I believe we know that to create something you need a pattern to follow. When God created this earth, He had a pattern. It is called a blue print. Can you just imagine the results of this earth if there was no pattern? From the very beginning, God had a plan for us to come close to Him.

God understood that we needed a pattern to follow. He did not fail to let us know that there is a pattern to follow. God has blessed us with His Word. Surely, we remember that God gave Noah a pattern to build the ark. Noah knew he had to follow the plan as God laid it out, or he and his family would be lost with all the other people of the earth.

 

God gave the people of Israel a plan to follow that is found in Exodus chapter 20. “Then God spoke these words.” They were to follow that pattern. The building of the tabernacle had a precise pattern. What was in each part and who could go where. The pattern is found in Exodus chapter 25 and the chapters that follow.

 

In the New Covenant, God has also given us a pattern to follow and it is precise. It tells us how to treat others, it tells us how to love, it tells us who to put first in our lives, and it tells us how we might get to heaven. There is a pattern to follow and there is only one pattern. That pattern comes from God and not from the thoughts of man.

 

To understand what the pattern is, we need to read the blue print. There are no change orders in God’s pattern. It is to be followed as written by the inspiration coming from God. This pattern was given to the first century Christians and it the same one that we have today. That pattern was given to the Jews who had come to Jerusalem to worship. That pattern is given to us starting in the Book of Acts in chapter two. When the apostle John comes to the end of the Book of Revelation in 22:18-19. He warns the people not to add to or take away. Remember John was there in Jerusalem with Peter and the rest of the apostles in Acts chapter two. Follow the whole pattern God has given to us.

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We sing the old song “Trust and Obey.” This old song is very dear to many of us, who have sung this song many times in our lives. The chorus in the song says, “For there’s  no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”  When we say that we trust in what the song says, does that mean we have complete trust in what we are singing? Do we really think about what we are saying in the song? Do we trust in what we are singing? When we sing to our God, it means we put it in our hearts and give full attention to what we are doing, no other ideas in our head but to praise our wonderful and loving God.  “I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised.” What a great blessing it is to sing songs of praise to our Lord and to trust and obey. Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.” Amen!!! Obey is the other part to this song. If we don’t obey, then we really don’t believe. That would be a sad condition to be in, and I am sure no one wants to be in that position. So, when we sing that song Trust and Obey, we remember that trust and obeying need to go hand in hand. To be happy in Jesus there is no other way, and likewise the Lord will not be happy with us if we don’t trust and obey.  Now that is not where we need to be. Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than men.”  Amen!

 

This past year has been a very trying year, that is the reason we must all put our full trust in God and to obey what He tells us through His Word.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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      As we begin to “recover” from the rather tumultuous past twelve months, or so, we need to consider how we have been able to endure all of these different, but oftentimes related, issues.   This, of course, is one of the first steps we need to take to move on with an active Christian life. It’s also only the first step in renewing our primary mission and our goal of reaching the community(ies) that God has entrusted to us. We can’t let these circumstances — well beyond our control — to hinder us from getting back to living our lives for Christ!

            I believe one of our first considerations is to remember that we are not immune from the same circumstances, situations, and maladies that the rest of the human race is subjected to. Don’t forget what the Apostle Peter has to say in his first letter about Christian suffering and testing. Our response to those trials says much about our faith! Perhaps we should read First Peter again and again? While we were going through the last twelve months or so, did we forget that God promised to see us through whatever things might come our way? Did we pray to be RELIEVED FROM the situation? Shouldn’t our prayer, rather, be that we would ENDURE THROUGH those circumstances? The LORD made no promise that we would not have to go through anything that is common to all. What He did promise is that He will provide the means to endure whatever happens and to be delivered from the situation! (Jas.1:12; 1Pet.2:13&19)

            What lies ahead of us and how long will it be before we return to the conditions under which we can carry out our lives and Kingdom work unencumbered? None of us knows, but we do know Who does! We need to trust in His wisdom and follow the example of the Apostle Paul: forget about what is behind us and press on. (Phil.3:13-14). A few other scriptures to think about as we move forward (at the pace that the circumstances and situation allow:

            Genesis 18:14 – “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?...”

            Jeremiah 32:17 – “…Nothing is too difficult for You…”

            Jeremiah 32:27 – “…is anything too difficult for Me?”

            Mark 9:23 – “…All things are possible to him who believes.”

                      Ephesians 3:20 — “…to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly                                                                                                      beyond all that we ask or think…”

            Hebrews 11:6 — “…without faith it is impossible to please Him…”

            So, stay positive and remain vigilant in prayer. We must look forward to what God will do for — and with — us and move on with a positive outlook. Remember, we are blessed far beyond what we deserve. We must continue to believe and trust our Almighty God!

We Must Believe to Endure!

 

          As we begin to “recover” from the rather tumultuous past twelve months, or so, we need to consider how we have been able to endure all of these different, but oftentimes related, issues.   This, of course, is one of the first steps we need to take to move on with an active Christian life. It’s also only the first step in renewing our primary mission and our goal of reaching the community(ies) that God has entrusted to us. We can’t let these circumstances — well beyond our control — to hinder us from getting back to living our lives for Christ!

            I believe one of our first considerations is to remember that we are not immune from the same circumstances, situations, and maladies that the rest of the human race is subjected to. Don’t forget what the Apostle Peter has to say in his first letter about Christian suffering and testing. Our response to those trials says much about our faith! Perhaps we should read First Peter again and again? While we were going through the last twelve months or so, did we forget that God promised to see us through whatever things might come our way? Did we pray to be RELIEVED FROM the situation? Shouldn’t our prayer, rather, be that we would ENDURE THROUGH those circumstances? The LORD made no promise that we would not have to go through anything that is common to all. What He did promise is that He will provide the means to endure whatever happens and to be delivered from the situation! (Jas.1:12; 1Pet.2:13&19)

            What lies ahead of us and how long will it be before we return to the conditions under which we can carry out our lives and Kingdom work unencumbered? None of us knows, but we do know Who does! We need to trust in His wisdom and follow the example of the Apostle Paul: forget about what is behind us and press on. (Phil.3:13-14). A few other scriptures to think about as we move forward (at the pace that the circumstances and situation allow:

            Genesis 18:14 – “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?...”

            Jeremiah 32:17 – “…Nothing is too difficult for You…”

            Jeremiah 32:27 – “…is anything too difficult for Me?”

            Mark 9:23 – “…All things are possible to him who believes.”

                      Ephesians 3:20 — “…to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly                                                                                                      beyond all that we ask or think…”

            Hebrews 11:6 — “…without faith it is impossible to please Him…”

            So, stay positive and remain vigilant in prayer. We must look forward to what God will do for — and with — us and move on with a positive outlook. Remember, we are blessed far beyond what we deserve. We must continue to believe and trust our Almighty God!

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            In John 20:1-10 the Bible tells us “on the first day of the week” Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb in which Jesus was laid after His crucifixion had been unsealed. When she reported this to the disciples Simon Peter and John, we read, they ran to the tomb with John out-running Peter and getting there first. Upon looking into the tomb, John saw the linen cloths lying where Jesus had lain in death, but he did not enter. It was Peter who entered the tomb first and saw these same linen cloths as John, but he also saw the facecloth that had been on Jesus' head neatly folded up (or rolled) and lying "in a place by itself". Afterward, the two disciples went back to their homes, believing what they had seen, but not yet understanding the scripture "that He must rise again from the dead". (Psalm16:10&Luke24:46)

            John 20:11ff reveals that Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb and wept. As she "investigated" the tomb she saw two angels, in white, sitting where Jesus had been laying, and inquired of them regarding where Jesus had been taken. As she was conversing with the angels, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, although, initially, she did not know that it was Jesus. After a dialogue with Jesus and her recognition Who He was, she went and announced to the disciples that she had "seen the LORD” and what He had said to her. Subsequently, Jesus physically appeared to His disciples, as He had to Mary Magdalene, showed them his wounds and the disciples clearly understood that they had seen Him. After revealing Himself to one disciple who had not been in His presence earlier, Thomas (aka Didymus), upon touching the wounds in the hands and side of Jesus, said "My LORD and my God!" (v.28)

            John 20:29 contains Jesus' response to Thomas, which are some of Jesus' most important words for those who are believers. He said: "Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." (ESV) Thesae few words are deeply profound because they form the basis or foundation of the Christian faith! "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through (by) the word of Christ” (or "God" - NKJV). (Rom. 10:17) "Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen." (Heb.11:1) Hebrews 11:6: ”Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God, must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that the resurrection of Christ provides the hope of resurrection to life eternal for all of us who are in Christ. (1st Corin.15)   He also informed the church (1st Corin.11:23-26) to do what Jesus instituted (Matt.26:26-29) and eat the bread and drink the cup "in remembrance of" Him to "proclaim the LORD's death until He comes" (as He promised in John 14:1-3). Further, we learn from Acts 20:7, as well as 1st Corin. 11:20ff, that the church came together on the "first day of the week" to eat the bread and cup (in modern times often called "The LORD's Supper”).            

            The Ripon church of Christ lives and worships by faith! We believe that Christ was resurrected from the dead and have faith that He will resurrect us to life eternal. We believe that Jesus' sacrifice was important enough to honor each, and every, first day of the week, not just once, or a few times, a year. Yes, we come together on every LORD's Day to honor and remember and proclaim Christ's life, death, burial, and RESURRECTION until He comes and drinks it "new" with us! (Mark 14:25) May The Good LORD and our Savior, Jesus the Christ (Messiah) bless us as we live our life of faith and seek to do His will always!

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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 LORDs 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 LORDs 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 LORDs 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 Gods 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 Gods 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 desert you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5&Jos.1:5) 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 exist” (Acts 17:28). Especially at times of turmoil or assault upon His people and His church, we should emphasize the Lords 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&Psa.118:6)   Greater awareness of Gods presence would cure worry, bring peace and comfort, and restore our sense of mission. We can be assured of Gods 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 hasnt gone anywhere – Hes still here! Times change, circumstances may be different, but our problems are, essentially, the same. Lets 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 in our service to Him.

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13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366

"A Family of God rooted in Christ"

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