Posts by Matthew Holst

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I recently read Ezra 9 in my morning devotions and was struck by the character of Ezra’s sorrow over the sins of God’s people. His grief was intense; it was profound. His sorrow over the sins of God's people had tangible evidences to it and true effects on God’s people. There...
Lately, I've been wondering if we've given adequate consideration to the relationship that exists between idolatry and anxiety. Many rightly cite reasons to separate the one from the other (i.e. physiological problems, mental problems etc.); but in our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 6, he...
Every single day, Christians are confronted with a barrage of competing messages. One cannot drive down the nterstate without being assaulted with numerous billboard messages–-political, commercial and even sexual. Visual messaging is the manner in which society has chiefly chosen to...
Prayer is a spiritual discipline which is, in equal measure, both difficult and rewarding. Our struggles are surpassed by the blessings we derive from God’s love in answering our prayers. Yet prayer remains difficult. Perhaps it is difficult because we do not view it as an act of worship, and...
In an increasingly politicized age, we have become used to political slogans designed to encapsulate the heart of a candidate’s message--everything from “Change We Can Believe In” (2008) to “Make America Great Again” (2016). In the high politicization of American...
H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds opens with these words:...
Many have experienced the kind of hard providences that have brought them near to the end of their faith. Seemingly Earth-shattering events are common to all men, and are heightened in the life of the believer by the trials that we uniquely face ( e.g. persecution for the sake of the Gospel). The...
As the lives of western Christians become more and more dominated by the content that is brought into their lives by various forms of media, we must ask the question, "With what do I fill my mind?" The Apostle Paul makes several pertinent points regarding this question in Romans 12:2,...
Perhaps now, more than ever, Christians need wisdom to process the multitude of temptations to sexual sin with which they are confronted. While it is true that sexual sin has always been a problem in the church, there should be little doubt that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the...
The Wisdom literature is among the most neglected of all genres in Scripture. This is, no doubt, partly on account of the fact that there are an abundance of difficulties when we approach the reading and study of Proverbs--our historical distance from them, the apparent similarity with writings of...
In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul outlines the character and practices of a godly pastoral ministry. What he writes is a sobering reminder to all pastors, and to churches, of the standards and challenges of the pastoral ministry. His technique for outlining a faithful pastoral ministry is interesting. In...
One of the Apostle Paul’s great preoccupations in both of his letters to the church at Thessalonica is the second coming of Christ. He was not only concerned with getting the doctrine “right” but also with the great pastoral implications of such teaching. In 1 Thessalonians he...
Western society, as it slips inexorably into greater unbelief and alienation from God, has created new laws--both written and unwritten--concerning what is and what is not permissible to say in public. “Hate speech," as it is called, seems to be the only intolerable thing to the worldly...
What makes the church special? I don’t mean what makes a church special, there may be many answers to that question. What makes the church, the church of Jesus Christ truly special? The answer is simple: The church is the only place on the face of the earth where God reveals his glorious...
What are the marks of a spiritually healthy believer? In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 we find Paul’s thanksgiving to God for spiritually healthy Christians. He tells the Thessalonians--who were relatively new converts--a number of remarkable truths about themselves. I don't think that there is...
We all fall short. We all sin, sometimes appallingly. At different times in your Christian life, you will inevitably need to confess your sin to someone and ask them for forgiveness. You may possible even have to face the consequences of your sin--even after asking for forgiveness. That is common...
Regrettably, conflict is a reality in the church. Often that conflict is between a congregant and the pastor. After all, he is--in many ways--the focal point of the church’s public ministry. A good pastor is hard to find. A good congregant is equally hard to find. How then should you seek to...
As I sit in Starbucks, Bible open, commentaries next to me, trying to focus on the rich theological contours of the Tabernacle--the world is bustling all around me. Music (pretty good jazz) is playing, people are talking, business is constant and noise is unrelenting. Among the flurry of the world...
In every genre of Scripture, whether it be narrative, Psalms, wisdom or the Gospels and Epistles, warnings against sexual sin are prominent. From Genesis to Revelation, every book of Scripture teaches that believers are to vigorously pursue sexual purity and forewarns against transgressing God...
Your prayer-life is a measure of your spiritual maturity. Just about any decent book on prayer will tell you so. Your prayer lives exposes you to the reality that what is nearest and dearest to your hearts are those things for which you pray the most. It is an inescapable rule. In this respect,...
One of the great difficulties we encounter when we seek to preach Christ from the Old Testament is the challenge of being able to rightly apply the text--both in its original context and then to our own. After all, a chasm of thousands of years exists between the life of the patriarchs and monarchs...
1. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27-28). Restraint in speech, both in content and manner, is a mark of a Christian. How we say something can be as beneficial or harmful as what we say. The unrestrained...
As I approach the fifth anniversary of my ordination to pastoral ministry, I confess that last five years have been a maelstrom of emotional highs and lows--as well as a school of previously unknown experiences. My own experiences and observations of pastoral situations have helped produce my baker...
“For Everything There Is A Season...” So says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1. Our God has ordained whatsoever shall come to pass, according to His most wise and free counsel. He has set the limits for every hour, day, week, month and year. He has also ordained the seasons. We live our...
Many of us have joyfully welcomed the renaissance of Christ-centered preaching that churches in North America have undergone in recent decades. For some it has been an old practice to saturate their ministry with the person and work of the Savior. For others it is a relatively new thing to...
Most Christians inwardly, if not outwardly, groan when they arrive at a genealogy in their Bible reading. This is a shame. The genealogies are wonderful and I love studying (not just reading) and preaching them. They are compressed histories of God’s faithful and loving dealings with his...
In the first post in this series we examined four useful principles in studying the book of Psalms. They were as follows: 1. Is there a common theme between the Psalm you are reading and surrounding Psalms? 2. Is there a development of themes throughout these Psalms? 3. Can we find structural...
At a recent conference, I sat and listened intently to a lecture in which the participants were challenged to read the Psalms, not after the manner of those who eat candy--picking out favourites randomly--but in context. The speaker was Dr O. Palmer Robertson, who was giving us a taste of the fruit...
I was recently introduced to the phrase, "going-to-hell sin." This intrigued me because, from my own studies of Scripture when I was a young Christian, I always thought it was clear that all sins were "going-to-hell sins." But apparently not. Hollywood certainly has us thinking...
In the previous two posts in this series (see here and here ), I sought to set out the Exodus principle as we observe it applied both to individuals and to the nation of Israel. Before moving on to the theological center of the Exodus principle, namely, Christ and his experience, we should briefly...
Having given brief consideration to the Israelites exodus from Egypt, we observed, in our first post , five elements to the idea of the “exodus” principle. First, we observed that Exodus takes place to and for God’s chosen people. Second, we observe a physical departure from the...
The “Exodus” principle holds a profoundly important—yet, often overlooked—place in the Christian life. Many are under the impression that there was only one “Exodus” in the Scriptures – Israel’s coming out of Egypt by the plagues, the Passover lamb...
This is the second part in a series of posts on the Sermon on the Mount. You can read the first installment here .
In seminary, we were taught that a sermon should never be about the man who preaches it. John the Baptist’s creed, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30) is the model by which all ministers are to approach Gospel-ministry. There is, however, one exception to this...