Archive for category MPOW

MPOW: Hosea 13 – Complacency With Abundance

NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.

Hosea 13:6 — Complacency With Abundance

[4] But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. [5] It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; [6] but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.

Hosea 13 is a passage that most followers of Christ have lived and experienced, much to our regret. When things are comfortable and easy, we get proud and walk away from God.

Though we are quick to criticize the Israelites of the Old Testament for their faithlessness, we are prone to the same cycle.

Here’s how it went in the book of Judges, and it’s the same challenge we face today:

  1. Sin — the people sin against God.
  2. Servitude — they experience the enslavement and pain of their sin.
  3. Supplication — they cry out to God for help and deliverance.
  4. Salvation — God rescues them.
  5. Silence — they get complacent and stop trusting God. The leads back to #1.

This is why our current cultural climate can be so spiritually refreshing. Many of our comforts and things we place our security in have been and are being stripped away. It makes many people ripe for the gospel. And it makes us see our need for God.

But how will we keep our relationship with God passionate even when we’re experiencing blessing and seasons of comfort?

First, I’ve found it helpful to, as much as possible, never let yourself get to a place where everything is easy for you. Keep putting yourself in environments of risk–places where you’ll have to depend on God’s grace for what you need. It’s this process of stretching ourselves that is what makes us grow. Put yourself in a new place of service. Invest yourself in a set of relationships that will stretch you. Try something that is impossible without God’s help.

Also, do constant battle with your pride. Have a godly friend or two who will call you on your sin and point out when you’re getting a little too comfortable with yourself.

Question: What have you done to overcome this tendency towards complacency during times of blessing?

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MPOW: 1 Chronicles 29 – God Owns It All

NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a weekly verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.

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1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – God Owns It All

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Few truths have the same power as this one in the life of well-to-do Americans. When we realize that all that we have is God’s–when this truth sinks in deeply–it has tremendous power to free us from thinking that we are in control of our lives and our stuff.

This passage reminds us of a few important things:

1. Everything belongs to God. All that is in the heavens and the earth–ALL of it–belongs to God. There is nothing outside of all that is in the heavens and the earth. This is intended to be comprehensive.

2. God rules everything. Not only does God own everything, but he also is actively involved in ruling it. He has the power to make great and give strength.

3. God is the only one truly deserving of glory. Because of his unique ownership and rulership over all things, David showers the Lord with praise. He alone deserves the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.

This passage not only reminds us of God’s ownership over our finances and possessions, but also over our talents, abilities, and endeavors. God reigns over all of it, and deserves praise for it.

May we be men and women who acknowledge that God is God and we are not. May we be people who rejoice in God’s power and glory and rule. May we humbly submit to his wisdom, and may we seek him to give us strength.

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MPOW: Matthew 18 – The Forgiven Must Forgive

NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a weekly verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.

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Matthew 18: 21-35 – The Forgiven Must Forgive

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

One of the most powerful negative influences in the life of a believer is bitterness and a spirit of unforgiveness. A friend of mine once said, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it will hurt the one who offended you.” So true. And so inappropriate for somebody who has been forgiven an unpayable debt through the grace of Jesus.

This parable is especially thought-provoking when you put the debt amounts into modern money:

  • The man is forgiven debt of 10,000 talents (1 talent = 20 yrs wages).
  • Then he refuses to forgive debt of 100 denarii (1 denarius = 1 days wages).
  • In today’s terms, the man was forgiven a $7 billion debt (unpayable) and refused to forgive a $12,000 debt.

Are you holding onto bitterness in any area of your life? Are there certain people that you are unwilling to forgive?

May the gospel of radical forgiveness melt your heart, allowing you to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

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MPOW: Deuteronomy 17 – Guard Your Heart Against Gold, Glory & Girls

NOTE: Today is the first of what I hope to have become a weekly installment on the Second Mile Pastor’s Blog, the Ministry Passage of the Week, or “MPOW” (I kind of like how powerful the term M-POW sounds!). These passages come from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. In the next four months, these men and women will work through 350 Bible passages that they’ll be able to use in ministry. I’ll take one per week on the blog and use this as an opportunity to share an important text of Scripture and how it can be applied to our lives in practical ways.

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Deuteronomy 17:14-20 – Guard Your Heart Against Gold, Glory and Girls (Instructions for a king over Israel)

14 When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. 18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

In this passage God gives instructions to the people of Israel about the kind of leadership they will need from their future king. The people have not even asked for a king yet, but God knows that they will — and here are his expectations:

1. The king should be a student of Scripture (v. 18-20). God expected the king to write out a copy of the law by hand that he would read and study all the days of his life. Why? So that “his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment” (17:20). In other words, God knew that the only thing that would keep Israel’s leader humble and obedient would be clinging closely to Scripture.

2. The king should guard himself against seeking Glory (v. 16). God prohibits the king from multiplying horses, an obvious symbol of a king’s power or wealth. He knew that the king’s thirst for power, glory, and acclaim would potentially lead him to even return to Egypt.

3. The king should guard himself against seeking Girls (v. 17). God also prohibits the king from multiplying wives, “lest his heart turn away.” God knew that the king’s appetite to have many women would have devastating effects (and God also knew that taking on additional wives usually meant forming treaties with other godless nations — also an evidence of a thirst for glory).

4. The king should guard himself against seeking Gold (v. 17). God tells the people that they king should not “acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” God knew that when the king had too much money resources, he would be inclined to forget his need for God.

What’s the lesson for us?

The lessons here are pretty obvious. There is something about the human heart that is easily wrapped up in money, power, and romantic relationships (women) or sexual fantasy (men). These idols often lead us astray and without being tethered to God through his word, we stand very little chance to be faithful. Interestingly, Solomon is a case study for a man who–despite his unparalleled wisdom–was undone by his lust for power, money and women. It literally tore the kingdom apart.

We are the children of God in Christ, which means that our true identity lies with the one who:

1) used the Scripture to reject the enemy’s invitation to short-lived power (Matt 4:8-10) so that he could give us the true power of reigning with him,

2) lived as a homeless man with no place to rest his head (Matt 8:20) so that we could have an eternal and Heavenly home, and

3) was pure in his relationships with women so that through his substitutionary death he could truly create one new and purified bride for himself, the church (Eph 5:25-27).

May we embrace our identity in Christ and guard our hearts from these lesser idols!

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