This morning the challenge was for us to make a difference. Tonight, I want us to briefly look at the life of a young man who did just that. Many in today's society tell us that we are all products of our environment. If you grow up in an abusive home, you will be abusive. However, the young man who is the subject of tonight's message proves just the opposite. In fact, he proves that each of us can make a difference if we choose to do so. His name was Josiah, and he is a great example for us all.
The world into which Josiah was born was a lot like ours. It was a troubled world of confusion, murder, and warfare. People hated God, or at best, they ignored him altogether. It was Josiah's father, Amon, and grandfather, Manasseh, who had brought the nation to this serious condition. Note several scriptures which give us a picture of what it was like to live in Josiah's times. 2 Kings 21:9, 16, 20-22 then note v23, there was an assassination in the king's own home. That means that either Josiah witnessed or heard immediately of his father's murder. So it was into this kind of a world that Josiah was born. But, Josiah was able to turn his nation around for the Lord. He became a great king. How was he able to do this? I think there were at least four influences in his life which had a profound effect upon him and allowed God to use him to turn his nation around.
I. He Had A Godly Mother. 2 Kings 22:1-2
A. Her name was Jedidah
B. Jedidah means "beloved of God or beloved of Jehovah"
C. Abraham Lincoln said, "No person is poor who has a godly mother."
D. Never underestimate the influence of godly parents.
II. He Made A Personal Decision
A. Note 2 Chronicles 34:3
1. "He began to seek after the God of David his father"
2. Next, "he began to purge Judah"
3. Then in v8, he repaired the house of the Lord.
B. Notice the chronology of Josiah
1. At eight he became king
2. At sixteen he made a decision that would change his life and the life of his entire nation.
3. At twenty he got rid of the places of idolatry and false worship.
4. At age twenty-six he ordered the repair of God's house, the temple.
C. Note this decision.
1. No one forced him to make this decision
2. He deliberately chose to break his family (father's) tradition and he began to seek the God of his father David.
3. Everyone of us need to make this kind of decision.
a. Rather than continuing on the way we are going.
b. Instead of going along with the crowd.
c. Instead of sitting on the fence of indecision.
d. I'm not talking about getting saved, but that may apply to some,
e. I'm talking about getting serious about serving god with your life now!
III. He responded to the Word of God.
A. The discovery of the word (v14-18)
1. Manasseh had forsaken the Scriptures as well as the true worship of God, and Josiah's father, Amon, had continued in the wickedness.
2. Josiah sent workmen to repair the house of God and along with them went Hilkiah the high priest and Shaphan the scribe.
3. Hilkiah found "a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses."
4. Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan and he, in turn, read it before the king.
B. The power of the Word of God (v19-21)
1. Keep in mind that for fifty years the Word of God had not been proclaimed.
2. Josiah had never heard or read God's Word.
3. He may have been taught some of the Godly principles by his mother, but the Word of God had been forsaken for fifty years.
4. When the young king heard the Word of God read, he immediately responded by acts of repentance.
5. He recognized that the nation of Israel was in disobedience to God and subject to God's wrath.
6. He sought to know more of what God had to say.
C. How do we respond to God's Word?
1. We have Bibles in every size, color, and style.
2. But do we read them?
3. Jesus said, "man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Lu. 4:4
4. Do we take the "cafeteria" approach to the Bible, where we pick and choose what we obey or apply?
5. Josiah took the "all you can eat" approach, he couldn't get enough!
6. The Word of God had a great influence on this young man, because he was open to it and responded to it willingly.
IV. He had a tender heart. 2 Ki. 22:19-20
A. Note God's estimation of Josiah (v19)
1. His heart was tender...
2. He humbled himself before God ...
3. He showed a repentant spirit toward God...
B. Note God's promise to Josiah (v20)
1. When you die, you will die in peace.
2. You will not have to witness the wrath of God poured out on this wicked nation.
C. Do not allow your heart to become hardened
1. Some of us have been in church a long time, we have heard the Word so much that it has become common, we are so hardened toward it that we can hear it or read it and it means nothing to us!
2. Some of us think that it Isn't important to read the Bible and to pray ... Or even to attend church and Sunday school!
3. Sin will harden our hearts toward God
4. To keep our hearts tender, we must stay in the word, remain faithful to God's house, get involved in serving the Lord.
5. We need to continue to pray (not only for our needs, but for the needs of others).
God took a little boy at age eight and made him the king of Israel. He used this little boy to turn an entire nation back to himself. Josiah was able to be used by God because...
He made a real difference in his world. We don't have to wait to get started, we can begin making a difference right now!