Brothers and sisters,
Happy Monday to all! It was great to be with you yesterday to feel the warmth of God’s family during this cold Wisconsin winter. We began to work our way through “The Sermon on the Mount,” what John Stott called the “Christian Manifesto.” As the first sermon of Jesus in the New Testament, it was given to show us how to live as followers of Jesus. The “Sermon on the Mount” is for believers. Only those who have been born again by the Spirit of God and have the Holy Spirit of God living in and empowering them can have the capacity to even try living by the lofty ideals in this sermon. As followers of Jesus, we need to seek to be “Sermon on the Mount” Christians. The beginning of Jesus’ sermon teaches us to have our character marked by spiritual poverty, mourning for sin, and hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It teaches believers to be gentle, respectful, kind and merciful peacemakers. We are assured by Jesus that if we are persecuted for Jesus and for righteousness’ sake and not for any lesser reason, we are truly blessed and follow in a great line of others who were so treated. We are then called to influence our world as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We should seek to influence the world for justice and righteousness by being the salt of the world. As the light of the world reflecting Jesus’ light, we want to point others to see Jesus as the Savior who loves them and who can change their lives. In this way, believers seek to live as people set apart to glorify God in every part of our lives.
The weekend was also sad for the East Madison family as our sister Barb Holmes was called unexpectedly home to be with Jesus on Saturday. It is hard to say “goodbye” even though as believers we know we will see Barb again when we see her in the presence of our Savior. We grieve for our loss, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus who died and conquered death for all of us by rising from the dead! Barb’s memorial service will be at the East Madison building on Saturday, February 2, at 10:00 AM. We will be providing a dinner following the service for the family and others.
Next Sunday morning, February 3, at 9:30 AM, the second half of the short-term DVD Bible Study, “The Clash of Kingdoms,” will begin. In the part 2 study, you will continue to follow Paul to Athens and then to Corinth. Damon and Megan are leading this study for older youth and adults. This would be a perfect time to join a small group Bible study, especially if you are not currently involved in one. The study will last approximately five weeks. You do not have to have participated in the first half to be part of this study.
Love being your pastor!
Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church