Most, if not all, of us are well aware that Memorial Day is a day set aside annually to remember all of those who are no longer with us. While much of the attention and the “festivities” (parades, etc.) are focused upon those who have sacrificed themselves for our country, the occasion is also a time to remember those who have made an impact on our lives in other ways. It remains to be seen what impact the lack of the usual gatherings and festivities this year, will have on the “celebration” of this very special day in our Nation. While it is easy to get caught up in all of the “pomp and circumstance” that is part of most Memorial Day observances, the solemnity of the occasion should never be degraded or forgotten. For the most part, on this special day in May, we Americans pay homage to those who have meant so much to us in our personal lives and/or as citizens of the United States. And rightfully so! However, the real essence and profoundness of this day is that the people that we honor, and the occasion for which we honor them, have a unique meaning to us that no person outside of our family or citizenry can truly appreciate!
Those who are members of the church that belongs to Christ, and are citizens of God’s Kingdom, participate in a “memorial day.” Not a day that comes only once a year, as in the Israelites lives with their Passover commemoration, but one which comes every week! Fifty-two times a year, we have a day when we commemorate the One Who has done more for us –- really, the entire world –- than any other being! Each, and every, Sunday we participate in a memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. “…Do this in remembrance of me…for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Corin. 11:24-26) “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” Jesus continued in the following verse. Those of us who are friends of Jesus –- citizens of His Kingdom –- participate in this memorial every LORD’s Day as His Church has done since the first century. (Acts 2:42 & 20:7) Interestingly, some groups who consider themselves to be children of God do this only monthly, or quarterly, or even, less often, and question why we in the churches of Christ do it every week. The more obvious question would be why these groups do not want to honor the Savior more often. The real question is: why would any Christian not want to partake every Sunday of the greatest memorial feast ever instituted?
The LORD’s Supper, as we refer to it, is the commemoration to the greatest sacrifice ever made on behalf of any people! As a congregation of the LORD’s Church we partake weekly of His commemorative bread and cup to show our appreciation for, and to proclaim, His sacrifice for us. Because we truly appreciate God’s love for us, the Ripon church family commemorates Jesus’ great sacrifice and memorializes our Savior every week — solemnly, willingly, and happily! We participate in the ultimate “Memorial Day” every Sunday!
We pray for God’s continued blessings upon us as we continue to strive to do His will!
In the history of mankind, God’s people were “challenged” to make a freewill contribution or offering as their heart was “moved” to do so. In Exodus 25:1-2 we read the LORD’s words to Moses: “…tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” The purpose of the contribution, or heave offering, was to construct a sanctuary for God (vs. 8-9). In Exodus 35 and 36, it’s revealed that the Israelites responded tremendously to this effort as “…everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’s contribution for the…tent of meeting and for all its service…all whose hearts moved them both men and women…” (Ex. 35:21-22) from their possessions, whether materials or skills. Furthermore, we read in Ex. 36:3-5 the people “…continued bringing…freewill offerings every morning…” to the point that the builders informed Moses “…the people are bringing much more than enough…”. Moses issued a command to the Israelites to STOP bringing any more as the material they had was “…sufficient and more than enough for all the work…” (Ex. 35:6-7)
After the LORD’s Church was established, there was a means by which these early Christians also shared with others from their material blessings. “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them…all who were owners of land or houses would sell…and bring the proceeds…and lay them at the apostles feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35) History tells us that these “new” Christians in Jerusalem were among the poorest and most impoverished of the residents and through these freewill offerings, the physical needs of the brethren were met.
Recently, the LORD’s Church in Ripon was presented with a “challenge” to share with others the material blessings that God has provided for us. As the Israelites did and as the early Christians did (also Paul’s statement in Phil. 4:14-19), you responded to the opportunity admirably! Through the generous spirit and hearts of God’s people here, 844 lbs. of food and goods (that’s two fully stacked pallets!) was donated to two community secular organizations for distribution to those in need, especially during these difficult times of today. Additionally, cash donations of around $900 will be sent to these organizations by the Church. Altogether, this amounts to about $2500 value to enhance the efforts of community charities in trying to meet the needs of those who have less than we! Of a very special note is that our efforts brought people from the community who happened by and after inquiring about what we were doing, also contributed. What a great message to the community was sent, whether it was to a few or many!
Jesus’ teaching on providing for the needy is clear in Matt. 5:7 and in Matt. 25:34-40. The apostle Paul stated that “…the LORD Jesus…Himself…said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35) Our freewill and generous contribution is precisely what God expects from His people. (1st Corin. 16:2 & 2nd Corin. 9:5-8) And, yes, this effort — this good work — did “Let (our) light shine…” to the community! (Matt. 5:16) To God be the glory, forever! Amen!
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!
It was God Who created MOTHERHOOD and His scriptures are filled with instructions and insight into regarding the role of MOTHERS and examples of proper MOTHERHOOD: Gen. 3:20: Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the MOTHER of all the living.
Deut. 5:16: Honor your father and your MOTHER, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Prov. 31:10ff: A virtuous (excellent) WIFE…her worth is far above jewels…The heart of her husband trusts in her…She does him good and not evil all the days of her life..She…works with her hands in delight…She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household…her lamp does not go out at night…She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy…strength and dignity are her clothing…She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. HER CHILDREN rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her…a woman who fears (reverences) the LORD, she shall be praised…let her own works praise her in the gates.
2nd Tim. 1:5: For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your GRAND-MOTHER Lois and your MOTHER, Eunice, and I am sure that is in you as well.
Eph. 6:1&2: Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD, for this is right. Honor your father and MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise).
The LORD teaches clearly that godly MOTHERS are to be obeyed, honored, loved and cherished — always — and cared for in their later years. And, yes, we are to honor our MOTHER-IN-LAW – as seen in the great example of Ruth, David’s GREAT-GRAND—MOTHER, and her love for her MOTHER-IN-LAW, Naomi.
The secular world also has great wisdom and examples of how special a good mother is: “The sweetest thing in all the world is a mother’s love.” O. A. Newlin “Mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do theimpossible.” AuthorUnknown
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am, I owe to mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” George Washington
“Whether she’s here or in heaven, Mother’s love is our haven and guide, foralways the memory of Mother is a beacon light shining inside. Time cannot destroy the memory, and years can never erase, the tendernessand the beauty of the love in a mother’s face. And when we think of ourmothers, we draw nearer to God, for only God in His greatnesscould fashion a mother’s love.” Helen Steiner Rice
We are happy that the secular world recognizes MOTHERS for a special day! However, our honor to our MOTHER or GRANDMOTHERs — to the nth generation — must not be limited to one special day of the year. We Christians should honor them every day — especially when they are godly women — for they truly are God’s gift and blessing to us! To all of our mothers in the Ripon Church Family we hope and pray that you will have a great and Happy Mother’s Day!
In Luke 15:11-32, we have the account of what is commonly known as The Prodigal Son. As you know, these passages detail the reckless actions of a greedy and foolish son who asks his father for his inheritance so he can venture out into the world on his own. As time goes by, the text tells us this son “squandered his estate with loose living” and ends up feeding hogs in order to survive. “When he came to his senses” he remembers that even his father’s servants have plenty to eat and decided to return home to repent and fall on the mercy of his father. One of the most beautiful of scriptures is Luke 15:20: “ And he got up and came to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Obviously, this father had been watching and hoping for his son’s return. The son admits his transgressions and tries to explain to his father that he is no longer worthy to be his son. The father will hear none of this and proceeds to rejoice that his child had been “lost and was now found.”
This scripture shows one of the many benevolent characteristics of our Father, His willingness to forgive our sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. This by no means is all our divine Father does for us. Please consider the following:
-Sent His Son to die for our sins.” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (1 John 4:14)
-Keeps us. “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:29. “I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you.” Heb. 15:5.
-Adopted us into His family. “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” Ephesians 1:5.
-A Provider. “But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?” Matthew 6:30.
-A Protector. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2Thessalonians 3:3.
God has also created us in His own image, granted us salvation, given us the Bible, delivered us from the domain of darkness, plus countless other blessings. However, in order to be the recipient of these many blessings, you must first become His child by repenting of your sins, confessing His name, and being baptized. If you have not, I urge you to become part of this wonderful family with a glorious Father. It is the best decision you will ever make.
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