August 31, Monday

Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from August 31-Sept. 4 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

2 King 14:1-7

In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

31Looking back at my late-father, he was a lot better man than what I thought as an immature teenager; but sometimes, I harbored resentment because of his temper.  Perhaps due to his long military career, he was impatient with those whose action or speech was objectionable to him.  Sadly and deservedly, I got the brunt end of this because of many dumb things I did.  And I remember murmuring to myself more than once, “I will not be like him.”  That is why 2 Kings 14:3 caught by attention: “[Amaziah] did in all things as Joash his father had done.”  I regretfully admit that I’ve been temperamental with my family one too many times.  So, have I done as my father had done?

Most kings of Israel, such as Ahab and Manasseh, were bad apples; but  other kings, like Asa and Uzziah, were a mixed bag—they began well but ended quite badly.  This would include Joash who was faithful to God—even repairing the temple—as long as Jehoiada, his mentor, was alive; but after his death Joash turned so wicked that he murdered Jehoiada’s son for speaking out against him (2 Chron. 24:21).  Joash would suffer the same fate.  Amaziah, who had a front row view to all this, certainly was influenced by his father.  As was Joash, Amaziah was a mixed bag of some good and bad, even mirroring his father in his own tragic death (v. 19).

So, how much did Joash influence Amaziah?  I think this is where our probe should stop, because parents get too much credit when kids turn out “well” but get buried when they don’t.

Certainly, my father affected me, and maybe, we share predispositional traits that make us more susceptible to being temperamental.  Nevertheless, I, as a believer in whom dwell God’s word and the Spirit, and surrounded by a supportive community, can always choose not to give into my weakness.

The fact is, most parents are a mix-bag—we do our best but it really isn’t good enough to guarantee anything.  So we fall on our knees and cry for mercy for our children.  Then we get up and “follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).  When we fail, we ask for forgiveness and try again!

Prayer

Lord, let my children follow only my good examples, and reject the bad ones.  May they follow the examples of Christ.  Oh God, may my children surpass me in every aspect, particularly their love and devotion to You.  Thank You.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 8

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Lunch Break Study

Read Ezekiel 18:14-20: Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: 15 he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 17 withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. 19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

2 Cor. 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Rom. 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Question to Consider

  1. What does this passage assume about the influence of fathers over their sons?
  2. Breaking away from a bad influence is never easy; we often end up making the same mistakes that we saw growing up. How can we break away from this?
  3. In what sense can this be an encouragement to discouraged parents who have made their share of mistakes while raising children?

Notes

  1. In short, the parental influence is not deterministic; that is, just because parents were ungodly and unrighteous doesn’t mean that their offspring has no choice but to mirror their parents.
  2. Of course, negative influence is everywhere, including the home, but God-given free will under the empowerment of the Spirit that regenerates and transform us in Christ can overcome it. This doesn’t mean that we will bat 1.000, but it does mean that we can have a fruitful and meaningful existence here on earth.
  3. Many parents live with guilt and many regrets. But our children are one-turning-to-God away from becoming a righteous, kind and just son or daughter as described by Ezekiel.  It is never too late.  Once we become Christians, parent should set better examples, admit our fault when in the wrong to our children, then pray without ceasing for them.

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 Evening Reflection

Even if you are not a parent, we all have parents.  And others are parents, perhaps for a long time.  What is one thing you can do for your parents that will help them to know God better?  What is one thing you can do for your child that can help him or her to love God.  Do it tomorrow.  For now, pray for strength to carry that out in love.

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