Community

“Today’s Lepers” Mark 1:40-45

In the New Testament, there was no person whom people avoided more than a leper. Although virtually obliterated in industrialized nations today, cases of leprosy continue to be reported in third world countries. As you probably know, the disease is a skin disorder. Ulcerated whelps form on the skin that can also affect the muscular and nervous systems. Mental decay is assured while the end result is usually fatal; it is also highly contagious. The pain from this dreaded disease is excruciating. I don’t know about you but when I am sick, I like to be pampered. If I’m not feeling well, I find comfort in the fact that someone can and does take care of me. Lepers did not enjoy this luxury. The source of their solace was people in the same boat disregarding their own suffering in trying to grant sometimes unreachable serenity.

“When to Walk Away” I Samuel 26:17-25; Acts 15:36-41

Most of us do not enjoy conflict. I know some people who avoid conflict at all costs, which of course means sacrificing their own wants, needs, or even identities to “keep the peace.” Conflict is a part of life; it happens at school, at work, in neighborhoods, with families, and even at church. Some people are better at handling conflict than others, because of family conditioning or intentional training. Some are better equipped to address low-level tiers of discord rather than high-level tiers of hostile feuds.
This morning, we have heard two stories from scripture that feature conflicts. We have an idea that in significant relationships that we should be able to solve every problem, overcome every squabble, reconcile every hurt. But some disagreements simply never get reconciled. This morning, I’d like for us to look at these two biblical stories of giants of our faith: David and Paul. David became the greatest king in Israel’s history, and the Apostle Paul became the greatest missionary of all time. To be considered great, they had to make some difficult decisions. Let’s look at their examples.

 

“Recipe for Revival” Nehemiah 1:1-11

In my first year as pastor of Madison Baptist Church, I asked our Church Council if we could plan a church-wide hospitality event on even-numbered years and have a church-wide revival on odd-numbered years. These emphases allow us to spend concentrated time focusing on serving others and then the following year to spend concentrated time focusing on our own spiritual growth. Our hospitality events have included adopting the City of Madison employees in 2012 and the Morgan County Fire Departments in 2014. We enjoyed the revival in 2013 with my friend Paul Baxley from First Baptist Athens preaching, and I am very excited about beginning our revival next week with my friend Jonathan Barlow preaching. While the choice of a revival preacher becomes critical, I also believe that the services should also include great music. Elsie Monk, as our Interim Minister of Music, continues to work the hours of a full-time Minister of Music. She has enlisted great choirs for the evening services, and I am hopeful that others from Calvary Baptist and Madison Presbyterian will attend on the nights when their choirs sing. I also hope to have many families to accompany the MCHS Chorus.
Some would say that the recipe for revival would be engaging preaching and meaningful music. I think there is more to that recipe.

“Partaking of Our Daily Bread” John 6:35, 41-51

John 6:35, 41-51                                                                        Madison Baptist

August 9, 2015                                                                           Charles R. Smith

Before we read the text for this morning, I am going to ask you to do something a little different. I want you to listen to the reading not with a heart of faith, but with a skeptical mind. We have the luxury of reading the Scripture knowing the outcome; we know that Jesus lived, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, the third day he arose from the dead,” to quote the Apostle’s Creed. We know how the story ends. But those who listened to Jesus as he spoke these words had no clue as to how his story would end. They had no idea what would transpire later in his ministry. As I read the text, if it helps, imagine that you do not know that Jesus is anything else but a teacher, for that is how the crowd identified him. Imagine that you are in the crowd when Jesus is talking. You have no clue about how his life will unfold. You don’t know what the future holds. You are a first century person who has just been introduced to him. And while you are in the crowd, Jesus says,          [Read John 6:35, 41-51]

Pretty incredible isn’t it for someone to make such claims as being the Bread of Life that has come down directly from heaven. What if later today, you were introduced to someone, and that someone said, “Hi, I am the bread of life. I am the bread that has come down from heaven.” You would look at your friend who just introduced you to this person and you would say, “I’m sorry, what did he just say?” Anyone who seriously made such claims would easily be labeled a kook, a nut, certifiable.