Today’s Reading: Genesis 1-2:4; Psalm 104
Happy New Year! 2016 is officially here! I love January 1st because I love the idea of a new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. I have a tradition of taking the Christmas decorations down, cleaning the house, exercising and then planning a delicious dinner for the family – all to the background “music” of the football games playing on tv. This perfect day gets my year off to a great start.
I will also spend a portion of my day planning out my GOALS for 2016. What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to complete? What habits do I need to break? I guess you could call them New Year’s Resolutions, although that always seems to jinx my goals when I call them that.
But first, before I start tearing the house apart in order to put everything back together, I want to take a look at what kind of order my life needs to be in. I long to hear from God, to hear what HE desires for my 2016 – to hear HIS goals, HIS purpose, HIS plans. I don’t want to start this new year out of step with HIS perfect plan. So I do what I know to do. I enter into His presence with my Bible in one hand and a cup of my morning coffee in the other. This morning I start a new year and a new journey from Genesis to Revelation.
As the cadence of life naturally gives me a new beginning, I go back to the VERY beginning – to the first chapter of Genesis. I look back to the beginning of the world to seek answers of why God created the world, why He created me, and what He is calling me to do this year.
What is the purpose of our creation? What were we created for? We can find this answer by looking back at the account of creation. Take a minute to read Genesis 1:1-2:4. There we find God’s first instructions to His creation.
Then God said, “LET THE LAND SPROUT with vegetation – every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. – Genesis 1:11
So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “BE FRUITFUL and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” – Genesis 1:27-28a
So what is the purpose of creation and, therefore, God’s call on my life? To bear fruit – to produce fruit with seed in it that will then produce more fruit with seed, which will produce more fruit with seed…
So how do we bear fruit? What does it mean to be fruitful? Jeremiah 17:7-8 teaches us that we can bear fruit 1.) by trusting in the Lord and 2.) by “remaining in the vine” – even when life around us is pressing in.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
So the purpose of our existence in this imperfect world is to be fruitful. When the heat is increasing and we experience a time of drought, God promises to be the source of our needs so that we can remain “green.” We need God, in good times and in bad, and so what better place to be than along His riverbank with our roots reaching deep into His living water.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 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.” – John 15:1-4
This is why one of my goals again this year is to wake up each morning and enter into God’s presence with a hot cup of my morning coffee. I long to grow my roots deeper into the soil of His word. I desire to be pruned and perfected for His purposes. I long to remain in Him and have Him remain in me so that I can bear fruit – the purpose of my creation and the purpose of my existence, but also the purpose of my salvation.
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. – Romans 7:4
If I want to please God, if I want to be in the center of His will for my life, I must bear fruit that bears fruit. This is what I was created for, what I continue to exist for, and what I was saved for – to be fruitful and increase. It was what God was calling me to do in 2015 and what He expects in 2016.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. – Colossians 1:9-10
Those verses are my prayer for all of us in 2016 as we journey through the Bible – to grow in knowledge, wisdom and understanding, and to live a fruitful life as we get to know God better.
Lord, we enter into your presence and ask for a fresh filling of your Spirit. We sit at your feet and sip from your Word, asking for spiritual wisdom and understanding. May our lives always honor and please you, O God – not by our own effort but because our roots are established deeply in you. Lord, we long to watch you produce good fruit through us today and throughout 2016 – seed-bearing fruit that will itself grow and create more seed-bearing fruit so that your will can be accomplished and your gospel advanced. This is what you created us for, what we exist for and what we were saved for. We long to know you better and better, Father – to grow as we learn at your riverbanks. Amen.