Summary: I avoid being mastered by my circumstances by entrusting my circumstances to the Master
This morning I’d like to begin with a short quiz. There ae really no “right” or “wrong” answers to these questions. This is more of a self-evaluation tool, so I’m not going to ask for a show of hands or make you turn in an answer sheet, but for your own good, it is important that you answer honestly. For each of these statements, just mentally note whether the statement is true or not true in your life:
1. My first reaction to a setback is to blame someone else for what happened.
2. I feel like no matter what I do, things really aren’t going to change for me.
3. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about past failures and mistakes.
4. I’m always so busy with work and the things I need to do to survive that I just don’t have the time to do the things that I’d really like to do.
5. I often find myself beginning my thoughts with phrases like “I can’t…”, “I’m no good at…”, or “I’ve never been able to...”
6. When friends offer advice, I usually answer, “Yes, but…” since they can’t possibly know how difficult my situation really is.
7. Conversations with friends are often about how hard my life is.
8. I never get what I deserve.
9. Other people are a whole lot luckier than I am.
If you answered false to every one of those statements, congratulations! That means that you rarely, if ever, get caught up playing the victim. And for you, perhaps at least parts of this message won’t be as relevant as they are for the rest of us. If one or two of these statements are true for you, you’re probably pretty normal. There are times in your life when you feel like a victim, but that’s not the norm. However, if you answered more than half of these questions true, then the reality is that you are probably living a life of victimhood.
But regardless of how you answered, the good news for all of us this morning is that we don’t have to be mastered by our circumstances. Regardless of our upbringing or the conditions in which we live, Jesus makes it possible for us to live as victors rather than victims.
With the exception of King David, every single king that we’ve studied during this section of our journey through the Old Testament was generally evil. Solomon didn’t start out that way, but certainly by the end of his reign, he had rebelled against God and was far from Him. And Saul, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and Ahaz were certainly ungodly kings for most or all of their reigns. So I’m really excited that this morning, instead of learning what not to do from evil kings, like we’ve done in past weeks, we’re going to learn what we should do from a godly king – King Josiah.
Last week we left off with the reign of King Ahaz in Judah. Shortly after his reign Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and the people of that kingdom were led into captivity in the surrounding nations and they never returned as a people to their land. At that time, Assyria also made deep advances into Judah, the southern kingdom, just as Isaiah had prophesied to King Ahaz. But they were unable to conquer Judah then.
After Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became king and he was generally a good king who followed in the ways of his forefather David. But after his death, probably the most wicked of all the kings of Judah came to power – Manasseh. Manasseh rebuilt the high places his father had destroyed, He set up idols in the temple. He shed so much innocent blood that it was said that he filled Jerusalem with blood from one end to the other (2 Kings 21:16). He even burned his sons as an offering. He led the people of Judah to do more evil than even the pagan nations around them.
When Manasseh died at the end of his 55 year reign his son Amon became king at the age of 22. He followed in the footsteps of his father, refusing to walk in the way of the Lord. After two years on the throne, his own servants conspired against the king and killed him.
As we demonstrated earlier with the quiz I started with, In today’s world, there is a general belief that we are all products of the culture in which we are raised. So if someone grows up in an abusive home, we expect that person will become abusive. If someone grows up in the home of an alcoholic, we expect that person is going to have substance abuse issues. If someone grows up in a culture of violence, then the assumption is that he or she will grow up to be a violent person, too.