I have to tell you that this period over the past month-and-a-half has been among the longest in my life, including those seemingly endless months I spent in Vietnam or without Irene, and Katheline and Wayne Jr., during my several unaccompanied tours when I served in the Marine Corps. I don’t have to ponder long why this seems so because I know that I, along with Irene, miss being in the physical presence of the most wonderful and precious people in the world — Brethren — especially those Brothers and Sisters in our Ripon Church Family! Being able to spend three times, or more, with you all every week and work in the LORD’S Kingdom at different times on those works or projects that we engage in together, are highlights of my life and lift my spirit greatly!

            It is easily understood why the writer to the Hebrews stated in 10:24 that we should

“…consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” I recognize that this scripture is usually used in connection with the assembling together, v. 25, but I believe that it is not limited to that single application. Reading further in Hebrews 10:25 “…and ALL THE MORE as you see the day drawing near” (emphasis mine). While there is some difference of understanding whether “the day” herein is the LORD’S day (Sunday) or the day of the return of the LORD, it’s important to consider that earlier in Heb. we read: “But encourage one another DAY AFTER DAY, as long as it is still called “Today”…” (3:13) (again, emp. is mine). Clearly, Brethren are to encourage one another — daily and constantly!

            There is no question as to why we need to go through this period of physical isolation and separation. Our love for one another and consideration for the welfare and health of all of our Brethren demanded that we do everything we can to protect each other (Rom.12:10-12&Phil.2:3-4). It’s easy to get down about the situation because of its impact on our “God-given right” to worship how, and when, we choose. Perhaps we forget that our God also gave the current generation of humanity the intelligence to create and develop alternative means of rapidly communicating and associating with each other and participating together, including worship and other spiritual activities. This great era of technology — misused as it is sometimes — is also a gift from God, through the know-how of all of the “geeks” and “nerds” of the world! Let’s not bemoan what we have to endure but, rather, celebrate that we can use this technology to stay in touch with each other and worship together, albeit virtually, while we are helping to protect the health and well-being of all of our Church Family! We have the means to stay in touch with — and encourage — each other!

            One of the blessings in this slow-down time is that we all have more time to spend with God! Irene and I have certainly spent more time daily in His Word and other spiritual activities together, as well as more time to walk together and talk, during these past six weeks. How about you? Why not take advantage of the available technology to keep up with Matt’s Sunday sermons on our YouTube channel, our interactive Bible study through Zoom on Thursday evening, and other Brotherhood podcasts and broadcasts that are now prominent throughout the week? These will help to keep us growing spiritually and edify and encourage us while we patiently await the time — hopefully soon — when we can renew our assembling together within a healthy and safe setting. Keep praying! (1st Thess. 5:17 & James 5:16b). May God continue to bless us all as we strive to serve Him!

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