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Obedience Series: the cost of Obedience (week 4)

King Josiah – he is remembered as Judah’s most obedient King
His story can be found in 2 King chapters 22 & 23 and 2 Chronicles chapters 33-35.
Josiah was the 16th King of Judah and one of the few good kings. It was said of most of the Kings before and after him that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. But of Josiah it was said that he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
I saw three different lessons that we can learn from Josiah; the cost of obedience, the key to obedience, and a warning about disobedience. We will also recap some of the blessings of obedience.
Here are some of the milestones of Josiah’s life.
He was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years.
Parents of teenagers and soon to be teenagers will probably find this milestone in particular encouraging. At the age of 16 he began to seek the God of his father David.
At the age of 20 he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the idol worship of Asherah and Baal.
At the age of 26 he ordered the repair of the temple.
During the repair of the temple Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law (Deuteronomy) that had been written by Moses and had been lost during the reign of the evil kings. He gave it to Shaphan the secretary who read from it in the presence of King Josiah.
Josiah’s immediate response to the reading was repentance and humility with a promise to follow God’s commands as written in the book.
After consulting with the prophetess Huldah he called together all the leaders, the priests and all the people from the least to the greatest and read aloud from the book. Josiah renewed the covenant to follow the Lord and keep his commands and to obey the words written in this book. He asked everyone there to pledge themselves to it as well. Josiah also removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites.
What caught my attention in this story was Josiah’s reaction. He immediately repented and knew he needed to make changes to be obedient to follow what was written in the book of the law.
There were no excuses, no blaming someone else, or trying to minimize any wrong behaviour or attitudes.
It made me think what is my reaction when I read the Bible? And we have the whole story not just the book of Deuteronomy. What is my response when I see that my life does not line up with all that is written inside? Am I willing to make changes? Am I willing to pay the cost?

The Cost of Obedience
There is a cost.
Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
The more that we love what the world has to offer, the more we will miss out on what Christ has to offer.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
So what are some of the areas of our lives that the Holy Spirit through the scriptures could be showing us where we need to make some changes or need correction?
It could be in some of the areas that were mentioned during our series on Walking in Wisdom.
Is it our thoughts? Are we letting our imagination take us where we shouldn’t be going?
Are we allowing worry and fear to rob us of the joy and peace that God has for us?
What about our words? Are we building up or tearing people down? What about the words we speak about ourselves?
Are we choosing life?
What about the programs we watch on television, the movies we watch, the books that we read or some of the places we go?
Are we willing to be trendsetters in the places where we work or go to school? Are we willing to be the ones who won’t complain or criticize and to stand apart from the rest who do?
There are two other areas that I felt impressed to talk about this morning.
The first one is tithing. Not always a popular subject in church but one that God challenged me about a few years ago.
Sometimes we feel that we can’t tithe like we should because we have bills to pay, debts to pay back, groceries to buy, etc. etc. But it was my experience that the tighter that you grasp on to your money and hold back on tithing, the less you will have.
The Holy Spirit kept bringing Malachi 3:10 to my mind.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
The words “test me in this” kept repeating in my head. I sometimes find that when God wants you to do something it’s on repeat until you do.
Now if God is speaking to you about testing Him regarding tithing it is because He wants to bless you not only monetarily but in other areas of your life as well. I can testify:
• that your money will go further;
• your debts will be paid off sooner than you thought;
• and other doors of blessing will be opened to you.
Also I think we need to think of money, not as our money, but as His money and to be wise stewards of what belongs to Him.
The other issue that God impressed upon me was unforgiveness.
I can also tell you from experience that unforgiveness takes up a lot of space in your head.
We keep reliving the circumstances that happened over and over in our memories. When we do this it also brings up all the negative emotions that went with it.
Sometimes we add to it by having these imaginary conversations with ourselves about what we will say or do the next time we see the person who caused us harm. All this affects our physical and mental wellbeing in a negative way. We are the person who suffers not the one who we have something against.
We may have a person in our life that we find difficult to deal with, maybe even a family member. God spoke to me earlier this year that I needed an attitude adjustment towards someone.
God used this verse to speak to me.
1 John 4:20
If anyone says “I love God,” but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen?
I don’t know how God corrects you. Maybe he uses a little more TLC with you but I always find He just gets right to the point with me.
It reminds me of that verse in:
Hebrews 4:12
For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.
God knows all. Nothing is hidden from him. We may try to justify our reasons but the Bible clearly says that we need to forgive.

But there is a key to obedience and in the life of Josiah we see that key.
The Key to Obedience
2 Kings 23:25
Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
That verse reminds me of what Jesus answered when he was asked by the Pharisees which is the greatest commandment in the Law

Matthew 22:34-39
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
In his response Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:9 and Leviticus 19:18.
Jesus was saying we must decide to love Him more than:
• any other person,
• any activity,
• any achievement we might obtain
• or any possession we owned.
We must be fully committed to him alone. We should seek to know him and his Word, so that his teachings and values form the very foundation of all we think and do.
This was the mind-set that Josiah had. He made a decision to get serious with God. I believe at some point in our Christian walk we all need to make that decision to get serious with God because it doesn’t work to have one foot in the world and the other foot in the Kingdom of God. We will be frustrated and unhappy. We will miss out on all that God had planned for us and most importantly so will the people that God wanted us to impact for Him. We all have people in our lives that we will have an influence on, whether for good or bad, which would include our family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and others that we come in contact with. Our effect on others is something that we need to take seriously.

Obedience is a choice but it is also an act of worship as we read in
Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Or as the Message translation puts it:

God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

A Warning about Disobedience
Even though Josiah is remember as Judah’s most obedient King his story also comes with a warning about disobedience. One act of disobedience cost Josiah his life at the age of 39. He got involved in something that God warned him not to.
2 Chronicles 35:20-24
After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”
Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.
Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.
Now I am not saying that we will die if we disobey God because if that were true none of us would be here today.
What I see here is that Josiah didn’t ask God for wisdom in this situation and even though God tried to warn him he didn’t believe that God would speak to him through a king of a pagan nation. But God can speak to us through any person or any way He chooses.
God knows the plans He has for us; to give us hope and a future. If God is telling us something it is for our good.

The Blessings of Obedience
God promises that we will be blessed.
Genesis 22:18
And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.

Exodus 19:5
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.

James 1:22–25
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Luke 11:28
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.
There is that word practice again. Not a very exciting word but that is how permanent change happens in us. We need to put things like obedience into practice.
Yes, it will take work but let’s remember that we are not doing this in our own strength or willpower but we have God the Holy Spirit. That same power that raised Christ from the dead has chosen to live in these bodies of ours. He is everything we need to do this.
I would like to read Matthew 17:1-5. There are three words that caught my attention that I don’t think I saw before as I do now.
Matthew 17:1-8
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Yes, let’s listen and be obedient to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.
Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Sharon Rideout

Verdun Community Church