Lessons From Reform School
Text: 2 Kings 23:1-7
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to
explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a
cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want
enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a
migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of
the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a
paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Many in the church want just enough religion to make them comfortable, but do not want a religion that makes demands or requires something of them. When people get uncomfortable with a comfortable religion, get fed up and fired up, and see religion as something more than a pacifier, or a program, but begin to see it as a life changing proposition, then maybe we can have a reformation like that of Luther, or Wesley. We need real honest to goodness men and women of God to shake up and shake out the church. We need people of character and commitment.
I enjoy the story of the businessman who read a little book entitled Men of God. He was so moved that he determined to secure copies for all of his employees. He wired the publisher in Chicago: "Send 125 copies of Men of God."
The publisher wired back, "Chicago is out of Men of God, try Los Angeles."
What about your town? Does it have any men of God?
I. Religious Reform Comes Through Personal Dedication
A. Committed To The Bible
*A woman remarked to her neighbor that in the early days of their marriage, her husband had always pinched her household money when he was short for cash. However, for the last seventeen years, she had hid it in a place where he had never found it.
"Where did you hide it?" asked her neighbor.
The woman replied: "I hide it in the family Bible."
*By the aid of that most perfect scientific instrument, the ophthalmoscope, with its condensing mirror and myriad of little lenses, the ophthalmologist can look into a person's eye and not only determine approximately the necessary strength of glass required to give perfect vision, but also the existence of tumors pressing on the brain tissue, the condition of the general nervous system, the presence of disease in various organs, and the richness of the blood current as they are clearly traced on the sensitive plate of nature's camera.
What the ophthalmoscope is to the ophthalmologist, revelation from Scripture is to our higher nature-a test and criticism of supreme value. One of the ways by which we can prevent the darkening of our spiritual eyesight is to look daily at the Word of God so that the Word may become the mirror to which we are exposed. "The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12). If we wish to see clearly, we must test and purge our vision. Here is the radical cure for spiritual cataracts and color blindness. To see truly we must see life in God's light. After the dust and fog and mirage of a day that we have lived in our town or city, it is a wonderful restorative to cleanse the eyes with the eye salve of the Word of God.
- Josiah was greatly concerned that God’s Word was upheld. Both Martin Luther and John Wesley were concerned with the Bible as God’s revealed will for them, and to be followed above all else.
B. Consecrated To God
*Once a chicken and a pig took a trip together. After many miles and many hours on the road, they got hungry. Finally, the sharp-eyed chicken spotted a restaurant. Approaching the door they read a sign which said, "Ham and Eggs: Our Specialty!" "Hold it!" shouted the pig. "What's the matter?" asked the chicken. "Plenty. All they want from you is a contribution. They are asking me for total commitment!"
*Today, Christianity seems to be less a matter of commitment and more a matter of convenience.
- We have become a consumer church, wanting to receive what God has to give, but not wanting to give ourselves. What can I get from God, becomes the question, instead of am I totally given to God, or how can I give myself to god more fully – what can I give to God.
II. Religious Reform Comes Through Particular Devotion
A. Eliminating Pluralism
*Pluralism is very appealing to an age that doesn't seem to appreciate genuine conviction and lasting commitment. The "any religion is all right," or, "one church is as good as another" syndrome may appeal to people guided by convenience rather than conviction based on God's Word. However, down the road this approach to religion is danger and potential death.
No wonder our Lord declared, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). If it doesn't really matter what one believes in religion there is no such thing as a false prophet. In view of the dangerous nature of religion, no wonder the Holy Spirit would inspire the apostle John, the so-called apostle of LOVE, to write, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).
Pure religion (James 1:27) of God is based on the Word of God, edifies the soul, solidifies families, unifies congregations, and brings hope for eternal life with God.
The time has come for people who take religion seriously to get serious about religion.
* "Most people in America have just enough religion to keep them from getting the real thing. They have just enough to inoculate them against God!"
- Billy Graham
B. Eliminating Competition
What is your most prized possession? Would you be willing to
give it up if Jesus asked you? If your answer is no then your
possession has taken God's place in your heart and has become an
How many of you are willing to turn over to God your most
III. Religious Reform Comes Through Public Declaration
A. Before The People
When General Lee was coming up the Chambersburg Road to
Gettysburg, "Gettysburg Hannah" (as she was called) grabbed her
poker and started down the road to meet the enemy. Nothing
happened. Lee came right on, and the decisive battle was fought.
After the war was over, they were having a quilting party in one
of the Gettysburg homes and Hannah was there. The other women
were having some fun with Hannah. Said Mrs. Bomberger, "Hannah, what in the world did you expect to do with that old poker against that great Southern army?" "Vell," said Hannah in her rich Pennsylvania Dutch (if I can spell it right), "I no expect
to do nodings yet a ready, but I left'em know what side I vas
on, ain't it!" --Sunday School Times
- Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis, 95 areas where he believed the catholic church had departed from the Word of God, on Wittenberg Castle door, as a public declaration of his commitment to God’s Word and the principles therein.
John Wesley, when he stood up for holiness of heart and life and found himself cast out of the church of England, began to preach out in the public square, and to common people in general. He made public his devotion to Scriptural holiness and following God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and strength.
B. Before God
*Ultrasound technology, which enables parents to see their developing unborn children, is the rage among the child-bearing generation. Parents are able to know, long before the actual birth of their child, whether their child is a boy or a girl, and physicians can know much about the unborn child's health condition.
Does it, therefore, seem unreasonable that God knows all about us, even before we know it ourselves?
- James F. Looby, Proclaim
* A father took his small son with him when he went to steal potatoes from his neighbor's field. When they came to the boundary fence, the father stopped and listened while his eyes searched from right to left. Silently he began to climb the fence.
Then the child spoke. "Dad," he said, "you forgot something - you didn't look up."
Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. --John Wesley