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Monday, July 28, 2014

Revival and Reformation Pt 15: The Reforming Heart

{The Audio File is here. There's more in the audio file than is in the manuscript below}

Revival and Reformation Pt 15
2 Chronicles 14
The Reforming Heart

Lord God, as Paul reminded us, these things we read are examples written down for our instruction on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10.11). And so help us to attend to your word with diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives (Westminster Shorter Catechism 90); that Christ our Lord may be honored. Amen.

What standards do you live by? What is it that says to your mind: “I have arrived?” ... Now let me ask you – has it been really worth it? Has that standard set you free? Or has it been nothing more than a cultural or financial ball-and-chain? And when you’re overwhelmed with insurmountable odds, I ask you, do your “Standards” carry you thru; or do they let you down? And those who set the “standard” for you – where are they?  Don’t they just snub you, or “Pity you” and then walk off to leave you in your defeat?  We’re presented with the liberating alternative, here, in 2 Chronicles 14. 

1.  The Reforming Heart of Asa - 14.2-15
            A. Overview of his good years: a Heart Aflame for God - 2-8
1. Contrast v. 2 with 12.14. Authentic, genuine. "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16.7).

2. Overall proof? Expulsion of the competition. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not into some spiritual multiculturalism; his bells don’t ring over “coexist”; he’s not jazzed and juiced up over religious tolerance – God is a purist. He is el qana – the Jealous God, who loves his people intensely, loyally, committedly and will allow for no other lovers. Just like your wife and your husband loves you too much to permit you marital tolerance and marital coexistence! So Asa shows his sincerity by closing the doors to all competition, thus ensuring his single-minded in affections and loyalties.: v. 3-7 (“Rest” 3xs; “Peace” 2xs): 2 Chronicles 20.20c.

3. Another overall proof of his genuineness: Corporate reformation. Again the place of leadership in pushing, influencing, coordinating or reinforcing reformation. But also, notice that the natural flow is from his own reforming heart outward: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you" (Ps.51:10-13).

4. Do you have a Reforming Heart? What is the standard you’re going by? Your answer will tell if you do. The Spirit-guided editor(s) wants the people of God (then, and now) to stop looking around at the nations for their “Standard and approval,” and to have a heart aflame for God: "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:9-12).

            B. War and Faith {His Reforming Heart put to the test} – v. 9-15
                        1. 2 to 1 odds. Insurmountable odds (v. 8-10). Defeat is imminent…
     
                        2. Asa’s Faith stated in prayer (14.11)

                        3. Yahweh answers (v.12, 13, 14)

2. So What?
Yet, as big and important as Asa is; as much as he’s a great guy and a super role model (at this point at least), there’s someone else who’s the real hero here. It’s the God of v. 11, who is seen in all the blood, gore, smoke, ash, dust and sweat of 12-15. He’s the One who is victorious when it all looks impossible; strong when we are in our weaknesses; valiant when we are quaking in fear. That’s the point of chapter 14 – faith is not to be in political might; military precision; master-mindedness; in large numbers, or impressive circumstances; not in glitz nor in glamour – but in this God. And here is how we now see it all after the cross – how this Word is God’s Word after the cross: 2 Corinthians 8.9; and 2 Corinthians 12.7-10 "So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Not in victorious Christian Living of painless-perfection; but in the real world of pain, exhaustion, defeats, overwhelming odds, Christ rises up and raises us up, and holds us up in His nail-scarred hands. Look there at the cross, and you will see God entering into our defeat, our disenfranchisement, our debility, our dispiritedness, as well as our filthy vileness, our soiled condition. And there He butchers it. And three days later, he rises to carry us into his life, into his white-hot love and into his triumph. And though we must follow him through the gore of the cross, yet he carries us through to the Glory of his Crown. Therefore, as the Psalmist says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2)


In conclusion,   look at TH #449...
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender! We go not forth alone against the foe; Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender, We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go. Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender, We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

 Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation! In Thy dear Name, all other names above; Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation, Our Prince of glory and our King of love. Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation, Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

 We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling, And needing more each day Thy grace to know: Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing, “We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.” Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing, “We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

 We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender! Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise; When passing through the gates of pearly splendor, Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days. When passing through the gates of pearly splendor, Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

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