Faith – Hope – Love

Faith – Hope – Love

Emma Wilson | 28 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration Testimony

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17

During this time in lockdown, I came across a song called “Be kind to yourself” by Andrew Peterson. I would really recommend listening to it if you struggle to cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
A little while ago, we heard a lot about kindness and the need to be kind to others, because we often have no idea what they are going through, what their story is. In this life we can often feel heavy and pressured, so let’s be on one another’s side, show each other kindness.
But I want to take that a step further and encourage each of us to show that kindness to ourselves, too. Often, we are our own worst critics, the least loving voice in our own minds.

But, before I go further in this train of thought, let me paint you a different picture of my mind and experience, particularly over the last few months.

As lockdown began, I felt quite shaken in many ways. A lot of uncertainties and a lack of point of reference quickly led me down a spiral of feeling pressured, incapable of balancing different things without a feeling of failing or coming short in one area or another – or all at the same time. As well as that, I felt this weight of expectation for this time of lockdown to be such a God-given gift of time for Him to speak, to reset priorities, to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to do a new work. It felt like all around me, there were people who now had this extra time on their hands to fix their house, their garden, resurrect new passions, invest in godly disciplines, and more. Having a 2-year old and being 6 months pregnant, I didn’t feel like I found myself there at all. And that was eating me from the inside. This comparison and feeling of not doing enough to see God do something in this time.

On a different page, I was being confronted with parts of my heart and mind that were not very pretty at all – parts that pointed fingers, parts that fear, hurts and insecurities, parts that were driven by performance and comparison, parts that felt so overwhelmed and anxious. Having less time to be distracted by or busy with other things left space for lies to sow seeds and my emotions to water them. In my head I was desperate to put things into place to see God do something, to do the “right things” to become closer to Jesus and more like Him in this time. There was this striving to stand pleasing before God in how well I spent my time or how much I did to pursue Him. But in that, there was no space for grace. No space for kindness towards myself. No space for love for myself.

A couple of weeks in, in various circles, we looked at the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I knew that was what my heart was longing for, but didn’t know how to get there (once again…). Each day, I woke up saying, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this myself. I want more of You. I know You have more for me and for my life than this. Fill me. Help me.”

And He did. Bit by bit, I could see how these heavy weights were taken out of my backpack, as it were, and replaced with freedom:

  • Freedom to do what I can and not push myself silly; to give myself grace and time to rest.
  • Freedom in knowing that God will complete the work He has started in me – Phil. 1:6. It is His desire and His doing and He won’t let me miss out when my HEART is postured towards Him.
  • Freedom that this season is not a reflection of me as a whole person nor will it last forever.
  • Freedom in knowing that God is not finished; and He is not finished with me.

Freedom on the other side of FAITH, not works.

From different platforms, the Holy Spirit highlighted all the ways He brings freedom. He showed me the Father’s heart that cares for me, that desires to carry my burdens, that abounds in grace and kindness and LOVE. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I don’t have to earn my standing before Him each day; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, including God actually. He sees my heart; He made it and knows what beats within. In Jesus, there is rest and freedom to learn from Him each day, to walk each day by His side, in His power, in His finished work.

So, in conclusion I want to encourage you:
When we look around us, it is easy to feel burdened by how we perceive others’ lives to be and how far our own is removed from that.
When we look within ourselves, we can feel the need to sort things out ourselves and make a plan to ease the feeling of guilt or fear or failing by doing “the right things”.
But when we look to God, we inherit a freedom on the other side of FAITH – faith in the work that Jesus has completed for us; faith in the Father who fully sees, fully knows and fully loves us; faith in the Spirit who searches the heart of man and desires to draw it closer to a gracious God.

My prayer for you is that you find this freedom that truly does set free from all heavy things and that brings life to the full instead.

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“Love Serves” – Part 2 Nicky Kendall

“Love Serves” – Part 2 Nicky Kendall

Love serves…(1 Peter 4:7-11)
“ Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Peter makes it clear that hospitality is an important part of loving each other. Hospitality is not an exercise in culinary expertise; it’s not a performance. It’s simply about being willing to open up our homes and our lives to each other. Spending time together, eating and drinking together is the foundation for relationships. And a church which has strong relationships can stand in times of storm.Using our gifts is how we serve one another. They are not for us to keep to ourselves. We don’t earn or deserve the gifts God gives us but He wants us to enjoy using them to bless others. And I believe life is only really fulfilling when we are using the gifts He has given us. We need all these gifts and Christ’s body, the church, only really functions well when we are all contributing what God has given us to bring. Now our approach to serving is probably one of the things I guess which we’ve really had to re-evaluate isn’t it? I think it was never intentional but somehow we took on a heavy burden to serve at times in the past and some of our lives became unbalanced because of it. I know I sometimes served out of fear of disapproval or criticism or fear of not looking a ‘good enough Christian’. I said ‘yes’ on the outside and ‘no’ in my heart. Maybe others have felt this too? Somehow serving became an obligation or a competition to outdo each other instead of a willing act of love. But that’s not God’s way. And we probably misrepresent Christ when this happens because He says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. But the antidote is not to stop serving. When something has got out of balance it can be easy to let the pendulum swing too far the other way. We feel we were obliged to serve, so now we stop and protect ourselves. Ultimately though, self-protection, will isolate us and leave us empty. The antidote to over-serving is not to abandon serving but to listen to the Lord and ask:

‘God do you want me to do this? Am I serving you in this? Or is there something else you require of me?’

He knows what is best for us – when He says ‘no, it’s time to rest’ then we must rest because we all have limits, especially if we are carrying other burdens. If we ignore our limits we place ourselves at risk of burnout and that is never God’s best for us. But when God says ‘yes’ then let’s say yes to Him because when we serve each other it is one of the most profound expressions of love – for each other and ultimately for Him.

– Nicky Kendall