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Update from the President: July 25, 2019

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Update from the President

July 25, 2019

Bev and I, along with Jorge and Kathy de Campos, are on our way to Angola in Africa. We arrive in the capital city of Luanda on Friday morning, July 26. As mentioned last week, we have a full schedule and look forward to joyous meetings with hundreds of our brethren. Several churches are combining in Luanda on the Sabbath, and on Monday we will travel to another city.

The brethren in Angola asked to be recognized as brothers in Christ by UCGiA's Council of Elders and asked for our assistance in the form of Portuguese literature and sermons. The Council of Elders unanimously approved this request and on March 8, 2016, Chairman Robin Webber wrote the following to the brethren in Angola:

"Your unique story and spiritual journey commencing in 1983 to follow God's Word in faithful obedience is truly inspiring and reminds us that our Heavenly Father calls those whom He will call, where He will call them, and when He will call them (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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) to follow Jesus Christ. It gives cause to rejoice when we consider how great and loving our God truly is. It is one thing to take a stand, but it is clearly inspiring to see people remain standing for God's ageless truths no matter what, as you have done. You have shared your collective story as a people, and we have been pleased to share with you the Internet information and literature that we have to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God...

"Wherever God's Spirit directs any future communication or relationship among our two organizations, please know that we approach the membership of the Worldwide Church of God in Angola with deep respect and mutual esteem towards our Heavenly Father for what He has brought forth in all of our lives. It is by His grace, mercy and divine revelation alone that we are able to serve Him."

We deeply appreciate the well-wishes from many of you for us on this journey. You can follow our trip on You can also visit our Facebook pages for reports and photos.

Fan Into Flames the Spiritual Gift God Gave You

Tumultuous change and increasing danger marked this middle of the first century A.D. During this time, the immoral emperor Nero Claudius Caesar turned his unwelcome attention to the disciples of Jesus Christ in the Roman capital, bringing severe persecution on the disciples beginning around A.D. 64. Worse, the apostle Paul was imprisoned yet again—and this time it would lead to his death.

As things seemed to be unraveling, Paul wrote earnestly to his tried and true "son in the faith," Timothy. Paul delivered detailed instructions to ensure that the Church, the spiritual Body of Christ, would continue on despite political upheaval and increasing uncertainty.

In his second of two letters to Timothy, notice what and how Paul wrote: "I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6-7 2 Timothy 1:6-7 [6] Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. [7] For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).

Consider that Paul invoked the name of God in his instructions to Timothy, speaking and writing with the very authority of God Himself. Timothy had proven himself as a servant of God time and again. Paul knew for certain that he was trustworthy and faithful.

Yet note that Paul had to instruct Timothy—a true man of God—to "fan into flame" the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fruit it produced! These words of instruction resonate with the same authority of God down to us today! What does that mean for us?

When people try to measure growth, they look to what are called "key performance indicators." Inspired by God, Paul also gave us nine such spiritual indicators that indicate growth and maturing as we use the Holy Spirit. We find them in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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, where they are called "fruit." You may know them by memory: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

When this spiritual fruit is lacking in our lives, that means that we—like Timothy—need to follow God's instructions and "fan into flame" this marvelous gift God has given us: the Holy Spirit of God! These qualities, which are indicators and evidence of the presence and working of God's Holy Spirit, should permeate the Church of God. And in many cases, they do!

But, in what Paul describes as "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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), we can become easily burdened and distracted. We are constantly tempted to take our eyes off of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and humanly take on the worries and challenges that we face.

I would like to start an occasional series on how we can "fan into flame" this precious gift of God, not with fear and timidity, but with power, love and self-discipline. As Jesus declares to us: "When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father" (John 15:8 John 15:8Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Let's start with the first fruit, love. Much has been written about love, and rightly so. We understand from the bedrock foundation of scripture that God Himself is love (1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
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)! That love is God's all-encompassing divine attribute. Paul wrote that love is the greatest gift, that it is a "more excellent way" of life (1 Corinthians 13:13 1 Corinthians 13:13And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
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; 12:31).

In one of the most beautiful passages of scripture, God inspired Paul to present to us a practical framework to evaluate the presence of divine love in our lives. We read this in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians.

Paul contrasts other spiritual gifts and attributes as secondary, even as nothing, when compared to the gift of divine love and what this love produces. If one even speaks eloquently at the level of the Acts 2 miracle where the disciples were "filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages" (Acts 2:4 Acts 2:4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
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, NLT), and they don't speak with the love of God in their words, their words can actually hurt!

We all must be careful and aware of how we speak. What motivation drives our words? Do our words truly emanate from divine love? Or do the words we speak sound like careless loud and brash bullying, taking on the ineffectiveness of a "noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" in their thoughtless presentation (1 Corinthians 13:1 1 Corinthians 13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
American King James Version×
, NLT)?

As we work with one another in the Church, we need to be aware of how we come across. Through careless speech, we can offend and create division. We need to be humble and be yielding one to another.

Now, let's go a step further. Through the inspiration of God, Paul listed key attributes of divine love and how they appear in one's life (1 Corinthians 13). One way to gauge how we are doing is to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 [4] Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up, [5] Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; [6] Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [7] Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [8] Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
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, and instead of "love" substitute our own name.

"[Your name] is patient. [Name] is kind. [Name] does not envy or boast. [Name] is not arrogant. [Name] is not irritable or resentful. [Name] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. [Name] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 [4] Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up, [5] Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; [6] Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [7] Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version).

How did you do? Need some work? Of course, we all do, member or minister, husband or wife, brother or sister. This greatest gift does not come without "fanning into flame" the precious Holy Spirit with sustained effort.

Our challenge? The divinely powerful Word of God instructs you and me: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us" (Ephesians 5:1 Ephesians 5:1Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children;
American King James Version×
, New International Version, 1984 edition).

"Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8 1 Corinthians 13:8Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
American King James Version×
). We can tap into this truly awesome power of God by yielding and asking God for this spiritual gift, as the love of God is "poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×

This coming week and beyond, when you act, when you speak to someone, or write an e-mail, let us ask God to give us His power of love, His very nature, that our words and actions may reflect our heavenly Father and His power (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
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). From the time we rise in the morning to the time we retire at night, let us be "rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17 Ephesians 3:17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
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), that we may indeed be a true spiritual light in this ever-darkening, uncivil world (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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God's Word, God's love, is surprisingly powerful. Let us all tap into that power and produce "much fruit"! Let us "fan into flames" the spiritual gifts of God.