to invite visiting rabbis like Jesus to speak.

Jesus preached the gospel—the Good News—to everyone who wanted to hear it. The Good News is that the Kingdom of Heaven has come, that God is with us, and that he cares for us. Christ can heal us, not just of physical sickness, but of spiritual sickness as well. There’s no sin or problem too great or too small for him to handle. Jesus’ words were good news because they offered freedom, hope, peace of heart, and eternal life with God.

This Good News is the pattern by which we measure our own state of the union.  As we read in 1Corinthians this morning we don't always measure up and often like the Corinthians we model more disunion to the world than union.  Paul receives word from Chloe's people concerning problems in the Corinthian church, the chief problem being a lack of unity.

 The Corinthian people had a reputation for jumping from fad to fad; Paul wanted to keep Christianity from degenerating into just another fad.  And to keep Christianity from seeming like a mess to outsiders.  Just last Thursday one of Rick's co-workers was sharing with me the trouble that has happened in the last 2000 years in the name of Christ.///

To “let there be real harmony,” allow for no “divisions” and “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” does not require everyone to believe exactly the same. There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive. A group of people will not completely agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters: Jesus Christ is Lord of all. In your church, speak and behave in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony. Petty differences should never divide Christians.

When Paul said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize, he wasn’t minimizing the importance of baptism. Baptism was commanded by Jesus himself (Matthew 28:19) and practiced by the early church (Acts 2:41). Paul was emphasizing that no one person should do everything. Paul’s gift was preaching, and that’s what he did. Christian ministry should be a team effort; no preacher or teacher is a complete link between God and people, and no individual can do all that the apostles did. We must be content to operate within the gifts God has given to us, and carry out his plan wholeheartedly.

   This passage could be called the state of the union address for the Corinthian church or, perhaps, the state of the disunion address. We often idealize the pristine apostolic church as the church's golden era but a reading of the New Testament brings us back down to earth. In the Corinthian church, at least, factionalism was threatening to destroy the unity of the Christian community. The very symbol of their unity in Christ, Holy Baptism, was the very symbol of disunity. These babes in the Lord were confused concerning whose name they were being baptized into, thinking that they had become disciples of the one who baptized them, bragging, ''I belong to Paul'' or ''I belong to Apollos'' or ''I belong to Peter'' (v. 12). Paul asks, ''Has Christ been divided?'' (v. 13). Indeed, he had. Already we have the beginning of denominationalism and factionalism in the church. Divide and conquer is one of the oldest and most successful military strategies. Our Enemy, Satan, is a master of divide and conquer but in the Spirit we are one.

   For Paul, the way to achieve unity in the church was manifestly clear. Proclaim the gospel. That was his driving purpose. ''For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel'' (v. 17). Even baptism was secondary to that central purpose.  Every activity in the church, every dollar in the church budget, every committee meeting, and every decision of the congregation or its Board must be judged by how well it contributes to this central purpose. Proclamation of the gospel must be viewed in a much wider context than the Sunday morning sermon; all that we do as the church must make known the claims of Christ. ///

Paul addressed the Corinthian church which was in a state of disunion and pleaded for unity in the spirit of Christ. /// What is the state of our union in Christ as a congregation? /// what is the state of your union with Christ as an individual? ///Finally, appeal for unity in essentials without insisting on uniformity in nonessentials.

*INVITATIONAL HYMN                 "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"                    # 17


Leader: Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

Children and Youth: I will follow Jesus at home and at school, in my work and my play, so that others might come to Jesus through what I say and what I do.

Women: I will follow Jesus, with all that I am and all that I have, so that others may accept the salvation of Christ for themselves.

Men:  I will follow Jesus with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength and all my mind, so that others may experience the deep and eternal love of Jesus Christ.

Leader: The kingdom of heaven has come near, may you live as its true citizens, now and always, in the name of our triune God.

All:  Amen.


The purpose of our lives is not our occupations or our

hobbies, but our purpose is to fish for people for God's kingdom.

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