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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