January 1, 2015

Start Today

The word “begin” means to start, to set in motion. There was a point in my life when I chose to begin something very personal—a diet and exercise program, with the goal of losing weight and becoming more physically fit. I have a real sweet tooth, and a special love for under-cooked brownies made with Ghirardelli chocolate and placed in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens. Also, I love cheese cake, apple pie, berry cobbler, and chocolate chip cookies, along with many other treats. As a teenager, my activities helped me get away with eating sweets. However, in my twenties when I began to work full-time sitting at a desk, my body began to reflect the consequences of my eating habits.

In the early years of our marriage, if there was a functioning scale in our home, I did not care to stand on it. I did not expect to like what it would tell me. Eventually I began to experience drowsiness during the day, and would find myself needing a ten-minute nap after lunch. Sometimes I would ask people who had lost weight, “How did you do it?” But finally one year on a Thursday in August, I decided to begin changing my eating habits. Cookies, brownies, and all high-sugar items were purged from my diet, and salads, fruits, and vegetables were increased. It was a beginning, and in time my weight began to go down and my energy level up.

There was a point of beginning to my diet, and it was very personal to me. The same is true spiritually. In our walk with God there will be beginnings, and they will be very personal. We can see examples of this in the account of King Josiah’s life, which mentions four times when he began a significant action.

The first is found in 2 Chronicles 34:1, “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign.” At that time he became the king of Judah in place of his father.

When Josiah was sixteen years old, we read of a second significant beginning action: “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father” (2 Chronicles 34:3). There had been many examples before Josiah of people taking an opposite course of action. His grandfather, Manasseh, reigned fifty-five years and was a very evil king for half that time. He drove Judah into idolatry, and brought idol worship into the house of God. Then he was taken captive for twelve years, and during that time repented. He was freed and his kingdom restored. However, his son Amon followed his reign and transgressed God’s commandments increasingly. After reigning two years, he was slain by his own people, who then made Josiah king.

Even though Josiah’s father and grandfather had been evil, he began to seek God—an action no doubt prompted at least in part by the burden of leading the nation of Judah. Josiah could see the need for revival. Maybe he recognized his inadequacy. Whatever the reason, he began to seek God.

We also need to begin to seek God. When we look around at the trouble and immorality in our world, we should cry out to God to help us. On a personal basis, when God calls us to follow Him, we should begin to seek Him with all our hearts.

Josiah experienced prosperity and success at a young age. He had power and riches, but they did not corrupt him. Certainly he faced temptations to leave the path of following God, but he did not give in.

The third action began when Josiah was twenty: “And in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images” (2 Chronicles 34:3). Judah and Jerusalem were full of symbols of idolatry. There were idols carved from wood and those that were molded out of metal—a variety of idols. Josiah removed them all and made dust of them. The Bible says, “They brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence” (2 Chronicles 34:4). It seems that Josiah was there to make sure his instructions were carried out. He took care of matters in his own life, in the nation he governed, and also in the areas where he had power.

When we seek God, we will progress. Our priorities will change, and we may be moved to do some purging in our lives. As we draw closer to God, He will help us to see if there are hindrances to our spiritual walk.

When we seek God, we will progress. Our priorities will change, and we may be moved to do some purging in our lives. As we draw closer to God, He will help us to see if there are hindrances to our spiritual walk. If so, we need to pray, “Lord, I do not want anything to hinder me. Help me!” For example, maybe you own questionable movies or music. Don’t just file them away somewhere. Get rid of them! Make a permanent change. That will bring God’s blessing and revival into your soul.

Our lives also influence others. At times we may need to speak up or take a stand for righteousness against our peers. We can guide our children and be certain that our homes are holy, a place where God can bless. In the workplace, we want others to know that we honor God. In all areas of our lives, we want to be certain that God is the supreme Ruler and we are glorifying Him.

Josiah began his fourth significant action at the age of twenty-six—he began to repair and rebuild the Temple of the Lord. The previous kings of Judah had neglected and even destroyed it. Seeking God did not only necessitate purging the idols, but it also meant repairing the house of God. Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, had repented half way through his reign, but the idols he had established were not completely removed, and God’s house remained in disrepair. Josiah felt the burden of that situation and began to restore it.

Seeking God is not only about getting rid of things that hinder us spiritually, but also making certain that worshiping the Lord has priority in our lives. What is the condition of your spiritual temple? Has it been neglected? How are the daily sacrifices? Today, you can say, “Lord, I made consecrations long ago. By Your grace, I want to begin anew to actively worship You.” How is your personal altar of prayer? Are your petitions to God going up with praise and thanksgiving? If you find yourself lacking, you can begin to repair that altar.

As the people of Judah were repairing and restoring the Temple, they came across the Book of the Law. When it was brought to Josiah and read to him, he was greatly troubled by what he heard. He was grieved by what grieved God, and he learned that Judah’s ways would bring judgment. He consulted the prophetess, who confirmed that Judah would be destroyed. However, she also said that because Josiah was faithful, he would be spared and would not see this come to pass. Then Josiah gathered the elders, the priests, the Levites, and all the people “great and small” and read to them from the Law of God. “And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statues, 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).

How do we receive the Word of God? It is very accessible to us. As we seek God, we will want to make sure that we are aligned to the Bible. We can make a beginning by purposing to seek God wholeheartedly and repairing any areas that have been neglected in our spiritual lives.

We read that Josiah “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). He began well, he continued well, and he ended well. He did not deviate or take a detour, but he stayed with the godly path that David had proven. We can have the same said of us if we will begin and then continue on.

apostolic faith magazine