It's a new year again and we have a great new beginning to look forward to. We have our new minister starting soon. We have loan approval to start our new building. We have a great loving church family here to gather with and start this new journey together. It's a wonderful opportunity for us all to enjoy and find our own way to serve in it. Even though God has blessed us so richly this year and we have so much excitement and opportunity ahead, I want you to think even further beyond remembering that which is to come and strive to see, the greatest new beginning which is ever to be known.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, " Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new." And He said, "Write these things for they are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son." (Revelation 21:1-7)
What a glorious beginning we have to look forward to for eternity. Until that day when God Himself dwells with us there, let us take what He has given us here to do His will. And be hard working, loyal and true to Him, Who has given all to us. We have much to look forward to and it's going to be a great year for a new beginning. In Him, Chuck
As we continue our journey thru Romans chapter 12 we know that Christianity is more than just a term that we call ourselves. We must apply our Christianity in all parts of our lives. Christians are brethren. Verse 10 says “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor:” Christians must have the tender family type of love towards one another. We should be free in giving honor to others. Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Our love of our brothers and sisters will motivate us Christians to give honor to others and not seek it for ourselves.
Christians are to be full of zeal when we serve the Lord. It is another way of saying to be faithful in serving our Lord. Verse 11 continues with these words, “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” We have too much at stake and too much to be done in such a short time. The church that Christ could not stand was the lukewarm church found in Revelation 3: 15-16. Serving the Lord is the occupation of Christians. This term is from “doulos” which means to be a slave of one another and wholly subject to his will and committed to him. There must never be a reduction of commitment in our service to the Lord.
Romans 12:12 continues with these great words, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation devoted to prayer.” The hope that Christians have, an eternal home with God and Christ in heaven, is the grounds for rejoicing. We Christians know that all things are working together for his good (Romans 8:28) thus we can rejoice in hope. There are no hopeless situations in life. There are only those who have grown hopeless about them. More on verse 12 next week. Apply your Christianity every day.
As we close out this special month of thankfulness for another year, there are some other scriptures that are worth noting (again, in no priority or order of significance):
Note the words of The LORD to the Israelites as they were about to enter - finally - the land of promise (after the 40 years in the wilderness because of their lack of faith and disobedience) recorded in
Deuteronomy 8:1ff - "All the commandments that I am commanding you today, you shall be careful to
do…you shall remember that The LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the
wilderness to humble you and test you…you are to know in your heart that The LORD your God
was disciplining you…When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall bless (thank) The
LORD your God for…which He has given you…do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping
1st Samuel 12:24 - "Only fear (reverence) The LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for
consider what great things He has done for you."
Psalm 34 - I will bless (thank) The LORD at all times…I sought The LORD, and He heard me, and delivered
me from all my fears…you, His saints…who seek The LORD shall not lack any good thing…"
Psalm 107:8-9 - "Oh…give thanks to The LORD for His goodness and for His wonderful acts…He satisfies
the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Hebrews 13:15 - "…let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God…the fruit of our lips, giving
thanks to His name."
Over the last three weeks, I've shared with you specific scriptures that relate to being thankful or giving thanks for the great God that we have. I'm sure you have others that are just as meaningful. I want to leave with you some encouraging thoughts as we Christians - children of God and disciples of our Savior, Jesus the Christ - live our lives daily for Him. This spiritual battle is not ours alone, it is God's and He will always be with us (2 Chron. 20:15 & Deut. 31:6); we give thanks to God always FOR ALL things (Eph. 5:20) and IN everything (2 Thess. 5:18); we make our requests known to God through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving and without anxiety (Phil. 4:6); and meditate on the great encouraging words recorded in 1st Peter 1:3-9. Lastly, remember that when we've faithfully completed our service to God and Christ here, we can be a part of the scene (or similar one) described in Rev. 7:12 - "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom; Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen." May we honor and thank our God and our Savior - always and continually!
Romans the 12th chapter is one of my favorite chapters in our Bible. It gives me more encouraging ways to apply my Christian walk. In the chapters leading up to this chapter we have been shown how great God is and how much He has done for each of us. In acknowledging this, we should give ourselves to completely serving Him. God has given to each of us abilities that can be used in God’s service. With these abilities, we can help others and glorify God. This is what God has given us to do.
Starting in verse 9 Paul shows that Christianity must be applied. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” The word hypocrisy is rendered “play acting” in Vines. When we love one another we do not put on an act. Love must be sincere, love must be genuine. If it is sincere love it is done with pure motives. We Christians must truly love one another in deed and truth. 1 John 3:16 say “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We cannot pretend love. God knows our hearts. This verse is also dealing with evil. As Christians, we must not only refrain from evil, we must hate it. Many people do not hate evil, they hate the consequences of evil. In our world evil is so common that we [Christians] are no longer shocked by it and this may keep many from abhorring evil. Nevertheless, we Christians must do the opposite and that is to cleave to that which is good. Brethren, there is no middle ground. The only way to please God is to hate evil and cleave to good. There is no good to be found in being evil.
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
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366