REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 1, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Staying Close to Jesus”
1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
Of all the numerous New Year’s Eve services I have ever attended, I do remember the very first one in 1981, about seven months after I became a believer. Actually, the only thing I remember is Isaiah 60:1-2 that someone read during the time of testimony: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” The interpretation of this passage, in the hands of some theologians, can get polemic (i.e., “Millennium Kingdom”), but for ordinary folks like us, it gives what we desperately need: HOPE!
So, what can typically happen to an ordinary person in the course of any given year? Well in 1987, I got married! Had I read this passage that year, perhaps it wouldn’t have meant as much (too happy). But by the end of 1990 or 1999, it meant a lot: in 1990, because I was so exhausted from driving a shuttle van to make a living while pastoring a church that was going nowhere; in 1999, because that church, which eventually went somewhere, didn’t go far enough. Later, having left that congregation and feeling like a failure, I was wondering about my future as a minister as well as a father to three young children.
Many things happened thereafter, but in due time I came to really see with my heart what I always knew in my head: That which all the lights in the Old Testament had foreshadowed (Heb. 10:1) has indeed come and is always with me. Said Jesus, “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5b) and “with you always” (Matt. 28:20b). I experienced that Christ, like a lighthouse to the lost ship at sea, drives out darkness of hopelessness and despair from our lives. It is both instantaneous (Jn. 8:32) and a process (Phil. 1:6); either way we need to stay close to him. And having a meaningful and consistent time with the Lord is part of that process. So, as we begin the New Year, let’s make daily spending meaningful and unhurried time with the Lord our life’s top priority.
Prayer: Lord, as I start the New Year today, constantly remind me to stay close to your heart. Help me to stay so close to you that I can hear your heart beat. Dear Father, whenever a momentary darkness dampens my hope, especially because things do not go as I planned, remind me to center my life and plans from the standpoint of eternity. May this year be a year in which my life truly glorifies you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 1
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Jn. 1:5-9: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Questions to Consider
- Positionally, the believers are always in the light but our actual life can get pretty dark sometimes. What causes temporary spiritual darkness in our lives that sometimes lasts too long?
- Why do we, from time to time, act like we are walking in the light when, in fact, we are in darkness, much like the Pharisees who claimed to see but were blind spiritually (Jn. 9:39-41)?
- What is one sure and fast way to rid ourselves of temporary darkness so that we tangibly experience “righteousness (e.g., a clear conscience), peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17b)?
- In short, it is sin (in actions and attitude), which, when left unrepented for awhile, hardens the heart. Once that happens, other more sinful things that we couldn’t fathom committing before become quite easy to do.
- Among several reasons, one is this: Looking good before the people. Of the Pharisees who did many outwardly good things, Jesus said, “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Matt. 23:5a). That leads to hypocrisy, which is leading a double life. In other words, we care more about what men think than what God thinks.
- An honest evaluation of ourselves followed by an authentic confession of our sins that ought to lead to a genuine repentance; that is, a concrete plan not to commit the same sin (Lk. 19:8).
As the first day of 2021 is about to be history, evaluate how the day went: Did someone say or do something that made you feel sad or mad? Stay close to Christ and hear his heartbeat; what is he saying to you?