Yesterday in church we learned about Josiah, who became king of Judah at age eight.
Who was King Josiah, what did he do, and why does it matter hundreds of years later?
Josiah had a notorious grandfather (Manasseh) – recorded as the most dastardly king of Judah. He had a son (Amon) that walked in his evil footsteps, leaving a poor spiritual heritage to his son, who was Josiah, the young king we are talking about here…
Josiah was eight years old when his father was assassinated. Early in his young royal life, Josiah was curious about spiritual things. Although his homeland was black with evil, Josiah still began to seek God.
It might be better to say that God drew him. God does that – and it’s often surprising. Especially when conditions around us don’t look promising, and we don’t appear to be headed in a holy direction.
All this drawing and wooing and curious interest about God made Josiah’s heart fertile ground. God was preparing his soft heart for an upsetting, earthshaking event that took place a few years later…
King Josiah told workers to clean out the temple. This was looking like a no-brainer job. Laborers were simply there to de-clutter, dust and organize. They were even told to keep track of their own hours. Things looked easy.
As trinkets were unearthed and dust flew, a scroll was discovered and brought to King Josiah.
This scroll was actually a treasured but forgotten book of the Law of God — given and practiced hundreds of years before.
Back when people followed God.
Back before people exchanged a loving God for a lie.
Reading the scroll aloud put a horrifying spotlight on Judah’s current state of affairs. God’s chosen people had been living in direct opposition to the words of this scroll-book. The nation was practicing child sacrifice and idol worship, even though generations before they had ousted people that were doing these same things.
When Josiah heard the words of the neglected book, he wept and tore his clothes.
Here they were, trying to tidy up the temple, making it sparkle and shine. But the temple – the spiritual heart of the nation– didn’t need dusting, it needed to be stripped down, disinfected, dismantled and rebuilt.
Josiah’s heart was overwhelmed and heavily grieved.
But Josiah wasn’t only stirred. He was changed.
Josiah turned the nation of Judah around 180 degrees.
(This thorough process involved lots of idols being ground to powder and piles of burnt bones.)
A woman named Huldah gave a prophecy at this point:
Judah be destroyed because of its abominations. It would be disciplined for the cries of its sacrificed children. But because of Josiah’s repentance and love for God’s discovered Word, Judah’s depressing end wouldn’t come during Josiah’s lifetime.
Lots of personal lessons here:
We should expect to see God’s Word in God’s house. It shouldn’t be hidden, neglected, unused or unpracticed.
Maybe we feel safe, knowing we will avoid the coming judgment. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t warn others. I want to be faithful to share God’s Word within my sphere of influence.
When I am confronted by God’s Word, do I change? Or, do I continue puttering around, just dusting the externals?
Josiah burned and destroyed the evidence and the promoters of idol worship in Judah. This made it impossible for the people to return to the former way of life. Have I made it easy or difficult to return to old, sinful ways? Burning bridges here can be a good thing…
300 years earlier, a prophet actually named Josiah by name, predicting that he would destroy idol worship in Judah. (I Kings 13:1-10) The Bible is bursting with fulfilled prophecies, confirming its truth.
After all that Josiah did to reform Judah, his son Jehoiakim went the opposite way. He heard God’s word, and what he didn’t like, he conveniently had cut out with a knife and burned. God has no grandchildren; our children need to surrender to God for themselves.
Josiah’s life ended on a strange note. He felt compelled to fight against Egypt, even though Pharaoh warned him that it really wasn’t his fight. Josiah did it anyway — he dressed up like a common person, was wounded and died. It’s always good to be reminded that even if a person’s life is resplendent and glorious, he or she is still just a person who makes mistakes.
The children pooled funds to give my husband a birthday gift certificate.
They knew he would like an exciting adventure, and ziplining at the Kerfoot Canopy Tour is that kind of experience.
The course features 15 consecutive ziplines through beautiful wooded areas.
Zipping down cables that are 175 feet high over treetops is something I would love to watch my husband accomplish.
I would sit with a cup of coffee on a cozy sofa as he popped in the DVD.
I would point and smile in amazed admiration.
I would applaud his agility and bravery.
I suggested that our oldest son might like to redeem the zipline certificate with him. Or maybe one of our daughters? Then, I volunteered that we could all drive down together on Father’s Day and watch him conquer the zipline course.
I’m not sure what happened, but yesterday, I found myself strapped into ziplining gear, helmet on head.
The guides announced that we should all use the porta-potty, because it was the last bathroom stop for the next 2.5 hours.
No available restrooms may have been the scariest threat of the whole day.
Our guides drove the ATV up the bumpy hill.
“This IS scary.” I teased my husband as we slowed down, reaching GROUND SCHOOL.
Here we learned how to leave our Y-straps alone, attach our trolleys and brake with our gloved hands.
Technically, we were ready.
After completing our first set of ziplines, we tiptoed up a triple spiral staircase to the KONG zipline. It is 900 feet long and the highest zipline in the course (175 feet above ground.)
One group member opted out and headed back.
I, too, was assaulted by typical zipline fears at this point.
At least I think these are typical…isn’t it normal to be thinking:
What if my trolley mechanism fails?
What if my harness breaks?
What if the cable snaps?
What if I fall and am speared by one of those picturesque pine trees?
What will my obituary say?
I placated those annoying fears…and none of that happened.
My husband seemed to have the time of his life — getting a little crazy with his no-handed cannonballs.
Me? I followed the rules.
It was a memorable day with my fun-loving, thrill-welcoming husband.
(But I was glad to get back on the ground –where the bathrooms were.)
Word of the Day: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/placate/
“Sam’s book is a healing balm for cranks, misfits and malcontents who are so full of self they scarcely see, let alone celebrate, the simple beauties of imperfect virtue in others. Or to say it differently: I need this book.”
— John Piper, from the Forward to the book Practicing Affirmation.
I just finished reading Practicing Affirmation by author / pastor Sam Crabtree. My borrowed library copy is almost due and going back into circulation, but I plan to exchange it for my own purchased copy.
I want to remember this book. More importantly, I want to practice what I learned. Here are some thoughts that grabbed me:
—Think about how often we correct / complain / criticize. This causes “drag” on a relationship, especially because corrections / complaints and criticisms tend to outweigh affirmations.
“It takes many affirmations to overcome the impact of a criticism, because criticisms are heavier and sting more.”
–Affirming others acts like a key, with the potential to unlock relationships.
“Many people are puzzled as to why their relationships seem stuck and uncooperative, yet they are not putting the key in the ignition. It’s not too late to use the key.”
–Affirmations should be consistent in a relationship.
–Affirmations should be God-centered. Focus on character, not outward appearance. Look for God’s character seen in people of all beliefs and backgrounds. Commend sincerely without flattery.
“In doing so, we’re pointing to something very valuable, and we’re saying, “I see it in you! I value it… and the God who is the source of it!”
–When we are affirmed, it makes us happy. But the affirmation giver gains a mysterious joy as well.
–Affirmations are for everyone and everywhere. Use them in the workplace. At home. Use them in a “stuck” relationship. Give them to your children. Give them to your spouse. Give them undeserved…and give generously.
–One of my favorite parts of the book was chapter 9, where it listed 100 Affirmation Ideas for Those who Feel Stuck.
“When our mouths are empty of praise for others, it is probably because our hearts are full of love for self.” – John Piper
After months of reading the book, seeing the book everywhere, hearing references made to the book, listening to radio programs about the book, and finally seeing the book on thrift store shelves, I was done thinking about Jabez for a while.
But last Sunday’s sermon centered around Jabez and his prayer. So, maybe it’s time for me to think about Jabez again and look more closely at his sincere conversation with God.
Jabez probably prayed many prayers, but one of these prayers is written out in 1 Chronicles for us to ponder. Like other seemingly unimportant details found in scripture, God included the prayer in His inspired Word for a reason…and it’s worth examining.
The prayer is pretty short and simple, easily fitting into a 280-character-limit Twitter tweet.
Jabez says to the God of Israel:
Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’
(And God granted him what he requested.)
Since there is a 93-page book written about this simple prayer, I won’t try to dissect it myself. I just want to randomly, digitally scribble down some thoughts that come to mind when I think about the real person that prayed this prayer, and what I can learn from the whole thing. (Without peeking at the book.)
Jabez’s name means “pain, or born through pain.” His prayer states “….bless me that I may not cause pain.” I love that he accepts his birth, his circumstances, the part of life that he cannot change. But, he prays to go beyond his lot in life. And God can do that. He did it for Jabez. He can do it for me. I need to ask God for it.
Jabez prayed like a child would ask a parent: “Give me! I need! I want! And I want a lot! I want more!” But he asks with good motives: so God’s hand would be with him. That means Jabez wants God around — to watch over him, bless him, lead him. He wants to please God, follow God and have God smile at what he does. He is willing to be obedient and live in fellowship with God.
Jabez trusted God to keep him from evil (or harm.)
There’s more to learn about Jabez and his prayer — I might have to pick up that book again, after all.
But for now, the obscure, honorable, praying Jabez of 3,000 + years ago has prompted me to write my own prayer.
So, here is the unfamous, non-bestselling, yet sincere Prayer of Lisa:
God, would you please help me overcome my natural, inborn weaknesses? My sin…my flesh…my selfishness? I need You to help me walk by Your Spirit — I can’t do it by myself!. I need so much more of You and so much less of me — every day. Make me to see Your workings in my life. Yank me (gently, please?) out of my comfort zone, where I tend to hang out. But always remind me You are there, and give me courage to go beyond the borders of what I think I can do. There’s nothing too hard for You to accomplish — even through imperfect me. Keep me from veering off into evil —deviating from Your Path. May I never cause pain to Your Holy Name. Amen.