Prophetic Word on the Eve of 2023
Here in Texas we are not normally equipped for winter weather. Just before I wrote this article, we were seeing 80-degree afternoons. A few days later, however, a very cold front brought in some very frigid temperatures — in the low 20s — and we even had to deal with blackouts. What a difference a day makes.
Accompanying that cold front were some very heavy winds, with distinct howling and whipping noises I could hear from indoors. Suddenly, I heard a very loud cracking sound.
I ventured outside to survey my property, and to my surprise I saw a tree toppled over in my yard. I was shocked to see how those powerful winds had snapped the tree at its base.
This particular tree had been dying: Half was vibrant, while the other half had branches that were bare and no longer producing. For months, I had hoped the tree would recover, but it never did.
Coincidentally, the entire tree didn’t come down, but only the dead half. If that part hadn’t come down that way, eventually the whole tree would have been a loss.
As I stared at that tree, I felt the Lord speaking prophetically to me.
I don’t know about you, but my 2022 was one for books, and not in the best of ways. This year I felt as if I were, like that old tree, completely stripped down. At times I have felt as if my prayers were fruitless. The degree of warfare I faced had left me discouraged, exhausted, speechless. At other times, my prayers felt liquid — no words, just tears. Praise God — He understands the language of tears and groanings.
Looking back, I realize that some things I faced this year were due to my own stubbornness. Some of our battles are warfare, but troubles can also come through our refusal to surrender. It’s not always the devil; sometimes it’s our disobedience.
Reading through my prayer journals of 2022, I noticed a common theme. I prayed to be refined. I asked the Lord to prune me and to remove from my life anything that was no longer bearing fruit. Now, here I am in the last week of 2022 with a dead tree in my yard. Don’t you love God’s sense of humor?
What I sensed the Lord speaking through this was that He wants to remove the dead things from us so that we can receive new and living things.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1–2 NIV).
Pruning is beneficial to plants not only for aesthetic beauty; pruning brings them health, new growth, and life. In a spiritual sense, pruning holds those same sorts of benefits for us as well: We grow when we are pruned. Sure, it can be painful, but the rewards are worth it, not to mention eternal.
If you have not yet surrendered anything hurtful that you’ve been holding onto, I pray that you will lay it down today, and that you will let the Lord work in your life. It’s for your benefit.
Let your need to control everything die. Trust that God has a plan. At times that plan will not make any sense to us, but His thoughts and ways are higher and better than ours anyway (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Let your strivings and efforts to be seen and recognized by man die, and let your gifts make room for themselves (Proverbs 18:16).
Let whatever has not worked for you in past seasons die. I guarantee that if it hasn’t worked for you up until now, it most definitely won’t work going into the new year either (Philippians 3:13–14).
Let your pride and your need to be “right” die, and humble yourself instead under the all-powerful hand of God, that He may lift and exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6).
Let all unforgiveness and feelings of offense stemming from roots of bitterness die. Do this so that you can be healed and set free to bear fruit again.
And when I say let it die, I mean leave it at the cross.
Again, if the dead half of that tree in my yard had not come down, the half that was still living would have died eventually. Jesus, in His mercy, is willing to break off and strip away a few branches to save the whole tree. Thank You Jesus!
Let Him remove every dead and unfruitful thing from your life.
I believe that the Church as a whole has been experiencing pruning as well. For too long we’ve been set in our routines. We often live Sunday to Sunday, forgetting that every single day in between — from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we shut them again for sleep at night — is an opportunity to share Jesus with a hurting world.
We cannot afford to keep going through the motions in 2023.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:36–38 NIV).
The time has come in which “good enough” is no longer good enough — especially for the Church. Programs and platforms aren’t enough. Sure, the seats may be filled, but what about the hearts of men and women? The Lord is looking for churches that will honor His presence above their programs.
That was the hard part, but even in the harder words, there’s always hope and redemption for humankind, thanks to Jesus.
Pruned so that we may abide.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches” … (John 15:4–5).
Although to abide means to stay, sojourn, or dwell, many think it requires total stillness; the word abide, however, is a verb. Some of its synonyms translate also as: to persist, to pursue, to endure, to stand. The verb is an active term, detailing our relationship with the Lord.
Here are just a few of the benefits of abiding, as listed in John 15:
As intercessors, don’t we long to see this? Jesus promises us that when we abide in Him, if we ask, He will answer.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
Bearing more fruit not only makes us more Christlike, but it also shows that we actually belong to the Lord. That’s why Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew: “By their fruits you will know them.”
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
Fullness of Joy
Do you need joy? I know I’ve needed it — more than once. We are promised joy as a product of abiding in Him.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Friendship with Jesus
One of my favorite Bible truths: When we abide in Him, He abides with us. We were chosen to bear fruit and to be obedient, resulting in a deepening relationship with Jesus. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14–15).
Whatever your year has looked like, you can thank the Lord that He is the God of second, third, fourth … chances.
If you found yourself isolated for a period, then praise God. He needed to get you away from the noise and distraction, and into the secret place with Him.
If you suffered the loss of a relationship of some kind, you can trust that it was ultimately for your benefit, and that He protected you nonetheless and will eventually connect you with the right people.
If you found yourself humbled, praise God. He is the Lord who gives grace to the humble while resisting the proud.
However this year ends for you, bring it to a close with high praises to God. He didn’t abandon you or fail you. He was with you. And He is still with you.
2023 is the year to go after the Lord with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength. Pursue the Lord intentionally, the same way he pursued us, even when we were enemies of the cross.
It’s a year in which we must be all in. Let’s endure whatever 2023 brings, and let us abide with Him.
Let’s pray together:
Father, I want to begin my prayers with praise and thanksgiving. There were times I felt I wouldn’t make it, but thank You, Lord, I’m still here. I could do nothing apart from You. Thank You for Your tender mercies that were there from the moment I woke up in the morning until the instant I fell asleep at night. Thank You that in the midst of my hurting, Your consolation brought me hope.
When I was afraid, You stilled my heart. When I was lonely, You were with me. You are everything I have ever needed, and You are everything I ever will need.
Thank You, Lord. You are so good to me and my family. You extend Your mercy and grace to humankind, giving every one of us the chance to repent and to accept Your invitation to sonship. You are worthy of all my praises. You are worthy of it all. I magnify and glorify Your holy name. I love You, Lord!
I’ve been through so much this year, but I lay it all down. I will not carry anything into the new year that I’m not meant to carry. I release any offense or unforgiveness that I’m harboring against anyone in my biological family or my family in Christ. I will not carry this grudge or burden any longer.
Take this pain that I’ve been holding onto in secret. The rejection, the exclusion, the hurtful way I was made to feel by some of the people I love — I release this pain to You, Lord.
Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.
Thank You, Lord, that You promise to restore the wasted years and everything the locusts have eaten. I cling to your word with hope and expectancy because You are faithful to keep that word and to do exactly what You’ve said.
I will abide in You, as You abide with me. I’m all in, Lord. No holding back, no more being double-minded — I’m all in. I do this for the harvest’s sake and for the glory and honor of Your name.
Lord, I pray that this would be the year Your Church rises up in full and holy abandon. Let us, Your Church, go back to living and moving and having our being in You, and in You alone.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Did this resonate with you? Share your thoughts and prayers for the new year below.
IFA Contributing Writer Gloria Robles is a passionate intercessor with a prophetic voice for today. For more from Gloria, go to Spotify or Anchor to listen to her podcast, Something To Share. Photo Credit: Canva.
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