At beginning of this year, people were so excited. Now the year is almost over--56 days are left, about 15%. The year is 85% gone. What has happened? Our sermon tonight: remember Joash!
The story of Joash is a context of tragedy, warning, challenges. The Syrian army left him "in great diseases" and his own servants conspired against him and killed him, vs. 25. Although he was a king, vs. 22, they did not bury him with the kings, vs. 25. It is a sad summary of a man who made a miserable mess of his God-given opportunity to do great good.
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25
The history of Joash is valuable, interesting. He was a king at age seven (24:1), and under his guidance the house of God was repaired (24:13). Daily worship was restored, v. 14, and the young king was doing a wonderful work as righteousness reigned again over Judah. But then Jehoiada the priest died, v. 15, and soon Joash was listening to the princes of Judah, who led him to trespass, transgression, and turned the house of God away from the Lord. He himself turned to idolatry and murder, vv. 17-22. Golden opportunities turned to godless idolatry. At the end of the year, Joash and Judah were besieged by the Syrian army as God squelched their rebellion, vv. 23-25. The Syrian invasion succeeded because Judah had forsaken God, v. 24.
As another year wanes, a new year, century, millenium begins, we must know the lessons from the foolish course pursued by Joash.
I. Early potential does not guarantee ultimate production.
Joash, as a seven-year old king, was so God-conscious that he inspired and organized the temple repair. He was a leader despite his age. He got things done, and he was pleasing to God, v. 2. But starting well does not guarantee ultimate success. [Illus: midterm grades compared to final grades; start the race vs. finish the race.]
Joash so degenerated that even God turned from him, as did Judah. The combination of chaos, confusion, and corruption was devastating. King Joash was not even worthy of the king's burial grounds. A bright, promising beginning had a sad, tragic ending. It has happened throughout history, i.e. Judas Iscariot, Solomon, even Adam. It can happen again. It can happen to churches, to individuals.
Where are we? Where are you? Remember how long Joash stayed faithful. The challenge is constant, continuing, forever. History is filled with those who started well and ended poorly, history and all the Bible. Add Demas, Diotrophes.
II. Ultimate potential is impossible without personal convictions.
Joash owed his early successes largely to Jehoiada rather than to personal convictions. One can note the instability of his faith, so that when he prop was removed, he fell.
Do not overestimate the importance of personal convictions. Every Christian, every young person, every older person, needs convictions. [Illus: Kent Lashley story.]
Not only individuals, but churches. This church needs convictions, every congregation must have them. What does God want, what are we about? To what have we been called?
Prov. 4:23, the importance of choices. Conviction to (1) study/prayer/spiritual discipline/Christian walk and life, (2) outreach/evangelism/benevolence, (3) missions/overt evangelism, (4) fellowship/sharing/togetherness/nurturing, (5) worship.
III. Potential is influenced by companionships.
As long as Joash listened to Jehoiada, he pleased God, but when he catered to the corrupt princes of Judah, he soon served in shame and surrendered Judah to Syria.
Important question: to whom are we listening? With whom are we keeping company? If we company with the faithless, we shall be so. With the critical, with the discouraged, with the complainers.
1 Cor. 15:33 is the NT version of this truth. To whom do you listen?
Would you listen to God? Phil. 4:13; Heb. 13:6; Jas. 4:17; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; 2 Pet 2:9; 1 John 2:6; 2 John 9; 3 John; Jude 3.
Would you consider the whole counsel of God. Too many are satisfied with right doctrine but ignore faith.
IV. Potential ultimately depends upon principle rather than predicament, conviction rather than circumstances.
Not every success is our own creation. Why does a church succeed? Why does a church fail? It is no individual, not leaders, situations, organization, structure, but God. It is the body of Christ unified, working together to the glory of God. It is God.
Joash was not spiritually prepared and thus failed miserably without Jehoiada. Churches must learn to operate by principle not position, prestige, power, possessions, or predicament. Churches must learn that the change most needed is internal. We can operate by principle only when we are spiritually prepared and matured, Eph. 4:11-16.
When Joash's external support system was removed, nothing was left. He fell, for there was no resource within, no root or foundation. His zeal lasted only as long as the excitement and prosperity.
Tragedies come, even to God's favored people. As the close of this year draws near, have we learned anything this year. Joash climaxed with corruption rather than conquest. Almost two months remain, how are your resolutions, for the year, decade, century, millenium. How is your life, how is our life together, how is this church?
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