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Hope in Times of Failure

(2 Chronicles 34:19-33)

Lesson 5 -- second quarter 2008
March 30, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Josiah: King of Reforms

Idols. So revulsive to God, but so enchanting to men. Are we at peril from them? We do not enshrine deceased family members, we do not burn candles and incense to the Virgin Mary, we do not bow before Buddha's image, we do not reverence any icon, and we certainly do not do those things practiced by Josiah's father and grandfather!

Nope, we have no idols, right? Before getting too comfortable and self-satisfied, give careful consideration to these clues:

Now we can go back and rephrase the first question. What idols threaten your life and your church today?

And what are you going to do about any idols you may discover?

Be a Josiah. He "walked in the ways of David," the man after God's own heart. At age 16 he began to seek after God. And he began to act on what he knew to be right. God knew this young man would respond correctly to His Law.

God still wants and uses youth who will early seek after Him and who will enthusiastically walk in the light they already have. May He raise up more Josiah's for His Church. And may you be one of them!

Now is the time!

I want to be a Josiah. No, I don't mean I want to be king of anything. And my name suits me just fine. I want to have this life record and witness: "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left" (2 Chronicles 34:2).

If I truly want that, I have to aim my life at it. I cannot live aimlessly or with the wrong aim and still hope to achieve such a wonderful life summary. The next verse tells us how to aim: "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father." That's it! While he was around sixteen years old, he began his search for God and His ways.

Sixteen -- a time of driver's licenses, of high school, and of discovery. Sixteen -- a time of fun, of frivolity, and of fancies? But sixteen is no time to be focused on and serious about spiritual things, is it?

Let me ask you this, then. If sixteen isn't the time, what age is? And what guarantee do you have of reaching that age or wanting to be serious about spiritual things then? If seeking after God is unimportant at sixteen, then it is unimportant at forty-three or at any other age.

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6). Now is the time that He may be found, so seek Him now! I challenge you to team up with some friends in seeking after God. If that is too spiritual for them, then seek Him on your own (and maybe consider a new batch of friends also!).

"And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD" (2 Chronicles 12:14). Take a lesson5 from this wicked king. You now know in advance what your harvest will be if you do not seek after God. Never forget that you can't do what's right if you don't prepare your heart to seek Him.

"To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation" (Hebrews 3:15). Since God is calling you to seek Him, don't provoke Him by hardening your voice to His call.

"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:38). It bugs me when I call out to people and they just turn and walk away from me. When people draw back from God and His life, He takes no pleasure in them. So let's be His joy and delight by drawing closer to Him!

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually" (1 Chronicles 16;11). Whether you're around sixteen or going on one hundred sixteen, make the search after God the constant essence of your life. Students, missionaries, nurses, teachers, truckers, carpenters, homemakers, care givers, plumbers, secretaries, farmers, technicians -- without regard to occupation, everyone has the opportunity and duty to seek God continually. It's never time to quit.

Together let's make "a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:31).

But can it be done?

Did you ever wonder if genuine Christianity in all its purity is livable today? The lowest levels of societal corruption have become the mainstream in our culture. Now we see the so-called mainline denominations trying to make holy water from sewer water by embracing some of the more "acceptable" practices and beliefs.

Personally, I at times despair of ever being able to live through a day without a contaminating thought entering my mind. If it isn't the desire for wrong gratification, it's anger, impatience or uncontrolled tone of voice. Is it I that am getting worse instead of better, or am I just yielding to multiplied influence and pressure from the world?

If we just look at the increase of sin and not beyond it, we really have no choice but to surrender to it. I prefer to consider more than the sin that surrounds. I have hope for me...and you -- we can live godly lives. Two verses are especially special to me in this matter:

"...But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

The Romans verse assures me of the greatness of God and His resources as matched up against those of the devil. The more the devil sends my way for my defeat, the more God makes available for my victory. The devil simply can't outmaneuver God! So instead of bemoaning the fact that I live in a more sinful world than my grandparents had, I should rejoice in the multiplied increase of God's grace available to me.

The other verse confirms God's great interest in my spiritual victory on a daily basis. I might be satisfied if He would merely work in me to do His will; that would already seem above and beyond the call of His duty toward me. But He does more than that! He also works in me to will to please Him! I believe He wants me to yield myself to Him to such an extent that He can work these things in me.

How does this work in a practical way? I know X is wrong and I feel guilty whenever I indulge in it. I always ask God's forgiveness afterward. But often I just can't seem to not do X. In fact, at times I so enjoy it than I don't even want to turn from it. What I try to do at the beginning of the day is ask God to give me the will and the power to not do X. And live the day with the promise and determination to resist X. Then X finally faces me and decision time arrives--God reminds me of my praying that morning. Will I yield to X or will I turn my head, keep my mouth shut, respond with gentle words, lower my eyes or whatever other response is a resistance to the temptation? My response is almost always right if I -- at that moment -- ask God again for the will and power to do His will.

So . . . is it possible to live pure Christianity today? Yes!

Section 1: Originally for a lesson in October 1992
Section 2: Originally for September 22, 2002
Section 3: Originally for a lesson in January 1993

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