Month: September 2018

Your Kingdom Won’t Last

Pinterest has created the impression that everything you do must be perfect. The problem isn’t that weddings shouldn’t look nice or that every craft and recipe you attempt shouldn’t be Food Network worthy, but this facade of perfection can make you feel inferior if you don’t attain that standard.

It is not wrong to have nice stuff or do your best on every pallet board craft, but it is easy to develop a mindset where you put all your worth in what you have and what you do. The Bible talks about this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).

Earthly treasures don’t last forever, and sometimes they can be taken from us quickly. If all our identity or purpose is wrapped up in those things, then we will quickly lose purpose and feel defeated.

Like Micah. I wrote about his natural desire to worship (which we share) last week.

After he set up his own house of worship with his own idols, carved images, and priests, he thought God would bless him (Judges 17:13). But the Danites came through his area and took his Levite priest, ephod, household gods, carved image, and metal image (Judges 18:14). After Micah confronted the Danites, this really sad verse appears: “Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home” (Judges 18:26, ESV).

Micah’s kingdom could not stand.

Neither can yours.

All that will last beyond our years on earth is our legacy, whether good or bad, and the things we did that had an eternal impact. The people we ministered to and witnessed to, the ministries we supported that continue after our time on earth. The earthly pursuits won’t matter when you stand before God one day. After all, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)

 

Photo by Bart Anestin on Unsplash

Five To Focus 44. You Are A Partner In the Gospel

Church is not an activity on your calendar that you get points for attending. It’s part of who you are as a partner in the gospel. Learn from Paul in Philippians 1:5 to discover more of your identity within the community of believers called the church.   

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People Naturally Desire To Worship A God

When the cat is away, the mice will play. This cliche is seen in the last chapters of Judges, and we tend to live according to it when we do not think there is an authority in our lives.  

A great example of this is at the end of the book of Judges (ch.17-21). It begins with Micah and his mother in “The hill country of Ephraim”—not a new location in Judges:

  • It is the place of Joshua’s burial (2:9);
  • Ehud sounded his trumpet there (3:27);
  • Deborah held court there (4:5); and
  • Gideon sent messengers there to call up the men of Ephraim to go against the Midianites (7:24).

Look how different it is by the end of Judges though! The phrase “there was no king in Israel” occurs three times in chapters 17-21 (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). When there is no king, people will do what is right in their own eyes. In other words, they will become their own kings or submit themselves to all kinds of other kings.

We see a natural desire for worship in Micah and his mother, and we share this natural desire.

The short story—Micah had stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother but returned it to her. Her response:  “. . . I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. . .” (Judges 17:3, ESV)

Do you see anything in her response that doesn’t make sense? This shows how far off the Israelites had come in their thinking and beliefs–Micah’s mother would dedicate the silver to the Lord IN ORDER FOR it to be made into a carved image and a metal image. The 2nd commandment directly forbids this: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4, ESV)

But Micah wasn’t done there:

  • v.5- he sets up a shrine, which is essentially is “the house of God.” This is an abomination because there was only one house of God at that time and it was in Shiloh, which is even noted in Judges 18:31.
  • v.5- he sets up his son as a private priest. First, priests are to be public, not just for one person. Second, is his son even qualified?
  • v.7-13. Maybe Micah did realize the qualification part of this, even though he didn’t care, because he finds a Levite and asks him to be his priest.

Levites were the priestly class of Israelites, so Micah got that right. But God was not Micah’s authority, and his confusion is revealed in Judges 17:13: “Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.’”

Not only did Micah’s mother dedicate the silver to the Lord to be used to make idols, but Micah presumed upon God’s blessing of his ungodly decision to create a place of worship outside of Shiloh with carved images and idols.

They naturally desired a god: something to rule over them, look up to, and try to please. People today share the same natural desire to worship by setting up their own places of worship and idols (whether physically or mentally).

Why would people do this? Let me offer two reasons:

  1. All people are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), meaning at least that people have a soul and are able to have a personal relationship with God. In other words, every person is created to glorify and worship God, and when they don’t worship God, that longing to worship is still there. Instead of worshipping who they were created to worship, though, people will create all kinds of idols and other pursuits to fill that void that can only be satisfied in God.
  2. The law of God is written on people’s hearts. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14–15, ESV). Because people are made in the image of God, we naturally have the law of God written on our hearts. There is a general sense of right from wrong in every person, though sin can so horribly cauterize the ability to discern the difference. As John Piper said, people “. . . have enough knowledge of the moral law of God in their hearts by virtue of being created in God’s image so that their consciences are conflicted: sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving.” So, people are naturally pursuing morality, and that will lead to some kind of religion in their life.

Are you naturally desiring the One True God, or is your natural desire to worship misdirected?

 

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

 

Five To Focus 43. The Joy in Being Justified

Find joy in knowing what it means to be justified by God. Scriptures quoted in this episode:  Romans 8:33-34, Matthew 4:17, and 2 Corinthians 5:21.

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Why I Am Working On the SCBgO Podcast

There were months of planning and now we are 3 episodes into the SCBgO Podcast. The leadership of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) approved the idea, episode guests have been so gracious in recording, and I hope people will listen, learn, and enjoy!

The idea came because I believe we need to celebrate what the Lord is doing around our state. As I have served the convention in an elected position the last year and a half, I have heard more testimonies of amazing ministry across Ohio.

Church members can often feel disconnected from the activity of their state convention, but we have the technological means to solve that problem. That’s exactly why the SCBgO Podcast exists: to motivate you to be active in Mission Ohio.  

Even more specifically, here’s why I am working on the SCBgO podcast:

  • To inform listeners of what is happening around the SCBO. Some might not know that First Baptist Church in Vandalia changed their name to First Light Church (listen to episode 1), or that individual churches can call the IMB directly and partner with missionaries around the world (listen to episode 2). Some of our church members might not know what the H2O network of churches is, and that H2O Columbus sent out 19 people to the University of Indiana to start a new church (listen to episode 3). When people know about this activity, they can praise God for it and pray for those leading it!
  • To inspire listeners with practical ideas they might be able to use. There might be a church leader who is wondering how to go multi-campus, or a church member who really desires their church to be more active in global missions. Maybe hearing something on these episodes will inspire them to take the next step. The conversations in these episodes are intended to be practical and the show notes include helpful resources from which our listeners can benefit.
  • To motivate listeners to be committed to Mission Ohio. I hope that someone would hear what is going on and would be encouraged that they are not alone. There are 750+ churches in the SCBO who are fighting the good fight of taking the gospel to our neighbors and beyond. Feeling disconnected can lead to feeling lonely, but we need every one of our churches active in the mission of reaching Ohio. There are plenty of people in Ohio who have not been saved by Jesus. We have work to do, and maybe someone will be motivated by these episodes to keep going!

 

Who is knocking it out of the park in a certain area of ministry that I need to interview for an episode?

Five To Focus 42. Overcoming the Fear of Speaking Out For Christ

Be encouraged! God’s Word is authoritative for our lives, and the Holy Spirit will help you know what to say in the moment.

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Five To Focus 41. Practicing Praying Scripture- Psalm 144.1

Ryan walks through Psalm 144:1 to show how you can pray through Scripture. This based on Dr. Don Whitney’s book Praying the Bible.

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