One Word {For the Year}

In the past few weeks, I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I’ve read suggesting that readers follow various methods to receive or select a focus word for this new year.  The first time I ever heard of this concept was at a ministry meeting held by Bible teacher Linda Markowitz many years ago.  I admire Linda greatly and she is intentional and persevering in her ministry and personal walk with The Lord.  For decades now, she has been receiving a word from The Lord which she describes as a banner or theme for the new year.  She shared that sometimes the Holy Spirit brought the word to her and sometimes she had to petition in prayer for the word several times, but consistently within weeks before or after a new year, she always had her word.

Now it’s almost a trendy thing.  Making resolutions is kind of out but having a focus word is in.

For 2014, my word was forward.  I don’t remember the first time the Holy Spirit ministered that word to me, but probably around the tenth time I laid out a prayer before The Lord and got only a one word reply, forward, I started noticing a theme.  (Hmm, maybe you’re trying to tell me something here, God?)  Then as 2014 got even harder with some unexpected circumstances, I would sense He was encouraging me with: go forward and keep moving forward.

I have a tendency to want to quit, or at least take a break and disengage from challenging life situations.  (By disengage, I mean get back into bed and pull the covers all the way up and go to sleep!)  And there were times in 2014 that I did that… but it just delayed the inevitable.  I had to keep going.  I had to keep moving… forward.

My word for 2015 came to me in early December 2014 while sitting in church at Victory Orlando, listening to my pastor preach.  As an analogy for his sermon, Pastor Caleb was sharing about the outreach that a group of V/O folks, including myself, participated in just the very day before.  The outreach was at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, a Christian shelter.  Our large group was split into two teams: one team helped serve lunch to the residents and the other group worked in the shelter’s thrift shop.  One way that the Rescue Mission raised funds was by selling donated goods in a thrift shop.  Pastor Caleb was on the team that helped in the thrift shop and in his analogy he described how one task they were assigned was to put together a whole host of artificial Christmas trees.  The trees were used and in their individual manufacturer’s boxes.  So the team began putting together these trees, but they ran into a problem: there were no tree stands in the boxes.  And so even though some of these trees were quite lovely, full and tall with all the branches in tact, they had no stand, therefore no matter how lovely they were, they would just fall over onto the ground.

So, Pastor Caleb went on to explain that they had five trees fully put together, but they had no base stand for any of them.  Until, another box was opened and inside, no tree, just stands!  Five of them!  And one by one, they were able to match up the tree with it’s stand.  And when that happened, the purpose of the tree was able to be clearly seen because it was now firmly established in the tree stand.

The word established hit me so hard, it was as if I had never heard it before.

So, I’ve been researching the word and this is what I’ve found so far.

I can pray and ask the Lord to establish the work of my hands: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands – establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17 HCSB

I bear a certain amount of responsibility to establish (strengthen) my heart: “So you must also be patient. Establish your hearts [strengthen and confirm them in the final certainty] for the coming of the Lord is very near.” James 5:8 AMP

Despite my free will which chooses sin at {a lot of} times and despite this fallen world: “A man’s steps are established by the Lord and He takes pleasure in his way.  Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed because the Lord holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24  The note in my study Bible for these verses reads: “Figuratively, established refers to security and stability, and steps are related to one’s way of life, often represented as a path or road.  Therefore, the Lord is the One who brings about a person’s stability in life.”

You can only become established by pursuing righteousness: “No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.” Proverbs 12:3 ESV

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV

“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7 HCSB  My study Bible note on Colossians 2:7 says: “established in the faith – a legal term meaning confirmed”.

“Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.  Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27  My study Bible notes read: “Undivided attention to the right path and a determination not to even sample evil assure that your ways will be established.  The passive voice implies that it is God who does it.  Established is fixed and firm, secure, not subject to change or to destruction.”

HALLELUJAH!

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So, after going forward in 2014 (and no doubt, there will be many more seasons of forward in my life), I sense that God wants to settle {me} in a secure position or condition. I welcome that, Lord.  I welcome You.

As with most things with the Lord, I must do my part and He will do his.  Fixing my eyes on Him, establishing my heart by meditating on His Word and fleeing evil are the practical applications I’m pursuing so far.

Cause who wants a Christmas tree that won’t stay standing up?

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