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

The Bible Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

Hello, my friend! Welcome to my blog, and I hope you’re doing well. Today, since we don’t have an Imperishable Inheritance article, we’re going to talk about how to read God’s word without getting bored or sidetracked. To begin, we have a little story from me, let’s get into it!

A Story From Me

After finishing Imperishable Inheritance, I wasn’t sure what I would be writing next. My week began and I debated in my head what I should do.

On Tuesday, I had my online Spanish class. The lesson went well enough, but as we neared the last ten minutes of the class, my teacher asked me to read a story in Spanish. I don’t mean a little one-paragraph story with only dialogue; It was a full-on article, seven paragraphs long, and most of those paragraphs were pretty substantial.

I’d like to take a moment to say, don’t worry, I won’t write my articles in Spanish (For those of you who hoped I would, I’m sorry, no).

I began reading the story, and for the next ten minutes I read the article, mumbling words in a droning voice and not understanding what I was reading at all. I was just trying to survive (I feel like it may have been torture for my teacher too, my Spanish reading voice is not interesting).

The only thing I really got out of the article was that it was about lions and lionesses. I didn’t know anything about the percentages mentioned, what the lions did, or anything like that.

Why am I telling you about my Spanish struggles?

Well, my friend, keep reading.

How Do We Read God’s Word?

When you read the Bible, do you skim or skip? Do you get the main idea and leave the heavy parts that involve hard thinking behind?

The Bible is how we get to know and love God more. If you were trying to start a friendship with someone, would you avoid learning about them? Would you say “I don’t care” when they talk about their likes and dislikes? Probably not. In fact, you’d probably do quite the opposite. As you engage with conversations with your new friend, you would ask them questions, and get to know them and love them.

If Jesus is your friend, do you respond in the same way? Do you search God’s word to learn more about His character? Do you try to figure out what He likes and what He dislikes?

Part of loving God is loving with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. We need to be filling our minds with knowledge of Him, with thoughts about Him. We need to know what He says is right and what He says is wrong because it changes the focus of our lives.

I know, the Bible can be boring sometimes. I recently finished reading the book of Leviticus, and before reading it I had always said things like, “Leviticus is so long and boring” and, “No, not Leviticus.”

But then I started from the book of Genesis and worked my way down through the first books of the Bible, and I got to Leviticus and read through it. Guess what? I survived! 

It won’t kill you, I promise, and it can be very interesting at times too. What we need to do is realize that the Bible isn’t something far off or hard to comprehend. It’s not in a different language like my Spanish article, and we can understand it. But if we don’t put our minds to it and don’t put the effort in, we won’t get anywhere.

A tip I have can be reading it before your day gets chaotic, or after the day is over, or even when you have a break with free time. If you try to read it while the house is crazy and loud, you’re pressed for time, or anything like that, you won’t get a chance to think and meditate on it. You won’t get a chance to understand it.

And even after you’ve finished reading, keep it in the back of your mind! Remember the message you learned in the Bible and try to keep it in your thoughts for the rest of the day. The Bible shouldn’t be something on your to-do list that you check off once, it should be a wonderful time spent with God.

If you’re having a really bad day with reading the Bible, and you just can’t read or meditate on anything, turn to the Psalms. The Psalms are pure praises and pleas to God, and if you look and listen, you can feel real emotion flowing through the words of the psalmists. Their devotion to God is apparent and clear, and if you really meditate on the words you can see what they were getting at too.

Want to see what I mean? Turn to Psalm 148 and take a moment to read it.

A Piece Of The Bible

In this Psalm, there’s a lot of praise going on. And I mean a lot (I counted the number of times the psalmist says ‘praise,’ it’s twelve).

This is just one of many praises to God in the psalms, and this one is calling out to everything to praise the Lord. In just two verses, the psalmist uses the word ‘praise’ five times.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!

Psalm 148:1-2

Indeed, we should praise Him. He created us and He loves us and He sent His son to die for us. And reading and thinking about this psalm is part of learning more about Him to love Him. We see His power, His majesty, His goodness for this praise, all in just fourteen verses.

So if you haven’t done so in a while, pick up your Bible and read. Don’t just read, but really think. Think about what the passage tells you about God and His character and think about ways to apply it. 

You can also challenge yourself! Try reading and studying a book you’ve never read before (or maybe even dreaded)! Don’t be afraid to try because of past failure in reading the book, you can do it!

Final Thoughts

I hope this article was helpful for you. Let me know in the comments or through the contact page what book of the Bible you’ve struggled to get through before, and if you’ll accept my challenge to try again!

If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my email list to receive three exclusive articles about reading the Bible with a friend, notifications when I post, and my monthly newsletter!

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Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline

This Is Our Imperishable Inheritance

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well! Today we are wrapping up our Imperishable Inheritance series. We’ve been in 1 Peter for a while, and while it’s sad to see this series end, it’s also exciting that we’ve made it! Let’s hop into it today.

Imperishable Inheritance Pt. 7 (The Final Part)

Here is the passage for today’s article:

1 Peter 5

Remember to read it yourself before continuing on in this article!

The Main Point

I think the main point of this final section of 1 Peter is to summarize everything he has said so far. That said, it’s somewhat overwhelming and there’s a lot of instruction coming in. Let’s go through each part and try to understand what it’s saying.

Instructions For Elders And Followers

Verses 1-3 are speaking to the elders of the church. Remember, way back in 1 Peter 1, we talked about how Peter is writing to the persecuted Christians and encouraging them in their faith and journey with God. Here, he gives the elders special instruction to do their job willingly and eagerly, awaiting the time when the head Shepherd (that is, Christ) appears.

Now, being only a teenager, I don’t know much about being elders or pastors of the church and shepherding the flock of God. But those of you who are pastors or take higher roles in the church, take this advice from Peter. Don’t take it from me, but take it from God’s word. 

Verse 5 is more for anybody else part of the church. We should be humble and subject to those in charge of us. This goes back to 1 Peter 2, where Peter talks about submission to authority. We should follow authority, but be careful and discerning about that authority’s intentions as well, and make sure we are still following God.

Standing Firm In Your Faith

Verses 6-9 continue to talk about being humble, but also about being watchful. These verses talk about our enemy, Satan, ready to snatch us from God when we are weak. They talk about suffering, which Peter also talked more extensively in 1 Peter 3 and 4. 

However, with both of these things, we have Christ by our side. We also have fellow Christians, and in verse 9 it says:

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 5:9

But even so, what happens after the suffering? After the struggle?

And Our Hope?

Well, this is what we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s read verse 10 together.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:10

After we have struggled, suffered, and stood firm in our faith of our savior Jesus Christ, we will either die or see Jesus come again. 

And when that happens, we will be restored into the people we were meant to be from the beginning, we will be confirmed and established in God’s kingdom, and we will have our inheritance.

The inheritance can’t come while we are living, inheritances aren’t often received until after a person’s death. But because of Jesus, we have a living hope, something to look forward to, something to stand firm for.

And that, my friend, is our imperishable inheritance. 

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today in the final part of this series! I hope you enjoyed and learned something from it. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list to receive updates when I post, three exclusive articles about reading the Bible with a friend, and my monthly newsletter!

A side note, you may have noticed a new page on the blog labeled ‘Sisters In Christ.’ If you haven’t clicked over and viewed it yet, please do so! It basically says what I’m going to tell you, that my friend and I are starting a podcast! 

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If you want to receive some more news on the podcast, you can subscribe to my email list for that as well!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Our Hope Through Suffering

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog, and I hope you’re doing well! Today I’ll once again be combining our Imperishable Inheritance passage with one of my usual posts like last week when I talked about our worldly passions. This time, I’ll be talking about suffering and struggle.

Imperishable Inheritance Pt. 6

The passages for Imperishable Inheritance Pt. 6 are:

1 Peter 3

1 Peter 4:12-19

As always, I encourage you to read both of those passages before reading this post as to understand it better yourself!

What Is Suffering?

Suffering is undergoing distress or hardship. It’s struggling through a situation, or sometimes just with life, depending on what’s going on. 

A lot of you have probably suffered in some way during your lifetime. Maybe it was many years ago, maybe it was a few months ago, maybe it’s right now during Covid-19. Suffering is hard, but it’s also part of life. We can either be pushed by it or push through it. I’m sure everyone wants to push through it, but that’s easier to say than put into action.

Don’t Be Surprised

Some people believe that when you become a Christian everything gets easier. God wouldn’t let things keep hurting us, right? Well, not exactly.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

Everything can’t be perfect just because we follow Him; We’re still broken humans in a fallen world, and have you ever noticed that you grow closer to God when things are outside of your control? It’s through hardships that we depend and trust God more. We humble ourselves and are reminded that we are weak and He is strong.

So what do we do when we suffer? Do we cower and hide? Do we try to go through it ourselves? Who do we turn to?

Well, let me tell you some good news, you have a Friend.

Our Friend

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh and made alive in the spirit,

1 Peter 3:18

Christ suffered through pain that we probably couldn’t even imagine. Not only was He beaten, but He was mocked and accused of things He never did. He never sinned but was given the death of a criminal. He went through not only physical pain but also emotional suffering. It says in the Gospel of Luke that before His betrayal:

And being in agony he [Jesus] prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:44

God doesn’t snap his fingers and make everything easy for us. However, He does give us the hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is Jesus.

Since Jesus became human and went through temptations, hunger, thirst, other worldly struggles, as well as experiencing death itself, He can empathize with us, and that makes Him an even greater friend.

And when we’re tempted, when we’re suffering, struggling, in pain, we can cry out to Him and remember what He did and what He went through, and grow closer to Him all the more.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

1 Peter 3:15

Life is hard, and doubts, fears, hardship, and suffering are always going to be part of it. However, since Jesus stepped in we have a living hope, an imperishable inheritance.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

1 Peter 4:19

A Psalm & A Song

In 1 Peter 3, Peter quotes Psalm 34. Psalm 34 paints a beautiful picture, 

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:13-14

Not only is Psalm 34 a great reminder for us, but it’s also a song we can listen to. 

“Psalm 34 (Taste and See)” by Shane & Shane

Recap

Remember, friend:

  1. Suffering is hard but
  2. Jesus is our Friend during any trial
  3. And though things aren’t easy, we still have a great hope.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article about suffering helped you! If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my email list (by clicking to the home page of the blog and filling out the form) to receive three exclusive articles, notifications when I post, and my monthly newsletter. Thank you for stopping by!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

Imperishable Inheritance (Pt. 3): 1 Peter 2:1-12

Hello friend! I hope you’re doing well. Today we are continuing our journey in 1 Peter while learning about our imperishable inheritance. Let’s get started!

Reading

Today we will be discussing 1 Peter 2:1-12, you can find it in your Bible or click here for an online version in ESV. Before reading this article, I highly recommend reading the passage for yourself at least once.

Overall Picture

I think the first part of 1 Peter 2 is laid out in three sections, and I have come up with names for each of these sections:

1 Peter 2:1-5: The Introduction

1 Peter 2:6-8: The Proof

1 Peter 2:9-12: The Reinforcement 

Let’s go over each section together.

The Introduction

The first few words Peter throws at us are about throwing away all of our terrible and sinful things. In just verse 1 he says:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

1 Peter 2:1

All these words represent and mean terrible things, but each one is slightly different. “Malice” is simply the desire to do evil. “Deceit” is deceiving or tricking someone about the truth. “Hypocrisy” is telling someone to stop doing something bad, but then doing the same thing yourself at the same time. “Envy” is the extreme of being jealous, wanting what other people want. And finally, “slander” is just saying bad things about a person.

And if we’re being honest, those words only scratch the surface of our sin. However, in the second verse Peter says:

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.

1 Peter 2:2

If we long to do good and serve the Lord, throwing away malice, deceit, and all those others will slowly get easier, but not without God’s help. There will be times when we will feel like we want to collapse and give up, and that’s when we can, and should, call out to God for help. We should do that all the time, but it’s in those times of struggle when we really need it.

In verses 4-6, Peter starts saying we should be a “royal priesthood” and living stones of a spiritual house. This is the tie into the next section, the Proof.

The Proof

The first passage Peter references is Isaiah 28:16, which talks about the cornerstone. The cornerstone is Jesus Christ, the foundational stone for all people in their faith. Once we believe in Jesus, we can become living stones, building on top of Jesus’s foundation. 

The other two passages are Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14, and I recommend you not only read the one verse specifically but the verses around it, as to get some context. In Psalm 118, it is beautiful praise to God. In Isaiah 8, it talks about how the people of Israel will stumble. This sounds bad, but if you read the rest of the chapter you’ll realize it’s about waiting for the Lord. And jumping back to 1 Peter 2, it says in verse 8 that:

… They stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do.

1 Peter 2:8

And now that we know that Peter wants his readers to be living stones on top of Christ’s foundation, we come to our final destination.

The Reinforcement 

Verses 9-12 are probably my favorite of passage, especially just 9 and 10.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

Because Jesus has saved us and become our cornerstone, our foundation, we are free from sin and become God’s chosen people, and we have received the beautiful inheritance of grace and mercy. And now, as newborns with milk, we can pursue to serve God and live a new life like never before.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today in this study of 1 Peter! If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my email list on the home page of the blog, that way you’ll get updates when I post and my monthly newsletter. I’ll see you all next week with another post!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

More Of My Top Christian Songs For Tough Times (Pt. 2)

Hello friends! Welcome to another article. Today I’ll be doing a part 2 to my article, “My Top 7 Christian Songs For Tough Times.” Let’s get into it!

“Why God” by Austin French

“Why God” may seem like a song questioning God’s will, and it is in some ways. The first couple of verses reference hard things that happen in life and asks God why they happen. Then, as the singer begins with the words leading up to the chorus, he starts singing about how he doesn’t understand, but he understands why he needs God.

Why God, I need You
It's, why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It's, why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side

Through suffering, we realize how much we really need God, and this song speaks that truth and confesses with humility how much we really need God.

“I Choose To Worship” by Rend Collective

“I Choose To Worship” by Rend Collective talks about how we can choose to worship, even through suffering. 

I will praise You through the fire
Through the storm and through the flood
There is nothing that could ever steal my song
In the valley You are worthy, you are good when life is not
You will always and forever be my song

It’s a reminder that God is good and we can and always should praise Him.

“Fear No More” by Building 429

“Fear No More” by Building 429 begins with how we can’t know what’s going to happen, and we won’t always understand it. We have to trust what God has planned for us, even if it’s not what we wanted.

This isn't what I'd choose
But it's where I'm finding You
When I'm broken and undone
Your mercy's just begun

Fear no more, God’s got it under control.

“Be Thou My Vision” by 4Him

There are several versions of “Be Thou My Vision,” as it’s an old hymn, so you can listen to any of them. But this is the one I personally like since it’s easy to sing. “Be Thou My Vision” is a song my family and I have sung a few times during this time in quarantine, and I’ve grown to like it.

This hymn is a call out to God to be our vision, to lead us and help us keep our eyes on Him. My favorite verse is:

Riches I need not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High king of heaven my treasure Thou art

We don’t need anything in this world since Jesus’s sacrifice gave us an imperishable inheritance. This is an important reminder we all need to hear.

What Do I Mean By “We Come Closer To God Through Suffering”?

I use this phrase a lot, and some of you may not understand how that’s relevant or not quite understand, so I want to take a moment and explain it. 

How often do you think about God in your daily life? How often do you depend on him when doing daily tasks? Probably not often, but don’t worry, I’m guilty of this as well. Often we think we can handle basic tasks ourselves, and though we should glorify and trust God in everything we do, we often don’t.

And that’s where the struggle and suffering comes in. If God didn’t smack us in the face with the frying pan occasionally, we would probably think we could handle everything ourselves! When we face things we can’t control, our faith is strengthened in God. That’s what I mean when I say we can come closer to God through suffering.

Final Thoughts (And A Look Ahead)

Thank you for joining me today! I hope these songs are encouraging for you- and that I helped you understand what they mean. A quick update on what’s happening next: I won’t be posting this next Friday (May 15th) due to final exams. However, I will be back the week after that with more content, so stay tuned, and please consider signing up for my email list so that you’ll be notified when I post!

Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline

Imperishable Inheritance: 1 Peter 1:1-12

Hello, friend! I hope you are doing well. I know the coronavirus is probably causing a lot of frustration, struggle, and fear, but I hope that this article will bring you what we all need: good news.

Today we are beginning our discussion of 1 Peter. You can read the first chapter here; we will be discussing parts of the first 12 verses. This book is very fitting for this time, and in a moment you will see why.

Target Audience

1 Peter is written by the apostle Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus Christ while He walked on the earth. 1 Peter is a letter to the persecuted Christians, “…in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”

No, I’m not going to make you go find those places on the map today, I just want you to realize they were in a foreign, hostile land. They were being persecuted there because of their faith, and Peter’s letter was meant for encouragement in staying strong in their faith despite that.

We aren’t being persecuted, but we are definitely struggling during this time and need to trust God more than ever. 

Verses To Think About

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,

1 Peter 1:3-4

In these verses, Peter throws a lot at us, so let’s break it down.

1. Born Again

Being “born again” as Peter says is to have a fresh start, a new life. Jesus talks about this same concept to Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3. Nicodemus is confused by Jesus’s use of the word “born” and asks how a man could possibly go back into his mother’s womb. Jesus answers, 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

John 3:5-6

What Jesus is speaking about is a spiritual rebirth, not physical rebirth. Being born again is putting our trust in Jesus and what He did for us: His death and resurrection so that our sins could be washed away. With our sins washed away, we are born again with a clean slate.

2. Living Hope

Now that we know what being born again means, what about the “to a living hope” part? Let’s start with hope. 

Before Jesus died for us, eternity with God was far off. The people in the Old Testament had animal sacrifices for their sins, but that was never meant to be a permanent arrangement.

Jesus came and became the Ultimate Sacrifice. He died for us so that we could be born again, and in doing so He became our hope. Without him, we were lost in the darkness, with almost no way to be with God, and Jesus gave us hope.

Not only that, but Jesus rose again, He is alive! That’s where “living” comes in. Jesus isn’t only our hope, but He’s our living hope!

3. Our Inheritance

To inherit something is to have something passed on to you. In verse 4, Peter talks about inheriting salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul talks about something similar in Romans 8:

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8:16-17

Not only do we inherit this great gift, but the inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It cannot die, it cannot be spoiled, and it cannot fade over time. 

We shouldn’t expect this inheritance on earth; just because there is mention of greater things to come doesn’t mean it comes here and now. We will struggle and suffer, and not everything will be easy.

Current Struggles

Though we struggle, we always have God with us.

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 revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7

This doesn’t mean God is trying to hurt us and make us fall away, but if someone genuinely trusts God, they stand with Him through these trials. 

These struggles also won’t last forever, as Paul says in Romans 8:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

We can get through these current times, but only if we trust in God to help us. And of course, remember:

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:8

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today! I hope that this article has helped to encourage you. There is so much more I want to say about 1 Peter, which is what we’ll be talking about for the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

My Top 7 Encouraging Christian Songs For Tough Times

Hello, friend! Welcome back to my blog. Today we will be talking about some of my favorite Christian music. I don’t know about you, but I listen to Christian music a lot. My playlist on Spotify is 7 hours long! And no, I don’t listen to it all at once, I’m not that crazy. But my music addiction is a bit off topic, so let’s get into today’s article before I stray off track.

The COVID-19 virus, or the coronavirus, is impacting all of our lives in some way right now. If you go to public school, your school is most likely closed. If you have a special event coming up, it’s probably postponed or canceled. And there’s a good chance you’ve been spending or will spend a lot of time in your house.

Basically, it’s a big deal, and really scary if you think about it. It’s hard to remember that God is in control during all of this. So I’ve chosen a few of my favorite Christian songs that can be encouraging for you during these times.

1. Sleep In The Storm – Unspoken

Sleep In The Storm talks about trusting God. It reminds me of that Bible story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat, and how Jesus slept while the disciples were panicking about the storm. Often we are like the disciples until things quiet down, but we really need to be looking to Him during the storm, not just after it or before it. 

“For the winds that seem against me
Push me right into your arms
Teach me how to sleep in the storm."

This song provides us with a beautiful reminder that the trials of life are meant to bring us closer to God. When we’re struggling and all seems hopeless, we can cry out to Him and He will be there. The second verse encourages this point:

“How will I grow if I never get rained on?”

Every struggle helps you grow in your faith. So during this time, when it feels like everything is chaotic and you’re flying in all the wrong directions, put your focus on God and remember that He is still there, helping you trust Him more and more every single day.

2. My Lighthouse – Rend Collective

Not only is “My Lighthouse” really catchy, but it contains a lot of truth too.

"My lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness. I will follow You.”

God is the light in the darkness, guiding us through the troubles of life. This song’s lyrics cry out that we can trust him. The song also goes on to mention not worrying about tomorrow in verse 2, which reminds me of some verses in Philippians:

“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.”

Philippians 4:5-6

3. Way Maker – Leeland

“Way Maker” is probably my favorite of all of these. I personally listen to the live version, because I love hearing hundreds of people crying out to God along with the lead singer – it’s amazing. This song is displaying praise and trust in God, even when we don’t see it.

“And you are
Way maker, miracle worker
Promise keeper, light in the darkness
My God, that is who you are.”

God makes a way for us by both opening and closing doors in our lives. He works miracles, He keeps His promises, and He is our incredible light in the darkness. I particularly like the bridge in this song:

“Even when I don't see it, you're workin'
Even when I don't feel it, you're workin'
You never stop, you never stop workin'”

We often don’t see it, but God is always working in our lives. He has a plan, and even during this time with the coronavirus, it is all in His hands. He is working, and that should be a comfort for all of us.

4. Even Then – Micah Tyler

God never lets us go, and this song reminds of us of that in a really fun and catchy way.

“Even when it feels like my world is shaken
Even when I've had all that I can take
I know
You never let me go, whoa.”

Just like God is always working, He is also always with us. He is with us even when we’re doubting, even when we feel hopeless, He is always there, even then. 

5. Follow – Mark Schultz

As much as God is with us and working in our lives, we can and should also follow Him. He is our guide through the darkest of storms.

“I'm gonna follow my God
I hear Him saying, ‘Fear not’
Through the storms that rage
My God will make a way.”

This song is a much-needed reminder that we always have God. When life knocks us over, God is there to catch us and tell us that He is with us, we just need to see it. 

6. Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

This song doesn’t directly address struggle and following God as the other songs do, but it is still a wonderful song that is a very humble cry out to God. 

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.”

God is our defense, God hears our cries, He knows our struggles, and letting all your worries out on God can be a huge relief. 

7. Hope Returns – Matthew West

To end it off, “Hope Returns” fits into this coronavirus situation almost best of all. It’s important to stay hopeful and positive during this situation, trusting God when things get rough. However, it is also important to remember that things may not be alright in the end. 

“When your world is crashing, when your knees hit the ground
When your heart is asking, "What do I do now?"
Just when you think it can't get worse
Hold on, that's when hope returns.”

So have hope, but know that whatever happens, whether it is good or bad, God is always with you.

Conclusion

Hopefully, these songs serve as reminders and encouragement for what we’re living through right now. I also encourage you to pray while listening to these songs, to cast your worries on Him. Ask Him to help you trust Him, follow Him, and cry out to Him that you need Him. 

He’s there, and He’s got you.

I know that some of you may be suffering right now, and some of you are just trying to face daily trials and conflicts while being stuck in your house. Here’s a verse to encourage you:

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:2-5

This goes back to that line in Sleep In The Storm, “How can I grow if I never get rained on?” Through our sufferings, we grow closer to God. We should run to Him because ultimately God is in control.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today! If you want to receive three exclusive articles about reading the Bible with your friend and my monthly newsletter, sign up for my email list through the form on the home page! I will see you all soon.

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

P.S. Remember that God is with you.