As we count our many, many blessings, especially during this time of the year, as our Nation does, let’s make note, again, of just a few things for which we can be thankful:
1. That our God is THE God – Jehovah - Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Controller, OMNI;
2. That we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and that the Spirit of God dwells within us (Romans 8:11 & Galatians 4:6);
3. That God hears and answers our prayers (Prov. 15:8&29; Matt.21:22; James 5:15-16);
4. That we are children of God, part of His family, and members of His body, the church that belongs to our Savior Jesus, the Christ (Romans 8: Col.1:24; Acts13:26);
5. For our physical family (small or large) - remember that God instituted family (Gen. 1-4);
6. For our physical (material) blessings because they, too, come from God (Matt.6:31-34);
7. That we are citizens of a kingdom whose King gave up His life (2Thes.1:5&1Tim1:15-17)
8. For the blood of Jesus - seal of the New Covenant - that continues to cleanse our sins (Matt.26:28 and 1stJohn 1:7);
9. For eternal life, the gift of grace from God extended to us because of our faithful obedience to Him, through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, His son (Eph.2:8).
Chuck, Jack, and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving Day holiday period and encourage us all to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving throughout the year. We want you to know how much we love and appreciate each, and every, one of you. We are so very, very thankful for this congregation of God's people, whom we are honored to serve!
The Ripon Church of Christ: A Family of God Rooted in Christ
In this life on earth there is many troubles, much anger and hate. What can we do to change the environment in which we live? We can't turn water to wine like Jesus. We can't walk on water like Jesus. We can't heal like Jesus, but what we can do is our best to love like Jesus. We can do our best to forgive like Jesus. In this world full of us imperfect people we will need a lot of love and forgiveness. We have all probably done or said something that someone forgave us for, and showed us love, maybe even if we didn't deserve it.
God so loved us that He sent His son to "die" for our sins so we may live. I know no greater love shown to any man than that. John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him." The love that was shown for us was not because of anything we did, just undeserved love was shown. We need to try to live by this example of unselfish love for others, always putting others needs ahead of our own. Even if they might not deserve it, we should reach out to them and try to help and show them love as we were shown. These types of actions could change the environment around you and others around the world. This kind of love can be infectious and spread and bring people to Christ. Perhaps people you never even meet will find Christ because of your example of love to one another. Just as Jesus was willing to give His own life for us, we should be willing to give our lives back in service to Him and let others see Him in us.
Ephesians 2:4-7 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
As members of Christ’s church and citizens of His kingdom, we enjoy great benefits. Likewise, as citizens of the United States of America, we also enjoy great benefits. If nothing else, we can come together - at our own choosing - to honor and worship our God and our Savior. Of course, along with those great benefits of citizenship, come great responsibilities. It is clear from scriptures that we are expected to exercise our rights and responsibilities of our physical citizenship with the same emphasis and sense of importance as we exercise our citizenship in the body of Christ. You remember, no doubt, that when Jesus was challenged regarding whether to pay taxes (Matt. 22:15-22) that He made it clear that paying such taxes is the right thing to do. Romans 13:1-7 and 1st Peter 2:13ff specifically address our responsibilities to be obedient to the laws and leaders of the country, state, county or other governing authority. It is equally clear, however, that obedience to God and adherence to His standards is our first order of importance. In exercising our responsibilities to our earthly government, we cannot compromise our principles which, of course, are founded in God’s standard.
One of the rights and privileges we have in this country is to voice our principles and standards by voting. I hope that all of us who are eligible have registered and will exercise this right of citizenship on Tuesday, Nov. 8th (or, as some of us have done already, through a mail-in ballot). It is never a good excuse to justify not voting because we have a government that is so ungodly. Things will never change, if we who are followers of Christ fail to voice our objections to the current state or condition of our government and laws. When voting for the Presidency or other major national offices, I try to remember that imperfect candidates can change providing he or she does not espouse allegiance to or represent a political party platform with stands or positions in favor of important issues (e.g., abortion, same gender unions/marriages, etc.) that are in direct conflict with God's standard. What an encouragement it is for all of us to realize that we are all united in our efforts to demonstrate our continuing allegiance to God’s standard – without compromise! In my judgment, there is no better feeling after a voting period than that I have a clear conscience about the way, and for what, and for whom I voted. I trust that we will all vote and that the result of our individual efforts will be clear consciences about the standard that we used to determine how we voted (John 3:21 [NKJV] and Eph. 5:8-13 [NASU]). Let’s all be good citizens and vote – responsibly! May God be honored and glorified by our efforts!
We enjoy a great unity and love for the truth of the word, and a love for Christ here in the Lord's church. As we move forward together as a family of Christ we only grow stronger and closer.
The early church enjoyed a unity and was said to have all things in common in Acts 2:44 (And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.) Are we here living as the examples of the early church? They were said to have been of one heart and soul. Acts 4:32 (And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul;) The writer continues to say all those who believed, so the unity always referred to, is the unity of those in Christ.
Unity is not always as simple as one would think; you actually have to work at it. It was not easy for Jew and Gentile Christians to get along, it was a struggle. For this reason, Paul writes to them in Galatians 3:27-28 to remind them they are all one in Christ. In Romans 15:5-7 (Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.)
So we need to strive always to have unity and be of one mind, one voice in praise to God. Being united in all we do and in all things together for the good of all, to edify each other in our service to God. Helping those in need, bearing one another's burdens. Lifting each other up when we're down and picking others up when they fall. There's much to do and it can get done if we stay unified in our service to God and in each other's needs. A fresh start, a fresh breath of air, a new beginning in service for our family here.
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366