3-2-1! Happy New Year! Couples kiss, promises are made and the air is filled with hope. For some it is about leaving a bad year behind. The bad year was filled with loss and bad memories, or even tragedy. For others a new year that will further the progress of the last would be great. But, everyone has something to work on. Everyone needs to make one change, or set one goal. There is always something that just isn’t working. It might be your marriage or your relationships with your children. It could be church involvement or your social life. There might be something you have always wanted to do, but it remains on the bucket list.
Listen carefully, I am not talking about guilt, I am talking about vision and hope. Don’t read this to help you feel guilty. Guilt is a bad motivator. Kingdom Passion that stems from knowing who we are in Christ and that He loves us whether we tank this ship or not will always take us further.
Every year I like to pray about and consider one word to focus on to take into the new year. I noticed in my life some things need to be refocused, or slightly changed, while other times the changes need to be more drastic. There also may be some things that God wants to eliminate completely. These activities were once great Kingdom building activities and supported the big dream. Now they no longer do. It wasn’t bad to start, but it could be sinful to continue.
Some of this rolling around in my head led up to a moment where I found myself New Year’s Eve morning. After many Christmas cookies and several holiday meals out, I found myself looking at my bathroom scale on New Year’s Eve morning, which was the first step in leading me to this word. My word this year is, “Cut.”
Let’s go back to Jesus’ the night of the last supper. Imagine being an apostle and the Rabbi whom you left your means of income for to follow for the last three and one half years starts to speak about fruit, as you are about to part ways. This passage is from that night, where they would be scattered and the sinless Son of God was going to the cross. This is what you are to take from the past several years of ministry. It all comes down to these vines, the miracles, the prayers, the lives changed. It was all about, “Grapes.” This is your special instructions, it must have been very frustrating in the moment.
Here are Jesus’ words from that night.
(John 15:1-17 NIV)
The Vine and the Branches
15 ‘“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Notice Jesus explains how God the Father even prunes Him to bear more fruit. Sometimes God cuts us. If you are Jesus it is not because you did anything wrong, it is to help you bear more fruit. For all of us, it could be because we are doing something right, but it could also mean that we are doing something wrong, but either way, cutting hurts.
Sometimes we must be pruned. Sometimes our lives are full of things that used to be more productive and fruitful. But if branches have fruit on them, maybe there are other branches that are no longer productive. You may have a ministry or career or something that you started into with great purpose and passion, but it no longer makes sense to put your time to. It doesn’t contribute to the big dream God gave you. It wasn’t bad to go down this trail, but you are reaching the end and if you listen carefully, you may hear the voice of Christ say, “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant!” It was simply the training ground for something else.
What is it that God wants to cut from you? Is it some weight that you have gained? Is it a relationship? Is it a job change? Do you need to refocus your career or marriage? Do you need to make a step towards your big dream? What happens next is up to God and you. Will you respond well if He has to cut you? I suspect He will need to cut on me this year to help me to bear more fruit for His Kingdom.
Thanks for Reading and Happy New Year!
Check out The Introduction to my book, “The New Testament Challenge . There are 260 Chapters in The New Testament. 1 Chapter a day 5 days a week 52 weeks a year 5 x 52 = 260! Take the Challenge! Change the World!
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