The AMI QT blogs from January 1-3 (new) are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), currently serves the associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. Andy and his wife Jane had a baby boy in 2018 whom they named Caleb.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
A New Year Resolution? How About This . . .
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
The beginning of a new year always has a sense of excitement as we think about what lies ahead of us. More importantly, it’s a time for us to reconsider our priorities and, as the Lord tells the people of Israel in our passage this morning to consider your ways, we too must consider our ways. To start this year well, we ought to ask ourselves, what are we working towards and what are we really building in our lives?
Haggai speaks to the people of God during a time very much similar to ours where there is political turmoil and economic instability. Even though they have returned to their homeland, instead of comfort and joy, they seem to be just as frustrated. And to this, the Lord clearly says it’s because they have busied themselves with their own houses while neglecting to rebuild the temple of God. For the Israelites, they understood that the temple was the centerpiece of worship. In fact, if you trace the movements of the Israelites after they were freed from Egypt, God made it clear that each time they settled, they were to first build the tabernacle. When Joshua finally entered the promised land, he first builds an altar before the Lord. In other words, every new move, new season, or even transition was to begin with worship.
Worship resets our priorities by reminding us who God is and who we are in Him. Often, a lack of worship leads to misplaced priorities. I love how the Psalmist puts it: “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
As we begin this new year, may we have the same heart—that we will not begin this year, until we found ourselves in a posture of worship. This is what it means to start the new year well! As the Lord says, spend a few moments considering your ways. As we prioritize building His kingdom over our own this year, may we experience the blessings He has in store for us.
Prayer: Father, as we begin this new year, may we have a heart of worship. May we submit ourselves and all our plans for 2020 before you. Help us to always focus ourselves on eternal things rather than the temporary. We bless your name!
Bible Reading for Today: John 1 (to read the remaining chapters of Luke, today’s portion is 15)
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.;
Questions to Consider
- How does Paul define worship?
- Why is worship so important? How does it change us?
- What does worship mean to you? How can we worship him in all of our lives?
- Paul begins with by the mercies of God to show that worship is first and foremost a response to God’s grace. When we understand how a perfect and loving God accepts sinners, our response is worship. Paul uses an OT concept very familiar to the Israelites on the idea of sacrifice. For worship to be a sacrifice meant that it was both costly and intentional. Worship was never meant to be passive or consumeristic.
- Worship gives the lens through which we ought to see the world. Worship transforms our thoughts in order that we may submit to His will. Worship opens our eyes to see that His will is both good and perfect for our lives.
- Personal Response.
John Piper says: “Worship is: showing God’s value, supreme value over all other things. So if you have a job, do your job in a way that shows that Christ is supremely valuable…when your life becomes worship, God begins to look valuable to other people. God looks infinitely worthy when others look at you.”
As mentioned, Haggai was written in a time very similar to ours where there was much political turmoil and economic instability. Without having to dive into politics, we are facing some difficult times both in the US and across the world. And yet, God reminds us how much more urgent it is for us to build his temple during such uncertainty so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).
When we as a church humble ourselves, turn from our ways, and seek His face; then He will heal our lands. Worship not only as personal implications, but communal blessings. As we think about 2020 and all the things it has in store for us personally, may we also think and pray for all the things it has for us as believers. More than ever, the church must reflect His love and glory to the world.
Spend a few moments praying for your church. How is God calling you to build His church this year?