What does freedom look like?

worship

I recently asked Jesus this question: “What does freedom look like?”

He immediately brought to mind the picture of the Israelites walking through the Red Sea escaping slavery… BUT … NOT grumbling and complaining in the wilderness wanting to go back to slavery …which, sadly, is what the Israelites did …and as a result died in the wilderness, not entering the promised land. It was only the next generation who were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Today, I reflect on this promise: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:17

And I read this from Nicky Gumbel…from his ‘Bible in One Year’ readings…

Love and unity go hand in hand. The Tower of Babel is the symbol of disunity (Genesis 11:1–9). The people said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves’ (v.4). This act of pride and power-seeking led to disunity, symbolised in the confusion of different languages in the world. ‘The Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth’ (v.9).

The day of Pentecost was the reversal of Babel. The Holy Spirit enables people to say: ‘each of us hears them [speaking] in our native language’ (Acts 2:8). The gift of tongues symbolises the fact that the Holy Spirit reverses the disunity of Babel and unites all peoples and languages.

This is a common experience today as we see the Holy Spirit bringing love and unity across churches, languages and nations.

Lord, may we never seek to make a name for ourselves or our own church, denomination or movement. Rather, may we seek to glorify your name. Pour out your Spirit, O Lord, on the church as on the day of Pentecost. May there be a reversal of Babel. May there be an end to disunity. May your Spirit and the values of the kingdom of God bring love, joy, peace, true happiness and unity.

Wow…

As I continue to reflect on …what God is calling us to BE as the church …building God’s kingdom, rather than our own little kingdoms, this rings so beautifully.

Questions to Reflect on:

Where have we been trying to make a name for ourselves? (Rather than lifting up the name of Jesus?)

Where have we settled, perhaps becoming complacent, becoming stuck in ruts?

Where have we been looking backwards to the past?

Have we perhaps been controlling or manipulating a ‘move of God’ without asking for more of Holy Spirit?

Are we open to God moving outside the box in the future, no matter what He brings?

Ask the Lord, “What do you have next?”

Invite Holy Spirit to fall on your family, your friendships, your gatherings and be ready for anything that looks different than what you’re used to.

Be prepared to fast and pray for days… God longs to invite us into friendship with Him rather than just giving us marching orders.

Did you know that in world history, all the Revivals look differently? They each look like Jesus but not like each other. People may reject Jesus’ move of Holy Spirit when He doesn’t fit their box. Let us not be people who reject God’s Spirit because He doesn’t fit our traditions.

My Prayer:

“Holy Spirit lead us to be ready for each new day of what you are doing. Thank you for your move in the past, but let us not settle and build our own little kingdoms around your movements. Let us instead, build your Kingdom by following your every move! Yes & Amen! 💗🙌

Quote Source: https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/3171

Sabbatical Learnings: Lesson Two Was My Response to God, To Others

The second half of my sabbatical I asked God the question, “How can I possibly love you in return, Lord?” My thoughts went to the love languages and I asked God what His love language was, and how best I could love Him in return. I was reminded of how He says that to love Him is to obey Him. My mind went to the commandments that He calls us to observe. Yet, when one loves someone, they naturally seek to honor them.

Honoring the commandments is simply pointless when you do not understand the depth of God’s love for you. Our acts become religious law. However, when we honor the commandments out of a deep love for God, and for His sacrifice of His son, our hearts long to honor Him in return. We love Him because He first loved us. This simple truth dug deeper within me.

I again pondered over how, when we grow up to become adults we often make things so utterly complicated. Our minds become overwhelmed by things that we must do in order to be a follower of Christ. We mistakenly find our identity in doing things rather than in being with Jesus. Our minds instead go to doing ministry and doing things for Jesus. Yet, what He asks of us first and foremost are our hearts. If we do things for Him and without love for Him, we are just making noise.

We can easily succumb to noisy selfishness even in ministry. We resort even to doing ministry in order to honor our own name. His name becomes forgotten and in thinking we are doing things in His name, we can fall into the trap of doing things in our name and building our own kingdoms. How does one know when this happens? For one, when ministry leaders become envious of one another, this selfish kingdom building becomes evident. The body of Christ is torn in two, the name of Christ is tarnished. Yet, others will know we are Christians by our love.

Our love for each other only shall flow out of our love for God. If our love flows for each other out of anything but God’s love, it becomes abusive, controlling and manipulative. Our love becomes bondage over others. Perfect love casts out fear and God’s perfect love brings freedom. Yes, the commandments are summed up in two points; love God, love others. Of all the deep and theological truths that one can learn, if one never learns how amazing God’s love is and instead takes it for granted, no theological truth will satisfy. No hearts and minds will ever be transformed. No freedom will ever be gained.

 

 

Suffering in Love, But Love for Whom?

The effect of suffering on us depends on what we love. If we love ourselves, suffering is hateful and we will do everything we can to fight it, and avoid it. And worse, if one loves himself and learns that suffering cannot be avoided, he may take pleasure in the suffering; it becomes a love/hate thing. If we love ourselves, suffering brings out our selfishness and drives us to make us even worse.

If we love others, suffering can bring out good for the time being. But, in the end suffering cannot prevent from destroying us and all that we love.

If we love God and suffer, we are glad to let suffering destroy within us what God seeks to destroy, because we know that all that is destroyed is unimportant. If we love God, then Christ in us, his love, his Passion in us, is what we care about first and foremost. Pain enables Christ, the Son of God, to suffer in us and give glory to Almighty God, Creator of all things. Loving God in the midst of suffering allows Him to be in the proper place of our lives, becoming far greater than our suffering could ever be.

The cross is salvation. To know Christ’s work on the cross, is to know the love of Christ who went through suffering and death in order to offer you salvation. Love Christ first through your suffering, and your suffering will not overtake you. For it was through His own suffering, Christ set you free! Know Him in the midst of your suffering and you will know freedom.

(Thoughts after reading Thomas Merton, To Know the Cross)

Restoring Your Faith

“It wasn’t until I completely burned out—emotionally, physically, and spiritually—that I realized I could no longer live this way. Recognizing that I wasn’t free, I dragged myself to a spiritual retreat, desperately seeking help for the first time. It was there that I finally asked the Lord in all transparency, “Have I ever really known You, or is it simply religion I’ve had a relationship with?”

Read… Restoring Your Faith.