December 2006




One verse that is particularly encouraging to me as I pray for unbe­lievers is Col 4:2-3: "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned."

Here Paul asks the church to pray for him that he would be provided by God an open door through which to give the gospel to those without Christ. An open door in Scripture is a door which previously was shut and which has now been opened and kept open by God's omnipotent power. [See also Acts 14:27; 2 Cor 2:12; Rev 3:8].

Do you know people in the community who are not yet ready to re­ceive the Lord? The door of their hearts may presently be shut to the gospel. Let us pray that God Himself will break down their defenses distractions, excuses and resistance. Let us pray that God will move them to respond to our church invitations and then respond to the gospel. Can you not envision the delight we all would have at their baptisms as they glorify the Lord? Just think if each family in our church invited at least one family from their neighborhood to one of our Church Christmas activities. Do you not see that the opportun­ities are many and varied for evangelism during this special time of the year.

I want to encourage you to get together during this month frequently with your family to pray for these outreach ministries. Please pray for those who are lost and who may be exposed to the gospel through our ministries. Please pray for God to lead you as you consider which of your neighbors and friends within the community to invite to the Christmas worship service or one of our other church activities.

Those who are leading the various ministries need our help. They also need our prayer support. Throughout all of our ministries we must keep at the forefront of our minds the importance of looking for answers to our prayers - open doors through which to share the gospel. 

Our Christmas party promises to be an extremely delightful opportunity for the church family to enjoy each other and celebrate together the birth of our Savior. Some may invite unsaved members of their families to this wonderful evening. Let us remember to welcome them with the love of Christ. Let us pray that God will richly bless our fellowship! Pray for Kevin Walsh who will be our Master of Ceremonies for this Christmas party and many others as they work to make this evening special for all of us. Pray that any unbelievers present will respond to the devotional which Jay Fisher will present.

Other church events, such as our gifts baskets for those in need, the Christmas caroling night, this afternoon's Christmas service at the Lutheran home, our Christmas newspaper article, our Sunday morning Christmas service and our Christmas Eve service, are great opportunities for us to bring the light of the gospel to those who do not know the Lord.   The gospel is always a central part of the message that will be preached. Let us greet our guests with the love of Christ which dwells within us [see Rom 5:5 discussed below].

Additionally, the youth car wash on Saturday, Dec. 9 is another way of sharing the Lord's goodness with our community. The youth will be washing cars for free and giving out gospel tracts, invitations to our Christmas services and cookies.

The Christmas present which we should offer to the Lord as a church is our diligent effort to bring the light to the lost! Let's do our part and then trust Him for the powerful results!

GREETING VISITORS DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON: Lord willing, during this Holiday Season many new visitors will be attending our church. Some will be relatives of our congregation. Others will come to church in response to our personal invitations, our newspaper article, church newspaper advertisement and/or personal invitations which we hang on their doors.

The Scriptures indicate that when guests come into God's house it is our job to greet them with Christian hospitality. The term "hospitality" in Scripture is a compound word combining the word for love with the word for stranger -it means love for the stranger.

We are to reach out with Christ's love for the stranger - toward those with whom we are not yet well acquainted. [See for example 1 Pet 4:9; Heb 13: 1, 2; Rom 12:13]. Christ's love actively seeks out those who are strangers to embrace them and make them feel welcome. During this season, let His love overcome any shyness on our parts, and let His grace enable us to welcome those who come to church.   Those of us who struggle reaching out to new people can lean on God's love that has been shed abroad within our heart, Rom 5:5. With this love we can reach outside of ourselves and experience God's love as He uses us as a vessel to bring His love through us to those who often only come to church during this Holiday season.

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427