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Final Two Weeks

I am a week removed from my summer in Baltimore. I spent this past week at the beach with my family getting reacquainted and caught up with everything going on. The week at the beach with my family is always one of my favorites of the year and this time around was no different. It was the perfect way to wrap up this summer. However, before I wrapped up for good I wanted to write two more blogs. This blog will review my last two weeks in Baltimore as I did not have a chance to write in my last two weeks. My final blog will come in the next couple of days and will serve as a final review of everything I learned and how I grew this summer.

If you have been following my blogs this summer then you might be aware that on my final Sunday at Infinity Church in Baltimore I was given the opportunity to preach to the congregation in the main services at both campuses. I considered it a real blessing and did not take the responsibility lightly. Pastor Aaron was out of town with his family that week and was gracious and trusting enough to allow me to preach to the congregation in his absence. My ninth week in Baltimore was spent studying and preparing for preaching on Sunday. It was great that the sermon was the only thing I had to work on that week. I was really able to spend a lot of time in prayer, studying and reading. I was really able to focus on exactly what the Holy Spirit had for me to preach to the congregation and I was again able to feel Him directing me in what He wanted to be said. I preached on Romans 10:4-17 and spoke about the failure of Israel to understand and accept the Gospel. What we concluded was that saving righteousness comes through faith, which is contrasted with the Jew’s righteousness that came through works. We also concluded that the Gospel is for everyone; however, the Jews believed that salvation was something just for them as God’s chosen people. They missed the part when God told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his descendants. The last point we noticed was that in order for anyone to accept the Gospel, they must hear the Gospel. Although Israel had heard the Gospel, they had rejected it. However, if the Gospel had not been heard they would not have had the opportunity to accept. The apostles had been sent out to preach the Gospel; it was God’s responsibility to send them out. It was the Apostles’ responsibility to preach the word, to make sure that Jews and Gentiles alike heard the Gospel. Now it is on the audience to believe and respond to the Gospel (of course there is the discussion on God’s call and His responsibility in salvation, but this passage does not address this discussion). Paul stresses the importance of hearing the Gospel in order to make a decision. When we understand that it is our responsibility to preach the Gospel it should become a priority, because if people don’t hear the Gospel how can they believe and call on the name of the Lord for salvation? Our first two points direct us on what should be preached and to whom the Gospel should be preached. We are called to preach a Gospel of faith in Christ, not work based salvation. The problem is that many people, even in the church, believe that what they are doing will save them and send them to heaven. They believe that because they’re not a killer or bank robber that God couldn’t possibly send them to hell. We recognized that their problem was the standard they are using to measure their righteousness. The standard we are called to live up to is not Sodom or Gomorrah; it is not the worst of the worst. Our standard is Christ Himself, something we can never live up to. This is why saving righteousness comes through faith, not by works. That is our message to a world trying to be good enough to get into heaven. Also, our message is for all people. It becomes absolutely necessary to cross cultural, social, gender, and racial boundaries. If Paul were not willing to cross those borders then the Gentiles would have never heard the Gospel. If we are not willing to cross those borders then there are millions of people made up of hundreds of people groups who will never hear the Gospel. These groups currently have less than 2 % Christian influence among them, and unless Christians are willing to cross those lines then millions of people will live and die without ever hearing the Gospel. Our conclusion that hearing the Gospel is necessary for salvation leads us to the conclusion that these people live and die without ever even having the opportunity to accept salvation. This sermon served as a wrap up to Infinity’s missions emphasis month, and I do believe the Holy Spirit used this message to encourage the preaching of the Gospel.

After preaching on Sunday I still had a week of work and ministry in Baltimore before it was time for me to come home. We had a group of missionaries from Texas join us on Sunday who were there to put on a vacation Bible school in the apartments next to the church. The VBS started on Sunday night and due to heat and falling through on good advertising we only had 5 kids Sunday night. But God’s grace brought out around 25 or 30 the next couple nights if my memory serves me correctly. We had new kids each night. The last two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, I was able to do teach the Bible lesson. It was great to get to sit down and talk to the kids one more time before I left Baltimore. Most of the groups were responsive and did very well remembering the lessons and the memory verses. My final week in Baltimore I spent most of my time with the missionaries. Tuesday through Friday I was with them pretty much all day. The whole group was incredibly encouraging and really taught me a great deal about ministry. They took me in and made me a part of their group, not just allowing me to participate in their ministry in Baltimore, but even on their visiting Fort McHenry on Tuesday morning and spending Thursday and Friday in Washington D. C. It was the perfect final week ministering with them in and around Baltimore.

That’s the low down for my last two weeks spent in Baltimore. I want to thank you so much for your prayers and support in those last two weeks and over the entire summer. There is no doubt that your prayers is what got me through this summer. It is clear to me that it was the work of the Holy Spirit and the strength of the Father that guided me and helped me through this summer. I will have one more follow up blog posted in the next couple of days. In this blog I will discuss everything I learned this summer and how God stretched me and grew me. I can’t wait to share all of this with you. So keep your eyes open, it’s coming!

To God be the Glory!