Church Family Newsletter | October 1, 2021
The Most Awesome Gift of All
If you have ever attended a Christian wedding ceremony, the odds are overwhelming that you will have heard the Scripture passage of 1 Corinthians 13 read aloud. It’s all about love, although I’d suggest that many folks hearing it are totally unaware of what Paul is really addressing in that passage. No matter, the words - even out of context - are beautifully applicable to the vows the couple are making. A marriage built on a foundation of hoping for the best, believing the best, keeping no score of wrongs, avoiding anger, leaving boasting and selfish competition aside, is off to a good start!
The reason I say the words are taken out of context is because they are really a continuation of 1 Corinthians 12.
Here Paul is stressing that each of our personalities and capabilities are essential elements in making sure the church - the body of Christ - functions smoothly. He likes to point out the diversity of our capabilities because each one has its own unique contribution to make. Just because you happen to be a big toe, does not mean you are less important than an eye. Certainly in some circumstance a big toe could be a life-saver where an eye is useless!
Paul is pointing out that it’s the mixture of gifts embodied in the personnel of the church that allow it to grow in the community in which it is placed. He says that the Holy Spirit is responsible for activating and energizing certain traits and capabilities to a supernatural degree. And oftentimes the individual is as surprised as anyone to discover the special gifting the Holy Spirit has provided.
Paul lists many of these Spirit-energized gifts, such as apostolic leadership, prophets, teachers, etc., but the list is not exhaustive. Indeed in Romans 12, he also talks about these gifts and adds some and leaves some others out. In fact it seems the Holy Spirit is hand-crafting gifts unique to each individual, so to try and give an exhaustive list would be an exercise in futility!
However at the end of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul exhorts us to discover the hand-crafting the Holy Spirit has prepared for us and to seek out the most desirable traits. And then in a way so typical of Paul’s writing style, he says “…I will show you the most excellent way…” and boom! — we have “the love chapter”. I’ll leave it to you to re-read the chapter, but I’d like to point out some words that come at the end. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” [NIV emphasis mine]. Love, according to Paul, is the greatest and most enduring gift of all. The question is, why?
When you think about it, in eternity faith won’t be necessary any more. All the secrets will be revealed, everything that is hidden will be uncovered, the reasons behind the truths which had to be taken on faith and trust in this life will be obvious and self-evident and not mysteries anymore. So while faith is important now, one of the “big three” gifts, in eternity it will not be needed. Right now faith means “believing will be seeing” rather than “seeing is believing.” In eternity there won’t be any more “puzzling reflections in a mirror.”
Similarly, hope is redundant in eternity. The certainty of heavenly reward will be totally confirmed. There will be nothing more to hope for because everything worth hoping for will now be in our possession never to be removed.
So that leaves love. And as John reminds us in 1 John 4:8, “…God is love…” God is eternal, so love is eternal. Nothing can be greater than God, so nothing can be greater than love! In eternity we will be not just surrounded by, but totally immersed in God who is the very definition of love. Yes, Paul hits the nail on the head, the greatest gift of all is love.
Come to think of it, Jesus describes the Church as his “bride,” so the use of “the love chapter” at weddings is totally appropriate!
May you experience the love of God in abundance this week.
Blessings on you and yours,
It has been a tremendous week! Last year, we had no other choice but to do our Christmas Sign-ups online. However, knowing that some of our families struggled to navigate the online application, we made accommodations this year to interview families that preferred to do them in person. It was a blessing to be able to see the faces of the parents and their children and to hear their stories and to feel their excitement and hope knowing that they would get a few gifts for their children and a food box for their families. And the team of volunteers we had to help us, made it a joy.
We also had the chance to visit with long-time friends, Craig and Kristy Bowlder, who are on an eight-week sabbatical from their own congregation. (Wow! What a gift!) Their daughter, Adele, who was the flower girl at our wedding, and her daughter, Lennon, joined them for the week. It was so cool to hear how God has helped them overcome large obstacles in their lives to what they are doing now in ministry.
And unexpectedly, we got a call from a couple of friends, David and Debbie Stillwell, from our first appointment in Santa Maria, CA, as a married couple. They decided that when they retired, they would sell their home, their possessions, and they would travel to see their friends, family, and explore the country. They have been between coasts several times over these last 8 years - and they are still going. (Yes, your read that right. EIGHT YEARS! Amazing!)
That seems to have been the theme for this week for me: intentional relationships - "done on purpose, deliberate" according to the dictionary. It took effort for these friends to contact us.
I pray that you will build and cherish the relationships you have. Let those individuals know just how much you care for them. Seek them out, if you have lost touch with them. God brings people into your lives so that you can share in fellowship that will enrich your lives. Remember just how much God reached out to us - with arms stretched out on a cross - to know just how much we are loved!
"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." Colossians 3:16, NLT
Pic: Baby Lennon
Major AnnMarguerite Jones
We encourage you to come and pray before Sunday's Holiness and Worship Service. Pray over the requests that have been shared during the week. Pray for those seeking the Lord. Pray for those who are lost. So many things to pray for ...
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” Matthew 18:19-20.
Beyond the Dark: International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking
For those who were unable to do the Prayer Stations during our Worship Service last Sunday, here are the different prayer points:
#1 – A Prayer for Understanding
Take one grain of rice and hold it in your hand. Imagine that grain is a person with a name, a family, and a story.
- Pray for our eyes to be opened to the different forms of human trafficking and modern slavery.
- Pray that governments, organizations, communities, and individuals will not be silent.
#2 – A Prayer for People in Transit
Locate a country on the world map and pray for those impacted by human trafficking in that country. Write a prayer on a sticky note and place it on the country you prayed for.
- Pray for the safety and freedom for all victims of human trafficking.
- Pray that they will find the resources they need to ask for help, particularly those who are in countries where they cannot speak the language.
- Pray for the families that are separated from their loved ones.
#3 – A Prayer for Healing
Take a Band-Aid as a symbol of healing. Follow the prayer points below. After you finish praying, place the Band-Aid on the black poster.
- Pray the survivors of trafficking would receive new life through the love of Jesus.
- Pray for a supernatural restoration of all that was lost during their time of abuse.
- Pray for the survivors’ inner healing, emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual healing.
#4 – A Prayer for Justice (Inside of Chapel)
Take a marker and write “END IT” on a link in the paper chain. As you do, follow the prayer prompts:
- Pray for the chains and corruption would cease.
- Pray for the individuals on the front lines fighting for this injustice.
- Pray that justice would be done on behalf of those who are oppressed through the human trafficking and modern slavery.
Devotional – Reflective Questions
- In the command “love your neighbor as yourself,” where do you draw the line? Who am I meant to love?
- Can you think of people in your community who are considered “outsiders”?
- How would you describe the care that the Samaritan gave the injured man? Was it adequate?
- What does this passage teach us about the care you would give to others today?
- The relevance of the parable today is evident. As you encounter people who have been robbed and battered, potential victims of human trafficking, what can you do?
Ally Commitment Prayer (Written by Jean Nangwala, Zambia)
I hear the cries of daughters and sons beyond the dark,
trafficked and enslaved for the profit of others.
I stand with you.
I see the next generation of vulnerable children targeted for the benefit of worldly pleasures.
I will fight for you.
I stand with the frontline practitioners, advocating for the freedom of victims of oppression and walking alongside survivors.
I acknowledge you.
I lament for the ways I have knowingly and unknowingly contributed to modern slavery and human trafficking through my ignorance, my privilege, and my spending power.
I refuse to be blind.
May my prayers and those of your people turn into action as we fight again injustice together.
We are not free until we all experience light.
This Week's Schedule
9:30 AM - Praise Team Rehearsal - Chapel
10:00 AM - Prayer Room Opens - Side Room of the Courtyard
10:00 AM - Corps Cadets & Sunday School - Classrooms 2 & 3
11:00 AM - Worship Service - In-Person and Facebook
NO YOUTH MUSIC REHEARSALS
6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study - Fireside Room
NO WOMEN'S BIBLE STUDY
7:00 PM - Songsters Rehearsal - Chapel
8:00 PM - Senior Band Rehearsal - Chapel
10:00 AM - El Sobrante Home League: Iris Paper Folding by Cindy - New Life Center
10:00 AM - CAMEO: The Master Potter by Connie - ZOOM ONLY