December 21, Monday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, was first posted on December 21, 2014.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA), Yohan served as a staff at several AMI churches in the past. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Setting a New Goal for 2021”

Psalm 136:23-26

We remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever 24 and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever. 25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven His love endures forever. 

When the New Year rolls around as the old year ends, we typically do two things: make new resolutions for the coming year while reflecting or evaluating the closing year.  To be truthful, I am better at making resolutions than reflecting, which is probably common for most of us.  However, reflection and evaluation of past performance is the oft-forgotten critical step in setting and accomplishing realistic future goals.  For instance, many people will make resolutions to get into the gym in 2021 (if things get back to normal), perhaps as many as four times a week.  However, if they took steps to count how many times they actually went to the gym in 2020, they would discover they went less than a dozen times.  (I understand that this may not be the most suitable example since COVID shut down gyms for months.)  So the goal of going to the gym 208 times in 2021 (4 x 52) is probably not realistic and doomed to fail, especially if your past suggests that you struggled to get there 12 times in 2020.

My point is not that we shouldn’t set goals or even lofty goals in 2021, but rather it is important to look at the past when planning the future (which we can’t really control anyway).  In Psalm 136, we see interplay between the past and the future.  First, the Psalmist points out that the Lord has historically been good to the people of Israel.  This, then, is demonstrated through recounting the major events of early Israelite history and the Old Testament; so the writers praises the Lord for creating the heavens and the earth, delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt, and eventually delivering them to the Promised Land.  The second idea implies the future, namely that “His love endures forever.” (Don’t know if you caught that.)  Forever, of course, having a timeless future connotation.

This morning, before you set your goals for 2021, why don’t you take a few moments to do what the Psalmist did: Write a list of ways the Lord has been good to you in 2020.   Thank him for his goodness, and remind yourself that, “His love endures forever.”  

Prayer: Father, please help me to be thankful for and treasure every relationship that you have given me.  Help me to see that you are transforming me into the image of your Son through these relationships.  Please help me to set a goal for the New Year that would honor You the most. Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: Esther 9


Lunch Study Break

Read Revelation 2:1-7: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Questions to Consider

  1. What were the things the Ephesians did well?
  2. What indictment did the Lord have against them?
  3. How does the Lord instruct them to remedy the situation?

Notes

  1. The Ephesians worked hard, had good deeds; they had sound teaching, and even remained faithful in persevering through hardships (2:2-3).
  2. The problem is that the Ephesians lost a sense of passion or first love for Christ (2:4).
  3. The Lord’s advice is threefold: Remember, repent, and redo.  Remember where they were with Christ and that first love.  Repent for having lost that first love.  Redo all the things they did when they were in love (not bad marriage advice, by the way).  

Evening Reflection

How is your passion for the Lord right now?  How was your spiritual walk in 2020?  Is there a spiritual goal you might want to accomplish in 2021?  Do you just want to get back to loving Christ and his people?  

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