Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for January and February are provided by P. Ryun Chang, Teaching and Resource Pastor of AMI.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Luke 15:14-6 (NASB): “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.”
Lev. 11:7-8 (NASB): “And the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you.  You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.”
Jesus has the penniless, younger son work alongside of, not sheep, but swine—the very animal he was told from a young age not to touch, much less eat. The downward spiral of sin had reached its destination; there was no place to sink lower for this Jewish man who wished to eat the very pods that the pigs were consuming only if someone would offer them. Perhaps, he whispered to himself, what good are the lessons my father taught me when my stomach is empty?
His spiritual regression was now complete: “After desire [for self-autonomy was] conceived, it [gave] birth to sin; and sin, when it [was] full-grown, [gave] birth to death” (James 1:15). Having broken the father’s heart with ease, and wasted all his wealth on a reckless lifestyle, nothing sacred remained in his life; now, everything was negotiable.
King Ahaz of Judah grew up under a godly father (Jotham) who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Ki. 15:34). But unlike his father, Ahaz “follow[ed] the detestable ways of the [pagan] nations.” While it was hunger that made the younger son let go of the values he grew up with, for Ahaz, it was the invasion launched by a united army of Aram and the Northern Kingdom that led to forsaking his values. Though desperate, instead of calling upon the God of his father for help, Ahaz sent messengers to the Assyrian king, saying, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me.” To bolster his request, Ahaz “took the silver and gold found in the temple of God . . . and sent it as a gift” (16:7-8).
An unchecked sin has a snow ball effect: once allowed to reach a critical stage in our lives, we “may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:13); as a result, we “remain stiff-necked after many rebukes . . . [and] suddenly be destroyed—without remedy” (Prov. 29:1). Thus, it is imperative that those who live in sin heed Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (NASB). Don’t wait until God is in the disciplinary mode (Heb. 12:7-12). Repent today.
O holy and righteous God in whom there is neither darkness nor deception, I worship and exalt You this morning. Strengthen me, Father, to hate sin and to flee from the evil desires of youth; help me to pursue righteousness and a pure heart instead. Thank You always for Your loving kindness. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 6
Lunch Break Study
Read Ezekiel 18:1-5, 10, 13-14, 17 (NIV): The word of the Lord came to me:  “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: ‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?”  “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel.  For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.  “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. . . .  He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live. . . . Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things. . . .  He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head. . . .  But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: . . .  He withholds his hand from mistreating the poor and takes no interest or profit from them. He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live.”
Question to Consider
- While we recognize parental influence over our children’s thoughts and behavior, this passage shows a different side to parenting. What is it?
- What does this passage reveal about free will and the basis for God’s judgment (2 Cor. 5:10)?
- What are some issues in your life which you have failed to take full responsibility for? Make a short list and then own them—meaning confess your sins to God and to the wronged party.
- Children do not automatically imitate the examples set by their parents, whether good or bad. A righteous father may end up with a wicked son; while from a wicked father may derive a righteous son.
- This passage ultimately dismisses any excuse offered by men who would rather blame their parents or social environment for their spiritual failures; God will hold each individual responsible for his actions because the proper exercise of free will can overcome even the worst parental example.
- Once, I found out to my horror that I came to the airport without my luggage. So as I began to shift the blame on my wife who drove me there, she reminded me, “I came out of the house first.” Oops. So I ended up taking this international flight without any clothes other than what I was wearing.
For most of us, at the end of day, it is hard to tell whether we actually sinned or not. One reason is because our conscience has been so dulled to the point of normalizing what is clearly sin. Take a moment to reflect whether you lied today or told something that wasn’t completely true for some gain. Did you say anything that was intended as an insult or slight? Confess; ask the Lord to help you not to repeat these sins.