About sarahanne27

I'm a 20-something who loves to write, draw, read, watch Hawaii Five-0, play around on instruments, and think about life. I'm in the pursuit of knowing God for who He is and not just who I make Him out to be, also on the search for what makes a life not wasted. In other words, I'm a Christian and a deep thinker.

Walk by Faith

Faith is believing that God will work. It is much more than simply believing that God has the ability to work. That is how we are to read our Bibles, pray, and live this life. Promise after promise will be brought to fruition in our lives when we apply the Truth in faith!

God is God and that means that He has the resources to work in any way He wishes. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). Part of believing in God is knowing that He is powerful and in control. “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty… The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness” (Psalm 29:4, 7-8 ESV). God has many characteristics that determine how His power will be used, though. He is just and righteous, merciful and kind. He is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). We can count on this because He never changes (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)!

Walking by faith is done out of love for God. Knowing God leads to loving God, which leads to trusting God, which finally leads to obeying God (‘Righteousness and Rewards’ by Matt Chandler). “This is love for God: to keep his commands” (1 John 5:3 NIV).

The kings of Israel, written about in the Old Testament, provide many examples of how following God leads to victory and success and flourishing and rebelling leads to downfall and destruction. For example, one time the Israelites broke the commandments. “Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, the Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgement on Joash” (2 Chronicles 24:24 ESV). There were not many kings who managed to follow God all the days of their lives, but Jotham was one! After noting all the his accomplishments in rebuilding and securing the kingdom, it says, “So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 27:6 ESV). This Old Testament principle still applies to us, even though we are now under the blood of Jesus. The difference is that we now have the Holy Spirit to help us live the Law from our heart.

Suffering is a major theme in the New Testament because it is something Christ followers will deal with. Life is not happy all the time. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). James focuses on suffering a lot and he was specifying that the suffering does not come from God. God is the giver of good gifts! Paul also wrote about suffering and then said, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). This is one of the most glorious promises given to Christ followers! Everything that happens, either good or bad, to someone who loves God and is called by Him will be used for their ultimate good!

David says, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). Jesus claimed to be “The good shepherd” (John 10:11). “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Sheep look to their shepherd for guidance, food, shelter, and protection. Jesus is our leader, protector, and provider.

One of the sweetest promises to cling to says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV). “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). To have faith, it is necessary to believe that God is capable, but it must go further. Walking in faith requires a strong assurance that God will work: our salvation will be worked and brought to completion. We can get to know our good God, live life according to His commandments written on our hearts, live out of security and provision, and claim the verses in the Bible as true for us!

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The Moment

 

Birds singing, a person smiling, a long, winding conversation.

This is the present, slow and beautiful.

Rain falling, a page turning, light shifting across the room.

This is now, full of rhythm.

Never a moment quite like it again.

Hurry and stress accomplish what,

If we never notice the small things?

Never notice the skitter of leaves upon the ground,

The clouds inching across the wide, blue sky.

How much we can easily miss in the hustle and bustle!

Each moment, a gift.

Do we throw it away in our rush for the next?

 

 

 

Spiritual Warfare: The Ultimate Reality

Angels. Demons. These beings are not spoken about too much in churches today (at least not the ones I’ve been in). Pastors and teachers like to focus more on positive edification, rather than talking about spiritual warfare. Focusing on the positive is good, but knowing our enemy and his tactics will help Christians to walk out their faith victoriously. Ask a seasoned Christian who has experienced ministry and they will likely have stories to tell of a spiritual war, of demonic attacks. When I was in high school, my youth pastor specifically spoke about the topic every year. Since then, I have heard more first hand accounts from Christians who were sharing the Gospel in dark places and have picked up bits and pieces about demonic powers and bondage. There is so much I do not know, but one thing I do know for sure: it exists.

The American culture is so loud and “practical” that anything unusual easily gets explained away. Miracles and demonic oppression are mostly invisible because of this fact. It could also be because we have been blinded as a culture to the spiritual reality. There is a spiritual war going on, whether it is seen or not. God and Satan are pitted against each other. God is for mankind and has reached out for a restored relationship with us, offering us life. Satan rebelled against God and now wants to bring as many people as he can down with him to his eternal punishment. Each person is on one side or the other. There is no in between. You and I are either friends of God or enemies of God.

If we are friends of God, then Satan and all his demons hate us. Their goal is to destroy, kill, and create as much chaos as possible before their damnation. Even the people who are on their side will be ultimately destroyed because that is what Satan does.
Satan does not have total power, though. God is more powerful, as Creator, and is perfectly able to keep the chaos in check. In fact, we see in Job 1:6-12, Satan has to ask permission to sift Job.

In 1 Peter, the character of the devil is given, along with plenty of commands for us in relation it it: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Something else to note is that, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is appealing. How else would he get so many followers and lead so many astray, including Christians?

Paul explains this spiritual reality further in Ephesians by saying, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

There are many examples of how this spiritual warfare plays out in every day life. Something to note is that people and what we see are not the enemy, but against the spiritual enemy. The most general form of demonic power would be blindness to this spiritual reality.  Materialism, accomplishments, and surface level are what people focus on, never stopping to ask if there is something more. Anything odd, in a good way or a bad way, is often explained away or simply ignored. Another way this is seen is how people desire to fill every minute with entertainment and productivity. It’s all distraction from the spiritual reality. There are also very specific attacks on people who are pushing back the darkness bringing many to salvation. Multiple Christian leaders have told stories of waking in the night to find a demon in their room. What woke them was a heavy weight upon their chest which was severely hindering their breathing. After commanding the demon multiple times in Jesus’s name, the weight would lift and the demon would leave. In between these two extremes would be demonic strongholds and opposition to us seeking Jesus or living the life He asks us to. These are varied and common. (And also things I don’t know much about, so I recommend you read a book about them to find out more.)

Not only did Paul explain the spiritual reality in Ephesians, but he also told us how to fight in the war. He describes a suit of armor. When these things come, we are to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people(Ephesians 6:14-18).

Did you notice that “Be alert,” “Be sober-minded,” and “Be watchful” are the attitudes that we are to have? How can we make sure to stand firm if we don’t even know there is something pushing us? We are commanded to be aware of this war to watch for where the attacks are happening. After explaining the suit of armor example, Paul says twice to pray. The first time, he says to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph. 6:18). The second time, he applies the whole war and armor analogy to how we should be thinking of our fellow Christians: “Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18).

My youth pastor specifically said not to ascribe too much credit to Satan and demons because that could become worship. As children of God, we have a mighty King who we can look to constantly for our security, for eternity! We have been commanded to have a certain attitude and mindset and to stand, though. Understanding that the enemy does want to destroy our lives and our witness will help us to recognize an attack when it comes. When we have recognized it, we can stand firm and pray to Jesus for help and freedom.

2017: A Review

“Hindsight is 20/20.” That is the main reason why I like to take some time at the end of each year to look back and see what I learned. This year, I am amazed at how many dreams came true. 2017 was good. Of course there were struggles, but I was usually able to look past them in the moment.

A big thing that made this year so good was that God was proving His goodness to me all year. He gave me the grace to see the good in the hard stuff and placed me in community with gracious, caring people over and over and over again.

  • I took Music Appreciation with fantastic people and we had the best teacher. They, along with other friends, made school a joy.
  • I got my first “real” job: as a biology tutor. And then got another fairly consistent part-time job.
  • I finally got my driver’s license. It was a huge step toward adulthood for me.
  • I bought a piano: a gift straight from God. (Ask me about the story behind this one.)
  • I visited family friends in South Carolina for a week and a half in the summer. While there, I learned more about what God-centered family and community looks like. (And I learned to cook better, which was the whole goal of the trip.)
  • I was able to make friend- and adventure- time a priority over the summer.
  • I took a day trip to Virginia Beach with my brother and some friends. It was a blast, until it was time to drive home. (Would never do this again.. lessons learned.)
  • I got to take Chemistry with my brother and completed my associated degree.
  • I learned how to let my friends and family be there for me through the hard stuff, and got more involved in my Bible study group.
  • I changed churches.

So to say a lot of big things happened might be an understatement.

Sometime near the beginning of the year, I felt drawn to a verse and I wrote it in the beginning of my journal:

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).

If that doesn’t describe 2017, I’m not sure what does. The Lord really has proven His heart to me this year. He has shown me that He is the Good Shepherd by providing, protecting, and leading. He has been gracious and gentle in the way he led. He has been gift-giver in ways that I could not provide for myself. He has been a guard over my heart and mind so many times when I needed protection.

So this year, I’m thankful for much. Most of all for the friends I’ve made and the way that God drew near.

The Dream of Marriage: Waiting, Trusting, and Letting Go

In looking back through my journal entries from the summer, I found this:

“Help me remember Your goodness and be patient-  WAIT.  How strange that I’m learning to wait during a season when You’re giving me so many long-desired gifts…”

I could see God’s merciful and gracious hand in so much this past summer. I was truly blown away at how many good provisions were made for me to walk in- many were ones I had dreamed about for years. Yet, there were places that I wrestled with God. Anxieties threatened to overtake my body on many occasions so that I was left to cry out to the Lord seemingly constantly. At the time, it was very frustrating, though I could see how it was drawing me closer to God. This was one verse (of many) that was given to me during that time:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 11:12)

The big thing that was being broken up in me was my strong desire for a serious relationship/ marriage. I was reading through ‘Passion and Purity’ by Elisabeth Elliot. It is the hardest book I’ve ever digested. Strong emotions were brought up by each tiny chapter. The main point that stuck out to me was that God may not have marriage in our individual plan.. if so, will we say, “Yes, Lord”? Elliot included this quote in her book and its truth struck me:

“The fair new petals may fall, and for no visible reason. No one seems enriched by the stripping.

“And the first step into the realm of giving is a like surrender–not manward a Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped it’s true meaning: that is not worthy of the name of “no poluted thing” can be offered.

“The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one–the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God-blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: that there was the life of the world at stake.”

It was a hard truth to hear, and like I said, it produced a struggle. It made me examine how much I trust the Lord’s heart toward me. Honestly, I found that I didn’t trust Him as much I as thought.

God was so gracious to send people into my life to speak words of comfort and truth to this area when it seemed unbarable. Someone told me, “Most people will meet someone special at some point in their life and get married.” On one level this was a comfort, even though it did not address the possibility of God asking forever singleness of me. Still, the person who said it made a good point that the gift of singleness is usually only for a season of life.

Another encouragement was the current testimony of a godly woman at my church. She shared about how she was being pursued my a kind, incredible man of God and God was/ is very clearly orchestrating the relationship. It is much better than anything she had ever dared to dream of! Hearing her tell of what God was doing renewed my trust that God does love to give the good, great gift of serious relationships/ marriage (in the perfect timing). Also, seeing how God is the center of their relationship renewed my hope that it is possible to stay focused on God and bring Him glory through a dating relationship.

So God is good. Believing that to the core is the key to trusting God with any of our deepest hopes and dreams. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (All things within His will, of course.) And yet, God asks hard things of us and does not contradict His own character. I love this quote by Ruth Stull that Elisabeth Elliot included in her book, “If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a lad.” When we give up the good in our lives, God can use it in the best way possible to serve others and bring Himself glory. That often will look different than we have envisioned.

The dream of marriage is only one (fairly big) area where I must release my hopes and dreams to the will of God. God has been so gracious in the journey thus far, though! So yes, when God led me to write “WAIT” in my journal, there was a reason. I still have need for patience in the good times. I have need for patience as I wait for the Lord’s will. I also have need for trust in the Lord’s unfailing love and His good, great plan so I can focus on pouring out my life. He is providing day by day what I need for this journey called faith, though, and that is possibly more encouraging than anything else!

A Life of Crazy Love

In my experience, debate/ argument is valued by many Christians. Honestly, I used to be included in that group. I loved a good debate, where I made my point (and of course won 😉 ). My desire to be right has diminished in recent years, which I’m sure I can only attribute to God. I still enjoy having challenging conversations about things that are important, but I think I have a stronger value for how the other person feels during the discourse.

A couple weeks ago, I turned on my Bible app’s audible reading option. Because I was busy coloring, I listened to Romans 8 all the way into the next book, 1 Corinthians! It was eye opening to listen to all those passages strung together. (I highly recommend listening to big passages of Scripture read out loud. You get so much out of it!) Anyway, a theme came to my attention. Our actions as believers should be chosen because of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10)

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Paul specifically addressed how to live with those who had different convictions on what was okay to eat. Today, this can be applied to diet restrictions or any other kind of restriction a person places on them self because they feel led to. It is made clear that each person will give an account to God and that it’s not the place of any other believer to judge their choices.

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)

“Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13)

What a humbling way to live: for others. To make every decision based on how it  would effect the people around us seems a little crazy! We have been given the perfect example of this kind of living in Jesus, though. He showed love, sought after others, did not seek to quarrel, and ultimately died for people who didn’t deserve to be loved. We are called to be like Jesus. It takes a whole lot of vulnerability and humility, but it flows from our receiving this very mind-blowing gift ourselves. We’re just passing along a little bit of what we have been given.

So how can you put your brothers and sisters in Christ first this week? And beyond the family of God, how can you show this crazy love to those who don’t know Jesus?

Intentional Seasons

I like to think of life as a series of seasons. Each one has it’s own set of specific values. Also, each person’s season will look different from anyone else’s, even if they look very similar on paper just because we each have beautifully unique lives. 

Social media often feeds off of the similarities in our seasons, though, and can influence the choices we make during our own personal seasons. For example, being a college student is villianized by social media. High school students are trained to think that college life is full of late nights, Ramon noodles, coffee, stress, and partying. Well, most of those things can be cut out if you are intentional; it’s all about priorities, not what “everyone else” is doing. This is not a guilt post trying to get you to quit social media, though. Social media is an awesome tool for connection, encouragement, and spreading knowledge. Sometimes I think we just need to be reminded that it is influencing us in a lot of ways. Are those good or bad ways? Are we letting it make our daily decisions for us? As my professor asked us today, “Are you more influenced by others or by yourself?” It’s something good to consider when examining what decisions we are making.

If we want to get better at anything, we should study the right way to do it, versus the wrong way. This applies to living each season well. I think we tend to know most of the time when a season starts and ends. (That’s not to say we don’t try to fight the change at times.) Something changes either in life or in our hearts and we know it’s time to move on in one way or another. 
As a college student, each year is split up into mini seasons: two semesters and summer. The classes I take change each semester. My schedule and the people who are in my life (to varying degrees) change with each one of those mini seasons, as well. 

I think there are two words that will help us live every season well: seeking and intentionality. Both of these are verbs. There’s a reason for that: We must take action to live well.

When we are seeking God, He will let us know what we need to know when we need to know it. We must have an open heart and be quick to prayer. There will be plenty of confusion along the path called life, but if we keep seeking, we are sure to find answers! (Also, there is a constant tension of faith. We won’t have clarity very often as to what God I doing, but none less, we must trust that He is working. Our job is to live out the next action asked of us and trust.)

Living with intention is the difference between being happy or unhappy with your life when looking back. Seasons of life can take over and make our decisions for us if we let them. We have to make time for the things that are important, or else they will slip away.

I encourage you to write down what your values are for the season you are currently in: what do you feel are the most important things for you to focus on? That list may fluctuate throughout your season and that’s okay. God’s leading changes with time, in my experience, and following His most recent guidance is more important than sticking to the list you started with. Yet, it can bring a lot of clarity to actually write out on a piece of paper the things we want to be intentional about in the season were in. 

So what are you going to value today and in the coming days?