Hello and Happy New Year, Dare to Believe family!
Last year was one unlike anything we have corporately experienced. Some of us faced great pain and loss. All of us weathered a time of continual change and uncertainty. Calling it a significant pruning season is both accurate and understated.
Recognizing the signals
In 2020, I soon learned to recognize disappointment, offense or lack of peace as signals alerting me to a part of my faith that wasn’t fully anchored in Jesus.
These moments served as an invitation for me to draw close to the Lord, share my feelings, receive his love and submit to his pruning cuts. As painful and humbling as it was to realize that I had placed twenty percent of my hope in my own plans or ten percent of my hope into politics, I was one hundred percent grateful to have these places revealed so that every ounce of my trust could be placed in the only unshakable One.
The pruning process
Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, CA, says it well: pruning is not punishment, it is a reward for growth.
Our Father is the loving gardener who prunes our branches that we may bear more fruit (John 15:1). That doesn’t make it an easy or painless process, but it is both purposeful and good, and leads to incredible fruitfulness.
Peace in His presence
During this past season of Advent and Christmas, I was hit afresh by a mighty revelation: Peace on Earth was realized at Christ’s birth as the one who is Peace came to Earth. And he hasn’t left. Peace is not the absence of conflict, fear and strife. Peace is the presence of King Jesus.
Looking ahead to 2021, there are three things I feel the Lord highlighting:
1. Remember Who He is.
God is the best Father we could know. He is faithful. He is ever-present and oh- so kind. Circumstances do not dictate God’s character to us, his word does. He is the one who “will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged” (Isaiah 42:3).
2. Linger in His presence.
We become like what we behold. As we gaze on his face, we are transformed more and more into his image—the very thing we were created to reflect. God is calling us into a deeper level of intimacy and encounter than we’ve ever known. We will see more happen this year from being with him than doing for him.
3. Speak what He is speaking, nothing more and nothing less.
The power of our words in birthing the promises of God is no small thing. Just ask Zechariah in Luke 1 (and then hand him something to write with so he can respond). I want to be just like Jesus. Jesus only did what the Father was doing, likewise he only said what the Father said (John 12:49), and I’ve noticed he often says far less than I do.
These three keys work beautifully together in seeing God’s kingdom realm manifest in our lives. I bless you to remember his goodness, to linger in his presence and to co-create with him as you declare his word over your year, your family and friends, your region and our world.
Bless you and Happy New Year! It’s 2020-Won!