Word of the Year 2019: Part 2: Freedom, Light, & Grace

How Resting Will Help You Give More Grace, Live in True Freedom, & Reflect the Light of Jesus

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Are you renewing your mind? Are you searching for freedom from sin? Are you battling fear, despair, or carnality? I was, too. Join me on my journey to resting in grace, freedom, and light as the Holy Spirit gave me more than one Word of the Year in 2019.

Are you struggling to break free of a “besetting sin” that you thought you had conquered already? Are you battling the world's darkness and feel like you're losing to either fear, despair, or carnality? I was, too. Join me on my journey to resting in grace, freedom, and light.

Word of the Year 2019 Part 2: Freedom, Light, & Grace.  How Resting Will Help You Give More Grace, Live in True Freedom, & Reflect the Light of Jesus

Word of the Year 2019 Part 2: Freedom, Light, & Grace. How Resting Will Help You Give More Grace, Live in True Freedom, & Reflect the Light of Jesus

Are you a goal setter? I am. I feel like that's the only way I get anything done. I usually set New Year's Resolutions or at least goals at the beginning of each calendar year.

So around this time of year, I'm ready for a mid-year progress report. I evaluate if I'm on track to meet my goals or whether I need to adjust my goals to be more realistic.

Maybe something took longer than I planned, underestimating the time. (Hello, I'm looking at you, audio book!)

Or maybe I had overestimated how much time it actually took me to figure something out (like learning how easy videos can be—thank you, Niamh Arthur for your Ignite Challenge).

So I'm in the middle of my mid-year evaluation. Last week I shared how my Word of the Year started out as ENJOY. But the Holy Spirit gave me a few other lessons to learn and pursue.

I began to see how all these lessons, encapsulated in four words, all connected.

If you, like me, need to come away from the world's darkness for a few minutes, then take a deep breath. Renew your mind with God's truth, resting in Jesus' freedom, light, and grace.

Romans 12:2 (ESV):

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Here's how the words FREEDOM, LIGHT, and GRACE all work together to trust Him more, to REST in Him:

1. Embrace FREEDOM

Freedom. Photo by  Ryan Moreno  at  Unsplash.com .

Freedom. Photo by Ryan Moreno at Unsplash.com.

Freedom from things and freedom to things. We usually think of freedom from chains, from boundaries, from restrictions we don't like. But some of those boundaries and restrictions have been placed for our protection.

God gave the 10 Commandments not to hem us in, preventing us from having any real “fun,” but freeing us from those sinful desires so that we can life lives of truth, goodness, and joy.

Here are four ways I've been enjoying freedom:

  • Resting in freedom from sin

  • Resting in freedom to live a holy life

  • Resting in freedom from stress and busyness (more about this next week)

  • Resting in freedom to enjoy God's gifts (we learned about this last week)

2. Soak up the LIGHT

Sunlight. Photo by  Kent Pilcher  at  Unsplash.com .

Sunlight. Photo by Kent Pilcher at Unsplash.com.

I usually notice a heaviness in my mood during winter. I had been discouraged about the state of our country, the apathy in our church, and the negativity in my own heart.

I stopped listening to any news and began noticing something. While celebrating Christmas during November and December, the message of light shined through the cold, dark days. I noticed these songs:

(I embedded the videos of these songs, along with a few others, directly into my blog post on February 19, “5 Encouraging Christmas Songs After Forgiveness of Sin.”)

“Breath of heaven, hold me together. Be forever near, breath of heaven. Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness. Pour over me Your holiness, for You are holy, Breath of heaven.”

“Angels and men rejoice, for tonight darkness fell into the dawn of love's light. Sing Alleluia! … Born is our Emmanuel! Born is our Lord and Savior! Sing Alleluia! All is well!”

“From the beginning, the Father had a magnificent plan, revealed through the law and the prophets, to fulfill the redemption of man. You spoke after centuries of silence in the midst of a still, starry night. And Emmanuel came down among us. And the Father said, 'Let there be light!' Let there be light, let it shine bright, piercing the darkness with dazzling white. Hope for the hopeless was born on that night, when God sent His Son and said, 'Let there be light!' … And the sky full of angels announcing the birth of a glorious light.”

You see how light in these songs is closely related to holiness, to love, and to truth.

When I know the Light of the World, Jesus, I can rest in

  • His holiness,

  • His truth,

  • His faithfulness,

  • and His beauty. The Shekinah glory of the Old Testament represented not only the holiness of the LORD but also the beauty of the LORD.

Jesus Himself, the “express image” (Hebrews 1:3, KJV) of “all the fullness of God in a human body” (Colossians 2:9, NLT), said:

John 8:12 (NLT):

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

John 9:5 (ESV):

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Once we know the true Light, He has made all His followers—including me and you—to be the “light of the world” also.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT):

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

As an aside, I've been seeing myself as a worship leader for you, as you pursue romance in your marriage, romance in your entertainment [Christian fiction], and spiritual romance in your deepening relationship with Jesus.

So here is yet another song that goes along with this point, which says it better than I can: Kari Jobe's “We Are.”

We can rest in my purpose of reflecting the light through our good deeds. We can rest in the warmth of peace that comes from a close relationship with the Light and reflecting that light to others.

Lara Casey, quoted by Crystal Stine in Holy Hustle (p. 147), said,

“Life is too short to wait to do the good things God has put on your heart. The things that God purposed for you long before you took your first breath. The things that tug at your heart day and night, beckoning you to use your gifts. The things that reflect His light...”

3. Growing in GRACE

Giving yellow flower by  Lina Trochez  at  Unsplash.com .

Giving yellow flower by Lina Trochez at Unsplash.com.

When I get sucked into the negativity of the world and the despair that comes with it, I then tend to blame someone for how I'm feeling. Usually I blame nameless people. “They” voted for this person, or “they” passed this stupid law, or “they” couldn't keep their promises yet again.

Unfortunately, sometimes I take it out on my loved ones near me. For example, my son knew the Dab annoys me to no end, but he did it once again. So It's understandable for me to get upset at him. {insert sarcasm}

(I could insert example after example after example. Yes, I have many examples of my blaming my loved ones for my bad attitude.)

But part of being the “light of the world” as a representative of Christ is reflecting the grace He gave me. I need to remember the great mercy and love He consistently gives me so that I can forgive others in the same way. (See the parables in Luke 7:41-43 and Matthew 18:21-35.)

And, part of that means I also need to give myself more grace. Not winking at sin, but confessing and repenting, then progessing, moving forward while lowering my expectations for perfection. For both others and myself.

Here are a few things I've been learning to do with grace:

  • Rest in God's forgiveness for my sins

  • Rest in and enjoy God's extra blessings to me (I wrote about this last week)

  • Rest in gratitude for past justification, present sanctification, and future glorification. (I wrote about these three verb tenses of salvation here.)

  • Rest in the grace God gave to me, compelling me to give grace to others.

This is what I think the song “Exhale” by Plumb is talking about on the bridge:

“Oh, God, we breathe in Your grace, we breathe in Your grace, and exhale. Oh, God, we do not exist for us, but to share Your grace and love, and exhale.”

I think when we “breathe in” His grace, we're gratefully accepting and trusting in what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Then we can “exhale,” giving that grace to others, “to share [His] grace and love” with those around us.

But what if those around us don't deserve grace and love? Am I just supposed to forgive again and again and set myself up to be betrayed or sinned against time and time again?

No, there is a difference between offering forgiveness, offering grace, and offering trust.

Offering forgiveness is commanded. It's for our good, to let go of anger and bitterness and let God handle their judgment.

Offering grace goes above and beyond. It's about humility and thankfulness. We remind ourselves that we don't deserve grace and love either, but God gave it to us, who are just as much sinners as the person who wronged us.

But that doesn't mean we automatically trust them again. Trust has to be earned through time, after they've proven that they are willing to change and trying to change.

K.L. Greenwalt said in her blog post titled, “Why It's Grace and Consequences,” “The truth is [that] grace is not a get out of jail free card. Grace and consequences are not at odds with each other.” Good point.

We tend to think of forgiveness as a blank check, a license to do whatever we want–or, if we’re supposed to forgive someone else, whatever they want to do. But that’s not true. It’s giving somewhat what they don’t deserve. But some consequences must still be faced.

Offering trust rewards a relationship with the ability to move forward. Trust is realistic, not demanding perfection, but it says that you trust the other person to have your best interests at heart most of the time and that you're willing to work with them when they slip.

But trust is not possible if you're not resting in God's grace in the first place.

Conclusion:

So we see that we can combat despair, fear, and temptation by resting in the freedom Jesus gives, resting in and reflecting His light, and resting in and giving His grace.

We've seen how FREEDOM, LIGHT, and GRACE all work together.

Next week we'll see how all these words plus ENJOY fit in an overarching lesson.

Can you guess the final word that ties all of these together?