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.
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
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!
I don't know about the younger people but most of the people, who are a little bit older, will remember schools that use to have merry-go-rounds on the playground before they took most of them out. They were a lot of fun for kids. You could get it going around rather fast if you had enough people to help get it spinning. Then the fun part of jumping on and trying to stay on while it was spinning. The force tries to pull you off so don't let go! Apparently, too many couldn't hold on because you don't see them on playgrounds today.
Sometimes life can be a little like a merry-go-round. It gets very busy and you seem like your just spinning in circles. Life can get very difficult and it’s hard to hang on sometimes and not let go. You may know people that will help you get it spinning and jump on but not help you hang on if it goes too fast. Where do you find your support to help you hang on in this busy world that seems to keep running at a faster pace every day? We all need people we can count on and sometimes it isn't always family. You may live on your own away from family members, or just not have any family support. Where do you turn to?
I have always received so much loving help and support from my church family. God’s family is a very special caring group of people no matter what troubles you are having. They will help you hang on, pick you up if you fall and never leave you alone. They will teach you to turn your life over to God to find the strength you need to battle through this life here, that seems to spin so out of control at times. God gives us such a wonderful guide to get through this life; such a great hope for our forever. Presented us to adoption through Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1: 3-6. Know that great hope that will help you hang on in Ephesians 1:18-22.
I know Ripon is a special family of God and I hope you will join us. There are great groups of God’s people all around the world for you to turn to in times of need. I pray you seek them out in time of need so you can hang on. Seek first the kingdom of God.
In Him, Chuck
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366