Living Hope

"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--kept in heaven for you." ~1 Peter 1:3-4

Quality vs. Quantity

One of the most important things to remember when getting to know God is the quality of your time with Him.  The best place to get to know God is in His Word.

John MacArthur puts it this way, “The Bible is the only completely trustworthy source of knowledge about God.  Man can’t learn all he needs to know about God from human reason, philosophy, or even experience.  God alone is the source of the knowledge about Himself, and He has chosen to reveal Himself in the Bible and in no other book.”

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Held Together by Him

“For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth,

visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;

all things were created by him and for him. 

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

~Colossians 1:16-17


Everything

“For he rescued us from the dominion of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

~Colossians 1:13-14


Heavenly Mindset

Lately, God is reminding me to be focused on things that are eternal.  This stuff down here on earth is really just a glimpse of what is to come.  I can’t get my heart and mind entangled in things that don’t last forever.  God has called me to set my heart and mind on Him.

Why does the verse say heart and mind? Why not focus on just the heart or just the mind like many other passages in Scripture?  Well, let’s take a look at that and find out.

“…set your hearts on things above…”  ~verse 1

Inside our hearts lie the intentions, the desires, the emotions, and the passions that drive us forward.  Our happiness, sadness, love, and mercy all exist within our heart.  The motivation to succeed in life begins at the core of our heart.  God calls us to set the things in our hearts on Him.  He calls us to align our emotions, desires, and intentions with His heart for us.

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Wardrobe Plan

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds all together in perfect unity.”

~Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)


Do you know what an honor it is to be loved by God?  It’s a privilege beyond any this world can offer you.  I pray you are experiencing His love daily, as you read His Word and enjoy His creation all around you.  We must clothe ourselves with five things:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Clothe yourself with the fruit of the Holy Spirit!

Clothe yourself with the fruit of the Spirit!

The Greek word for “to clothe” is enduo, which means to sink into, to put on, to wear, or be dressed in.  In the context of this scripture it simply means to sink oneself into the very characteristics of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  The Scripture passage is telling us that we must actually put on these qualities in our lives.  We must let Christ wrap us up with the qualities that are found in this verse.  Our identity in Christ becomes stronger every day, as we live our lives out for God.  We can’t believe that these qualities will simply exist just because we call ourselves Christians.  No, they are a product of being in the Word daily and spending time with God in various ways.

Here is the break down of all five characteristics and how we can apply them to our own lives!  Your daily wardrobe should look a little like this:

1.  Compassion

*Basic definition – caring empathy of another person outside of basic selfish nature.

*Are you conscious of the pain others are going through around you?  Have you been paying attention to the stress signals, the flares shooting off, and the white flags raised in surrender?  If so, then you can be there to help alleviate the pain that often shows up in the lives of those around you.  When you are aware of the pain that shows up in the lives of those around you, you are able to be compassionate.  It’s not enough to just take pity on someone, as the whole world can do that.   God wants us to do more than that.  He wants us to show His love by being compassionate towards others, seeing the signs of their distress, and responding with His love towards it.

2.  Kindness

*Basic definition – a readiness to respond with righteousness and thoughtful consideration beyond how people treat us or how they may or may not deserve it.

*Have you shown someone kindness lately by doing something for them without any strings attached?  Have you reached out with the time, resources, and love that you have from God?  The loving-kindness that God shows you every day should be returned to Him by giving it to others on a daily basis.  A kind word, a kind gesture, and a moment of your time will all go a long way when used for God.

3.  Humility

*Basic definition – It is so important to remember that Christ is first in our lives.  He will always reign supreme, if we let Him.

*We are to be servants with loving attitudes.  Jesus was very forward about the meek.  He made it very clear that the meek would be the ones to inherit the earth.  He wanted us to remember that first would be last and the last would be first.  Jesus, Himself was One who came to serve; should we not do the same?

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5

4.  Meekness/Gentleness

*Basic definition – This indicates strength under control so we are Christians who encourage others and place others first with action and encouragement.

*The best kind of strength is a strength that can come under the control of God.  God wants us to operate under His sovereignty.  He alone knows how to direct our steps and make our ways gentle.  Are you encouraging those around you?  Are you being gentle?  Have you surrendered yourself to the Lord?

5.  Patience

*Basic definition - Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

*I know it’s difficult to watch others fail, especially when you think you know what’s best for them.  But are you willing to be patient for God to do His work in your life.  Will you allow people to fail?  Will you allow people to seek God and find Him while He can be found?  (Isaiah 55:6 & Acts 17:26-28)  Sometimes we have to let go and let God do the work.  This doesn’t mean that we stop praying, no, it simply means we stop trying to have control over the situation.  We go from having our hands over the situation and put them in an open position, up towards God, in pure surrender.  God knows the hearts of His people and through the Holy Spirit, He can change the ones you love.  Have patience!

“…Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Please don’t forget to do what is so important every day!  Don’t forget to forgive!  Be quick to forgive and slow to hold back in anger.  The Lord does not hold your sin against you.  Jesus forgives you when you ask Him into your heart.  The debt is paid.  How long before you forgive those who have hurt you?  How long before you choose to love?  It is an insult to God to hold anything against someone, after God has so freely forgiven you.  Maybe it’s time to go back and read the stories of Truth (Matthew 18:23-35, Luke 15:11-31).

LOVE

God’s love brings all of this together.  It started with forgiveness on the cross.  Jesus died to pay for your sins and mine, now we have an opportunity to live great lives for God through His love.  His love binds together the qualities that we long for:  Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, and Patience.  May God continue to work in you, so that all these qualities appear in your life.  Please forgive anyone who has hurt you and let God’s love truly reign in your heart this day and every day!

Dear Father God, I pray that my life will be a living testimony of the qualities found in this passage of scripture.  May I continue to grow in compassion for those who are hurting, may I be kind to all those around me, may I be humble, may I be gentle in my words, and patient in my actions.  Help me to forgive those who have hurt me and keep my list short on grievances when it comes to others.  Also, I pray that Your deep love would continue to grow inside of me and I may serve You more completely each day that I live!

Living Out Your Wardrobe Plan,

Sarah





Hot or Cold, Empty or Full

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

~Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

So then…

Paul, the author of Colossians is letting us know with these two words that he has already given some important words to acknowledge.  Phrases like, “so then,” “therefore,” “accordingly,” and “consequently” should send a red flag up in your mind to read the Scripture that immediately precedes the passage you are looking at.  Go back as far as you need to, to dig into what God is trying to say through His Word.

Are you half full or half empty for God?

Are you half empty or half full for God?

In this passage of Scripture, we see that Paul is writing to the church and he specifically mentions the people in Laodicea.  He even mentions those who have not met him personally.  He declares that his purpose is to encourage and unite in love the people of the church.  This way they may understand God in a full way and come to enjoy every treasure found in Christ.  He has not stopped encouraging the body of Christ, even though he cannot be present with them.  Paul was a man who saw the glass half full.

I was thinking about this today, as I picked out the shirt in my closet to wear.  To tell you the truth, my husband picked it out in the store.  It has a cup on it with a cup that is half full and underneath it says, “half full.”  It is a “Life is Good” shirt.  And let me tell you life is good with God, my cup is overflowing with God.  I was so blessed when my husband picked up this shirt for me, it showed that he knew my character.  He knows that no matter what, I will always see the good in all things.  I can’t help it, it’s just in me.  I remember in college, my friends would see me coming and say, “Sarah will find something good in this.”  Inevitably, even on a rainy day when we were about to go to a water park, I could list of five positive things.  We were already going to get wet, there wouldn’t be any lines for the rides, we needed rain because of the dry season, we were blessed to be able to go to the water park, and we wouldn’t get sunburns.  Yeah!  Oh, how great it is to live with a cup overflowing in God!  Is your cup half full or half empty?  Do people look at you and see God overflowing in your life?  If not, what measures do you need to take to get things back in order?  God wants to see your cup runneth over with His love!  Back to the passage above…

…just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live in Him…

Once you have received Christ as Lord, there is no turning back.  It’s time to continue living.  It’s time to be hot or cold.  It’s interesting that Paul mentions the church in Laodicea before this verse because later in Revelation we find out that the church has become lukewarm and God is ready to spit the whole church out of His mouth.  Here is a little history behind what was happening during Paul’s time…

Church of Laodicea

Overthrown often by earthquakes. It was rebuilt by its wealthy citizens, without state help, when destroyed in A.D. 62 (Tacitus, Annals 14:27). This wealth (arising from its excellent wools) led to a self satisfied “lukewarm” state in spiritual things, which the Lord condemns as more dangerous than positive icy coldness (Revelation 3:14-21)

The “lukewarm” state, if the transitional stage to a warmer, is desirable (for a little religion, if real, is better than none), but fatal when an abiding state, for it is mistaken for a safe state (Revelation 3:17). The danger is of disregarded principle; religion enough to lull the conscience, not to save the soul; halting between two opinions (1 Kings 18:21; 2 Kings 17:41; Ezekiel 20:39; Matthew 6:24). The hot (at Hierapolis) and cold springs near Laodicea suggested the simile. As worldly poverty favors poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:3, compare Luke 6:20), so worldly riches tend to spiritual self sufficiency (Hosea 12:8).

Information taken from article at http://www.bible-history.com/faussets/L/Laodicea/

This really sheds a lot of light on where Paul was coming from and why He urges us to continue living in God alone.  In is not a one day thing, not a one time experience on the mountain top, not a when I feel like it state of mind, or even a I’ll do it when I have to kind of attitude.  It’s an every day thing!  An all or nothing kind of thing.  It’s this or we become like the church in Laodicea which God says some very clear and harsh words about.  Here are the words, I will let you discern for yourself what you would like your life to look like to God!

“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

~Revelation 3:16

Will you be hot or cold for God?  No more fence riding!  It’s time to choose a side!

…rooted and built up in Him…

How do you get roots?  Start to learn who you are in God.  Find out about your heritage.  Build your life upon the rock!  Dig into the Word of God and let your roots go deep into the soil of His Truth.

…strengthened in the faith as you were taught…

Finding stength in your faith can be difficult, if you do not surround yourself with others who believe in what you believe.  You need to find a church that preaches from the Word of God and shares the life that Jesus lived.  Find a small group where you can be accountable and have family in the Lord.  This is where you will find strength and your faith will be sharpened.  Continue to learn from those who have been following the Word of God and if you can find someone who will go out for coffee with you.  Ask the questions that are on your mind.  Let yourself be sharpened by the wisdom of someone else’s years of experience in their faith!  Then share the wisdom you find with someone else who is growing in their faith!

…and overflowing with thankfulness.

When you read all that is above, I hope and pray your heart will be overflowing with thankfulness.  May you find that the cup is half full with God in your life and overflowing when you allow His love to pour into your life.  Learn to look at even the bad things in life and find the good!  It is possible!  Choose to find the gifts that God presents in every obstacle and let Him use every event in life as a vehicle to move you to a new opportunity!  You never know where God will lead you!

Dear Father God, Please help me to always be on fire or ice cold for you.  I pray that I will never be lukewarm.  May my life never fall in the danger realm of mediocrity and may those who know me hold me accountable to that!  Help me to live a life worthy of Your calling!  I desire Your best daily!

On Fire for You with a Cup that’s Overflowing,
Sarah


Treasures for Today

Golden Nuggets in Gods Word

Golden Nuggets in God's Word

“He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”

~Proverbs 2:7-8 (NIV)

VICTORY

Are you walking uprightly before the Lord?  If you are, God has promised that He is holding victory in the palm of His hand for you and He’ll never run out of it.  Live victoriously today!

A SHIELD

Are you walking blamelessly before the Lord?  If not, confess the things that are hidden in your heart.  God will forgive you and remember your sin no more.  In fact, here is a verse to remind you of just that!

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,  so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”

~Psalm 103:11-13

Will you let God be your shield today?  Any time that you find your life going askew, hand things over to Him and learn from your mistakes.  Let God make a rainbow from the storms in your life.

GUARDS

God guards the course of the just.  He is watching out for us.  Sometimes the course feels more like a maze that we are trying to figure out how to get through, but trust me God sees our every move.  He knows the next step and He will be there, if we choose to live justly before Him.

PROTECTS

God protects those who are faithful to Him.  Yes, it is much easier for God to be faithful to us and we never have to worry about Him letting us down.  But that does not give us an excuse to wake up and think that we don’t have to walk out each step with diligence and faithfulness to who He is.  He deserves our complete attention every day.  Will you be faithful to God today with your steps, your words, your actions, and even your thoughts?  God does want to protect you.  He knows you best and will bring you safely through the day!

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

~Proverbs 11:25

GENEROUS

You will never find anyone more generous than God.  He gave it all when it came to you and I.  He started with creation, all the beautiful things we see every day, and the body that we live in.  Then He sent Jesus into this world to save us from our own sins. We prosper because of the generosity of God.  May we learn to be generous as God is generous.  Will you take the time to open a door for someone today, maybe call someone who is on your mind, write a letter to someone who is hurting, email a friend, talk to someone you don’t even know, be generous with your time, as well as with your abilities and assets.  Then you will prosper in a way that goes beyond prosperity on this earth.  You will be refreshed!

REFRESHED

God has given us His Word to refresh us daily and pour into us, so we may pour into others.  May you be refreshed so you can refresh others.  May a gentle breeze blow over you, as you are reminded of God’s loving kindness.  May you find your cup running over with joy in the Lord.  Follow this next verse very closely and you might just find that your cup will not run dry…

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

~Luke 6:37-38

Keys to an overflowing cup of JOY!

1.  NO judging others.  Matthew 7:3 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

2.  NO condemning others or yourself.  Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

3.  Take the time to forgive!  Colossians 3:13, “…Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

4.  GIVE.  Proverbs 21:26 says, “…the righteous give without sparing.”

May your cup overflow with joy today and may your treasure chest be filled up with precious jewels!

Dear Father God, please continue to teach me how to find the golden nuggets in your Word.  The treasures in Your Word will never fail me and I pray I will learn to cling to them more and more each day.  Thank You for always being faithful and giving us something to live by.  Your Word truly breathes life into me every day!

Grateful for Your Treasures,
Sarah



All Your Heart

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

-Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

“Whatever you do, work at it with ALL YOUR HEART”

There are no excuses for giving less than your best to anything you do in life.  The Lord has commissioned us to do everything with all our heart, never lacking in zeal.  I have seen some examples of this in the last few days.

1.  An Ice Cream shop called Lappert’s.  A man came to Kaua’i and had one taste of an ice cream cone and decided it was terrible.  He threw it in the garbage. Then he told his wife, he was going to make the best ice cream because people deserve that.  So they packed up there stuff in California and headed back to Hawaii, where they made their home.  He made flourishing business with his homemade ice cream through his hard work.  I’ve tasted it and can atest to the fact that it is truly one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  But the fact of the matter is, he saw something was missing and decided to do something about it.

2.  There is a coffee plantation here in Kaua’i.  Rows and rows of coffee beans.  It’s amazing to look at it, but even more amazing to look how it goes through the process of becoming the coffee we get in a nice little package or the cup at a local store.  Again, someone had a dream of making great coffee, so they took that dream and planted it into the ground.  They developed it and now the coffee is served everywhere.

3.  Yesterday, on our walk we watched a man way up high in a coconut tree.  He had climbed up the tree and was hanging on by some equipment he had.  He was there to trim the tree with a machete knife.  The coconuts and branches came flying down.  It was then this devotional came to me, as I thought WOW!

Seriously, people work so hard to give us some of the simple things that we enjoy.  Ice cream, coffee, and coconuts.   These are just three things that most people enjoy, but think of the thousands of other things we consume.  They don’t come in a can or just show up at the grocery store.  Someone is out there planting a seed, watering it, and harvesting it.  Someone is out there climbing a tree and taking down the fruit.  They take the work they do seriously, so that we can enjoy the best possible product.

Do you do the best possible job you can do with the work you’ve been called to do?  Maybe you are a mother or father to your children, a teacher to a classroom of children, a baker, a janitor, a doctor, a lawyer, an athlete, a coach, an entertainer, an administrative assistant, a pastor, an assistant at church, office worker, or many other positions.  Whatever you do, your work is important.  Some days it may not seem like it, but trust me it is.  Remember, who you are working for.  Yes, if you work for an employer, than they do give you your paycheck.  But they do not control your eternal reward!

Your inheritance, your valuable richnes, your incredible reward is in Jesus Christ the One whom you are serving each and every day!   May your days be serviced to Him and not to this world, as it is He who is the One you working for.

Lord, please help me to put my everything in to all that I do for You!  I live because You live inside of me.  I love because You first loved me.  I breathe because You give me breath to breathe!  I have the opportunity to write and share who You are because of what You are, so may I do it with a full heart!  Please increase my zeal and keep my eyes on my eternal inheritance!

All my heart is yours,
Sarah


Nothing in this World

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

~Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV)

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy,

the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

~C.S. Lewis

IDENTITY WITH CHRIST:

1. It all begins with a personal relationship with Christ.  Taking the time to walk with Him, talk with Him, be led by Him. It’s easy to go astray, but it’s tough to line our steps up day by day with Him.  Christ had a long road to walk for us, but He walked it, even when it led to death.  Walk with the Lord wherever He leads you.  He will never lead you astray.

2. Continue to set your hearts on things above. Our focus needs to be on Christ.  Setting our hearts on things He would have us achieve while we are living out our lives for Him on this earth.  Nothing on this earth is worth while without His love coming through us.

3. Remember to set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Look at C.S. Lewis’s quote above and see that truly there is nothing on this earth that can satisfy you.  Everything on this earth is passing away.  Only our heavenly Father can truly satisfy the cravings that lie deep within our hearts and minds.

4. Last, but most important…you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When you accept Christ into your life, all your sins are forgiven.  The past is hidden in the blood that was shed on the cross.  Jesus has made it possible for you to be holy and blameless before God.  Will you live a life before God that shows yourself grateful for what Jesus has done for you on His way to the cross and on the cross?

May we live out lives that show God we are continuously grateful for His Son He sent on our behalf!  God deserves every moment we give Him, may we live these moments to our fullest.  Live in love, share to the fullest, and give without holding back!

Lord, I pray that my heart will be set on all things above, as You have given me so many things to be grateful for.  I desire to be more like You every day that I live.  May my mind be washed clean of all the things that do not belong there and may I grow ever closer to You, as I draw ever nearer to Your love.  May I continue to die to myself daily and be hidden with Christ.  I pray that only Your love will be seen through me!

Looking to live a life of Holiness,
Sarah


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