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…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. —John 15:1-4

We’re almost a week into the New Year, and have had time to reflect upon what God wants for us this year. On the first day of this year, I told you that God gave me the word fire for the year (see January 1).

Fire of the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of God’s presence in our lives. Moses witnessed the presence of God in the burning bush.

He wants us to live in His presence! To draw closer to Him, in a deep, personal relationship, experiencing His presence.

The presence of God can be a bit scary, can’t it? 

God doesn’t allow us to remain as we are.  He challenges us to grow and stretch and deal with problems head on. He takes us places we’re not sure we want to go.  But, He is good.  We can trust Him.  We can abandon our fears and go for intimacy with our heavenly Father, because we can trust in His goodness.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

I know the world doesn’t seem very safe right now.  All of us feel the uncertainty of change, terrorism, dangerous world issues—and personal struggles as well.  Many of our lives are in crisis.

The answer to that, and to living in the presence of God, begins with the verse above, in John 15. 
Notice, the only responsibility of the branch (us) is to abide in Christ.  All the rest—the pruning, the cleansing, the nurturing, strengthening—all of it is the vinedresser’s responsibility.  And that is exactly what He is doing.  Pruning our hearts through circumstances, hardships, and changes, so that we will draw closer to His heart.

To all who are weary, frightened or unsure of the future, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and “Follow Me.”

Jesus is God’s love manifested in human form.  He is the Father’s way of saying, “I love you, I want to bless you, draw you closer to Me, and give you a life of joy, peace, and love.”

May we all cling to the Vine in this New Year!