Each year I pray and ask God for a word to guide me. Last year, as we began a new decade I was given the word Hope. I wrote these words on January 1,2020 which turned out to be very prophetic. “HOPE. That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020? I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful. He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.” Wow! No truer words did I need and live through during 2020. It was a year that I needed extreme Hope to survive!
This year I have been asking God about a new word for 2021. The word that has come to me over and over is JOY. God knows there is a need within me after all that has happened in 2020 to focus on His joy in my life. His joy is not dependent upon the world events, personal relationships or my own drama of life but in Him alone. As I wrote in my new book, Strategic Living, His joy brings benefits to our souls, is eternal and complete. His joy is a byproduct of the Holy Spirit’s work within us, the fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
The verses I’ve chosen to claim this year are: Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Jesus is at God’s right hand in heaven and He will guide me and give me complete joy that is eternal. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” I am confident God will give me opportunities to proclaim to others His goodness in my life. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Learning to live in joy, praising God and thanking Him for the growth He is bringing to my character in and through the trials of life takes a new attitude and mindset that is filled with His Joy!
Prayerfully consider in this New Year what word God would give you to focus and guide your thoughts this year. As the year progresses, you can look for your word in the events of your life, in relationships and in your thoughts. It is amazing the ways God shows you your word throughout the year. I am so thankful for the word Hope and how it reminded and sustained me in 2020. I am looking forward to clinging to the Joy that is before me in Christ. Nehemiah summed it up in Nehemiah 8:10 “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Since I’ve chosen Joy as my word, I will be blogging in January on various verses that focus on the joy we have in Christ. God is leading me to be uplifted and to uplift others in His joy. I am looking forward to it!
Jesus made this I AM statement during His upper room discourse with the disciples. He was giving important teaching to guide and give them hope as He knew the cross was upon Him. He states this message twice in John 15:1 and 5 with a slightly different emphasis each time. “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. ” Knowing that Israel was often referred to in the Old Testament as the vine, Jesus is saying that He is the true vine, the Messiah, and God is the ‘gardener’ in life. As the gardener God has a responsibility to keep us healthy and growing strong and that only happens if you are carefully pruned. The goal of God has for us is to produce fruit in our lives and pruning will enable us to be more fruitful. Remaining with Jesus, walking with Him daily is the way to stay connected to Him. If we lose touch, we will not and cannot be fruitful.
In verse 5, Jesus reconfirms that He is the vine. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus identifies us as branches off Him. We are connected and grow strong through that connection. He adds that being with Him, walking with Him daily, remaining in Him will cause us to be fruitful. That fruit in our lives is not possible without Him.
After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us from within. The Holy Spirit works within us to transform us into the spiritual beings that God desires, filled with purpose for Him and bringing Him glory. This transformation is know as sanctification and is a life long process as we walk with Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 describes some of this ‘fruit’ that God desires in our life that is made possible only through knowing Jesus. ” But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! These are always good in our life and give glory to God.
Do you desire to be fruitful in your walk with Jesus? Jesus said the key is to remain in Him and be open to God’s pruning. God will use the Holy Spirit within you to mold and shape your character so that you grow more and more like Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus each day and walk with Him. “For nothing will be impossible for God.” Luke 1:3 Watch how He will transform you day by day.