I have spent all week praying about what to write for this week’s blog. I kept hearing just to rest, but that today is not the day to write. Over and over, each day, I would sit down to write something and nothing would come but the word rest. However, today as I started getting ready for the day, God sent a huge download on what it is to fully rest in Him.
He told that during the season of Christmas and New Years, each one of us must take time to rest. Maybe that is sneaking away for a minute or two to have a piece of chocolate, or maybe it is watching your favorite show after the guests have left. Whatever He lays on your heart to help you rest and refresh, take the time to do it and rest in Him.
Exodus 33:14 (NIV) “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” I love that even when the Israelites were wondering in the desert, God was going to give them rest and show them how to rest. This is so true even today. Sometimes I feel like we get so busy and fill our time with so much. Most of the time it is actually good stuff, but we still need to learn and be aware of when we need to rest.
So my challenge to you this week is to ask Holy Spirit to show you how you can rest in this season, then walk that out. Don’t be afraid you might let someone down, and don’t start thinking about all the things you could be doing in this moment—just rest. Allow your mind to stop focusing on the craziness of the season and fixate it on the presence, the glory, the holiness, and the rest of the LORD!
Merry Christmas Freedom Family, we adore each of you so much!
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
“We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (King James Version)
This week, God has been challenging me to understand the difference between love and lust. In this world the lines between love and lust can at times become so blurred it is hard to distinguish which one is which. The world has twisted the word and understanding of love into something that it is not.
Lust. The Greek words for lust are: “epithymia- desire, longing; epithymeo- to desire long for; hedone- pleasure, enjoyment; orego- to desire; orexis- longing, desire; pathos- passion.” Lust is not always a bad thing, but it should be understood that it is in no means love. Lust is a feeling, a desire, or an impulse. It is that fluttering in your heart. After researching lust I couldn’t help but think that this is how the world defines love. Last week, I was watching a Christmas romance movie and the entire time they kept stressing how it was love at first sight and how they had this amazing chemistry. While these things can be good and healthy, they aren’t love and they are indeed lust and need to be understood and handled as such. Also, lust is only temporary because lust is a feeling and it can go as quickly as it came.
Love. I’m reading a book by Eric Metaxas titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask): The Jesus Edition, and one topic is about how love is a choice. You choose to love someone, it’s not a feeling at all. I think what struck me the most from that statement is that you choose to love someone and then you commit to that choice.
The most famous verse on love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Passion Translation) “Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” Never once in these verses does it talk about love being a feeling, it’s a choice to love and to express that outwardly. Unlike lust where it’s a fleeting emotion, love is a choice. You must choose to love each moment and each day. When choosing love, you must decide in your heart to love and to commit to something regardless of the feelings that surround it. I know—being married and even in some of my friendships—I have had to choose to love that person despite not feeling like it. We must each day choose and commit to love one another despite our emotions. This is why love is the very center of Christianity. Love is the glue that holds community and Christians together. It’s that bond, that commitment, that determination—that despite whatever happens, you are choosing to love, even when it’s challenging.
1 Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictionary and Theology, Second Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 717
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
This week I got to spend to some time with friends decorating for Christmas. Between unraveling lights and deciding where everything should go it was crazy, but in those moments God reminded me of winter. Not winter as in the season we are currently in, but winter as a verb, hunkering down for the cold season like our ancestors, and how that relates to relationships and community. These friends and I have endured some the hardest and most intense spiritual winters of our lives together. Through that winter we chose to endure, press through, and be faithful. I’m telling you it was so hard, because in some of those really low moments it would have been so much easier to just throw the towel in and quit, but by wintering together it really strengthened our relationships.
Psalm 74:17 (New International Version) reads, “It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.” We can look at this verse two ways, but today I want to focus on the spiritual side of seasons. In life and in relationships we will go through seasons. You must understand that not all seasons are easy, life will put you through harsh times, but it is those hard times that will build deep lasting relationships. I love how John Bevere puts it— it is through some the harshest winter that trees bear the best fruit in spring, because the cold forces the roots to dig deeper.
So this week I want to challenge you: Are you enduring a spiritual winter in your life? Are you ready to throw the towel in and quit? DON’T! Endure, stand, and fight for your spring. Know that this season is temporary and God’s promises and the blessings that will come afterwards will be worth it.
1 Peter 1:3-7 (New International Version) - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
We might not understand why we are going through this trial or this winter, but know that Jesus is so faithful, it will eventually end, and that out of this season will come richness. Don’t get discouraged in this season. Fight for blessing, fight for growth, fight for relationships, fight for what God has placed on your heart. It will be worth it!
So as we were decorating and I was reminded of the past season we had endured together, I saw the spring of our relationships. We could go super deep in our conversations and be vulnerable with one another, and we all knew we were safe. Our relationship had deepened so much, and that was only because we had endured a winter together.
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor