Monday, January 19, 2009

Beautiful Beginnings

Beginnings determine so much. We are more than halfway through the first month of 2009, and I truly hope that I have started well. I love the story in scripture about someone who knew how to have "Beautiful Beginnings." When Hezekiah became king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel) at the age of 25, he found that the relationship of the people with their God was in bad need of an overhaul. Their priorities were all out of order. During his first days in office, he made some crucial decisions that had great results.

First, he cleansed the temple. 2 Chr. 29:3 In this first year of his reign, the first month, he addressed the brokenness of their house of worship. This revealed what he loved, and what he loved revealed his priorities.

Secondly, he had the people sanctify themselves. 2 Chr. 29:4-5, 10, 15-16 Like a computer that shows an error message or locks up, they needed to "reset" themselves, remembering that they were set aside for God's purposes. A new beginning is a time to take the garbage out, removing the distractions that keep us from remembering whose we are.

Third, they worshiped God. 2 Chr. 29:20, 29, 31 After they were clean and consecrated, Hezekiah invited the people to join him in "coming near" to worship and to bring their offerings. God wants us to come clean.

Fourth, they trusted God with life's adversity. 2 Chr. 32:20-22 Following King Hezekiah's beautiful beginning, they were attacked by the mighty Sennacharib, King of Assyria. Since the groundwork had been laid, Hezekiah and Isaiah cried out to the Lord, and they were all saved.
In verses 20-23 of 2 Chr. 32, we see that God saved, guided, and blessed them, because they loved what He loved. What a beautiful picture of how God waits to bless His people, when we make His priorities our first concern.

It's the first month of a new year, and there's still time to make it a beautiful beginning. Let's get clean. Let's remember whose we are. Let's come near to God, and let's trust Him with all that unfolds in the year ahead.

Let this be our prayer as we "continue to begin..."

Father, as we begin this new year, we pray that you will give us eyes like Hezekiah, to see ourselves as you see us. Show us how we need to cleanse ourselves and what we need to repair, so that we can come near to You, without any obstacles. Remind us daily that we are Yours, and help us to be mindful that we can trust you with any challenges we face in days to come. We're thankful that you are with us as we begin a new year and that you'll be with us in each day to come.

I'd love to hear how your year has started and what you've done to begin it well.
Blessings to you for a beautiful beginning!

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