Living on Purpose in 2021

Happy New Year’s Day! Today, we are leaving 2020 behind and moving on to 2021! There’s so much that God has in store for us all, especially seniors! We have graduation and college this year! Time has flown by so fast that it’s hard to believe that we’re going to be heading our separate ways soon, but before we get too excited for 2021, let’s focus our minds to have God’s clarity as we head into this year. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions. How was 2020? What made it great? What made it difficult? What can we do better in 2021? Each of us will have different answers, but I think that we could all at least tie our answers back to our theme, or should I call it a challenge, for this year. As we look back at 2020 and look forward into 2021, let us remember, in all we do, for whatever reason we do any action or say any word, to Live on Purpose this year!

To give a little background, if you watched Finding Focus 2020 (FF2020), recall that I said that 2019 was the hardest year of my life so far; I dealt with broken relationships and communication difficulties for much of the year. However, at the end of 2019, the gradual decline into a deep depression began, causing a burden for most of 2020. I had three main seasons in 2020: depression part one, summer, and depression part two. After being burned out from school and writing for Truth and Love Ministries (TLM), my depression overcame me, and for several months, not a single blog post came out. During Easter break, the Lord revived my spirit, and He inspired me to write a blog post and publish a couple YouTube videos; that was depression part one. After going through a couple months of relief, my heart fell into idolatry by focusing more on video games than the Lord, but the Lord convicted me, and I repented. That prepared the way for a productive summer of witnessing to young boys at Sequoia Brigade Camp and then applying to colleges; that was my summer. Heading into my senior year of high school, my depression came back as I got caught up in my homework, spreading it out to fit my timeframe, leaving little to no time to write or make YouTube videos for TLM. After becoming really behind in my schoolwork, my depression hit heavy as I struggled to get any of my work done while being overwhelmed with the dissatisfaction of no time to write along with the prolonged election drama; that marked depression part two. After experiencing a more difficult year, I’m so ready to move on but not to repeat the same mistakes I made in 2020. I’m ready for a clean start.

Perhaps the underlying problems I faced in 2020 were too much disorganization and a lack of motivation. I had a plan for a book, but I couldn’t get myself to write. I had a schedule for Tania, Jaylin, and me to follow for releasing blog posts, but at that point, I was burned out, and my friends weren’t able to keep up with the schedule either. I believe that I went through what John Bevere calls a wilderness period, a time of difficulty connecting with God and feeling such little growth. Was there anything I could have done to avoid that wilderness period? No, the Lord planned this out in my life for growth, but I could have addressed this situation better. Overall, I could have lived with purpose. At times, I felt that I was aimlessly wandering through life with no purpose. What I needed to do, despite how I felt, was to remember my calling and choose to live with a direction in my life. Does that mean that I needed to still be writing and making YouTube videos? Yes and no. As I mentioned in my blog post “What Am I Doing?,” it was important to figure out what God was calling me to do, despite my feelings. At times I should have and could have written more, but there were other parts of the year when I needed a break to reconnect with God. No matter what God had called me to do, what was important was that I lived with the purpose God had given me, individually and corporately as a believer. Therefore, no matter what 2020 looked like, I want to challenge all of us to follow this year’s new theme: Live on Purpose. Let’s live better this year as we focus our hearts and our actions to purposefully accomplish the Lord’s work.

What does it mean to live on purpose? In trying to answer this question, the Lord brought me to Psalm 90. In this psalm, the author Moses writes about time, the wrath of God, and life on earth. In verse 12, the verse that everyone knows, Moses makes his request to God, “So teach us to number our days, / That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”[1] Notice the “So.” There’s much more to that verse, and the theme of living on purpose makes even more sense when that verse is put into context. We are clearly to be aware of our time, but in the psalm, there’s more than just that in the meaning. Let’s analyze Psalm 90 as a whole and see how Moses, in distress over Israel’s rebellion, pleads to make man’s time full of purpose rather than worthlessness.

To start off the psalm, Moses introduces the theme of time and the eternality of God. He says, “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. / Before the mountains were brought forth, / Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, / Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (verse 1). To set a standard, Moses is explaining that the Lord preexists all creation; He is the Creator. As a result, He is not bound by time, and Moses goes on to say no matter how long man lives, man will one day die because God, Who is in control of time, is also in control of man and when he dies. At this point, Moses uses a hyperbole and simile to show how out of step we are with God’s time and declares that “a thousand years in Your sight / Are like yesterday when it is past / And like a watch in the night” (verse 4). He then gives two more similes: one on how God carries a millennium “away like a flood” and another on how a thousand years is like grass that quickly grows and then gets cut and dies that evening (verses 5-6). The whole point of the first part of Psalm 90 is to make us consider time in God’s eyes and remember that we are not as great as we think we are. Long before Adam walked the earth 6000 years ago, the Lord existed, and long after we die, He will still rule over the earth. For this reason, we must remember our place as God’s creation and that He is in control of the world, bringing judgement and justice to all people. After saying thus, Moses has prepared our hearts and minds for the next section of the poem and moves from describing God’s character.

After establishing God’s power and control over time, Moses transitions from adoring God’s attributes to focusing on man’s problem of sin, creating a juxtaposition between God and man. While God is everlasting and perfect, man is not; man is “consumed by [God’s] anger…/ [He has] set our iniquities before [Himself]” (verses 7-8). The idea here is that man is sinful and wicked, and the Lord knows all our sins that we have committed. Man is so wicked that “the days of our lives are seventy years; / And if by reason of strength they are eighty years” (verse 10). During the time of the flood, God limited man’s lifespan to one-hundred twenty years; now it’s seventy to eighty years. God is eternal, but man only has less than a day of wickedness before passing away into the wrath of God. As Moses puts it, “…it is soon cut off, and we fly away. / Who knows the power of your anger?” (verses 10-11). So, the situation is helpless. God is perfect and demands that same perfection from His creation, but in the short time of God’s eternal perspective, man is only wickedness. Moses recognizes that God is angry that man can only be filled with wickedness and makes a plea to God; he cries out for help saying, “So teach us to number our days, / That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (verse 12). He asks God to teach him to make his time more than just worthless wickedness but counted and fulfilled with meaning by gaining wisdom. Moses is setting an example for whom he is leading, for the rebellious Israelites, who constantly complained and attacked God at every moment. For himself, he needs to trust in God and be purposeful in how he deals with Israel’s abominations from ungratefulness to idolatry, and Israel needs a leader that will show them how to worship and know God. However, Israel always fell back into stubbornness, and Moses is in sorrow over this travesty and is confessing the sins of Israel to God as well and asking that they might have new hearts with the ability to use their time to worship the Lord in His infinite wisdom that can only come from fearing Him.

Now that Moses has confessed Israel’s sin and asked for the ability to live a life of purpose and worship, he finishes this song of worship with a plea for compassion. In the first two parts of the poem, Moses admitted that Israel’s sin was deserving of judgement in God’s wrath as he wrote the words, “Who knows the power of your anger? / For as the fear of You, so is your wrath” (verse 11). Israel hasn’t feared God as they should, and now Moses is pleading for mercy as he begins the third section of the poem in saying, “Return, O LORD! / How long? / And have compassion on Your servants” (verse 13). After praising the sovereignty of God and recognizing Israel’s depravity, he asks God to understand that man is finite and asks the Lord to relent of the judgement and change Israel’s perspective of life, that it’s limited and to be used for the glory of the Lord. As Moses submits to God on behalf of Israel, he requests that he and they have their sorrow reversed into contentment and joy for as long as the Lord has punished them when He supplicates, “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, / That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! / Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, / The years in which we have seen evil” (verses 14-15). While the Lord has gotten so close to eradicating His chosen people of Israel, He has relented of such acts. For this reason, Moses understands the kindness and goodness of God, and he is asking that because of the new hearts and minds for which he is requesting to be able to live with purpose for God in their short time on earth, that Israel have joy and worship the Lord for as long as they were punished for their sins, that they might be redeemed, that their evil may be forgotten and fully replaced with their faithfulness to God. With this, Moses believes that Israel will have a renewed relationship with God because he wants God to therefore “Let [His] work appear to [His] servants / And [His] glory to their children” (verse 16). As Israel puts away all gods and unfaithfulness as slaves, doing the will of the Most High God, Moses asks that God’s favor and delight “be upon them.” At the end of the poem, Moses concludes with “And establish the work of our hands for us; / Yes, establish the work of our hands.” When the children of Israel finally stop rebelling and find themselves in God’s favor because of their love for the Lord their God, then the problem presented in the beginning of the poem will be solved. The pointless living for seventy or eighty years ends; man’s worthlessness is turned into worth. When God changes the hearts of Israel, they will keep track of their short time and use it well by serving God each day, and the Lord will make their obedience have an effect outlasting their lives that He will control in His eternity.

So, that was a lot to review, and we looked at the entire Psalm 90, not just verse 12. Moses wrote Psalm 90 as the leader of Israel, a rebellious nation, but how does that apply to us? There are three takeaways that we should get from Psalm 90. First, we must remember that God made us and owns us. We are not free to live our lives as we please; in fact, such frivolous living results in our time being wasted, especially since our time is limited and not guaranteed. Second, we must admit our own sins. As human beings, we are wicked and cannot save ourselves from our evil state, and God won’t help us as we rebel in our pride. As Peter and James quote from Solomon, “Surely [God] scorns the scornful, / But gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). In other words, we must not mock and deny the fact that we have sin but must reach out to God and cry out, “Help.” In our helplessness, we must ask God to turn our wicked, worthless living into a life pleasing and acceptable to Him. Third, we must trust that God will make our works in our short lives meaningful. When the Lord changes us, He will help us to keep track of our time and live each day in a way that will further His Kingdom, that will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord will build our legacies and solve the problem existing within ourselves of being wasteful human beings living in vain. It is not for us to do that. Rather, it is necessary for us to be obedient and joyful servants and let God do the rest.

Before concluding this blog post, let’s return to the theme Live on Purpose. After looking at Psalm 90, it is clear that we naturally don’t and can’t live on purpose, but we have to live on purpose or end up living a vapor of a life that comes and goes with no meaningful impact. While Psalm 90 presents a problem, it also gives the solution. We must submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we follow 1 John 1:9 and confess our sins as Moses did in Psalm 90, God will be “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we are freed from our sin through our repentance and confession that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10), then we will be ready for the Lord to give us understanding and wisdom that begins with “the fear [or reverence and utmost respect and honor] of the LORD” (Proverbs 9:10). At that point, the Lord will change you and help you to focus. Once you have asked for forgiveness of your sins and put your trust in the Lord, pray and ask the Lord what He wants you to be doing as you head into 2021. What is His plan for you? It may not be the same as 2020. While you await a response, make sure to spend time in prayer and God’s Word so that you can continue to grow and be ready to say yes to God’s calling. Once you know God’s calling for you this year, take action in God’s strength and help to build the Kingdom of God. Don’t let God’s commands be left undone. Whatever the task, be not afraid but know that God is telling you as He told Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God is right by your side, and He will help you keep moving forward in your life with purpose. Don’t worry about the outcomes or the results. As Mr. Diestler said at Finding Focus 2019, God will establish the works our hands produce, not us. Trust that the Lord will make it successful in maturing you in Him and in sharing the Gospel of Christ, no matter how much of a failure it may seem since we know that everything is working for your good (Romans 8:28). God will make your obedience last forever by the souls He saves through you!

So, 2020 is over, and it has been a wild ride. As I’m preparing for Finding Focus 21 right now and pondering on what I could have done better, I believe that living with focus and purpose was what I needed to do. Did God bring deliverance in 2020? Yes, He did; He did. Howbeit, it wasn’t in the way I expected. What was that deliverance from the depression? It was 2021, literally, and the revelation of knowledge of the theme Live on Purpose. As I head into 2021, I’m going to spend more time in prayer. I’m going to occupy myself with less time dilly-dallying and wasting my time by moving forward in my day without reading God’s Word first. I’m going to better schedule my days and have accountability for strongholds in my life, and if God wills, that means that more blog posts will come out as I experience my last semester in high school and head into college so that I can share God’s work in my life and encourage you in Christ on this journey. Now what are you going to do in 2021? How will God use you for His will this year? As you pray and meditate on the Word of God just as you have with Psalm 90, listen to what the Lord is communicating, repent of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin in your life, respond in faith to the word “Go,” and remind yourself that God, not you, will bring the increase in your labor. May your 2021 be filled with much growth as you set your attention on Him Who made you and will complete what He has started in you!

Happy new year!

COMMITTING TO GOD'S GRACE AND LOVE,

Jeremiah Yonemura


[1] Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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