What a Valentine's Day!

We are definitely still learning about what a cookie can do! In light of our great success during the Christmas season with our Christmas cookie outreach, we hit the streets again for Valentine's Day, this time with beautifully decorated heart shaped cookies tagged, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". What better day to reach the craving hearts of men and women in the city of Baltimore than on Valentine's Day and boy was it a success.

The response was tremendous and we could have given out triple of what we made (note taken for next year). But more importantly, the conversations were moving, hearts were touched, and God's love was expressed. Thanks to all those who helped. Easter is coming around the bend so stay tuned. Please pray for us as we continue to explore creative outlets to reach this city of Baltimore with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

From the Heart

In this Bible study, we spoke about something that was from the heart; our ministry to the Lord, and His ministry to us - a woman’s perspective. We do not see this picture anywhere else in the Bible except in the Gospels, and I think if we understood what that ministry looked like, it would be enough for us, spiritually speaking. The young woman, the married woman, and the widow are all there in the Gospels, which clearly shows us God’s heartbeat towards women.

In Luke 1:28, we read how God thinks about women, when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary saying, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” In the following verse, Mary was troubled at this saying because she had a wrong estimation of herself. Often, as women, we can have the same thought pattern. Our picture of God is very much incorrect. Let God speak for Himself. Don’t let yourself, a man, or your friends speak for Him. Let God speak for Himself. It’s automatic. You are highly favored. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to bear the Son of God and that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon her, she never doubted but instead gave an incredible response, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”

As women, we are actually very spiritually gullible in the best sense of the word. We are willing to believe the impossible.

Some examples of women who had high degrees of faith, are Hannah, who prayed and believed she was going to have a son in 1 Samuel 1:17-18; Menoa’s wife who believed she was going to have Samson in Judges 13:22-23; Mary Magdalene, in John 20:1-15, who thought Christ was dead and missing from the tomb, but when she heard her name being called, she instantly knew it was Christ, risen from the dead. We have such power to believe the impossible. Don’t neglect that or push that down. It belongs to you. It encouraged the Lord that a woman, healed of evil spirits, would love Him; that the Syrophoenician woman would believe that Christ would be able to heal her daughter, even when she was seemingly pushed away; that the woman at the well would be a willing missionary, telling a whole town of people, though she was despised, mocked, and rejected, who Christ was.

We have the ability to touch God in such a way that He can’t help himself. Isn’t it interesting that God seems to know more about what we are willing to do when we are connected with Him? He seems to know more of our usefulness to the Kingdom and our value to Him than we know. That’s why we have to let God speak for God. We can’t speak to ourselves. We have to believe the complete healing, the complete impossible thing, and He completely accepts my touch.

This message was taken from the Monday night Bible study. If you would like to listen to the full message, click here.

Gifts in the Church

In this Bible study, we learned about the gifts God gives us in the church. They have been placed into three main categories: Motivational, Ministerial, and Manifestation gifts. Almost all agree that the motivational gifts and ministerial gifts are still being used today in the churches. The Scriptures where the subject of gifts is mentioned is in 2 Corinthians 12 and 14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:10-11.

The Apostle Paul and Peter both emphasized that there were higher and bigger issues than identifying one’s spiritual gifts; which is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and His ministry working in and through us towards other people. You are devout because you love and because you are loved. You know the love you recognize. That’s the love that’s already in you to shed abroad to others. You know the joy you see. Teach people about that and how to give that. We were drawn to the fruit of the Spirit and not the gift of the Spirit.

Ministry must absolutely be emphasized and taught long before gifts, only because we can take something very beautiful and make it very much carnal.

In the early church the power of the gifts (the manifestation gifts), were shown to separate the church from the world; they were to separate the church and Christianity from other religions. There are certain times God manifests that power. The reality is I first need to be educated in ministry and the tools of ministry to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

All gifts used for the edification of the church fall under three main divisions:

  1. That which is visible in church service
  2. That which is visible in church activity
  3. That which is visible in church life

I think you have to talk about the non-visible gifts. Generally, the person with the non-visible gift, many times, has only one talent. It’s amazing what you can get done, if you don’t care who gets credit for it. Let me lift up in my mind and see how Heaven sees. Look for the invisible part of serving God, that which is spiritually successful. To what degree am I ready to lose my life?  Honestly, though I have been given these three categories, many of the gifts can fit in any of them. It really depends upon the expression of God in that part of the world, with that particular group of people, in that particular point in time.

This message is taken from our Monday night Bible study. If you would like to listen to the full message, click here.

A Full Semester of Ministry

In this Bible Study, we spoke and defined what ministry is all about. We talked about the problem of zeroing in on gifts and identifying the gifts instead of identifying that I have a ministry. Not understanding that I have a ministry can put me in a place where I could potentially think of myself as lesser person in the church, or as a believer, rather than acknowledging that I have a ministry.

My gifts are expressions of ministry-We don’t go around trying to identify Christ’s gifts, because it’s the ministry of Christ that’s so important to us. The fullest expression of my life would be that Christ would be so fully formed in me that the ministry of Christ would come through my life because He has made me to be that. Therefore, if I die and never know the gifts…The ministry of the life of Christ is enough.

Within the church on a daily basis, on a moment by moment basis, there is a spiritual masterpiece going on and it doesn’t need my “screwdriver”, necessarily. I don’t need to put my screwdriver into it but there is a concentration, a focus, of what the ministry is here. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in this moment, as He manifests Christ? What is that and how do I further that? Sometimes, that is why there is quietness. I am just focused on the ministry because that’s where life is.

Life is not in me to find the screw driver, but it’s in me to focus on the masterpiece. God is shaping us for ministry as we are ministering to Him. The parable of the talent and the pound was a parable based on a poor understanding of the master, so they ended up with no talent.

A poor relationship with God creates paralysis in ministry. A poor relationship with God creates a private mission. Christ is formed in me, Christ is formed through me, and to the people around me. I have a constant ministry and I am ministering to God and that is coming from a proper relationship with God.

The beauty of ministering is that when we are in tune with God, we learn to appreciate each other’s ministry. Greatness is fulfilling my ministry and appreciating others in their ministry. True greatness is a picture of who Christ was and what He said. He put the child in front of them and said, “Except you receive the Kingdom as a little child,” there will be no greatness. Greatness is also when I serve: “I am among you as He that serves.”

Am I available? God will bring people to us, to test that. People are not our little check marks and pegs on the board. They may be in and out of our life. It is the ministry of the moment. Seek to be an expert in that, of being “ears and eyes”; just to be with people and not move past them. If I am really getting to know the bride groom I will find that His eye is on others and it’s not about activity but about intent. God calculates things from the heart. He calculates intent. The only thing that matters in defining ministry is the loss of my life, and I do it because of Christ.

This message is taken from our Monday night Bible Study. To hear the full message, click here.

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