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Daniel 1:1-2 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

God is patient and long-suffering. Yet he will do what he says he will do. The people had taken God’s patience for granted until even God’s patience had run out.

God’s covenant with King David and with Solomon was “I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.” (1 Chronicles 28:7 NIV) But even King Solomon had begun the downward spiral of the Jewish nation by marrying foreign wives and making allowances for them to worship their Gods.

There were few kings over the Jewish people who followed God. Josiah was one who repented immediately when he heard for the first time the Book of the Law. If Josiah had not repented, God would have allowed the Israelites to fall captive to Babylon earlier.

But the people had once again become corrupt and God could no longer look away. God brought in the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites, carrying them off along with the items from the temple of God, and placed them in their foreign god’s house.

Lord God, May we never forget who you are. May we never forget your promises to us or your commands, lest we become defeated by our enemies. Keep us steadfast in service to you, oh God.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Psalm 141:1-4 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

This Psalm is written by David. It is a good prayer to use to start any day. Verses 1 & 2 express the intimacy that David felt when he talked with the LORD in prayer. I love how David anticipates that God sees his prayers like incense rising up to him.

David is not hesitant to lift up his hands to the God in prayer. I remember how self-conscious I felt when I first tried this. But then I did a little reflecting on other times when I reach toward other things I like with no sense of embarrassment at all. I would not hesitate to reach toward a beautiful flower, vase, or butterfly. It would not embarrass me to reach out to a baby or child to express love to them. We reach out our hands to our pets. Our hands seem to be designed for expressing love. I can feel my heart lifting to God as I reach up to him.

Verse 3 needs to be planted in my heart and mind 24/7. It is so easy to speak first and think later with regret. What a powerful prayer for every day of the week. Verse 4 follows 3 very appropriately. It is as if once the careless words are spoken we are all the more susceptible to go along with the crowd in other ways as well.

Re-read this scripture and offer it up to God in prayer. Lift your hands to him and speak the prayer out loud.

Lord, give us the courage…

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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The following scripture references will be the focus of this blog for the next week.  These selections were established in the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2004 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

March 31:  Psalm 141:1-4

April 1:  Daniel 1:1-2

April 2:  Daniel 1:3-7

April 3:  Daniel 1:8-10

April 4:  Daniel 1:11-14

April 5:  Daniel 1:15-17

April 6:  Daniel 1:18-21

As always, my intent is to post on the day or earlier, though personal circumstances may interfere with this plan. I am currently employed full-time so must write this blog in my spare time.

I would like to find one to four qualified and like-minded Christian writers to supply posts on my behalf between May 20 and June 15, 2008. If you are interested, please contact me through email at queenbjan (at) msn (dot) com.

Psalm 119:33-40 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

What a wonderful passage. This does not need any explanation. It only needs to be made into the prayer of our hearts. I encourage my readers to read this scripture several times, and at least one of the times you read it, make it your prayer.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 34:29-33 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

King Josiah set his sights on following God with his whole heart. He called together all the people of Judah for them to hear all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had recently been discovered while restoring the temple of the Lord. Then the king renewed his covenant with the LORD to follow and obey his commands as they had been written in the Book of the Covenant with all his heart and soul. He then instructed all the people in Jerusalem and Benjamin to pledge themselves to the covenant as well. Then Josiah once more purged the Israelite territory of all idols.

Our national leaders are not permitted to make such covenants on behalf of our country in the United States. But wouldn’t it be a blessing if our spiritual leaders – those in authority over our denominations and our individual churches would lead with such devotion to God coupled with such courage.

I feel I keep repeating myself at times on this blog, but these are the things that continually stand out as I read these passages of scripture. If God can continue to give the same message, I guess it is permissible for me to give the same interpretation of what I feel he is saying. Let us covenant to pray for our leaders every day.

Father, forgive me when I let myself become too absorbed in my own daily activities to find the time to pray for the leaders you have given to us. Help us all as your children to pray faithfully for those who are responsible for the direction in which our churches and denominations are going. Bless these leaders by giving them new insights that are from you alone. Give them discernment to separate the wheat from the tares when they listen to the advice they receive from others, and may their decisions always bring glory to your name.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 34:22-28 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

God honors those who honor him. Josiah had chosen to honor God by removing the high places, and Asherah poles. He honored God by restoring the temple. And he honored God by reading the recently found Book of the Law. As he read the book he became keenly aware of the guilt of the Israelites and the many ways they had sinned against God. Josiah repented by tearing his robes and by seeking the Lord’s counsel.

Because of Josiah’s repentant heart, God chose to honor him in his lifetime and to postpone his wrath on the Israelite nation.

If there was ever a time when repentance was needed it is today. It is needed at every level from leadership to those in the upper, middle, and lower status positions in government and society in general – even in our churches and denominations.

As individuals, we must begin with ourselves. We must prayerfully reflect on our own lives and repent (agree with God about the sins in our lives and make the necessary changes) of any sins we see. Only then can we effectively pray for our churches, our society in general, and for its leaders.

Father God, you see our sins much more clearly than our clouded eyes are able to see. Help us to see through your eyes the things we need to repent of in our own lives. Give us willing hearts to address these problems and to deal with them in a Godly way ridding our lives of them completely. Then bring to mind the leaders that we need to be praying for on a regular basis. Lead us Lord, in the way you would have us to go.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 34:19-21 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Josiah was receptive to the words of the Law as it was read to him. He was also grievously aware of how far the Israelite nation had strayed from God’s commands. He tore his robe in response to the anguish that was in his heart.

Josiah then sent a select group of men including Hilkiah his high priest to inquire of the LORD about what he had heard. He had suddenly come to fear God’s wrath because of the sins of his people.

Josiah was not a cowardly sort of person. He had struck down the priests of the high places as well as their idols and altars. He had embraced the challenge to restore the temple, and was eager to hear the word of God. But what a difference the hearing of the word had made in his life. He was suddenly aware of what God had demanded of his people and was immediately under conviction for them. Josiah had a receptive heart, and was both willing and able to hear what the Lord God wanted him to hear.

God was able to bless Josiah because he listened to God and was prepared to adjust his path accordingly.

Are we prepared to listen to God and to adjust our paths accordingly? It is the application of God’s Word to our hearts and lives that makes it possible for God to bless us. Consider James 22-25 which begins, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (NIV) The true benefit we receive from reading God’s word comes from applying it to our daily lives.

Father God, give us willing hearts to hear your word and to faithfully apply it to our lives. Teach us to see ourselves as you see us as we faithfully study your word.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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2 Chronicles 34:8-18 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

King Josiah didn’t stop with tearing down the evil high places where the people made sacrifices to foreign gods; he also had it in his heart to restore Solomon’s temple.

There had been so many wicked kings since the time of King David. Even King Solomon had allowed the high places to be established to please his foreign wives. The great temple that Solomon had built had long since become a pile of ruins. 

Josiah chose three men to put in motion plans to restore the temple. The people had been taxed to fund the project, and willingly they brought all the funds needed for the restoration. The Levites supervised everything.

An important discovery was made while the temple was being built. Hilkiah, the priest found the copy of the Book of the Law that Moses had given to the Israelites. The men brought the book to King Josiah who was eager to hear what it said.

Josiah was sold out to God. Even as a youth he saw the evils in his day and set out with resolve to make changes. He saw what needed tearing down AND he saw what needed to be built up. It was in the process of building up – of restoring the temple – that the holy scriptures which had long since been forgotten were brought to light.

This is but one more example of God’s faithfulness to his promises. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)

How close is your relationship with God? It is likely to be in direct proportion to the amount of effort you are putting into seeking him. Are you, like Josiah, sold out for God? Or have you pulled yourself into your own world with blinders firmly attached? Are you seeking a closer walk with God, or are you satisfied with lesser gods of busy-ness and wealth.

Almighty God, break down the barriers we have allowed to separate us from being sold out for you. Cause us to lose our desire for lesser things that push you out of our thinking. Awaken the hunger that you have placed in our hearts; make it gnaw away at us until we take definite steps to draw closer to you in daily study and prayer. Put new life into our daily walk that we may be salt and light that draws others around us to seek you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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2 Chronicles 34:1-7 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Eight year old Josiah became king when his father was assassinated. His father was an evil king who did not have a heart for the things of God; but young Josiah did what was right. After he had been king for eight years (at age 16) he began to seek God, and by the time he was 20 he began removing the high places (where sacrifices were made to foreign gods), Asherah poles, and idols. He also tore down the altars to the Baals and broke to pieces the idols and scattered the pieces over the graves of the people who had been sacrificed to these idols. He also slaughtered the priests of those high places and burned their bones on their own altars. (2 Kings 23:20)

I believe the average person today has no concept of what was involved when the people established these altars to the Baals and to Molech. It was much more grievous than pretending some statue had some kind of power, like a rabbit foot or lucky charm; though that in itself is an affront to God who commanded us to have no other gods before him. But the sacrifices made on these altars were often the worshiper’s own children. The Asherah poles and idols were built for gods of sensuality.

When we compare behaviors today to those idolatrous people we have been reading about, we find some very unsettling parallels. Our society uses sexual overtones to sell everything from toothpaste to cars, clothing, and even children’s toys. TV and movies are dominated by crude jokes and sexual themes. Advertising is designed to whet our appetites beyond what we need or can afford. The rights of women to “choose” to sacrifice their children to abortion has been a major plank in one of our nation’s (U.S.A.) political parties. Often these decisions to abort are based on selfish greed, to avoid the additional expenses of inconveniently timed childbirth. God cannot be pleased with these behaviors or with those who profit from them.

What is our reaction to these lifestyles? Does it sicken us to the core? Or do we merely look the other way, or dismiss it with a wink or a joke? It is time we, as Christians, take seriously our commitment to our God and speak out and/or find other ways to bring about a spiritual awakening in our country. We cannot afford to be lukewarm Christians in our day.

Father God, open our eyes to the sin that is all around us. Help us to live our lives in a way that others will see your light in our walk. Plant such a hunger in our hearts that we will regularly search your Word for knowledge and wisdom. And prepare us to carry your Word to the hurting world around us.

 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:25-32 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

We are about to begin a study of Josiah, the boy king. I believe this Psalm was selected for today’s scripture because it reflected so well the barrenness of the spiritual condition of the Jewish nation when Josiah began his reign.

This passage would not only have encouraged Josiah in Bible times, it is written for us today as well. Perhaps you are at an all-time low and you are tempted to believe that God has abandoned you because of your circumstances. The psalmist is writing from the perspective of the dust heap–he is feeling great sorrow.

But the psalmist is lifting his eyes to the Lord. He is pleading with God to teach him his laws so he could meditate on them through his time of sorrow. He is praying that God will strengthen him through the scriptures, that he will keep him from becoming deceitful, from trying to rise in his own strength. He resolves to continue in the way of truth with his heart set on the laws of God, and prays that God will not allow him to be put to shame. The psalmist is able to run in the freedom he has received from following God’s paths.

Are we willing to trust in the scriptures to lift us out of our own despair? I recall a Sunday when I was so deep in despair that I couldn’t bear to attend our worship service for fear I would make a spectacle of myself through my tears. Instead, I armed myself with my Bible and some scripture-based music tapes and drove to a secluded place to worship my God in private. I cried as I listened to one song after another. I looked up the scriptures the musicians sang. Even though the tears continued to flow, they gradually changed from tears of grief to tears of hope and then joy. I returned home with a new lift to my spirit. I was ready to face whatever came my way.

Father God, we thank and praise you that you know our hearts and that you care. Just as Jesus wept for Martha and Mary in their grief, you weep for us when we are hurting. Help us to never forget your love, and to never forget to lift our eyes to you when we feel discouraged. You have promised to never let us down. Thank you for always being there for us.

P.S. As I was uploading this message God blessed my heart with the song “You Are My Hiding Place” on the radio and my tears again flowed, as he had been my hiding place on that day I just wrote about. God will bless you if you will give him the opportunity. (Psalm 32:7 is the scripture that inspired this song)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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