Psalm 122; Isaiah 61:1–9; John 15:1–8 (read online ⧉)

The year of the Lord’s favor is probably not this year. The ever-changing nature of this year, and all the odd and bad things that are going on would in no way seem to be the harbinger of the Lord’s favor.

What if, however, we are looking at it wrong? Perhaps instead of looking at the disasters and troubles, we should be looking for God. Who or what is God stirring around us? If we become too obsessed with the world, we could miss God.

This is not to say don’t pay attention to the world. In fact, part of the words of Isaiah is exactly why we should be looking for God in action: good news, heal, liberty, freedom, (even) vengeance, comfort, crown, festive.

This is not to say that God desires bad things. God will use the bad things (whether natural or human depravity) to mold and shape if we seek God. If we are not seeking God in these things and through these things, we are far more likely to have hearts that become harder and more resistant to love, whether it is being loved or loving others.

Isaiah’s words aren’t necessarily comfortable, either, especially to those who are in power or who have advantages (even if they are unaware). God doesn’t seek, necessarily, to make us comfortable (though God will comfort us). God seeks to change us from the inside out. Often, though, we only change (or seek change) under stress. Well, there’s plenty of stress now.

Rejoice in suffering because God is with us. Not because it’s fun.

When we are part of the vine (Jesus Christ), we’re going to be pruned. Whether it’s our biases, our fears, our (non-Godly) allegiances, God will prune them. We will often try to graft them back on, and in so doing we are susceptible to diseases of the soul. A diseased branch will be tossed into the fire.

It is beyond our capabilities to see what fruit we could bear once God is done pruning us. God, though, is the great vinedresser and will seek the maximization of fruit, not our destruction. We just feel that way sometimes.

There is a running joke out there…what was the worst purchase in 2019? A 2020 planner. There is so much going on that is unexpected, and for which we are unprepared. Instead of groaning or burying our head in the sand, let us embrace the opportunity to be formed by God into his image of us (our unique expression of the Imago Dei).

※Prayer [Billy Graham]※

Lord, whatever I have to face, through it let me learn more of Your love and compassion. Amen.

※Questions※

1) Is anything new being added to God’s pruning list for you? If not, why do you think that is?

2) What is the best side-effect when looking for God’s movement in times of suffering and trial?

3) How does suffering lead to a “Year of the Lord’s Favor”?

Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at