We have in our song books a song called “Angry Words” which goes like this,  Angry words! O let them never, From the tongue unbridled slip, May the heart’s best impulse ever check them ere they soil the lip. The third verse goes on this way, Angry words are lightly spoken, bitterest tho’ts are rashly stirred, brightest links of life are broken by a single angry word. Words that are spoken can hurt. Also, words that come from our hand, can have the same effect. Many of us use social media to convey our thoughts. Most of the time it is very useful and may help another person, but sometimes this is not true. In a recent post by one of us we used Facebook in a way that caused hurt, not good. Our goal is to help each other along this path way we call life. We all have the goal of Heaven and each of us needs help along the way but when we make a comment on Facebook we really need to make sure, it really helps. A person made a comment on Facebook that one of us took wrong and we responded in a way that was hateful. This is my suggestion to all of us, write it down and put it aside until the next day and then look at the comment and ask ones self, is this really helpful or do I really need to say this? I am a fan of Death Valley Days, an old western done in black and white. One of the shows was about two wrongs don’t make a right. It was a young girl who had learned this from her mother and it is so true. Never compound the issue by making a statement which does not help.

James 3:5 says this “So the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” This is also true with what we write with our hand. Let us all be so careful with what we write and say in our posts on social media, it’s there for all to see. Let our light shine all the time. We are part of a great family that should show our love for each other at all times.

In a resent comic page there was a quote from Pickles which said, “Common sense does not grow in everyone’s garden.” We know that everything we plant in our garden does not grow well, we learn from our mistakes. We learn what does not grow well and we can also learn what does. This is common sense, we are not born with it but we sure can learn to have it. Use common sense in our writings.

 

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Christianity continues to be faced with many challenges.  As we are keenly aware, one of those challenges in the recent past involved whether or not the “practice” of Christianity would continue to enjoy the same freedoms and liberties that other “religions” enjoy.  Despite the favorable changes that are beginning to take place within the political and government arenas,  pessimism remains and continues to impact the LORD’s Church negatively. Congregations agonize and have become reluctant to preach or teach on certain subjects/topics for fear of losing members and/or inviting governmental or societal wrath upon the church. Sadly, many congregations of the LORD’s church have grown weary or stagnant, without real spiritual development.  More than one congregation has engrossed itself in anxious activity that consumes time and attention, too concerned over things of “keeping” Church or legal issues, to the detriment of developing real spiritual depth and maturity.  Others, more sadly, have succumbed to the influence of the Devil and have joined efforts to completely change the worship of the church of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into an entertainment arena patterned after many of the so-called mega-churches in the Christian denominations.  Some have even “doubled down” on apostate efforts very much like previous movements within the LORD’s church to radically restructure His church into something not remotely akin to Biblical doctrine.

The effect of all of the agony, anxiety, and weariness on the part of those congregations who have remained faithful to God’s word regarding the organization and the worship and work of His church is that it robs us of time to develop a greater awareness of the presence of God.  As a result, many of God’s children and His churches are not growing or thriving because of a diminished, or lack of, proper awareness of God.  Most Christians are very knowledgeable about the historical Jesus and the Church is also very thorough in teaching or preaching about the Christ who is to come.  But, the omnipresent God is not missing now and never has been absent from His people!  God is present because He is love (1 John 4:8).  The Lord promised “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).  Pessimism is, very often, an emotional response to a seemingly unsolvable problem - it is, primarily, a personal opinion or attitude. Our anxieties and pessimism would be relieved if we would but remember that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  Especially at times of turmoil or assault upon His people and His church, we should emphasize the Lord’s presence!  We must never forget that “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6).  Greater awareness of God’s presence would cure worry, bring peace and comfort, and restore our sense of mission. We can be assured of God’s presence as we adhere to the truth regarding our lives of dedication to Christianity and remain confident that God has made a promise that He will not break – that He will always be with, and providentially care for, His faithful children. 

The LORD hasn’t gone anywhere – He’s still here! Times change, circumstances may be different, but our problems are, essentially, the same. Let’s work together and encourage one another to develop individually and collectively in our relationships with God.  We will be much more effective in our daily lives, in our worship, in our work of service –in our fellowship - when we remain keenly aware that God is in our presence - ALWAYS!  May God continue to bless us – the Ripon family of God rooted in Christ - in our service to Him.

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        There have been times in my life when I felt very unworthy.  At times, either my attitude or behavior was so unattractive or unacceptable that I didn’t understand how anyone could possibly love me or want me in their company.  At other times, it was the mistakes and misdeeds of my past that kept creeping into my mind that “told” me that I was simply not lovable or worthy of the good will bestowed upon me by family and others. Perhaps you have felt similarly at different points in your life.  Even in the secular world, surveys indicate that most people truly desire to be accepted and loved, yet many of them think that they are unlovable or unworthy.  While those in the secular world look to other people for that acceptance and love, we Christians not only look to our family and friends, inside the church and outside, ultimately, we look to God for love and acceptance. 

Time and time again, I have been reminded of how deeply and sincerely I am loved.  I have been amazed - and so grateful - for the number of times that my family and friends have made me feel loved, despite my unlovable behavior.  I also need to remember - as do you - that God loves me so much that He gave up His life (John 3:16).  All He asks of us is that we show our love for Him by living a life that is patterned by those great people of faith described in His word and by God, Himself, as He walked – perfectly - in the flesh here on Earth.  So, in those times when you have doubts emanating from imperfections, despite your best efforts to live the kind of life that you know God desires, remember that He loves you.  When each of us became a child of God, He promised to cover us in His grace and mercy – His love.  If you ever doubt whether you are “worthy”, remember that God’s nature is love (1st John 4:16) and that He created us so that He could express His unlimited care and love. That is what happens when we take refuge in God and put on Christ in baptism.  So, as we walk with our Lord and are doing the best we can to live a life of dedication and acceptability to Him, instead of wondering whether we are acceptable or lovable, remember - and rejoice - that you are “clothed” in God’s mantle of love.  That, Brothers and Sisters, is what makes you and me (and all truthfully faithful) truly exceptional!  Psalm 5:11-12 and 8:1&3-4a  May the Good Lord continue to bless us all!          

       

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Psalm 1: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in    the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does,    he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but they like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the    LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (NASB95)
 
2nd Timothy 3:16&17:  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (NKJV)
 
Romans 1:16&17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation    to everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness    of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith. 
  
2nd Peter 1:2&3: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus    our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and    godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and virtue.
  
2nd Timothy 2:15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not    need to be ashamed, accurately handling (rightly dividing) the word of truth.
  
John 12:47 & 48: If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; I did    not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive    My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke will judge him in the last day.
  
John 15:10: If you keep my commandments you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My    Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
  
1st John 2:3-6: By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His         commandments.  The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His        commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the      love of God has truly been perfected (completed). By this we know that we are in Him; the one    who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk as He walked.
  
Why study the Bible?  It is the only way to learn - and know - how to live a life that is   acceptable to God. All of us need to be zealous and dedicated students of God’s word.  May the Good Lord continue to bless us in our faithful efforts to pursue righteousness as we adhere to the only truthful revelation of His will for us. 
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While there are some differences in our understanding of how long ago the “beginning” occurred, there should be no disagreement among believers that God – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal – “…created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1ff).  “He commanded and they were created” the Psalmist spoke as he invoked the whole creation to praise the Lord in the 148th Psalm.  The apostle John tells us in the opening passages of his gospel that “All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being…” in speaking of the Lord Jesus, Who was God in the flesh.  God spoke into existence a wonderful universe of planets and stars, continents and oceans, plants and vegetation, and all sorts of forms of life.  We need only to look around us at God’s creation – as it speaks to us (Psalm 19:1) - to be in awe of what a magnificent and amazing God is ours.  As we consider His creation we should never lose sight of an important fact: there is one lifeform that He created distinctively different from all the rest.  When God created mankind, He created a lifeform that was not bound or limited by instinct or other natural actions or automatic responses to stimuli.  As magnificent as the rest of creation is, it pales in comparison to man – created in His image, and with a heart that could accept His love and reciprocate.  I believe that God created man because He wanted us to share His love. No other part of His creation was created with the ability to understand, reason, and act (or respond) freely, without regard to how others do to the same stimuli – the characteristic that sets mankind apart from all other living forms.  When we come to fully appreciate that the LORD wants us to share His love, then we will realize that the only way we can do that is to come to a proper under-standing of what His love is.  And the only way that God has revealed His love to us is through the record of His spoken word – the Bible.  We cannot look outward (to others) or inward (to “feelings”) to learn about His love for us.  We must look upward (to Him) to find what we seek – joy, purpose, and peace – when we come to understand the LORD’s love.  Our lives can be directed by His word and our hearts filled with His love when (if) we “meditate” on His teachings day and night (Joshua 1:8) and allow the word of Christ to “dwell richly” within us (Col. 3:16).  Remember always – GOD LOVES YOU!  May He continue to bless us as we seek to do His bidding and will in all of what we try to accomplish here in our community.  Shall we always behave, work, play, serve, grow, and love The LORD and one a

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