Summary: Josiah teaches us the proper response to God’s Word
I heard a story recently about a young preacher who was very gifted with the ability to speak. But as the congregation began to grow and he received more and more compliments, his head began to swell as well. After delivering one of his sermons, a member of the congregation shook his hand at the door and said, "You’re becoming one of the great expositors of this generation."
Well, that just made his head swell all the bigger. As he got into the car to head home, his wife alongside him and all the kids stuffed into the back seat, he couldn’t resist sharing the story. He said, "Mrs. Franklin told me she thought I was one of the greatest expositors of this generation."
No response. Trying to fish for a compliment, he looked over at his wife and said, "I wonder just how many ’great expositors’ there are in this generation." Unable to resist the opportunity to set the record straight, she said quietly, "One less than you think, my dear."
How many sermons do you suppose you’ve heard in your lifetime? I realize that that number would vary from person to person. Without mentioning names, some of you have had more opportunity than others. But all of us have probably heard more lessons from the Bible than we realize; many more than we can remember, anyway. Since I’ve been here in Boone, I’ve preached well over 300 sermons. How many of those can you remember? You may ask, "How many of them are worth remembering?"
A number of years ago, there was a letter written to the editor of a major newspaper in Great Britain. The writer of this letter argued the point that preaching was outdated and worthless. He challenged his readers to name the titles and main points of five sermons they had heard in their lifetime. He contended that because you can’t remember sermons, they are therefore meaningless.
He got several responses to his challenge, but the most interesting response came from a London preacher. In his letter, he said: "I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals -- mostly my wife’s cooking. Suddenly I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I have received nourishment from every one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death long ago."
In the same way, while the details of sermons may quickly leave us, the spiritual nourishment we receive from them remains longer than we might think.
Do we realize how blessed we are to have access to such lessons from the word of God? Very often, the more blessed we are, the more we take our blessings for granted. And so we may sit through the worship service sometimes bored, sometimes critical, sometimes challenged. We shuffle out after the service is over oblivious to the great blessing that is ours. In other times and other places, our brethren have lost their lives doing the things that we take for granted.
Do we take the word of God itself for granted? We live in a place and a time where we more access to the word of God than ever before. Do you realize what a blessing it is to have your own copy of the Bible? People are standing in line for hours and hours in Russia and Ukraine and countries in Africa to get their very first copy of a New Testament. That book is considered to them one of their prized possessions. Perhaps they have come to appreciate what we take for granted.
Did you know that as recently as 300 years ago, people were executed for having Bibles? William Tyndale was executed for making the Bible available in the language of his people. At one time, copies of the Bible were literally chained to the pulpits of the churches so that people couldn’t take them home!
Do we really appreciate our privilege of possessing and knowing God’s word? What is our attitude toward that word? Has the Bible become for us a book that we put up on the shelf only to bring down when we get stuck on that crossword puzzle -- a four-letter word for “Son of Adam and Eve” and it doesn’t start with either A or C? Or do we realize the truth that so many people died for -- the Bible is the word of God, the central truth around which all life must revolve. What is your attitude this morning toward the Bible?
As we read through the Old Testament, we realize that Judah was a nation that had a lot of spiritual ups and downs. There were times that they were very close to God, trying to do God’s will. And there were other times when God was all but forgotten.