2021 has been one interesting year.
We started the year in the pandemic, and we are still in a pandemic, but through it all, God has been faithful.
He has seen us through the seasons of he uncertainty with various countries going into lockdown once again, for others with the decision of lockdown looming over our heads and with the new virus variant: he has been faithful.
For me, 2021 has been a year of growth.
The Holy Spirit has truly been working on me and moulding me and it has been a painful but beautiful process.
As we conclude the year, I would like to share with you a few of the lessons that the Holy Spirit has been teaching me (and continues to teach me):
1. How to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the God-head. He is the Spirit of God (Genesis1:1), our Advocate, counsellor and friend (John 14:26).
Many of us, once we get become believers and part of the Kingdom of God, we don’t know much about the Holy Spirit, neither are we taught much about Him, so we do not have a relationship with Him.
Yet, he is the one whom the Father sent in Jesus’ name [in His place, to represent Him and act on Jesus’ behalf], to teach us all things and to help you remember everything that Jesus told us – John 14:26 AMP.
And inorder for him to do these things in our lives, we need to be in relationship with Him.
For me (just as it must be for many of you), I thought it would be somehow automatic; that is, being in relationship with the Holy Spirit.
That it’s instantaneous and doesn’t require much.
But the Holy Spirit has been teaching me that as a believer, we ought to be in relationship with Him.
His role is to empower us and enable us to live this life of faith therefore we ought to be in an intimate communion and relationship with Him.
And the first step towards this, is surrender and submission.
Surrendering your life and opening up to the Holy Spirit.
Submitting to His will and authority through daily prayers of surrender and asking Him to take control of your life.
And thus far, it has been a beautiful experience.
Walking with the Holy Spirit is fulfilling and surrendering to Him actually makes life easier.
This has been one of the major lessons that I have been learning this past year, and I will share much on this next year.
Till then, I had created a 4 week Workbook on the Holy Spirit for the November Bible Reading Plan which you can download by clicking here or downloading it from the online library resource.
2. How to Love God
When we are new believers and new in the Kingdom, we have a zeal for God like no other.
We have and experience an immense love for God because we look at the amazing fact that even though we were sinners – liars, adulterers, and rebellious people who deserved nothing but punishment – Christ gave up his divinely privileges and came us a poor man and died a sinner’s death on our behalf (though he had no sin).
But a few years down the line, that zeal dies down.
For some of us, we even question if we truly love God, because we don’t feel it.
The Holy Spirit this year has shown me that loving God goes beyond my emotion.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it does involve emotions but it’s more than that.
Still on the same matter:I have also heard a number of Gospel teachers who say that it has nothing to do with your emotions, but as a human beings, your emotions do get involved.
Why? Because as humans, we experience life through our emotions
See John 21:15 TPT
The word aramaic word for “love” here is hooba which is taken from a root word that means “to set on fire“. This was the word that Jesus would have used to ask Peter the question, “Do you burn with love for me?” to mean, do you burn with a passionate love for me?
This verse then implies that our love for Jesus must be passionate and kindle a holy flame in our hearts.
A passionate love does involve our emotions. As aforementioned, we cannot separate ourselves from our emotions because it is through this emotions that we experience life.
However, loving God is more than emotions.
"To love God is to obey His commands."
Our love for Christ is proven by us obeying His commands.
Christ loved us, and he showed this love by dying for us.
And we show that we love Him, by keeping His commands.
This goes beyond your emotions.
Obedience is not founded on whether or not you feel like it; obedience is founded on love – “Because I love God, and I honour him, I obey Him.” and it is something that I must pursue after and practice everyday.
3. How to Love Myself
The Holy Spirit has shown, and continues to show me that I am fully known, seen and loved by God and that my weakness are a great opportunity for Him to show His strength.
For the longest time, I have always been hard on myself, especially when I made a mistake.
I would scold myself and ask question, “Why did you do that?!” and try and compensate for my falling short.
In this final months of the year, the Holy Spirit stopped me right in my tracks and said, “Grace Renee. Give yourself grace. “
In other occasions, He asked me, “Who set those standards for you?”
I was trying to live up to my own standards and ideas of what I should be, and how I should be and do the things I do, a standard not of God.
How often do we do this to ourselves, trying to be our “ideal” person, and in the process looking down on who we are and the journey and process we are walking through to become all that God desires for us to be.
This toxic mindset also began to poison my relationship with God, as I began to see God from the standpoint that He too was scolding me when I fell short.
But thank God for the Holy Spirit as He called out the lies and pointed me back to the true nature of God by leading me to the Word. And through this I was able to see God’s thoughts concerning me, and I was able to take God’s word and speak it over myself.
I was also able to learn to love myself by seeing me the way God sees me.
4.Grace | He has taught me grace
The Holy Spirit has taught me that there is grace – an abundance of Grace- available for me at all times, for every occasion and season, not just the difficult ones.
On many occasions during the year, I relied on my own strength, wisdom and understanding and did a lot of things in my own strength, which led me to experience exhaustion.
And each time, the Holy Spirit pointed me to Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
6 In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]) reminding me to rely on Him, not on my own understanding but on His.
He was showing me that there is grace.
Not just grace to help me walk this walk of faith and live a life of holiness, but grace to do my day to day activities.
Grace to wake up in the morning when I feel down and discouraged, or when I simply don’t feel like getting up!
Grace to keep going, on good days and bad days.
Grace for when it’s gets hard and when I am in the middle of the storm.
There is grace available for me at all times, I every season.
And the way to tap into that grace is to trust in the Lord.. and lean not on your own understanding. Because when you do, you give up trying to do everything in your own strength, and tap into God’s strength.
5. Loving Others
Throughout this process, the Holy Spirit has also been teaching me about loving others.
He showed me that how I think about myself reflects on how I treat others: if I have poor view of myself, I will treat others poorly.
What I think and meditate on, is what will be found in my heart.
If I meditate on negative thoughts, that is what is in my heart, and I will only speak from the overflow/abundance of my heart.
So, if all I have in my heart is negativity, that is what I will speak – not just to myself, but to others as well.
I will speak and treat others based on the overflow of love or bitterness/anger/upset that is in my heart.
Therefore, if I hate myself or certain aspects of myself or even look down on myself, I can’t love others, because there is no love in my heart.
That’s why Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31).
He also showed me what loving others is – it isn’t about you and about being seen and recognised by others as “loving”, but it’s about giving and self sacrifice.
When you love, you die.
I mean, Jesus died for humanity, didn’t he?
And He is Love, meaning he is the example of what love looks like.
When you love God and when you love people, you die.
It’s no longer about you and what you can receive, but it’s the ultimate sacrifice of laying down your self, time, resources and considering the other person more than you do you.
As I shared before, these are lessons that I am still learning, even right now, and as we step into 2022.
These lessons may seem obvious and something that we ought to master within 5 or even 10 years of salvation. But note that a master, by its definition, is one who gains control of something.
We are constantly evolving and as we do so, we make mistakes and we learn as we go. What is important is that we are teachable and willing to let God mould us and teach us, even when we think we already know.
With that, I conclude this post on the lessons that I have learnt during 2021.
I encourage you to share in the comments down below what your thoughts are as well as what key lessons you learnt in 2021.
I wish you a happy new year, and I will see you all in 2022!