MUST READ: My 2023 Word of The Year
I typically write and post this particular blog on or around January 1st. But this year, I've been so cozy and immersed in my word-of-the-year bubble that I really didn't want to unplug from it to write. That's how you know you chose the perfect word of the year, you can't remove yourself from it. It becomes who you are. You can't separate from it. It fits and the experience of that word is bliss.
Call me crazy but I love early mornings. No, I mean really early mornings. My alarm wakes me at 4:15 am and I am in the gym by 4:40. I eat a banana every morning on my way there. I am home by 6:00 am, make coffee and dig deep into an hour and thirty-minute bible study and then log into work by 7:30. It's a routine that I am honestly a mess without. I love it. Sure, sleeping in is nice, but experiencing being the only one awake in a quiet house drinking coffee with Jesus is heaven. There is something about a routine that brings joy during the daily experience of it.
So many people get frustrated with a routine because they don't see results quickly enough.
We stop praying because we don't see that our prayer works.
We don't fast because we don't see that fasting spiritually works.
We don't consistently attend bible study because we don't see spiritual growth.
Perhaps if we could see that our routines bear fruit, we would be more committed to those routines. I am guilty as charged but this year, in 2023, I want more than to see my routines work. I want to display their fruit. I want to experience them.
Experiencing starts with our routines. The gyms and churches are packed in January. But how will it look in May? Suppose you are tired of seeing your seasons mirror one another, or you are not producing the fruit of your labor, or you are tired of falling for counterfeits, or entertaining distractions and staying in ruts longer than you have to. In that case, you are going to have to have a routine.
The dictionary definition of experience as a verb is “1) to participate in or undergo, 2) to be emotionally or aesthetically moved by, or 3) to learn by experience.” The concept of “experiencing God” is not explicitly found in Scripture. There are numerous commands in Scripture regarding how we are to relate to God, but experiencing Him is not one of them. We are to love God with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:5), obey God (Deuteronomy 27:10; 1 John 5:2), trust God (John 14:1), fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Peter 2:17), etc. But nowhere does the Bible tell us to “experience God.”
Besides giving our lives over to Jesus and secondly, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us I believe a necessary part of experiencing God is through the lifelong pursuit of learning Him, which is "becoming so intimately acquainted with Him that we joyfully yield our lives to Him because we have come to know Him and trust Him completely. This involves coming to understand that He is faithful, good, holy, just, unchanging, omnipotent, and sovereign over all circumstances." (Got Questions)
God is a God of order. We see that in the creation. Also, Jesus had routines. And if you want 2023 to be a year of massive growth spiritually, personally, financially, emotionally, and physically you are reading the perfect blog post. Here's how to experience Holy Spirit fruit this year.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:1-8).
A key word in John 15 is “abide.” Jesus uses that word seven times in the beginning eight verses. It means to “remain” or to “dwell” or to “continue”. With respect to a grapevine, it would mean that the branch “remains connected” to the vine in such a way as to draw its essential life from that vine.
Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission, and under God was responsible in the mid-19th century for leading hundreds of missionaries into China’s interior for the first time. In 1869, when he was 37 years old, he entered a new phase of life. He began to live more deeply the truth of John 15. He was given a more profound, more consistent, more satisfying experience of abiding in Christ. He was grafted.
His son Fredrick Howard Taylor later wrote in 1932,
Here was a man … bearing tremendous burdens, yet absolutely calm and untroubled. Oh, the pile of letters! any one of which might contain news of death, of lack of funds, of riots or serious trouble. Yet all were opened, read and answered with the same tranquility — Christ, his reason for peace, his power for calm. Dwelling in Christ, he drew upon His very being and resources. . . . And this he did by an attitude of faith as simple as it was continuous. Yet he was delightfully free and natural. I can find no words to describe it save the Scriptural expression “in God.” He was in God all the time and God in him. It was that true “abiding” of John fifteen.
We bear fruit when and only when we are grafted into the vine. The Holy Spirit in us is the fruit producer, we are simply the branches that have the privilege of displaying His fruit.
What Is Grafting?
Grafting is a technique that joins two plants into one. In general, a wound is created on one of the plants, and the other is inserted into that wound so each plant's tissues can grow together. Once the new plant is established, there is no separating the two.
Is that how you feel about Jesus and you? You can't tell where one starts and the other stops? You are so intertwined that your tissues grow together? By abiding in Christ, we form a knowing, an intimacy, a one-heartbeat kind of life with Jesus. Abiding requires consistent confession of sin, consistency in the Word of God, and daily communion with Him.
Jesus modeled it perfectly. It was His routine.
Luke 4: 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed
Luke 19:47 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him...
Luke 22:39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
What the above verses are telling us is that our King had routines. He was routinely abiding in the Father and the Father in Him. You could not tell the beginning of one and the end of the other. Jesus was grafted and there was no separating the two. He experienced God. Jesus was intimately acquainted with Him that joyfully yielded His life to Him.
There is no special feeling we get when we are abiding. But there are definitely special evidences that appear and are unmistakenly clear. The Bible refers to these evidences as fruit. Fruit is not the same as results. A machine can produce results, and so can a robot but it takes a living organism to produce fruit. It takes time and cultivation to produce fruit and we don't see a good crop come overnight.
As I shared above, I go to the gym 4-5 mornings a week. I have only lost three pounds since September 22 when I started this routine. Pounds are the results. The self-control I display is the fruit. Focus on fruit.
In August I took on the financial responsibility of paying my youngest daughter's college tuition. It was a big amount to cover every month and for the 5 months I paid it, major cutbacks had to take place in my lifestyle. Yet, I was faithful that it would all work out and thanked God daily that I had the means to help her. In January, we decided to bite the bullet and have her take out a student loan to relieve my very stressed budget. Once the university received her loan, they back-applied half of it to her fall tuition and reimbursed me all that I paid. Being made financially whole was the result. The faithfulness and patience I displayed are the fruit. Focus on fruit.
Results may are may not happen, fruit will be produced forever as long as you are abiding.
Christ-like fruit will show in our lives through an effective prayer life (John 15:7), a God-glorifying life (John 15:8), a love-saturated life (John 15:9), an obedient life (John 15:10) and a joyful life (John 15:11). https://www.newcovenantgj.org/?s=John+15%3A1-8
Abiding in Christ produced in Hudson Taylor a fruitful Christian life of great action, risk, discipline, and self-denial — all of it sustained by great peace and joy. He wrote, “Let us, then — not seek, not wait, not pursue — but now accept by faith the Saviour’s word — ‘Ye are the branches.’” Taylor believed the inexpressible glory of our union with Christ. He wrote, “Work is the outcome of effort; fruit, of life. A bad man may do good work, but a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” He knew the secret of the fruitful Christian life is abiding in Christ.
At the time of Hudson Taylor’s death, the China Inland Mission was an international body with 825 missionaries living in all eighteen provinces of China with more than 300 mission stations, more than 500 local Chinese helpers, and 25,000 Christian converts. And his fruit continues. Most estimate that today there are over 150 million Christians in China.
Ask yourself today, “Am I bearing fruit for His kingdom? Am I daily abiding in Christ, making Him and His words at home in my heart?” This year may we bear the fruit of Christlikeness. That’s the purpose for which He saved us.
Past Words of the Year (readable blog posts on those with links)
2012 was GROWTH
2013 was RESTORATION
2014 was HOPE
2015 was PEACE
2016 was FLOURISH
2017 was NEW
2018 was EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY
2019 was JOY