Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from August 31-Sept. 4 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 15:8-28
In the 38th year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. 9 And he did what was evil in the sight of he Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place. . . . 13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the 39th year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria. . . . 18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
14 Then Menahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place. . . . 18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
23 In the 50th year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
27 In the 52nd year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years. 28 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
At my college graduation speech in 1984, an African-American pastor E. V. Hill repeatedly cried out Psalm 11:3: “The foundations [of America] are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Some 30 years after that speech, the late-pastor would have been shocked to see the secular foundation—with little or no regard for God’s word—supplanting the old. America, at least at its inception, was led by deistic and Christian founders, thus had a chance; but the Northern Kingdom of Israel never did.
This was the dog days of Israel when unprincipled men, hungry for power, played a deadly game of musical chairs in which each violent succession to the throne hastened its fast-approaching extinction. After King Pekah, came one more king—Hoshea, and then Israel would be no more at the hands of Assyria in 722 B.C. During Israel’s 150 years of miserable existence, it’s hard to miss the lasting effect of the “George Washington” of Israel, Jeroboam. Every king mentioned above failed to “turn away from the sins of Jeroboam . . . which he made Israel to sin.” What one single leader sowed—a counterfeit religion that rejected God—the entire nation reaped its consequences, generation after generation.
But remember what motivated Jeroboam, an army officer (1 Ki. 11:26) whose sudden rise to the throne introduced him to power and glory that he began to covet: insecurity and greed for power. It all began with this thought: “The kingdom will likely revert back to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to . . . Rehoboam king of Judah” (1 Ki. 12:26-7). It was then that he conjured up the golden calves, fake holy places and priests.
But before worrying about our nation’s foundation, let’s examine our own. Perhaps you’re a young parent or small group leader—even if you aren’t right now, maybe you will become one in the future. Work on your foundation— it starts with Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11) and continues with putting His Words “into practice” (Matt. 7:24). Give up your insecurity through intimacy with Christ and die to your greed by practicing generosity with your valuables. Then pray for America.
Father, constantly remind me that what I do matters to others in life. Instill in me a healthy fear of You so that I do not depart from my spiritual mooring. O, my Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I may have the power to choose You and Your path over my selfish desires. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 12
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 3:10-15: According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Luke 14:27-30: Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
Matt. 7:24-27: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
Question to Consider
- If I declare that Jesus is my foundation, what does that really imply?
- What does it mean to build on the foundation of Christ?
- Spiritually, what would constitute combustible materials such as “wood, hay and straw”? Evaluate the way you live your life in light of your answer.
- It implies that not only do I say I believe in Christ (the foundation), but I will also do what He taught (building on that foundation; that is, living rightly for Christ).
- First, to think soberly about my life from the standpoint of eternity; then second, commit to a life of self-denial to follow Christ and to serve Him.
- These materials refer to things that we do for ourselves so that we get our glory here and now. Thus, Jesus said, regarding the showy Pharisees who did their “’acts of righteousness’ before men”: “They have received their reward in full” (Matt. 6:1-2). In other words, there will be no rewards waiting for them in heaven (that is, if they made it there at all).
What sort of spiritual foundation have you developed in life? For instance, how consistently and seriously do you engage with AMI’s daily devotional? Do you have a prayer life? Do you consistently dig into God’s word? How are you dealing with your insecurities? Are you overtly greedy for material things and/or power? Too many questions? Then, just get on your knees and cry out to God: “Lord, help me to build a house that will not burn down on the judgment day!”