This is probably a good time for us all to be reminded of the tenet of Christianity and our responsibility as members of Christ’s body - His church.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom.1:16). Jesus gave what we refer to as The Great Commission when he said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Matt. 28:19 & Mark16:15). We can read about the beginning of this “going” and the power of the gospel at work when the “first” gospel sermon was proclaimed in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and Christ’s church was “born”, as about 3,000 were converted (Acts 2). Based on a study of the book of Acts and the writings of the Apostles, we see clearly that this power worked over and over again converting many to The Faith, including “a great many of the priests” (Acts 6:7), as more and more were obedient to the gospel. According to Rom.1:8, 1Thess.1:8, and Jude 3, at one point in time the gospel had been proclaimed “to all” and “in every place”.
The Lord’s Church in Ripon is close to taking occupancy of a new facility for our worship assemblies and other spiritual endeavors, as well as our social and fun activities. It would be very easy for us to exhale a big sigh of relief and settle into a period of complacency. We cannot allow that to happen! We have a responsibility given to us by God to try to reach every lost soul within our spheres of influence, especially in the city of Ripon and the surrounding areas. The challenge for all of us is to decide the level and degree of our individual participation. Individually, and together, we need to pray and determine how significant our participation will be to the congregation’s efforts. God will empower us to do great things if we will continue to trust Him and follow His will! We have experienced over two years of recovery and endured very difficult times. But, through it all we can see that God has been at work and leading us through to the point of “...for such a time as this!” (Esther 4:14). Without any doubt, He expects us to make a sincere effort to achieve His goal! (2Pet.3:9) We - the church of Christ in Ripon, a family of God (firmly) rooted in Christ, sees that The LORD is blessing us richly and we are confident that He will continue to bless us in our efforts to serve Him!
Shepherds’ Corner – Chuck Saarloos
August 19, 2018
At our jobs many of the things we do, have to be repeated or done again. Some are done daily, some are done weekly, some monthly, and some quarterly. Regardless of how often it is done, it becomes a routine thing you do after time. Like cleaning the house, fixing meals, fueling the car. If you’re a little older like me, taking your meds. All the things we do over and over in our lives usually become very routine after time and we do it without a lot of thought. There it is, the point, doing it without a lot of thought.
When we come together at the assembly we should not be here to just do things routinely without thought. We should be excited to join together and build one another up and sing praises to our God. Not just singing but thinking of the words we sing with melody in our hearts. Listening to the words spoken by the preacher and meditate on them, applying them in our daily life. When we commune together for the Lord’s supper to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for all our sins, shall we never allow it to just become routine in our minds. I write this to show the importance of doing all these things we are told to do by God’s word with meaningful purpose and very deep thought. Think of all the things that the Lord, whom had all the power of God while on earth, allowed man to do to Him.
Read in Mark’s account, in Mark 15:13-ff, of all that our Lord had to endure for us to be forgiven, the unjust trial, the mocking and being spat on. The crown of thorns being pressed down piercing His skin. Then being beaten and scourged until you could see the bone through the deep cuts on His back. Then He was turned over to the crowd to be led to Golgotha to be crucified. Nailed to a cross to die a death that He chose to die for you and me. A debt we can in no way repay but a sacrifice that we can remember. How can we as the beneficiaries of such love and sacrifice ever let our remembrance of His love become routine.
I hope and pray that each of us every Lord’s day think deeply on the love poured out on that cross. The sacrifice, the empty tomb and the ascension to heaven so we too may be with Him someday on His return. Never allow such an important part of our service to become routine. Love Him as He Loved you with all your mind and all your heart.
In Him, Chuck
It warms my heart to see young men learning to be leaders in the church. Our first Tuesday of the month where these young boys are up front song leading, praying, and doing devotionals, gives these boys confidence and lets them know they are adequate, able, and aspiring members of the body of Christ in Ripon. This pleases God.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul writes to young Timothy showing him how to be a man of God, even when other men feel he is too young to be adequate for God. Our young boys have hearts for God. They want to serve God and please Him. Imagine if they were not given the opportunity to? Imagine if we discouraged them in their youth, saying they should not be up there as leaders because they are too young? Imagine if Paul had this attitude with Timothy? It amazes me that there are congregations in this country that do not develop their youth in the church and we wonder why we are losing so many of them to the world.
In 1 Timothy 6:11-14, Paul shows Timothy a portrait of the man of God.
First, the man of God FLEES (Vs. 11). He flees from false teaching and holds to the doctrine of sound words, which comes from God. He does not get caught up in the ways of worldly men (1 Timothy 6:3-5). The man of God also flees from the love of money (Vs. 10). Money can become our idol and Paul states to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Paul also tells Timothy a man of God is one in whom also flees from youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22).
Our we fleeing from these sinful things?
Second, the man of God FOLLOWS. He pursues heavenly things, such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (Vs. 11). Are we in hot pursuit of the things of God?
Third, the man of God FIGHTS. This is the noble and good fight, the fight of faith (Vs.12). This is one in which never gives up. He has made the good confession and takes hold of eternal life in which the devil wants to take away. Are we fighting the good fight of faith?
Fourth, the man of God is FAITHFUL. He keeps to the Word without stain or reproach. Nothing will be able to get us to pervert the truth, or fall from it. Are we being faithful every day to the Lord? Are we being men and women of God?
In His Service,
To be like the church at Philadelphia is surely something that all congregations of the Lord’s church should strive to be like. The word Philadelphia means “one who love his brother.” It sure is a good thing to love your brothers or sisters. I do hope that when we move to our new building that these words can be said of us as it has been said in the past. The church that was in in Philadelphia was from all accounts a small congregation of the Lord’s church but that did not stop them from being steadfast in the hour of trial. They were encouraged to hold firmly to that which they had. The Lord promises, to him that overcomes, He will make them a pillar in the temple of God. They were encouraged to hear and obey His word. There is no condemnation to the church in Philadelphia, let that be said of us.
The church in Philadelphia had many things to overcome. There were many gods worshipped there of which Dionysus was the main one. They also contended with the Jews. Today we don't have to contend with the Jews or pagan gods, there are other things that the church contends with. The teachers in our school who say there is no God, we contend with a country that has little regard for morality. Many sports programs pull our lives away from God. The church in Philadelphia put God first and they kept their candle stick, let’s do the same in Ripon.
John wrote these words to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13
Let’s remember the statement Jesus made in Matthew 28:18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on the earth.” He controls the door and who is admitted into heaven. Jesus is the only one who can and does lay down the conditions for going to heaven.
In the late 1990’s the Church in Ripon donated $50,000 to build a preacher training school and a school for destitute children in Nekempt, Ethiopia. The Nekempt School of Preaching is one of 5 training schools in Ethiopia. Each year 100 to 150 graduate from these schools. This current session will bring the number of men trained at this school to 350. It isn’t possible to know by the way these men look, their age or by the scores on their tests who will become an effective soul winner and Church planter. One of the most effective Church planters in the 49 year history of training preachers in Ethiopia was an almost illiterate man who could not graduate because he could not pass the tests even when given orally. He had a burning passion and a committed heart to preach the word and leave the rest to God. He later established many congregations and converted scores to God’s Church.
The Nejo congregation
The town of Nejo is 122 miles west and north of Nekempt. It has a population of 20,000 and is growing. Brother Abeyot Onaba is from Nejo and was taught the Gospel by Brother Zelalem Dunfa. Recently he was accepted to attend the Preacher training school in Nekempt. After his graduation he returned to Nejo and established a congregation. The Nejo Church now has 34 members and averages 40 in attendance. The congregation in Nejo is a perfect example of how Christianity spreads. There are now tens of thousands of Christians in Ethiopia, thanks to dedicated Christians teaching others the Love of God. Next week-The rest of the story.