Enemies in Ministry

In this week’s Bible study, we learned about having Enemies in Ministry. The three enemies mentioned were: I can be the enemy, people can be my enemy, and God can be my enemy. We must realize that without Jesus Christ, left to ourselves, we can become our very own enemy and have the ability to destroy the very house we built. We needed a Savior and Jesus Christ was our Savior but left to ourselves, we sin. We are prone to it.

So, when I minister it doesn’t mean I am not going to sin.  We are prone to it.  We have an incredible ability to destroy.  We have no ability to restore.

God can restore what I have destroyed or have the potential thereof and there is no throne of grace or place of mercy that I can’t approach. I can be the enemy in my own ministry and God can have a plan. When I recognize I am the enemy and that I have sinned, God will say these words, “I have put away your sin.” He will turn things around and make that very thing that could have destroyed me and my ministry into something fantastic.  When we do sin, much more grace will be given to us.

Honestly, this has to be at the center core of ministry or we will not survive it. We will disqualify ourselves.  We will walk away.  We will say we are not worthy.

When people become our enemy, then apply Luke chapter 6, see it as a promotion and an expanded ministry, and will love my enemies. What if the next enemy is God? One of the places God would like to lead us is, loving Him while He is our enemy. Does this offend you? Blessed is he who is not offended in me. It is possible that God has become my enemy in this way.

It’s maybe that I am not hearing from Him.  Where He doesn’t seem to be speaking, where He is quiet, where there is nothing there, where He is completely silent and quiet for the rest of the time, where He removes Himself.

An example of someone’s life that was in this kind of place was Mother Teresa. It’s fascinating that from the very beginning of her public ministry, to her death, she lived in spiritual darkness.  In her mind this was not what she had signed up for, and maybe a lesser woman would have walked away, counting it as a failure. She struggled with this and was transparent to her spiritual leaders. She was writing to a couple of people, particularly to her spiritual father, saying that darkness had entered her soul, it was something she couldn’t get rid of it, and it bothered her.

Pray for me, that I might keep smiling at Him (I know He loves me).  I have a resolution that I would really understand your joy; that I would rejoice; that others would see my smile.  She didn’t give the people around her less of herself. Part of her sacrifice was her sorrow. I find that I sense His presence, in the dark corners, where the poor are.

When we think of the life of Job, there is a mystery of why Job suffered.  He wasn’t boastful, he was righteous by choice. Mother Teresa was righteous by choice.  We are sinners and it could be that we are in the middle of something, a situation, darkness.  I must understand that God is for me, and He loves me.

In that dark night and in that darkness, no one really knows what it is; we just know God allows it. - Saint John of the Cross

These thoughts were taken from our Monday night Bible Study. To listen to the whole message, click here.

Uncovering Satan in Ministry

In this week’s Bible study, we spoke about uncovering Satan in ministry and what to do, as believers, when ministry fails. It is necessary to understand that we have an enemy and that we share a common enemy.  Satan’s device and plan would be to separate and bring division; but if I recognize that we have a common “enemy”, meditating upon the fact that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, then things will be put into their proper place, and I will be able to have an affective ministry. Jesus gave us a great picture of this, when He stood on the Cross and said,“Forgive them they know not what they do.”  He identified to who His ministry was and who the enemy was.

We meditate that we wrestle not against flesh and blood.  I am not the enemy, but I recognize we have an enemy. If the work I am a part of is going to be effective, then I am going to have an effective attack.

What does failure look like in ministry?

1. No Results: Ministry will only be a failure if I walk away from the situation. The only interesting thing to God is fruit in my life, not results. I need to ask myself if I have joy, if I have a burden, these are not necessarily results, but lots of fruit.

2. Negative results: We see this in the life of Christ. The Cross was a negative result, it was a crucifixion with a resurrection that was coming afterward with people who now have entrance into Heaven. In my own life there can be negative results, but I can stop in that moment and say, “I am filling up the afflictions that are in Christ.  This moment is a ministry.  I am being like-minded with Christ and I am sharing a little piece.  I have a ministry at the very least to God.

3. My heart is not in it:  Let us ask, “Am I walking worthily?”  “Am I letting fruit being developed in my life?”  Maybe that’s where I increase in the knowledge of God. I have to shut the door around me and get before God and say

Lord, I need you. I am so poor. These people don’t even know how poor I am.  I am in the negative. I have less than a penny in my pocket, spiritually speaking, to do any of what you are asking. I don’t feel an ounce of love today. In-fact, I am disgusted, I am angered, I am irritated. When I am weak then I am strong. To walk away then, that’s the problem.

Pastor Stevens used to say this quote: “You are not a failure until you quit.” We don’t walk away.  This is my recipe, my poverty plus their poverty, the recipe for success.

4. Circumstances: In the world we will have tribulation.  Let’s not be subjective women.  Our success is not in subjectivity.  It’s not in “Oh, they all loved me today, 15 people became born again, etc. Everyone on the team loved me today. I felt good today.  I feel light-hearted here.”

Circumstances are dangerous for the Christian as a deciding factor for the Will of God. We follow a voice.

Our very spiritual lives are wrapped up in that voice.  The moment I begin to not listen to that voice, it’s dangerous for me.  That’s the world of subjectivity.  I begin questioning everything.   Learn to hear the voice and then never let it go, because there will be a thousand voices.  Be like the mother who hears her child’s cry when there are 50 other children in the room.  Listen not to circumstances but the voice of God.

5. Enemies:  If you have the enemies of Luke 6, then see it as a promotion. We have an expanded ministry.  Ministry should hurt.  It’s the proof of love.  Love can be wounded but love doesn’t reject. You can’t tell love to stop.  What we do is, we go to the voice and we don’t walk away.  We don’t let circumstances and my own heart cause me to make movements. Psalm 73-“When my heart and flesh fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

When ministry fails, I don’t make movements outside of understanding all of this.  God knows when He has allowed hurt.  The Shepherd leads us out and in. Our methods should be decisive. I move with Are you available for anything?

Main point: There has to be an understanding of success
What keeps Adoniron Judson so long without any visible fruit?  Only an understanding of success does that
What keeps Paul, who was stoned and kept going?
What keeps Christ dying on the Cross?

Like two pieces of paper, be ready for the love, etc. and then when she hates you, turn that piece of paper over and be ready for Luke 6.  I have an opportunity to exercise long-suffering. Ministry will only be a failure if I walk away from that and if I see no results.

These thoughts were taken from our Monday night Bible Study. To listen to the whole message, click here.

Ministry Doesn’t have a Stopping Point

In last week’s Bible Study we spoke about our ministry not having a stopping point. Our natural talents and natural skills will rise and reach a plateau but then will eventually descend and cease. This is because our natural man perishes. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts exist and continue to grow but even they will have a stopping point, because the gifts God gives us are passing.

However, one thing that does not have a stopping point or plateau is ministry. We look not on the things that are seen but on the things that are unseen.  Ministry is unseen, because the work is the Holy Spirit and we are the treasure.

“The treasure is not a natural talent, it is not a natural skill, it is not a gift, but the treasure is the Holy Spirit, inside of us working through us”

Our gifts, talents and skills are not a ministry in and of themselves.  I have to have a different set of values like valuing a soul or valuing the poor. God gives us such a love for them that it pours out of us and becomes so much bigger than any gift, skill or talent.

Pride can kill the expression of my skill, talent or gift; therefore, all three must pass through the Cross if they are to have any use in ministry.

“My talent and my skill are generally personal and once it passes through the Cross it then becomes public, because I use it for God.”

Spiritual gifts were personally given for public use and are categorically defined by Scripture.  They are limited by definition and can remain undeveloped.  They are effective based upon spirituality and maturity.  They can be mistaken for a talent and a person can be carnal with their gifts.

The biggest thing is that these things perish or have a limited effect. God is looking for available ministers.

God is looking for people He can trust His poor and broken with.  There is opportunity, people around us, and we need to go to them because God wants us to go to them.  There are certain flames that are not meant to go out.

“We believe that we are so poor that we need God to speak to the poor.  My poverty plus their poverty equals spiritual growth, it doesn’t seem like it but it is the only recipe.  Don’t let me miss it, because people’s lives are at stake and so is mine”

These thoughts were taken from our Monday night Bible Study. To listen to the whole message, click here.

The Difference Between a Talent and a Gift

In last week’s Bible study we learned and defined the difference between our talents and gifts.  We must understand that before God, our talents, gifts, and skills, do not add value or fruit to our lives.

Often this can lead to a misunderstanding based on an incorrect value system that can drive me to focus on gifts in the church, which can give me a certain level of attention and then move to desiring position and then popularity.

“My fruit has zero to do with my gifts and my natural talent and my skill level.  I will not be rewarded because I was incredibly gifted, talented or because I showed great skill.  When we are speaking of the parable of the pound and talent we are speaking of fruit.”

How is that fruit achieved?  My fruit is acquired by ministry.  Not by my gift, nor by my talent and not by my natural skill.  All of these things are potential tools for ministry.

For example, there was a famous Christian runner, called Eric Liddell, who won the 1924 Summer Olympics.  He had a natural talent and said. “When I run I feel God.”  That was a natural talent used for ministry.

“A natural talent has no value in it if it’s not submitted to a ministry”

The location of our ministry is Calvary.  The Cross must touch every aspect of my life.  My ministry is on the other side of the Cross and without the person having a ministry, my gifts, talents, and skills will be wood, hay, and stubble when I get to Heaven.

“To the degree that these three things are not submitted to ministry, whether to God or to the people around me, there will be a waste of what we call talent”

God does not gain pleasure from my natural talent.  He gave it.  God gains pleasure by what I add.  The only way I add is by having a ministry.  He is incredibly blessed when I, the friend of the Bride-groom, minister to the crowds and I give them Him and He is glorified.

“The tools of ministry are found on the road of ministry”

Ministry is burden and burden is necessary.  It’s found only on that road - the road of ministry.  We will love His appearing and finish our course with joy.  We won’t be in Heaven handing in our portfolio, what remains will be ministry.  God is not looking for the people who want to get the glory.

On the road of ministry you can do a lot of things.  You can say, “Silver and gold have I none.  In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.”

It matters very little, if you have a natural gift, enjoy it.  It’s a gift.  Eric Liddell ran and felt God, others didn’t.

See value in God’s greatest creation, man.  It’ll free you and make you stand above everything else and you will be surprised what God will have you do and who God will have you physically save.  You will be released to run!  We don’t want people to be associating value with the wrong thing.  We want to learn freedom and effectiveness, through the Cross and ministry, then teach others to have a ministry and run with freedom and effectiveness.

These thoughts were taken from our Monday night Bible Study. To listen to the whole message, click here.

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