Merry Christmas, Monday, December 25. 2017 church!

December 25, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Merry Christmas to all! I pray you have a wonderful day as you celebrate “God Came Down.” Jesus, God the Son Himself left the glory of heaven to be born in a barn and save us from our sin. Yesterday was fantastic as we worship and were challenged by Nate Ray, sermon, “The Christmas Story: In the Middle of a Mess” Nate wrote:

Oftentimes because many of us are so familiar with the Christmas story, and it can feel sentimental and nostalgic. We need fresh eyes to see it anew with all of its shock value. We need to remember the Christmas story wasn’t nice and clean and tidy, but that Jesus was born in the middle of a mess. Jesus’ kingdom comes as Jesus came: in the middle of a mess.

When we look at the Nativity, the Nativity not only pictures Jesus’ birth: the nativity pictures the way of Jesus, the way Jesus’ kingdom breaks into our lives, the way Jesus’ kingdom breaks into our world, and Jesus’ very methods. It is not just serendipitous that this happens to be how Jesus was born. This is God’s chosen entry point into our world, and when you look at Jesus’ life and ministry, and then the ministry of his earliest followers, you see this is the gospel story! God plops right down, in the middle of the mess; the mess of the world and the mess of our lives.

When darkness looks as if it has won the day; when the powers seem their most powerful; when hope seems the furthest away, light enters – unnoticed with the exception of those on the margins of society – born to poor parents, in a place where no respectable child would ever be born.

In the darkness, light enters, His name is Jesus, and He changed and is changing the world.

“In (Jesus) was life, and that life is the light to all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

(John 1:4-5)

THIS is the good news of the gospel!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming and meeting us in our darkness and our mess and continually bringing Your life and light to us!

Next Sunday, December 31st, we will only have a worship service at 10:30 AM.

Love being your pastor this Christmas!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 18, 2017 church!

December 18, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! What a wonderful day we had yesterday! The worship music was wonderful from Emily and Annette Juhlin’s prelude as we came to worship, to the original songs we were introduced to and worshipped with written by our own worship team, and to the beautiful harp offertory by Abby Longmore! I thank God for the many gifted people at East Madison who are using those gifts to the glory of God. It was also so good to introduce Leslie Harrison as our newest member! I hope the message challenged all of us to make the best decisions we can make by determining to seek and do God’s will just as Joseph did in Matthew 1. Doing God’s will requires sometimes doing difficult things. Doing God’s will requires an openness to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit by prayerfully and carefully seeking to know God’s specific direction. Doing God’s will often not be understood by others. Ultimately, however, doing God’s will is what is good and pleasing and perfect. God’s ways are always right and His will is always best!

This Sunday, Christmas Eve, December 24 we will only have a Christmas Eve worship service at 10:30 AM. Join us and invite a friend. Oftentimes people will come to worship on Christmas Eve when they might not attend any other time of the year. This is a time to plant a gospel seed in their lives. Pray for and invite family, friends and acquaintances who do not regularly attend worship to attend this Sunday at East Madison. Church family, do your best to go out of the way to greet and welcome all our guests this Sunday. I have asked my son Nate, who will be with us, to preach the Christmas Eve message. I believe Nate has a gifting especially to communicate God’s great news to the young adults of this generation. I know I am biased, but I believe we all will be blessed by his message.

If you have not yet given to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions this month, you can still do that. There are envelopes and prayer guides if you need them on the table in the foyer of the church building.

Love being your pastor and celebrating Jesus Messiah, the reason for the season, with you!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 11, 2017!

December 11, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! I hope you are having a great day! Yesterday we were reminded in the lighting of the advent candle by Deanna and Abri that Jesus came to give us peace because He is the Prince of Peace. The message from Isaiah 9 reminded us that because “a Child was born, to us a Son is given” we can have hope in the deepest darkness. When life is so dark that you cannot seem to see the hope that Jesus provides, we must choose to see by faith what we can’t see in our lives or circumstances. We also must make sure the enemy of our souls does not rob God’s children of the hope we have. Believers can be robbed of the hope that we have. We can forget that God does have a preferred future for all of us. Things for God’s children will get better no matter how difficult it is right now. Hang on to hope in Jesus! Draw near to the people of God when hope seems to wane to help remind yourself of true hope we possess because we are God’s children. The world only has only counterfeits to hope. Jesus alone is the hope of the world and apart from Him there is no real or lasting hope. Rest and live in Jesus, the hope of the world.

It is two weeks until Christmas! On Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24 we will only have a Christmas Eve worship service at 10:30 AM. I have asked my son Nate, who will be with us, to preach the Christmas Eve message. I know I am biased, but I believe you will be blessed by his message.

Remember we are taking up the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions this month. There are envelopes and prayer guides if you need them at the church building.

Love being your pastor!

Happy Monday, December 4, 2017 church!

December 4, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! I hope you are slowing down enough to enjoy the Christmas season. Sometimes in our frenzied activity around Christmas, we miss what it is all about. God became a man in Jesus Christ to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. What was that? Jesus came to save us from our sin and save us that we will live for Him. It is a season of wonder and awe. Don’t get so busy that you don’t slow down enough to contemplate the beauty of our Savior and the miraculous way He saves us!

We finished up the letter to the Ephesians yesterday and heard a call to battle against the devil and his minions. The enemy of God and the destroyer of people will be opposing God’s people and God’s mission until Jesus returns. Though there is no doubt about the outcome of this spiritual war, we still must be prepared for this spiritual battle. Our weapons are truth and love. God provides His very own strength for us to battle against this forces of hell. We are to arm ourselves in the whole spiritual armor God: His truth, the truth of Jesus as the only hope of the world; His righteousness provided to us in Jesus when we believe; His gospel that provides true peace to those who believe; the helmet of salvation which cannot be taken from us; the sword of His Spirit, which is His Word, and the shield of faith where we believe God’s truth and not the devil’s lies. Along with putting on God’s armor, we must stay in continual communication with our Lord and Commander, Jesus Christ. We must not let anything block the lines of communication between us and God by being filled with His Holy Spirit and always be in an attitude of prayer. God provides everything we need to win battles and stand in victory against the enemy of God and the destroyer of people. Let’s fight these battles His way. And as we do, we will stand and we will win!

Remember a Christmas tradition at East Madison, the Juhlin’s Annual Christmas open house. It is open to all this Friday night, December 8, from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Directions to their house are available at the church building.

Yesterday we gave out some prayer guides and offering envelopes for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Use those prayer guides this week to daily pray for those taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Be a part of an army of pray-ers that boldly approach God’s throne of grace to pray for the salvation of people all over the world.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church