(2 Corinthians)- Rebuke, hope, restoration.

I finished 2 Corinthians last week and wanted share some truths from the letter. There are many themes and questions that run throughout. The three I want to focus on is rebuke, hope and restoration.

This was Paul’s second letter of correction to the Corinthians. These were people that he loved. He wanted them to live in the truth. Even though he was having to rebuke them, he was not doing it to tear them down. He was doing it so that they could build themselves up again with the foundation of truth and come into restoration again. Even as I read 2 Corinthians, I was challenged by some of the questions that Paul was asking them. Rebuke is applicable to all our lives. Rebuke done in love, helps us to see the errors of our way. It gives us hope that we can move forward and be restored. That restoration can only come through Jesus. We can have incredible preachers, teachers and influencers. We have to make that commitment to surrender and live our lives to pursue Jesus.

Rebuke

Like any of us, the Corinthians were not perfect. Paul was not asking them to be prefect but he was challenging their behaviour and way of living. A few include their hardness of heart. Paul mentions throughout the letter how he loves them and how he is encouraged by them. 2 Cor 3v2-3 ‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, know and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of humans hearts.’ An incredible testimony. He later goes on to challenge them on their love. Paul has wrote about his hardship and then goes on to say. 6v11-13 ‘We have spoken freely to you, Corthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange- I speak as to my children- open wide your hearts also.’ Even in this rebuke, he does it in a tender way but he wants them to realise from his side there has only ever been love. It is their choice if they want to recieve it and give it back.

Paul also warns them against idolatry, they cannot be yoked with unbelievers. There is a complete distinction between what they believe. He also uses the time to remind them who they belong to. 6v16 ‘For what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ To be with an unbeliever would ultimately mean sacrificing who they have been called to be.

Continuing on with the idolatry they are also rebuked for how easily they can be deceived. They are reminded that even though they live in the world, they are called to live differently. This verse is applicable to each believer today. 11v20 ‘In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. ‘ All of us can fall short here, when we take our eyes off of Jesus. We are constantly looking for other things/people to fulfil us. We often don’t care what they are taking from us, we care more about living for that high or that moment of pleasure. We can so easily lose a lot of who we are. We all need to reflect and make wise decisions, surrendered decisions on who we are living our lives for.

Paul also challenges them on living out their faith. One of those means is by giving. He uses the example of the Macedonian churches. Even when they were suffering great trails and poverty. They gave so much, more than they could because they wanted to be a part of the service of the Lord’s people. Paul writes to the Corinthians 8v14-15 ‘At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written; “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little”. That is in reference to Exodus 16v18. It is a real call for them to look beyond themselves. To not let their security and faith be in their riches but to extend outwards. To support their brothers and sisters. Being the body of Christ. It is something all believers can reflect on even today. To look at where their security and trust is lying. Possibly to realise how small their perspective on life has been and how much need there is to be supported.

There are a lot of rebukes within this letter. I would recommend reading it through for yourself. Maybe something will challenge you or develop your understanding further. Here was a glimpse, now let us move on to hope.

Hope

7v8-9 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it- I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet know I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way. Rebuke is painful but in the case of the Corinthians it is beginning to bring beauty and life. For the rebuke did not cause them to despair and lose hope. Instead, it led them back to God. They repented and there was such fruit from that repentance.

V11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. Rebuke was good for them, even in the mistakes they were making, Paul had hope for them. He loved them, he cared for them and he nourished them with God’s word. He spoke truth over them.

Paul talks about suffering and persecution. Even in the hardship of that, that they need to hold onto hope. 4v17-18 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Paul was a man who knew suffering, he also knew where his hope was found. It is was in no earthly thing or person. Even through the hardship, he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus. He kept his eyes fixed on the purpose of his ministry. Through that he shared the gospel by all means possible. When he encourages the Corinthians, he does it knowing the hardship that comes from being a Christ follower. Also the joy and life that it gives too. We can all be encouraged and challenged by Paul’s ministry and devotion.

Paul pours so much time and care int the the people of Corinth. Paul does have his doubts but he also has hope for them. The hope and restoration he he has for them is beautifully put in the concluding words of the letter.

Restoration

V11-14 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

There was a call for unity, peace, love and life. Paul wanted them to be one, to support one another. To not allow the worldly ways to divide them. All that he asks of them is achievable but not in their own strength. Each day they need the strength and love of God through the spirit. They need grace to meet them and they need to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. There is such a love and care for these people. A lot of hope.

I have come to love this letter due to the grace and hope that flows through it. To see rebuke in a positive light, helps each and everyone of us in our faith. We do need our decisions and motives to be challenged, when they are not in line with who we are called to be. We need to be aware of where we are putting our hope, time and energy. We need to be realigned with the truth. To make sure we are standing on the sure foundation of truth. Rebuke is never easy but may we be able to see it as something that leads to hope and restoration.

As always read the text for yourself. Allow God to speak to you through it. Even if you want to add something, leave it in the comments.

Proverbs 1v23-24 Listen when I reprimand you; I will give you good advice and share my knowledge with you. I have been calling you, inviting you to come, but you would not listen. You paid no attention.

May we never miss the call of Godly wisdom over our lives.

Remember you are loved and cherished. May you continue to grow in wisdom and grace. God bless, Victoria. Xx

P. S This week will be a two blog week, because I did not manage my time too well last week. Xx

Amsterdam Ministry: Fresh perspective.

Psalm 27v14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

It has been a week since my last blog, time has bought a lot of peace and change. In the past week, I have encountered healing over the past. Also, chains of fear and worry have been broken. I have had incredible opportunities to share times of fellowship with new friends made. I have been learning what it means to serve in different and wider ways. I normally go to bed with a heart full of thanksgiving and peace over the day.

As I was reflecting on my week, I was struck by how awesome God is. This is due to fulfilling one of the hopes I have. This comes from reading Acts 2v42-47. V44 ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common.‘ V46-47 ‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ I love reading how the early believers lived together, worshipped together, learned together and encouraged each other. Each time I have read that passage, I have always wanted to have the opportunity to experience that. It is something I have been experiencing with my church back at home, now it is in a different country and culture. I live in a community where we all are here to serve the Lord. We all go out each day and serve in different aspects. We spend time throughout the day to eat together, to share the word and to encourage each other. We laugh a lot, we are thankful a lot and we are determined every day. That is an incredible blessing to be able to have this time, to be able to live with people from all different countries and to bring many cultures into one place. It is really beautiful and I am incredibly thankful. God has a beautiful way of showing his love and care for each of us. Whether it be through fulfilling a hope or widening our perspective on how we can love and serve him.

I titled this blog fresh perspective because of the way my eyes are being opened to see how the spirit of God is moving in every area of this ministry. Before every shift that is done, at the shelter, we surrender it and give God the glory for it. That is one of the best ways to serve. You never know what guests you will get but to be serving them by doing all things for the Lord sure makes it a little easier. It helps me not to go on auto-pilot just to get the tasks done. I want to see the people I am serving and serve them the best way I can. Whether it be through conversation or prayer. Even in the community there is this beautiful unity and peace. It is a place where no one is left out. People are loved and supported. Where friendships blossom and develop quickly. Testimonies and life are shared together constantly. It is not something we do in our own strength. We allow God to strengthen us and use us for his glory. That has been a real blessing.

Another blessing, is something I wanted to use to encourage anyone who is being taunted by their past. That in trying to move forward there is something always attempting to hold them back. It is an issue I had to deal with this week and I share some of the advice I was given. Always remember that God’s mercy is new every morning, that what happened yesterday does not have to flow into today. Make sure that you have confessed and surrendered it to God, once you have let it go. Lamentations 3v22-23 ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ God love for us, sets us free. He does not want us to be consumed by our sins and our past. God wants us to be free in his presence, to be able to have eyes that only see him and that are not clouded by anything else. If the past keeps taunting you, speak God’s truth over it until it has no power. James 4v7 ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee.’Remember that you are free from that, that God transforms and makes us new. That what has been surrendered, does not need to be picked up. Some of the mistakes we made do have consequences, that does not have to consume us either. Move forward, trusting in God’s strength and healing. Allow God to work within the situation. Healing, restoration and peace comes from the Lord.

This blog focused a bit more on what I was doing this week. I hope through reading it, you will be encouraged. Whether it be, submitting your day and work to the Lord. To see it with a fresh perspective, allowing the Lord to work through you. That God has incredible ways of working, never feel that any dream or hope is useless to God. Also, that there is always time for healing and restoration. Our God is good and gracious. Keep pursuing him, keep serving and keep loving.

Have a blessed week. Remember that you are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. Xx

P. S If you are wondering how the bike riding is going, it is definitely going well. I actually ride with speed and enjoy the bike rides. Though I did learn that rain, converses (they have no grip) and a bike. Leads to quick descent off a bike. A little bruise or two does no harm. Haha.

Amsterdam Ministry. (The beginning)

This is a new series that I will be doing, while I am in Amsterdam. It will be full of scriptural encouragement, lessons I am learning and life in general. I hope you will enjoy it!

I want to begin with a Psalm that I was given the night before I jouryned to Amsterdam.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains-Where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Writing it out in its fullness, has made me realise how much this Psalm was needed for this next step in my life. From the first day I got here there has been a lot going on and a lot to learn. It can be so easy to be overwhelmed but how gracious God has been. In all I have been learning, I have had a incredible sense of peace and have enjoyed the many aspects I have already encountered. To be able to talk freely about Jesus and faith with so many different people has already began to further my faith perspective. Everything we do in the ministry at the shelter is supported by prayer and Scripture. That has enabled me to see how much it is needed. For it is by the strength of God, that such work and care can be accomplished. Although the past few days has been a transition period there is so much truth and love that I have already encountered.

I have been challenged this week by what I was allowing to dominate my mind. If you know Amsterdam, then you know it is famous for many things, especially cycling. Cycling is not something I have done in years so I was overwhelmed when I was required to do it. Let’s just say my first time cycling led to many lampposts and even a door being hit into. At that moment, I decided to allow fear to control me. I was trusting in my own strength and ability and it was not working. My mind quickly became swamped with fear and anxiety over the next time I would have to cycle. Even in my quiet time and prayer life my mind was focused on the insecurity of not being able to cycle well. In a night of worship, when my mind was reeling I heard words that convicted me. ‘You are allowing your fears to become your gods.’ It was true, I was allowing all my thoughts and words to become about this fear. I was losing sight of what was around me because I was letting fear control me. The next day I prayed with someone over it. From that I ended up taking my bike out on my own and cycling from A to B. Was it a perfect ride, nope. Did I find freedom from that fear, yes. There are many valuable lessons I am learning from this lesson. Firstly, sometimes the best action after prayer is to put it into action. Don’t keep dwelling on it but actively trust God and go out and do it. Secondly, keep trying. There is so much more to be gained when we fail and then pick ourselves up and try again. For it is not by our strength but by God’s. Thirdly, have a faithful heart. Don’t allow your focus to come off of God and all that he promises and continues to do. ‘The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.’ Nothing that we do on earth is greater or mightier than who God is. Sometimes, we can not always be good at everything. That does not determine our worth in the eyes of God. Trust in who God says you are, not in what man calls you.

I pray for any of you that are going into new jobs, university or any new places in life. That you would trust in the words of Psalm 121. Allow them to become your prayer as you step into this next area of your life. Wherever we go in life, we are promised that God will never leave us or forsake us. Even in the struggle of the day, may we learn to praise God for that.

May you all have a wonderful week. I pray that you will know that you are loved and cherished. God bless, Victoria. Xx

Lessons I am learning from: God’s grace, healing and restoration.

I write this letter to my 21 year old self as a reminder of all that God has done in my life. My life looked a mess two years ago, I was absolutely broken inside. Slowly and beautifully God removed the broken parts and restored all that I needed to be. I struggled with trusting but God never stopped moving. I thank God for all I am today, for making me in his image and restoring all that was broken. I thank God for restoring my worth and for walking through life with me.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.’

To 21 year old Tori,

You have finished university and your internship has fallen to pieces. You mind is still trying to catch up with the past three years. I know you are continuously questioning yourself and doubting that you have made the right decisions in life. These next two years will feel really useless to you. However, they are the making of you. You will have massive slumps, will make bad decisions and generally struggle. Looking back on these two years, you will see how much of it was about stripping off the old to be made new. Through it all, Jesus is holding you and walking with you. You will find that it is in your faith, that you will be transformed and renewed. That those relationships that look broken, will be restored. Your body changes but you learn to put your value in something greater than your weight. You learn to thrive, to stand up for yourself, to love deeper and to let go of hurt.

Don’t disregard the next two years, they may look dull in perspective to the lives around you. Reagradless, every step forward is progress. Unfortunately, you will allow your emotions to guide you. They will tear you apart because they are not truth. Your spirit will feel crushed, due to what you dreamed of crashing down in less than a month. I can assure you, if you had gone into any sort of ministry your heart nor your mind would have been ready. Be thankful, that in the next two years you will devour God’s word. You will read many books on how to live out God’s word and how to serve. You will have many opportunities to learn and grow in ministry. At the moment, you are not ready . You have a lot of healing to go through. Even at 23, you still have a lot to learn but you are in a far better place than you are right now. Lean in and trust God, his way is not easy but it is far better than trying to do it on your own. Do not be discouraged, even when you mess up do not believe God has turned his back on you. Turn your face back to him and recieve the grace that he gives. It is overflowing. Jesus’ blood covers you, none of your mistakes are beyond God’s redemption. Don’t let the past hold you and destroy all that is good in front of you.

As you heal and grow, your life will be used to minister to those around you. In greater ways than you could ever know. Even in retail work, by being yourself, you love and serve people well. Never feel like an opportunity is wasted, place it into God’s hands and he can turn it round for his good.

You will struggle with doing retail but it will only make you stronger. It is being used as preparation for your next step in life. You learn to serve people with all different manners; you will find that the ‘rude’ customers are some of the nicest people you will ever know. You will be glad to get out of retail but your time there was worthwhile, keep working hard. You will meet amazing people along the way. Choose to see the situation in a better light, it will help you on some of your hardest days.

Coming back home does not mean you have failed. Your parents will love and support you as you get back on your feet. They will help you not to make decisions based on your emotions. You make amazing memories with your youngest sister. Going to some incredible concerts and amusements. You look after each other and laugh too much even on the hardest days. You make stronger relationships with all your siblings. With age comes wisdom and healing. You see friends you have not seen in years, you help and support each other. Even though you do not love your town, you allow yourself to favour coffee shops and food places. A little warning, you spend too much time and money in Waterstones. You grow and you thrive. Your church family care and support you through these years. They speak truth over you to allow you to grow in areas of ministry. God uses these wonderful people to speak truth over your life.

Throughout the two years you will apply for various other jobs, none of them will be successful. I would admit starting an email to a candle shop stating ‘I love candles’ is neither professional or smart. (Thankfully your sister read through that email.) Honestly, you will be just about to give up when God opens the next door for you. Restoring your dream of going into ministry work, to care for and love people. God’s timing is perfect. You are thankful none of those other job opportunities were successful, for you would not be able to do what you are doing now. Even though this move is to a new country, you know that the Good Shepherd is guiding you all the way through.

From your 23 year old self, I cannot assure you anymore by saying. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.’ (Proverbs 3v5-6).

I pray that this reflection over my life will reassure, encourage and help you. There will be many people who want to guide us; I found my life when I trusted God with it.

You are loved and cherished. Have a blessed week. God bless, Victoria.