"I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep My covenant with you. You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put My dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high." Leviticus 26:9-13
In talking with people about the year 2008, I can report that though it has been a year of many changes, new beginnings and deep purification, it has also been a year that the enemy made constant attempts to try to cause God's people to lower their heads in shame and go back into a "slavery" mentality. In times of change, circumstances are unfamiliar which can easily rob us of our confidence and security. During these times we must press into our true source of confidence and security: Jesus Christ.
As we pass into the New Year it is important to reestablish our confidence and trust in Christ and in His faithfulness to keep His covenant with us. His Word and His covenant are forever true. Though, like Abraham, the fulfillment of certain promises may seem delayed, do not fear—they will come to pass at the appointed time. Pass through into this New Year with a declaration of trust and a posture of confidence in His faithfulness.
Garments of Favor
"I will look on you with favor..."
We need to understand that favor is a gift from our Father. Just as we show favor to our own children, not because of what they do, but because of whose they are, our Heavenly Father looks upon His own with favor also. Not only does He look upon us with favor, but He causes His favor to rest upon us so that we walk in favor with mankind too.
God has been stripping us of our grave clothes and the clothes that we wore in our times of slavery. He wants us to receive the clothing of "highly favored ones." These are priestly garments that distinguish us from those who are not His own. Heaven recognizes these spiritual garments; favor goes before, is upon, and follows those who accept these new garments.
My sense is that 2008 was a year of new beginnings which marked the end of many things and caused many to have to get low and "dig in the dirt" to build new foundations for what is ahead - both spiritually and naturally. But 2009 is a time to rise from the dirt and change your garments. Though the building of our dreams has just begun, it is time to put on the garments of favor, for the Lord has broken the bars of our yoke and causes us to walk with our heads held high (Leviticus 26:13).
The Gift of Fruitfulness
"...and make you fruitful..."
It is God alone who makes us fruitful! Although we put effort into cooperating with the Holy Spirit and His leading, ultimately, fruitfulness is a gift from God. Our gifts and talents are wonderful things, but trusting in them apart from God's favor and the gift of fruitfulness that only He can give will leave us impotent.
The amazing thing about the "gift of fruitfulness" is that we find our efforts produce fruit as we partner with the Holy Spirit. Not only that, but we enter into personal fruitfulness of rest, peace and joy that is not present when our gifts are used merely in our own strength. We need to allow Him to make us fruitful so that we do not enter into a place of being driven by fear or lack.
Remember that it is His good pleasure to give His children fruitfulness! As we begin the year 2009, let us remember that there are nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and nine gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). May this be a year that we see the Body of Christ enter into the fullness of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
"To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the One and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have." 1 Corinthians 12:8-11
Grace, Truth and Love
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:17
The grace and truth given to us through Jesus Christ is our freedom. This is the source of our great joy. We all struggle to understand the truth behind the gift of grace. It is a difficult thing to embrace in a society that demands performance. One of the "bars of our yoke" is the constant temptation and pressure to perform in all of life's arenas.
As a woman I often fight against a pressure to perform as a mother, homemaker, daughter, wife and Christian. I find it hard to rest unless everything is in order and often fight feelings of failure if the kitchen floor isn't clean or if one of my kids doesn't make a good decision. I have watched Christian men and women in the business arena struggle with the constant pressure to perform and compete. If we could enter into the grace and truth given to us through Christ, we would see the bars of this yoke broken off of so many, so that they could walk in the gift of favor, fruitfulness and grace.
I would like to leave you with words from John the Beloved:
"To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth - and not I only, but also all who know the truth - because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.
"It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love." 2 John 1:1-6
According to most theologians, "the Lady and her children" whom John is addressing is "the Church and her children"; the Bride of Christ. He is exhorting us to walk in love—for this is the truth. Love is the greatest gift that we can enter the New Year with. Let this year not only be a year of seeing His people walking in His favor, fruitfulness, truth and grace, but most of all - love!
May love fill your hearts and homes during 2009. May love fill your congregations no matter how big or small. May love fill the streets of your city, your schools, your business places and governmental offices. And last of all, may love be poured into the hearts of the lost so that they might be drawn unto Jesus.
Happy New Year my Friends - from our home to yours,