The People Who Lived to the Lord (+New Blog Series)

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well.

To start off today’s article, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my bookshelf. Don’t worry, I’m not going to describe it to you in detail (though if you really want that, I could), just hear me out. 

My Bookshelf 

On my bookshelf in my room, one of the shelves has several books by the same authors and publishing company. Each of these books talks about a different person’s life. There’s one with the name ‘Rachel Saint’, another with ‘Hudson Taylor’, a third with the name, ‘Gladys Aylward.’ The majority of these people were missionaries or those who lived for God.

Why I Love These Biographies 

I have several of these biographies on my shelf because I enjoy reading about these people’s lives. Each story is different and their dedication and love for Christ is a shining light in them.

Let’s talk about one of the names I mentioned above: Rachel Saint. Rachel’s brother, Nate, was a missionary pilot in Ecuador and worked on a team with four other men. One day, Nate and his friends were killed by tribesmen they were trying to reach in the jungle. Rachel, however, continued her missionary work to these people and later, to quote the biography, 

Now Rachel found herself looking into the eyes of the man who may well have speared her brother to death… [she] felt not anger but compassion toward him.

Rachel Saint: A Star in the Jungle, p. 148

Rachel Saint continued to reach out towards these people and helped progress the Gospel significantly. Her love for them despite what they did to her brother is incredible and truly inspirational. We can also learn from her story. She exercised love and forgiveness when faced with these men, even though she knew what they had done in the past.

Introducing the Live It! Series 

Now I’m happy to introduce you to the Live It! series, where we will focus on the lives of missionaries and others who lived to the Lord. I will be going into more detail, using these biographies and other resources, about these people’s lives. Please remember, however, that even though these people did great things, Jesus should still be our ultimate role model and hope. These people lived for Jesus, and though they can inspire us to do the same, they should not become idols.

Final Thoughts 

Thank you for reading today’s article! Are you excited about the new series? Do you have a missionary or person you’ve read about that you’d like to see an article on? Let me know in the comments below or through the Contact page. I’ll see you next time!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Hope in the New Year: 2020 Wasn’t All Bad

Hi, friend! Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s 2021? It’s crazy to look back at 2020 and wonder how it could go so fast and yet so slow at the same time. It’s also crazy to think about all that happened this previous year as well.

I’ve heard several people talking about their opinions of 2020 as a whole, and many are angry, upset, and ready to move on. However, today I’d like to point out that 2020 wasn’t all bad.

That’s right. The year 2020, though it was challenging, wasn’t all bad.

Curious? Great, let’s get into it.

Our Lives Put On Hold

The virus hit and suddenly our lives were thrown upside down. We were told to wear masks, do this thing called “social distancing”, hand sanitize constantly, and stay home.

It was stressful and hard during those first weeks of lockdown, but then it just kept going and going. Even now, depending on where you are, there are still rules in place concerning your health and how many people can be inside a building at the same time.

When the lockdown happened, our lives were, in a way, put on hold. Schools closed, churches went online, activities were cancelled, etc. It was as if someone had turned off the lights of our lives, and we were scrambling around in the dark, disoriented and stressed.

But what if those lights turning off did more than leave us lost? 

A Reset That Led To Realization

Let’s be honest, 2020 was hard.

I don’t want you to ignore that or ignore the pain and grief you may be going through because of what happened this year. 

But should we look back on 2020 and think that nothing good came out of it?

I don’t think so, because through our hardest struggles of 2020, God was still working. He used this year to help people realize that they aren’t in control of what happens. They can have a high social status, be skilled in a sport, and doing well in school, but all of that can be taken away.

And God? He’s still there. He’s the one who matters. 

The lights seemed to go off for a little while, yes, but God was working. He helped us realize what we needed to be rooted in. We needed (and still need) to be rooted in the Gospel, because in the end, that’s what really matters.

So now, as we move forward into 2021, I think it’s better for us to think about the good that came out of 2020 and what we should be thankful for, rather than the bad and what we lost.

I’m thankful for our current level of technology that allows us to stay connected despite distances, my friends and family who were by my side through this year, that we do have this hope in Jesus, and that we can trust Him in everything.

What about you? What are you thankful for?

What Does 2021 Look Like?

I doubt that with the New Year everything is changing for the better, because we’re not out of the storm yet.

However, we can use the New Year as a chance to be thankful and grateful for what God has given us and remind ourselves to be rooted in Him and not in the things of this world.

In 1 Peter 1, Peter tells us about our living hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-7

Our hope and inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Worldly things, however, are perishable, can be defiled, and fade. Isn’t it better to set our hope in Jesus?

You can see a more thorough study of these verses in this post:

Imperishable Inheritance: 1 Peter 1:1-12

What I’m Doing For 2021

I’ll be starting a new Bible reading plan with my mom called the Legacy Bible Reading Plan. It assigns you books each month (along with Psalms and Proverbs) so that you can take it at your own pace.

Other than that, and maybe coming up with some with some ideas for this blog and my writing, I don’t have many plans for the New Year. What about you? Do you have a Bible reading plan for this year? Any New Year’s Resolutions? Let me know in the comments below or through the Contact page!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, 2020 was hard, but it wasn’t all bad. A much-needed reset and refocus came out of 2020, and helped us remember that God is in control, not us, and we need to be rooted in and focused on Him.

Thank you for reading today’s article! If you have any feedback or ideas for this blog for 2021, let me know! I hope you have a happy New Year!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Encouraging Songs:

Way Maker – Leeland

Living Hope – Phil Wickham

The Joy of Christmas: Celebrating In 2020 (+Book Review)

Hello, my friend! Merry Christmas!

Today, despite all the festivities and fun you might be having, I’d like to remind you who Christmas is all about and wrap it into a special review of a book I’ve been reading this holiday season. Ready? Let’s get into it.

A Brief Book Review

During this Advent season, I have been reading David Mathis’s devotional called The Christmas We Didn’t Expect: Daily Devotions for Advent, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Mathis has covered the craziness and the unexpectedness of all the different aspects of Jesus’s birth and has reminded me constantly that this day is about Jesus.

If we push past the Santa Claus movies, crazy Christmas decorations, and the stress of gift-giving, and go all the way back down to the core of Christmas, we find Jesus. 

We find Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

We find Jesus lying in a manger. 

We find Jesus visited by shepherds and wise men. 

We find Jesus, the Son of God.

We find Jesus, the man who saved us all. 

Mathis lays that out in brief but powerful chapters for each day of Advent. Each devotion also has a beautiful closing prayer that helps guide you to speak with God after what you just read. I think I will be using this devotional next year as well, and I highly recommend you check it out too. 

The Good News

To quote Mathis’s devotional:

The real magic of Christmas is not in gifts and goodies, new toys and familiar traditions, indoor coziness and outdoor snow. What lies at the heart of Christmas, and whispers even to souls seeking to “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18), is the most stunning and significant fact in the history of the world: that God himself became one of us.

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, p. 11

Jesus came into the world in such a humble setting and He even went beyond that beginning and humbled Himself to the point of death for us (Philippians 2:8).

You know what else is great about Christmas, especially this year?

In the midst of the world’s troubles: the pandemic, family, finances, etc., we can still celebrate. Why? We can still celebrate because Jesus is worth celebrating. Even when our traditions go out the window, we suffer from loss and grief, and question this year as a whole, Jesus is worth celebrating.

The meaning of Christmas is not just that he was born among us but that he came to die for us. He came to secure for us eternal saving benefits.

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, p. 141

Maybe you physically or mentally can’t celebrate Christmas this year because it just hurts too much, doesn’t feel right, or something or someone is missing. However, there is good news. When the angels appeared to the shepherds that glorious night, they said,

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

Cling to that good news today and ask God to give you joy in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. Remember also the words of James when in trials and struggles:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

Even if we can’t have fun traditions, see family, or have the Christmas we want, we can still have and celebrate the Christmas we didn’t expect: the Christmas when God came down to ultimately give us the greatest gift of all. What is that great gift? Or should I say who is that great gift?

That great gift is Jesus, who saves people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Have a blessed Christmas, 

~Caroline

Songs For Celebration & Encouragement

Truth I’m Standing On – Leanna Crawford

Emmanuel You’re One Of Us – Rend Collective

Hope Has A Name – Passion

Today Is The Saviour’s Day – Rend Collective

Thanksgiving Challenge (+ What Have I Been Up To?)

Hey, friend!

I know, it’s been a while. You might be struggling to remember who I am and, if you’re subscribed to my email list, why you’re receiving a notification for the first time in weeks. I apologize for not posting. I went on vacation with my family and didn’t get back into it, and a few other things have been occupying my time, which I’ll talk a bit about in this post along with some thoughts about the holidays!

To start off, what have I been doing? 

What I’ve Been Doing #1: School

If you’ve read my homeschool post, you know that I’m homeschooled and have been for years. That doesn’t make high school easier though. School still takes up a lot of my time, can be challenging, and isn’t exactly something I can get out of doing. 

What I’ve Been Doing #2: NaNoWriMo

NaNo what now? Don’t worry if you’re confused– most people who aren’t writers are when someone mentions this funny acronym.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every year during the month of November, and writers everywhere race to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s exciting, fun, and at times exhausting. You have to write approximately 1.6k words a day, and depending on how fast you write and how prepared you are, that can take a while.

Since I have this in here, you probably know what I’m going to say next: I’ve been doing it! I’m writing a fantasy novel, and there are just a few days left! 

Now let’s talk about the holidays.

Let’s Be Joyful

I know the holidays are coming up soon and how they’re going to be for each person this year is going to vary greatly on where you live, how your family feels about Covid, and what’s been going on. For some of us, it’s going to be hard. For others, it will be joyous.

But here’s a piece of hope for all of us: we don’t have to stop celebrating just because things aren’t what they were last year. We have a choice. We can choose joy in Jesus and celebrate the gifts He has given us and His coming, or we can choose the opposite and focus on everything that went wrong this year. 

I recently heard a really good song that was sung at my church. It’s called “Set My Heart” by Vertical Worship. Here are a couple of lines that have such great meaning:

"I believe You're moving even now,
Right here, right now.”

Jesus is moving even when we don’t see it. He’s moving and working even when things look hopeless, when the pressure is crushing us, when everything seems to be falling around us.

Jesus is there. He is there. He has saved us and we are free indeed. 

Thanksgiving Challenge

If you’re in the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving! I know this post is going out on what is technically Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean thankfulness has to end there! In the comments of this post, write down 1-3 things that you’re thankful for. They can be big or small: I’d love to hear from you!

Here are three things I’m thankful for this year to start it off:

  1. My parents for supporting me and working so hard to take care of me and my siblings.
  2. My online best friends for being there especially during the hard parts of the year.
  3. Lots of good food. Isn’t it great that God gave us so much variety? 

Go ahead and post your thankfulness and praises down in the comments below!

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed, and please consider, if you haven’t already, subscribing to my email list to receive notifications when I post, three exclusive articles, and my newsletter when it comes out! I’ll be trying to get back into a blogging routine as NaNoWriMo comes to an end, so stay tuned! Happy (late) Thanksgiving! 

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Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

6-Month Blogiversary Announcement!

Hey there, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well! Today’s post not only marks the end of my break from the blog but also includes a very special announcement. At the time of this posting, we’ll be two days away from Live to the Lord’s six-month blogiversary!

Six months ago, on March 20th, 2020, I started posting on this blog. Preparations started before that, of course, but that was when I made my first official post (not counting my introduction post) called “Why Reading The Bible Is Important For Your Faith.”  

About twenty-five posts and over fifty subscribers later, it’s been six months. Crazy, right? I hope that this blog has been encouraging to each and every one of you and that my words will continue to help you. Thank you for reading my posts and continuing to support me.

I’d also like to thank God for helping me reach this point with my blog. It’s only because of Him that I was able to start a blog and continue to write for you guys and for Him; it’s only because of Him that I’m still here and it’s still going.

Now I have a few other announcements for you guys concerning this anniversary.

Expanding My Horizons 

Ever since I started Live to the Lord, all my articles have been focused on aspects of Christian living. Reading and studying the Bible, series on various Bible verses and passages, and Christian book recommendations have been a lot of what my blog has been about.

However, I’m not just a nonfiction writer. This is only one part of my writing side. The other side is writing fiction, predominantly fantasy. I love creating characters and worlds and exploring interesting and exciting plots in my stories. 

I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to show you guys this part of my writing with such a Christian-focused blog. However, I realized that the solution was in the name of the blog itself: Live to the Lord.

Living to the Lord doesn’t take up just one part of your life, it engulfs all of it. Jesus should reach every part of our lives, the dirt of our sins to the beauty of the talents and gifts He’s given us. 

That means if I’m a fiction writer, I should make sure my fiction writing is God-honoring, uplifting, and something I shouldn’t be ashamed of.

I admit I’ve probably made mistakes with my fiction writing in the past and not exactly followed the criteria I mentioned above; there are limits I’m going to have to find as I grow older and mature in my faith. I am going to make mistakes and I am going to mess up. However, since Jesus has saved me I can always look to Him as a guide and try again.

What’s my point in telling you all of this? Well, as I find my footing and my limits in my fiction writing, I’ll begin posting on the blog about my opinions on some of these things. Topics may include me exploring things like whether my characters should swear in fiction writing or who I think the true heroes should be in fiction writing.

I’d also like to note that I’m learning alongside you guys. I don’t want you to see me as some amazing Christian who has it all figured out; I don’t. One of the things I struggle with is hypocrisy when I make a post; it’s easy to write but not actually act. However, it is always relieving to remember that Jesus has already paid the price for us and that I don’t have to be perfect. 

Email List Survey

In two days, on Sunday, September 20th, I will be sending out an email to celebrate six months of this blog. In that email, there will be a survey for you all to fill out. It will probably take you less than five minutes, and please do try to fill it out! It’d be extremely helpful for me to figure out what you guys want to see more of on the blog.

And if you haven’t already subscribed to my email list, please do so now! When you subscribe you’ll receive three exclusive articles, my monthly newsletter, and notifications when I post (typically once a week). 

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Final Thoughts

Thank you all once again for reading to the end and supporting this blog! It’s been fun, and I hope that God continues to allow me to encourage and help you all with my words. I’ll see you soon!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Fruit of the Spirit (Pt. 3): Peace

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well! Today I’ll be continuing in the Fruit of the Spirit series, and this time we’re talking about peace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (bold added)

What does peace mean exactly?

It means freedom from sadness, a calm state. To help you understand how we receive that from God, I’d like to tell you about a man who found peace in his life because of Him.

Prisoner Turned To Peace

Louis Zamperini was a Prisoner of War (POW) during World War 2 after his plane crashed into the ocean and he was captured by the Japanese. For years he suffered in camps run by the Japanese, struggling with hard work, little food, and constant tormenting from the soldiers and officials.

He survived the POW camps and returned to the United States. However, he was still haunted by his experiences at the camp. He had trouble sleeping at night without nightmares and turned to alcohol to help push them away.

His wife, Cynthia, got to the point of demanding a divorce when he couldn’t seem to stop his nightmares and problems.

Then, one night, Cynthia came home from an event she had gone to with a friend and told Zamperini she no longer wanted a divorce. He was shocked and confused, what had happened?

Cynthia had been to a Billy Graham Crusade and had decided to forgive Zamperini, and she soon prodded him to come to one of the Crusades as well. He was reluctant, and the first time he went, he left before it ended. The second time he went, however, everything changed.

That night after the Crusade, Zamperini accepted Jesus into his life. He went home and poured out all of his alcohol and went to bed. For the first time in years, he slept without nightmares. He was no longer tormented by memories of cruel soldiers. He knew Jesus had forgiven him and he could live as a changed man.

Zamperini went on to preach to the Japanese, several of them were soldiers who had hurt him when he was a prisoner, and he forgave them. Zamperini found peace because he heard of what Jesus did on the cross.

Peace In Other Things

We don’t have to have been through a series of traumatic events like Zamperini was to experience peace. Just knowing the Gospel can give us peace.

Paul lists out the armor of God in Ephesians 6. In those verses, He says that,

And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Ephesians 6:15

Wynter Pitts has some more great words in her book, God’s Girl Says Yes,

It doesn’t matter how big or small your problem is. When you feel yourself starting to worry about something, pray and ask God to help you experience His peace.

Wynter Pitts, God’s Girl Says Yes

In Philippians Paul also says,

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:5-7

Since Jesus was the Ultimate Sacrifice and paid for our sins, we can be with God. And because we know this, we can have peace and trust Him with anything and everything.

The Song 

Here’s a song that relates to our topic today. 

Fear No More – Building 429

The Challenge

Our challenge in response to this is to cast all our worries, anxieties, and fears on Him whenever we need to. This probably sounds a lot like last week’s challenge, but that’s okay! I struggle with praying consistently so having another prayer challenge won’t hurt.

Here are some prayer poins:

  1. Thank Jesus for what He did and how we can have peace in Him.
  2. Pray about your worries and fears.
  3. Finally, close with thanking Him for what you and your family have been blessed with.

Short Announcement

Before I end this post, I wanted to let you guys know that I will be taking a short break from posting from this point until mid-September. However, there will be a new podcast episode on James coming out for Sisters In Christ soon!

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading today’s article about peace! I hope you enjoyed and were encouraged. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list to receive three exclusive articles, notifications when I post on the blog, and my monthly newsletter!

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Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Episode 2: Journey Through James Pt. 2 (Podcast Notes)

In this episode of the Sisters In Christ podcast, we talk about our favorite school subjects, the sin of partiality, loving your neighbor as yourself, being hypocritical, and how faith without works is dead.

You can find this podcast on Anchor and Spotify.

We recommend you read the passage before you listen to the episode. You can find James chapter 2 HERE.

Here are some discussion questions for after you listen:

The first topic we address is partiality and how James considers it a sin. What do you think about partiality? Why do you think it’s considered a sin? Have you been judged by your outward appearance before? How did that make you feel and why?

Luella talks about Luke 6 (She says Luke 4, but the actual passage is in Luke 6!) and explains that we should love those who don’t really deserve it and hurt us. What do you think the hardest part of this is? How can you do this in your life? 

I then go on to talk about how we should love by God’s standard that is eternal and everlasting. Read through Luke 6:27-36 and consider what God’s standard means.

Preaching a great message but being hypocritical and not doing yourself is also sin. Everyone is most likely guilty of this at some point, even us on the podcast and the blog. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God and we’re learning with you guys. Have you ever been hypocritical before? Who did we say should be the ultimate role-model? 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17

We should again be doers of the word and not just hearers only. I talk about the story of Abraham and Isaac and Abraham’s amazingfaith in following God whether there was a solution or not. How does this story make you feel? How can you start walking the walk as well as talking the talk? 

We hope you enjoyed this episode on the podcast! Tune in next time to hear Journey Through James Part 3!

Fruit of the Spirit (Pt. 2): Joy

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well! Today we’ll be continuing our series called the Fruit of the Spirit. Last week, we talked about love. This week, we’ll be talking about joy. Let’s get into it!

Happiness vs. Joy

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 (Bold added)

When you read this verse, what do you think it means when it lists joy as one of the fruits of the Spirit? Does it mean we need to be happy all the time?

Yes, but not in the way you think. Joy is more permanent than happiness, but it’s not finding joy in worldly things. I can be happy about that chocolate cupcake; I can be happy about the vacation I’m going to take; I can be happy when I talk to my friends. But the joy talked about here goes so much farther than that. 

Wynter Pitts puts it well in her book, God’s Girl Says Yes:

The circumstances of our lives will change all the time, but we can have joy in our hearts because God never changes.

Wynter Pitts, God’s Girl Says Yes

The joy we receive from God is so much better than a funny conversation with our friends or an enjoyable vacation. It’s permanent, eternal, and everlasting. When we love God and seek a relationship with Him, our hearts can overflow with joy.

Happiness can end in an instant. I could drop my cupcake; the vacation could end; my friends may decide they don’t want to be my friends anymore. But that joy in God? That will always be there.

Joy In Suffering

That joy can even carry into hard times. Several writers of the New Testament even say to rejoice in suffering. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved with various trials.

1 Peter 1:6

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Romans 5:3-4

When the world leaves us in the dust, Jesus is always by our side. He’s there, and He loves us. We can plead, cry, praise, and thank Him. Whatever the circumstance, He’ll always be there.

And because of what He did for us on the cross. Living, dying and rising again so that we could be with Him, He is our eternal joy.

So we can joyfully say with Paul:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Philippians 4:4

The Challenge

I challenge you, this week, especially to dive into prayer in finding that joy (again, like last time, I will be trying to do it as well!). Try wrapping these things into your prayer(s):

  1. Thank Jesus for what He did for us.
  2. Ask for joy in God and your relationship with Him.
  3. Ask for your joy to overflow in everyday life.

Try to pray every day, but don’t just say it, commit to it. Write it on a notecard and stick it somewhere you’ll see it during the day. I wouldn’t recommend phone notifications because those rarely work for me. I see the notification and then slide it off my screen and it’s gone! But if you work well with phone notifications, go for it.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading today’s article about joy! I hope it was helpful and encouraging for you. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list for notifications when I post, three exclusive articles, and my monthly newsletter.

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Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Episode 1: Journey Through James Pt. 1 (Podcast Notes)

Find this podcast episode on Anchor and Spotify.

In this episode, we talk about the first chapter of James. We specifically focus on the portions about trials, temptations, and acting on what you hear. These notes will include links to some of the Bible passages we addressed and some application questions.

You can read James chapter 1 HERE.

We address the point James makes in verse 4 that trials and hardships make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. How does that make you feel about trials? Have you gone through any hard ones? How was your relationship with God during that?

In verses 13-15, James says:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:13-15

Read about Jesus’ temptation HERE.

If you’ve heard the story about Jesus being tempted in Luke 4, you know that He was tempted by the devil. How then can James say, ‘God cannot be tempted with evil’? We clarify this by saying Jesus took the form of a man. He was both 100% man and 100% God at the same time! His taking on of human flesh made him open to temptation. Thankfully, Jesus overcame temptation and did not sin as we do often. 

What are some of your desires and sinful temptations you face regularly? How do you feel when you hear that Jesus went through something similar?

In verses 22-24 it says,

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he is like.

James 1:22-24

What do you struggle to act on after you hear a message? Is there anyone in your life you could ask for accountability from?

What did you like most about this episode? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact Caroline through the Contact page on the blog. We hope you enjoyed and we’ll see you next time!

Fruit of the Spirit (Pt. 1): Love

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well. Today we are beginning a new series on the blog called the Fruit of the Spirit! In each post, we’ll talk about one or two of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 and have a challenge to apply them during the week! To start it off, we are discussing love.

I’d also like to note here there are so many more aspects of love that I can only scrape the surface in this article. However, I hope this article still gives you a general understanding of what godly love really looks like.

Why Love Should Be First

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (bold added)

I like Paul’s placement of ‘love’ here. It’s right in the front, as it should be. Love is probably the most important fruit to have. Why is love the most important? Because Jesus said it himself!

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

All of the law comes after these two commandments, and they both include love. Loving God and then loving others will help us live the rest of the law as well. For example, God tells us not to steal. If we love someone, are we going to steal from them? I hope not.

Often people, both Christians and non-Christians, can agree that we should love others, but Christian love is different than worldly love. Natasha Crain points this out in chapter 10 of her book, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus:

Christians strive to love others given God’s standards. The secular world strives to love others given self-defined standards.

Natasha Crain, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus

What are God’s standards? We’ll talk about that next.

The Standard For Love

Jesus speaks about love in Luke 6:27-36, read those verses by clicking here and then come back to this article. 

Here are a few things Jesus said about the people you should love:

  1. They’re enemies
  2. They hate you
  3. They abuse you
  4. They strike you
  5. They take away from you

This is a very high request, but such a good one. In the rest of the passage, Jesus talks about how it’s more beneficial to love those who hurt you. If you love someone who’s nice to you, nothing changes except for having a comfortable relationship. If you love someone who hurts you, you can show them what it means to really love, convict them, and bring them to Christ. In Romans 12, it says:

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:20

Nevertheless, loving those who hurt us is hard, and it’s going to take some time and patience for us to get it right. Only God can change our hearts to love, and we have to ask for His help when we feel like we can’t.

Love Leads To The Other Fruits

Another beautiful passage about love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul says,

Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We already touched on this when we talked about Jesus and the greatest commandments. However, these verses hone love in on the other fruits of the Spirit as well. We automatically can identify patience and kindness (verse 4), peace in not being resentful (verse 5), and joy and faithfulness (verse 6).

Love is so important for us to grow in our faith; Jesus is a perfect example of love. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to die for us so that we could be with Him. Not only that, but we were God’s enemies. We were dirty, evil, unloving sinners that didn’t deserve a thing. But God said, “I’m going to love you anyway, and I’m going to save you because I love you so much.” 

He did save us, and He had to make a huge sacrifice to do so. But, thank the Lord, He is risen and if we believe we are saved!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

That doesn’t mean we aren’t still sinners and that we won’t ever sin again, but because of God’s love for us, we should try to be imitators of Christ. We should be trying to walk in love as Jesus did. We can try to follow all of the other commandments and produce other fruits, but if there isn’t love, it’s nothing.

It’s only when you choose to surrender to Jesus and let His love for you spark a love for Him that a desire to serve God and live for Him will matter.

Sara Barratt, Love Riot

Paul says it himself earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3

It is only with love that you can continue this series with me. It is only with love that these other fruits will mean anything to you. And I know, there will be days when love is hard. Love for God will be hard, love for others will be harder, but we can make it through this. We can love.

The Challenge

So, how do we apply this new knowledge about love? 

  1. Ask

Ask God for both a stronger love for Him and what He did for us and for a better love for others. Pray to Him, get down on your knees and beg if you have to. Just ask.

  1. Analyze

I challenge you this week, after you ask God for love, to read the book of 1 John. I will be doing it as well, since I also need to work on my love. It’s a short letter from John, the disciple of Jesus, and it has 5 chapters. Not every one of those chapters will be about love, but all of it is helpful. You can split it up in the days of the week or you can read it in bigger chunks. Do it at your own pace. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read chapter 1 here.

After you read, don’t just close your Bible and forget about it. Ask questions like, “What does this tell me about God? How can I apply this in my life?”

  1. Act

This is the hardest part, and even as I’m writing this I know it’s going to be a challenge for me as well. However, we need to do it. We (and especially I) can’t speak the word but not do it. So here it is. Two different ways you can act in love this week.

  • A. This week, when you pray for love, also pray for those who have hurt you. Who has been mean to you? Who treated you unfairly or tore you down? Pray for them. 
  • B. With people closer to you, send some messages. Text that friend who you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them and would love to talk with them. Send something to a family member and thank them for their love and care. In daily life, be patient and humble, not insisting on your own way.

Think of it as Valentine’s day in July, except it extends for a week (and hopefully for longer than a week) and instead of expecting things from others, we will be giving to others and expecting nothing in return. It’s going to be hard, but it’s also worth it. I know that, especially with my siblings, it’s hard to be loving and kind all the time. But if we have God’s help, we can do it.

Finally, here’s a song that reminds us of the importance of love:

“The Proof of Your Love” – For King & Country

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today for the beginning of this series, the Fruit of the Spirit! I hope you enjoyed and will try out my challenges with me this week. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list to receive three exclusive articles, notifications when I post, and my monthly newsletter that will be going out next Friday!

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Have a blessed day,

~Caroline