The Heart of a Reformer

King Ahaz was a corrupt and faithless king. He set up altars to false gods in every corner of Jerusalem, and he made unholy alliances with foreign kings. The most dramatic act of his rebellion against the Lord was when he “shut up the doors of the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:24).

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His son Hezekiah took the throne, and he was the complete opposite of his father. The very first act of his reign was “he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them” (2 Chr. 29:3). The main point of the book of 2 Chronicles is to demonstrate that repentance leads to restoration. Earlier in the book, the Chronicler recorded this word from the Lord for King Solomon and his descendants:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chr. 7:14

Hezekiah stands as a model reformer of society for all time. By turning away from the “filth” and “unfaithfulness” of his predecessors and by seeking the face of the Lord, he demonstrates the character and actions that God is seeking in his people. The people followed his lead and were reorganized in the service of worship of the Lord. Hezekiah had the heart of a reformer:

“Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us.” – 2 Chr. 29:10

Have we not inherited a culture that has “shut up the doors” to the worship of the Lord Jesus? Have we not experienced and even been participants in the “unfaithfulness” and the “filth” of a culture that has set up idols “in every corner”? In our day, just as in Hezekiah’s day, we desperately need leaders with the heart of covenant faithfulness. We need leaders who will make true worship of the one true Lord, Jesus Christ, the priority of our common life. We need followers who will be ready themselves to be ministers of the Lord.

Do you have the heart and character of a reformer?

Lord, make me an instrument of reform and renewal in our day. Show me the place where my family, my work place, my church, my school, my government need godly change. Guide me to the places that can be reorganized and centered on you. Give me the courage to act in Jesus name, Amen.

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This post originally appeared here.

Everlasting Love

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (v.1). Psalm 136 asks us to take a moment and thank God for His goodness to us. The repeated phrase, “His love endures forever,” answers our question of why we should give thanks. God’s love is an everlasting love. It is eternal. It has no beginning or end.

Open Star Cluster Westerlund 2 & Starforming Region Gum 29 via Hubble Heritage on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/hubble-heritage/16635704113/

The psalmist gives two illustrations of God’s love. The first is the story of God creating the cosmos. Do you know that God created the heavens and the earth, the stars, sun and moon out of His love? He lovingly created an entire cosmos. Just think of it! “His steadfast love endures forever” (v.9b).

But that was just the start of God’s expression of His love. The God of gods specifically loved the nation of Israel. He loved them so much that He rescued them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them a special land in which to dwell. God’s love is huge in that it is directed toward His entire creation, yet it is also directed toward a chosen people in a special way.

Today the Church is that chosen people. God has saved us out of bondage to sin and death. He has rescued us from His own righteous anger through the death of His only begotten Son on a wooden cross. Paul says in Romans: “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (v.5:8). “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Truly God’s love does endure forever. “Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His love endures forever” (v.26 NIV).

Prayer:  I thank you, Lord for your creation and your loving hands which shaped it. I thank you for your great love in choosing to have mercy on me and giving me a great inheritance when I did not deserve it. Thank you for the death of your son for my sins.

The Rev. Charlie Holt
St Peter’s Church
Lake Mary, FL

Originally posted here. For help studying the Bible, please find the Old Testament Study Guide and the New Testament Study Guide sections of the Bible Challenge website.

God Is Good

While Psalm 134 is a call to praise the Lord, Psalm 135 provides motives for praise.  We are all servants of the Lord, and we are all ministers of the house of the Lord; therefore, this psalm provides us all with a motive for praise.

Image from JFXie on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/50249715@N06/7321064334

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.  Do you really believe that God is good?  In the same way that God chose Israel, God has chosen the Church in Christ.  Paul says in Ephesians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (NIV).  He was not obligated to have mercy on us; He was not obligated to have mercy on anyone.

Yet God has not only been patient and merciful to all mankind, He has specifically chosen His Church to receive His grace and mercy.  He has chosen the Church “to be his treasured possession” (v.4 NIV).  He has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing.”  He has chosen us to be the recipients of His heavenly goodness.  “Sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant” (v.3 NIV).

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you have been so good to me.  You have blessed me with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms.  I praise you for your goodness, knowing that it is only because of your good pleasure and choice that I am the recipient of your blessings.

The Rev. Charlie Holt
St. Peter’s Church
Lake Mary, FL

Originally posted here. For help studying the Bible, please find the Old Testament Study Guide and the New Testament Study Guide sections of the Bible Challenge website.

Christmas Sermon 2013: Jesus is the Wonder Counselor

Listen here for my 2013 Christmas sermon on Jesus the Wonderful Counselor, this year we will reflect on Jesus the Mighty God!:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.                                            –Isaiah 9:6-7

Everlasting Love

Psalm 136: Everlasting Love

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (v.1) Psalm 136 asks us to take a moment and thank God for His goodness to us.  The repeated phrase, “His love endures forever,” answers our question of why we should give thanks.  God’s love is an everlasting love.  It is eternal.  It has no beginning or end.

The psalmist gives two illustrations of God’s love.  The first is the story of God creating the cosmos.  Do you know that God created the heavens and the earth, the stars, sun and moon out of His love?  He lovingly created an entire cosmos.  Just think of it!  “His steadfast love endures forever” (v.9b).

But that was just the start of God’s expression of His love.  The God of gods specifically loved the nation of Israel.  He loved them so much that He rescued them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them a special land in which to dwell.  God’s love is huge in that it is directed toward His entire creation, yet it is also directed toward a chosen people in a special way.

Today the Church is that chosen people.  God has saved us out of bondage to sin and death.  He has rescued us from His own righteous anger through the death of His only begotten Son on a wooden cross.  Paul says in Romans: “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (v.5:8).  “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  Truly God’s love does endure forever.  “Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His love endures forever” (v.26 NIV).

Prayer:  I thank you, Lord for your creation and your loving hands which shaped it.  I thank you for your great love in choosing to have mercy on me and giving me a great inheritance when I did not deserve it.  Thank you for the death of your son for my sins.

Psalm 136:1-26

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.