Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Goal-Setting for 2018
And God spoke all these words, saying “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3
Good morning Prayer Team!
This week we will continue our discussion on goal-setting for 2018, discussing five more specific areas in which to set goals, before moving on to another topic beginning Monday, January 16.
Today’s reflection is about priorities. The very first commandment that God gave to His people in Exodus 20, is to have no other gods before Him in our lives. There is a document called “The Ten Commandments in Preparation for Confession.” This document lists the Ten Commandments, as we see them in Exodus 20, and lists some questions related to each one. Related to the first commandment, “no other gods before Me,” the document asks us “Has God been the source, center and hope our your life.” In others words “Is God your priority?”
It is interesting to note that if one could keep the very first commandment, and answer “yes” to the very first question on the aforementioned document, then he or she would not sin. Because the root cause of every sin is the choice to not make God the priority, to see something besides Him as the source, center and hope of our lives, even if only for the fleeting moment that we are sinning.
I love God. I am also a sinner. And thus there is a tension in life because I cannot love God and sin at the same time. In order to sin, I have to temporarily suspend loving God, because in the moment I am sinning, I am loving myself more than loving God.
As we plan our goals for 2018, we need to intentionally make God a priority. We have to make loving God a priority. The more we love God and the more we make Him the source, center and hope of life, the less we will sin. Now notice, I did not say we will be less tempted to sin. In fact, we may even be MORE tempted to sin the more we try to make God our top priority. We will be tested more by the devil and temptation. However, when we meet this challenge and put God first, we will grow closer to Him.
It should be a goal every year to grow in our faith. There has never been a year when my goal was to decrease my faith or remain status quo in it. The goal every year is to grow in faith. And this is more likely to happen when we make God, not “a” priority but “THE” priority. It is more likely to happen when we make Him the source and center of our life.
How do we accomplish this—by setting aside time intentionally and specifically to spend with Him in prayer, in the Scriptures and in worship. We are now six days into the New Year. How are you doing thus far with resolutions made last week to pray, read Scripture and worship? With a new week, let us each have new resolve, to put God first and to keep Him first, to make Him the highest priority.
Lord, thank You for bringing me to a new week. Help me to honor You each and every day, by making You the source and center and focus of my life. Help me to honor You in the things I do (list some tasks that you will do today in which you can glorify God). Help me to be a witness to others for You, that through my efforts, You may increase and that I may decrease. Amen.
Make God a priority today! Give Him the first of your time—pray early in the day—rather than only the last breaths. Spend dedicated, intentional and purposeful time with God today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Philadelphia Church of God
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