We’ve focused upon Living on Purpose since March, and Restoration since August. Now, let’s continue with transformation. God wants to transform us.
When we live on purpose, i.e., for God’s purposes, then we learn contentment in all situations.
We are tempted to worry about the state of the world and what it will be like for our children and grandchildren.
But, let’s not quit or lose hope, for, there IS hope in Jesus; and He’s Coming.
Some of us, however, live under the shadow of our past. Perhaps we made serious errors, mistakes and sins in the past, and that weigh heavily on us.
Maybe our life’s decisions turned out badly.
We’re sometimes tempted to give up and quit.
We don’t think that there is any hope for us.
Now, if we don’t fall into this category, then let’s be thankful, and be ready to help those who need a life of Purpose…RESTORATION by the Spirit of God, and TRANSFORMATION by His Word.
The Scriptures teach to not be conformed to the world’s image but to be transformed by renewed minds.
Let’s teach our wills to follow God’s will.
It is not God’s will for us to do whatever we want, or to have whatever we want.
It is not God’s will for us to remain in a sinful pattern that we have inherited, but it is God’s Will that we would be transformed, and that we would tear down the paganism that the world, the sinful flesh and the devil have erected within our souls.
Let’s rid ourselves of whatever obscures our soul’s view of God.
.If there is anything constant in the world, today, it is change.
And yet, we as the Body of Christ are followers of the One who does not change.
Remember our mission…
The Mission of the River is to Connect the changing community with the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is God’s mission, too.
When God called Abraham, he was living in a deteriorated society, but out of that broken civilization, God promised to make him into a great nation.
Within a few generations, his people were slaves in Egypt, and after 400 years, they were delivered by God through Moses.
They conquered the Promised Land through Joshua and the judges, and then became a kingdom, led by Saul, David and Solomon, successively.
But, due to Solomon’s sins, the kingdom divided into North & South (Israel & Judah).
The Northern kings were all evil, and they were conquered by Assyria.
Many of the kings in the South were also evil.
The days for the kingdom of Judah were coming to an end.
One king grew up as the son and the grandson of evil kings, so, we might think that there would be no hope for him, and yet, he brought about a reformation and a transformation.
You see, even those who come from TROUBLED homes can find God and be used of Him.
Josiah did not long for the good old days or for “back then,” but instead, wished to go forward by living according to the Word of God.
This King began to Live on Purpose. He sought restoration with God and was transformed.
Jesus came to establish His kingdom. He did this in the hearts of people who were under the Roman Emperor. Throughout that Empire and beyond, the gospel spread.
These people were subjects of the emperor, but they were really subjects of the King of kings and the Lord of lords: Jesus.
I want us to look at the life of King Josiah, today, and see how his kingdom was transformed by the Word of God.
1 … 22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. … 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
2 Kings 22:1-20 NIV
Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for Your Word, today. Thank You for Your Word, and making it known to us.
We want so much to live as people transformed by Your Word and by Your plan. We determine, today, that we will follow You without turning away from You or Your Will.
We love You and praise You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I wish we had time to read the whole chapter, though we’ll read some of it. There are details that I think are important for us to keep in mind relating to transformation.
First, what needs transformation?
- A World without the Word
Before Josiah’s Reign, the worship of God had been replaced with the worship of Baal and Molech.
The very religion that God wanted wiped out, was being practiced in the Temple, in which God had made a place for HIS NAME.
How did this happen?
The people turned from God, and on top of that, they lost God’s Word, literally.
Here in the US, there are other forms of paganism erecting altars and idols.
We were founded upon Christian principles, but Judah was also founded as a theocratic nation…a nation in which God was supreme and His Word was supposed to be Law.
Many want to see our nation return to God, but the answer is not in politics.
Just this week, it became clear that a Pro-life senator from Pennsylvania was not really Pro-life.
I am sure that Christians in Pennsylvania voted for this man because he talked Pro-life.
I’m not trying to condemn this senator, but we ourselves need to remember that we need a RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST, to be close to Jesus and ready to repent. We need to live our lives as people who are transformed by God’s Word.
When we recognize that we are not following God’s will…His law, love, etc., then we need reform and restoration
Josiah was a reformer, Jesus was a reformer. The goal of restoration is REFORMATION & TRANSFORMATION.
THE LOST BOOK, FOUND
King Josiah ordered for the Temple to be renovated, and during that time, a book was found.
It must have been the first five books of the Bible, which we refer to as the Books of Moses.
It may seem odd that there’s a story in the Bible about the Jews having “lost” the Bible, but it makes sense.
The Hebrew kings were supposed to make a copy of the law and refer to it.
They were supposed to lead a kingdom of priests who would reveal God to the world, yet, instead they became like the world.
They worshiped the gods of the people around them.
Most likely, they turned from God, first, by neglecting His Word and then lost the Word.
Martin Luther, 500 years ago, discovered the Bible. He had been a monk, and only knew the teachings of the Church, but had not known the Word of God.
As he studied the Scriptures, he began to realize that the Church wasn’t following the Bible.
He set out to help the Church, and became a reformer.
Over the years, I’ve heard many Roman Catholics say that the majority of their fellow Catholics still don’t read the Bible.
But, I want to address us and my fellow “Protestants:”
Do we read the Bible?
It is very easy to fall out of the habit of reading God’s Word, and it takes work to continue in the regular reading of the Bible.
One of the things that Martin Luther did was to translate the Bible into the language of his people.
This made the Bible accessible to more.
When the Bible is accessible to more people, there are usually changes in society.
In the modern Church of Turkey, growth took place once the Bible was translated into modern Turkish (it’s not much growth in numbers, but by percentage it is growing).
I know that if I mention President Trump, there are those who might get excited and there are those who won’t.
We cannot change the fact that Trump was elected, even if we didn’t see it coming. And we must pray for him, as for all of our leaders.
Donald Trump was/is a successful businessman, and in many ways, he, also, has been a leading sinner in our nation.
I don’t come to praise Trump, for this is God’s pulpit, but let’s see something interesting:
President Trump quoted the Scriptures when he addressed the nation after the horrific shootings in Las Vegas.
That doesn’t make him a good president, but it is wonderful that this man, who had previously been known for his flagrant lifestyle has somehow allowed himself speak God’s Word to a hurting nation.
Who would have thought?
And when I saw the prayer vigil at Las Vegas city hall, with people singing “How Great Is Our God,” I was shocked, in a good way.
You see, we need to pray for our leaders, as Pastor Ernie reminded us last week, in order to live peaceful and quiet lives.
While we might not expect to hear Donald Trump quoting Scripture, nor would we expect Las Vegas City Hall to have prayer and Christian Worship, it happened and we saw a brief glimpse of transformation.
Yeah, I know, any minute now, Trump will spout off another goofy tweet and Las Vegas continues to be the Sin Capital of the world, but for those moments, God’s Word peaked through.
Las Vegas will recover, and hopefully never forget that life can end tragically and suddenly, and we need to align ourselves with the worship of God and His Holy Word…let’s do it now, and not wait for another disaster.
When Josiah found God’s Word, he changed, and so did his kingdom.
God’s Word made a difference and it made a difference around the world during the Protestant Reformation.
Let’s give God’s Word precedence over our lives.
- The partnership
We need to take the lead in our own life’s restoration, renovation and reformation so that the Bible can cause transformation in us.
Before Josiah had found God’s Word, he was following it. He began to clean up his kingdom.
He got rid of altars and idols in Jerusalem and even in other locations in the kingdom and beyond.
He did this because he recognized that his people had not followed God.
He did this in partnership, too.
Several different groups partnered with him, and I see a parallel for us, today.
He partnered with the educated.
Some people look at education as greater than the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but education is meant to build us up.
Why did God give the Church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers?
12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12, 13
- Build Up
- Reach Unity
- Become Mature
All these refer to education that we experience fullness in Christ.
When we look further into the Scriptures about King Josiah, we see that he relied upon his secretary/scribe for help.
We don’t see education separating Josiah from transformation, but we see it helping him toward it.
10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 2 Kings 22:10, 11
In addition to partnering with the educated, he partnered with the spiritual.
God gives prophets to the Church as He gave prophets to the kingdom of Josiah. Josiah enquired of the prophets.
12 [Josiah] gave these orders …. 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
14 Hilkiah the priest, … went to speak to the prophet Huldah, …
15 She said to them, …16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ … [to Josiah] 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people…, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace.
2 Kings 22:12, 13-17, 19, 20
Josiah was able to enact his reformation because of
- partnership with the educated, which enabled him to hear the Word of God,
- and partnership with the spiritual, which enabled him to pray and connect with God’s spirit.
- AND HE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS TIME. WE NEED TO DO THIS, TOO. EVERYTHING WRITTEN IN THE BIBLE ABOUT THE END WILL COME AS JUDGMENT ON THE EARTH, HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
Often, I like to remind us that God has given us three gifts to help us us:
Three Gifts to the Believer
- God’s Word-The Bible
- God’s Spirit-through a prayer relationship
- Christ’s Body-the Church
How does His body relate to Josiah’s reforms?
The people partnered with him
- by giving,
- by following and
- by supporting his reforms.
It was the financial giving that enabled Josiah to renovate the Temple and take out all of the pagan altars and shrines that had been erected.
And it was in the process of those acts of repentance that the Book of the Law was found which that has been hidden from them for various reasons:
- Because of their upbringing
- Because of their culture
- Because society is broken
Is the Word of God hidden from us?
Have we lost God’s Word?
Has the Bible’s authority been eroded by the views of modern society and the media?
The kingdom of Judah couldn’t have lost God’s Law overnight, but it must have been a gradual decline.
A gradual inclusion of other authority, other religion.
I wonder how many bystanders there were among the Hebrew people who watched what was happening to their nation, but did not pray…I wonder how many didn’t go to their neighbor and reintroduce them to the Word and Plan of God.
They may have complained saying, “Our society is going downhill fast,” but were they willing to fast a meal and pray?
Were they willing to help their neighbor avoid danger, which would then help the future society? Or were they just thinking,
“Hmm, God’s Word states that we are going to be judged…we will be sent off to another land in exile, so I’ll just wait until the end.”
Josiah learned God’s Word that God was bringing judgment on His people, and he led them into reform.
We know that Jesus is coming back, possibly very soon, so let’s not just wait for Him to come back, but let’s be transformed, and encourage others to be transformed.
Even blatant pagans in society today had parents who followed the Word of God.
Who are we going to follow?
Let us be people of restoration, submitting to God’s transformation.
Let Christ’s peace rule our hearts, minds and lives.
When we submit to His rule, then we can sing, heartily, what we sang at the beginning,
“You are good, good!”
“You’re never gonna let me down.”
Because we submit to His Word, His Rule, His Love, His Kingdom.
Don’t let the Bible get lost from our attention, but daily read and daily be restored.
Partner with each other in prayer, service, fellowship and giving.
Let’s be the restoration, the renovation, the reformation by Christ’s Transformation.
Let’s let God’s Word transform us, and then let’s see the transformation around us.