Be the Branch

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

I saw a similar image as this one the other day as I was scrolling social media. “Be the branch” and I instantly knew the scripture that was being referenced from John 15, but I saw something extra in that moment of scrolling that the content sharer didn’t say, not had I really thought of before.

This set of scripture is centered around verse 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches [Jesus explains]. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

But in that moment and since then, the Lord shared the request of “be the branch”. “Sara, I need you to be the branch. I need each of those who believe in me to be the branch I need them to be.”

I saw a single branch like I inserted in the image above— stretching out over the land, protective and essential with a purpose assigned by God himself. The branch is strengthened by the trunk and root system—like we are with God’s grace and the authority we have been given through Jesus.

God isn’t just asking us to stay connected to Him for our protection and destination (although that is a big part of it ). That’s the foundation to stay connected, but the purpose is far more.

“You have been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” John 15: 3

Do you know what the purpose of branches consists of?

  • Structural support for the all of the leaves, fruits and flowers that the tree produces
  • Vessels that carry and distribute water to the leaves, fruit, and flowers
  • Vessels that carry food from the leaves to the rest of the tree. Branches even store unused food that the tree will need later on, especially during hard seasons.
  • A way maker for tree leaves to receive the most light; becoming a net for the light and growing any direction [even sideways] to accomplish this for the sake of the whole tree.
Photo credit: Samuelmadimi Madimi

How beautiful is this correlation when we think of how much God loves of us. Jesus pleading for us to be His branches. His blood runs through our veins just like the blood of the tree runs through it’s branches, giving each part of the tree it’s ability [grace] to accomplish it’s purpose.

I love the power of medicinal grade (non-money marketed/ produced) essential oils from Young Living for instance. The Lord has shown me so much through these medicinal grade essential oils. He created trees and plants DNA and cellular energy to be the most similar to ours as humans! The oil of the plant is the blood of the plant. In the blood/oil there is tremendous power!

We have the same power of God himself inside of us through His Spirit! (Alot of times the pouring out of oil in the bible references the Holy Spirit.) The branches of the tree is actually the powerhouse of the tree—-the root system and trunk sustains the tree, but the branches is where all of the food, water, power is exchanged.

What exchange are you offering? How are you being the branch today? Are you carrying and distributing the life giving water and food of God to others in your life? Are you humbly making a way for others to receive the light they need to flourish—no matter how uncomfortable it may be for you?

The branches are the CROWN of the tree. Don’t forget who or whose you are.

Wow! We know God says throughout His word that He CROWNS us with beautiful things like victory, joy, health, peace, to name a few.

So wherever you are today, no matter what season you’re in—BE THE BRANCH.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Pichler
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow [to others]! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:11-13

– Sara

A Hope to Which You Were Called.

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can KNOW the CONFIDENT HOPE He has given to those he has called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18

The story of Joseph is one of the greatest examples of a long suffering hope and seeing a promise fulfilled. Joseph could have given up hope at any time, but by giving up his hope he would have forfeited the place God prepared not only for him, but also for for the nation.

How many times when God has given us a dream or a vision of what He is promising He will do is that very vision threatened with opposition after opposition.

But what a gift that God would give us the hope we will need to walk toward that promise. A dream which is a vision by God requires His power and grace to bring it forth. When He shares that with you, it’s the very seed for hope to strengthen you through the opposition the enemy has already planned against you.

God gave Joseph two dreams of His future. I personally think God gave Joseph these visions so early because He saw what the enemy was already doing through seeds of jealousy, favoritism, and hatred. The family was already allowing the enemy in to cause opposition and threaten the plans God had for this family. God is always looking out for His children.

God’s plans are always good. The end result is a masterpiece that we can’t begin to fully grasp. God had His plans for Joseph, and He saw what the enemy was plotting. BUT God gave Joseph visions, a hope, that would carry Joseph through the most unimaginable times. Times that would be used to build a foundation of character and victory!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What visions/dreams has God shown you?

Have they been let go of? Forgotten? Talked out of being real or even from God?

Be encouraged that God defines faithfulness. God is the author of faith and the creator of hope. What He designs, plans, says, and gives is for us to walk in!

There is no one else that is so full of joy to see you walk in the promise that God himself has prepared and fulfilled for you! He creates the beautiful things that you have and He makes ways where there seems to be none. In Him, you have all you need.

Those needs aren’t to barely scrape by that just fulfills you either… You can have all you need that fulfills His plans that overflow into others plans! The connections He knits together in your life are for His plans to be fulfilled in all of your lives!

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you TRUST in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

He provides hope to hold onto, faith to stand on, and provision to keep you!

Your surroundings and circumstances may not seem like provision, but most assuredly His provision is there… You may not see it yet, but hold fast to what He has shown you and what He has spoken to you EVEN IF the world laughs at you, mocks you, or foolishly no longer believes God is who He says He is. EVEN WHEN your mind and body speak otherwise!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2

Those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. Ephesians 4:1-4

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

Hold to the hope He has given to you.

-Sara

A New Year’s Resolution

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

I heard the Lord say to ask the question “How many times are you personal with the people you cherish in your life?”

Personal goes beyond what is convenient or accepted as enough.I hear him saying be personal when I tell you to be personal!

Sometimes Im personal with many at a time and sometimes I’m only personal with my little family of 3. Sometimes I follow His leading and sometimes I dont for sure!

I see posts all the time about loneliness and no friend Sally. Why? Because we have all related to Sally on the floor at times! But God is NOT asking us to all agree over lack so that we can all form a pitty party to make us feel better!

He wants us to dig in deeper and slap that bait from satan from your thinking! It doesnt matter if its true in your life, we’ve already established it’s true in practically everyone’s life! Because we are all human and fail daily, many have good intentions but we get distracted!

So again, the question for next year is, how often will you choose to partner with me to actually be personal and present for those I am asking you to?

I know what you’re thinking..I dont have time because that’s what Sally says..

This doesnt mean being everything for everyone! That’s not what He is asking, that’s His job.

Do you know that this is something I can actually struggle with at times. My closest friends know that I love hearing from God and being used by Him! Giving my all and my best, that’s part of why I run late alot. But yea whether its refusing to yell at my children when they are dealing with something and we need to go, or stopping to listen to 3 different parents who wanted to share something with me, or driving to a friend’s house at bedtime to give her something I know she needs, or clearing my whole day to help someone prepare an event for someone they love, or messaging someone a song or scripture or just a quick message THAT DOESNT ASK FOR/or REQUIRE A RESPONSE afterward.

So yea, sometimes I allow to have what feels like the life sucked out of me because some relationships only take, take, take and I struggle with managing that boundary, but that’s why Jesus is saying “…when I ask you to.”

Or are you thinking this one: “she only talks to me about the things she is interested in or she just wants me to join her”. Alot of those friends are fighting to get personal with you and the only way they know how (i’m sorry to burst that bubble) is through what they know enjoy.

God is always divinely connecting people! Not every relationship has an “equal transfer” or will always be at the same level of connection from season to season, but God sees you and He is trying to get you and others (and me!) to get more personal when He says to!

And yes, not to get personal when He says not to! He loves everyone, but He sees the ones who are constantly sucking the life out of you— He wants you to pray for them instead (until the certain moment He says get personal with them and then it may go back to don’t engage with them right now).

So who is going to take this invitation from the Lord to follow Him when He says “choose to be more personal”? Your life and atmosphere will certainly change when you take your eyes off yourself and follow Him.

And remember actions can speak louder than words at times! If you are one who keeps pushing off the action part of personal, it’s not personal. God speaks and demonstrates acts of his love and kindess personally to you!

Cheers to a New Year!

-Sara

Yet Salvation Came Anyway

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

What would you say if someone asked you what the book of Jonah is about in the Bible?

As someone who has served in children’s ministry, we teach the big picture to get kids familiar with how powerful and wonderful God is which usually sounds like this: Jonah didn’t obey God’s instructions. God sends a gigantic fish to save Jonah for 3 days in the fish’s belly until the fish could spit him out on dry land.

Just knowing this is powerful in building our faith in God’s love for us. What a demonstration of how powerful God is and that there is no place on earth that God can’t rescue us from what we have gotten ourselves into. But how often do we go back to this story and really grasp the deeper part of what God was saying in the book of Jonah?

2 Peter 1:3-4 says, By His divine power, God has given us EVERYTHING we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by simply coming to know Him, the one who has called us to himself through His glory and excellence. Because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that ENABLE you to share His divine nature and ESCAPE the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

When Jonah was in the fish God sent to rescue him, he prayed to God on the 3rd day declaring “my salvation comes from the Lord alone” and THEN the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

2 key things here that stood out to me,

  • After running from God’s love for days, He surrendered in honor, recognizing god’s love and power and that is when he experienced the salvation and peace god prepared for him.
  • As soon as Jonah spoke those humbling words, the fish obeyed God’s command. So not only did God send provision for Jonah with this gigantic fish already waiting to quickly save Jonah from his mistakes and suicidal attempt, but God also knew Jonah had the ability to choose salvation in his simple surrender to seek God again.

How long was the fish by the shore? I believe the fish immediately went to the shore because God commanded it to, but until God commanded it to spit him out, it couldn’t UNTIL Jonah surrendered to God’s love for him. Remember Jonah was running away from God, pushing Him away and ignoring Him for weeks.

In His kindness, God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So trust that after suffering a little while by the world’s hands, God will RESTORE, SUPPORT, and STRENGTHEN you and He will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10

We see the depths of these verses come alive in Jonah!

Remember the Lord is not really being slow about His promise of returning as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake! God does not want anyone to be destroyed, but instead for everyone to simple respond to His call and repent. 2 Peter 3:9

We can apply the story of Jonah to today’s time. Jesus hasn’t taken up his believers yet because of His love for the multitudes of people on this earth. The time for repentance is now to escape how awful the 7 years of tribulation will be. Why not escape that hell on earth and go to Heaven with His body. The good news is that God’s mercy is so great that those who don’t turn to Him before the tribulation begins can STILL go to heaven and escape an eternity of hell in hell. WooHoo!!!

Let’s get back to the real meat of the story of Jonah. Does anyone remember why Jonah was running away from God in the 1st place? The Lord instructed Jonah to “get up and go” to the great city of Nineveh because “I have seen how wicked it’s people are.”

Interesting, right? Why would God define this city as great? and why did God pursue these people who were wicked in their nature? God pursues every single person, no matter if it’s one person alone or thousands in one place like the city of Nineveh because HE is the very definition of love. His love is underserving , unexpected, and poured out for everyone equally.

Jonah however did not have that same kind of love for people. Which is understandable because our love can’t compare to God’s, we have to surrender to God’s love in us to do such things. Jonah literally left his home and everything he knew to travel the OPPOSITE direction of where God was calling him to go because he didn’t want to help “the repulsive sinners of Nineveh”.

God sent that storm to help Jonah realize what he had done. Jonah was in such a comfortable, complacent state of living under God’s protection even when disobeying God, that he slept through the storm as the nonbelievers were terrified. When they finally woke him up, Jonah even responded with the truth, identifying himself as Hebrew. “I worship the Lord, God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land” and explained how he was running away from God.

Can any of us believers relate to Jonah here? Jonah’s actions weren’t reflecting His very own beliefs or words. He knew who he was, who God is, and that he even worships God. What a step on the toes reflection opportunity here, WORDS are powerful= yes, but our actions can be louder. Jonah REFUSED to repent so much that he said how he would rather be thrown over the ship in the storm to drown instead of just drawing back to the Father.

Jonah encountered things he was never supposed to and this same truth goes for our own lives today. How many of us have heard the phrases “God is in control”, “if it is God’s will then it will happen”, “whatever will be will be”, “I don’t question God or ask why things happen”.

GULP! This is a contaminated christianity, guys. If you don’t believe me, study the bible more. There is no one more powerful than God, but His love and power works in our choices and our relationship with Him. He isn’t afraid of or angry at your questions, He loves every opportunity to show you who He is.

God warns us to stand guard against the enemy’s lies and deception because he knows how crafty the devil is. The devil spends every second of every day altering the word of God in the slightest way until you have been led so far from what the word of God really says. God explained we have the authority to choose life or death and to boldly come to Him for wisdom and understanding.

The enemy’s goal is always to get us separated from God and keep us separated because he knows that God did everything needed to bring us in unity to Him through Jesus. God created us for a purpose to partner with Him to bring others to Him, but we need his grace to do that because our kind of love falls short.

The dilemma is many believers don’t know God’s heart, but God outlines it throughout His word. The sin of man was dealt with so that we COULD KNOW!!

What happened after Jonah prayed to God and he was spit out onto the beach? God gave Jonah another chance. Do you know that God never gives up on you, He never changes his mind about you, or takes back the gifts He placed inside of you? He created you for a truly wonderful, specific purpose and it’s not to suffer in defeat.

Jonah obeyed God that time. He went to that nation of sin and he spoke 8 anointed words….and by the power of the Holy Spirit conviction, repentance, and salvation flooded the hearts of this wicked nation. EVEN THE KING’S HEART was turned to God and declared that even the animals couldn’t eat or drink for a certain amount of time and ordered everyone 1) to pray to God, 2) turn from their sinful ways, 3) stop all violence.

Mic drop moment! This could never have happened without someone, and that someone chosen was Jonah! God’s heart for this nation to be saved was fulfilled and they were saved from their own destruction!! Wouldn’t you think Jonah would be ecstatic!…… do you know that he was the very opposite.

“Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord (insert his eye roll and anger tone). That is why I ran away from you, I KNEW that you are a merciful and compassionate God, that you are slow to anger, that you are filled with unfailing love, and the you are eager to redeem people.”

Jonah 4:2

Jonah knew God’s nature better than most believers do! and yet…..He despised how good God is.

Have you experienced a time where you had to fight off hurt feelings from something someone said or did? You could fill your heart hardening against that person and anything related to it. I know I have. In fact, I have to crucify my flesh and ask God for his help all of the time to not let my heart or love become cold or hardened.

God asked, “Is it right for you to be angry about this, Jonah?” Jonah knew the answer but he threw a selfish tantrum, probably arms crossed stomping away “to sit by himself” at the edge of the city to watch God transform sinners and bless their nation.

Photo by Noah Silliman

I can’t help but laugh because here is this covenant believer, unwilling to go to this city of people, said 8 words without the heart behind it to see salvation come and YET SALVATION CAME anyway! As God was filling the city with His mercy and grace, He still pursued Jonah who willingly isolated himself again.

The Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there and soon it spread it’s leaves to cover Jonah’s head, providing shade from the heat of the sun. Jonah experienced the undeserving comfort and peace of His caretaker just like those who were seeking God in the city.

Perfect time for a loving object lesson, right. God thought so too. He sent a worm to the plant that caused it to die. That angered Jonah and God asked again

“is it right for you to be angry about this?…. You feel sorry for the plant dying and yet you didn’t even plant it….. But my great city of Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living and dying in sin and destruction. so shouldn’t I feel sorry for this nation?”

God wants our hearts open to see and love the way He does. His will is for us to partner with Him regardless of our many sins. Going back to the scriptures we started with in 2 Peter 1, verse 5 goes on to say, “In view of all this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of:

  • moral excellence with knowledge
  • knowledge with self control
  • self control with patient endurance
  • patient endurance with godliness
  • godliness with brotherly affection
  • brotherly affection with love for everyone

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in the Lord Jesus Christ.But those who fail to develop in this way are short-sided (can’t see far) or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their own sins.”

Wow! Does not this set of 3 New Testament scriptures describe the book of Jonah or what? Refuse to be the believer who says, ” God, hurry up and come already for me and my family. This nation, this world is awful and going to hell in a handbasket”.

That mentality and speech is a reflection of Jonah’s heart. You worship God, you know who you are in Him, but for what? That type of faith is contaminated with darkness. That mentality is rooted in self and that weed is straight from the devil himself. He only thinks of himself. He wants you to deny God’s call on your life and respond with “I’m good, I don’t need _____ (church) (others) etc”.

I believe God’s response would be, “when did my ministry become only about you?”

Photo by Aaron Burden

Let’s make room for God in our lives, Sara

What Church Am I? Pt 4

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

If we were to be honest with ourselves, what church would we be a member of today? These posts are not for judging churches but instead to see what kind of church am I reflecting?

A message to Pergamum, a compromising church:

“I know that you live in the city where satan has His throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in satan’s city…”

How many of us see the hand and affliction satan has in your own city? It’s not hard to see his work, but how many of us can say we have traveled to cities where you can sense satan’s dominion in the atmosphere. I have. It gives me chills, not in a sense of fear, but more of just yuck. These places aren’t particularly ugly either, many are beautiful and rich in history in fact. Over time, satan has developed a throne in these cities/ nations.

What an honor it is to pray in those cities, to pray for those appointed to live in those cities to remove satan from his throne there. It is not an easy task as we see here in this set of scriptures, but even still GREATER IS HE IN US and He gives us His authority and victory in all places. Wherever we step foot, there is His glory and grace!

“…But I have a few complaints against you. You TOLERATE some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to TRIP UP the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin…”

If you are a believer who has grown to know God’s loving and merciful character, you know that He is not asking His church to be evil toward those who do evil. He has given a mandate from the time of Adam and Eve to “to be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign…” God also tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not copy the culture of the world, instead let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

Photo credit:Jonathan Ford

In the midst of culture around you, be the one that looks different because you are different. Light cannot be dark unless light is hidden. Be the fish that swims upstream, be the voice in silence, be the silence in the noise, be the flower that looks like no others around it.

I will be honest, I cannot stand trends. In my own opinion, not God’s, trends are an open door for culture to influence you. God calls us to influence the world. Sometimes your influence is in trend like mine right now in styling houses, but sometimes it’s not like me with sharing about how incredible Young Living oils are for health. Culture always finds a way in to de-glorify what is good. Young Living oils are good, most other brands are not. Loving others is good, allowing others to walk off a cliff is not. Honor is good, freedoms handed away is not. Telling others to be themselves is good, not showing them who they are in The Word is not. Peace is good, domination and loss of identity is not.

In a similar way, you have some Nicolatians among you who follow the same teaching [Balak and Balaam].”

What teaching is He warning us of? The Nicolatian doctrine was based on compromising and ultimately conquering people by combining christianity with paganism for the sake of success and peace.

Photo credit: Thomas Kelley

What’s wrong with that everyone does it, it’s give and take, Sara. To compromise for the sake of getting along LEADS to being conquered. God warns us in Proverbs 14, “there is a path that seems right to a man, but it’s way leads to death.”

Our lives should not reflect the world’s culture around us.

“…Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been stored away in Heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”

Friends, where satan has enthroned himself- let us use our God given crowns and authority to remove his stolen stake and kingship here on the earth. Let us resist from compromising our faith to be honored in society. God’s word says that we can have favor with both God and man when stay true. Does that mean we won’t face persecution or rejection, no; but there is favor and glory around the corner if we stay on the path of what God defines as good and true.

Be the influence, not the compromise!

Be the victorious, not the conquered!

All my love, Sara

Disclaimer: If me sharing about how I am a Young Living representative offends you, please don’t let it. My God reigns in all areas of my life. I don’t compartmentalize where God is, the ares of my life will not bed separated but yet God is in the center of them all.

What Church am I? Part 3

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

If we were to be honest with ourselves, what church would we be a member of today? These posts are not for judging churches but instead to see what kind of church am I reflecting?

Honestly, many of us could say a combination of them either at the same time or different times in our lives.

  • Ephesus: loyal church
  • Smyrna: suffering church
  • Pergamum: compromising church
  • Thyatira: overly tolerant church
  • Sardis: dead church
  • Philadelphia: weak, but obedient church
  • Laodicea: lukewarm, uncommitted church

The Message to Thyatira, an overly tolerant church, “I know all the things you do. I have seen your:

  • Love
  • Faith
  • Servant hood
  • Patient endurance
  • Constant improvement in ALL things”

The Lord is so good to show us the good qualities we have, right. He is a loving father who wants to show us that He believes in us. When we partner with Him we get to be more and more like Him.

He demonstrates how we as parents can teach and discipline our own children. He shows us the good in us as a foundation of who we are, but He also exposes the parts of us that can destroy us. Why?

Because we are His masterpiece. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows the enemy is cunning with tactics that we may not even see or we may just turn a blind eye to—not realizing how destructive it actually is.

What if there were termites in my house but because it isnt really affecting me, I just keep on doing whatever it is I’m doing. If I continue not doing anything to eliminate the termites, they will multiply and infect my house? At some point my walls, floors, ceilings will start to fall apart and ultimately my house will be destroyed from the inside out.

In His message to Thyatira, Jesus goes on to say, BUT….. I see this issue here:

“You are permitting (allowing) that woman—that Jezebel [spirit] who calls herself a prophet— to LEAD MY SERVANTS ASTRAY.”

Photo by Karina Kegy

Jesus prophesied this deceitful, deadly spirit of Jezebel will try to rise up again in the end times just like she did in the time of Elijah and in this 1st century church as well. How do we recognize this spirit?

“She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols.”-Revelations 2:20

Romans 1:21- . Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. [Do we see this today— morphing who God can be in their life?]

As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, but they became utter fools instead. [Does our world continue to multiply in confusion and darkness around us?]

So God abandoned them [yep—-out of His love and grace, He allows us to choose life or death. He doesnt turn His back on us, but He doesn’t stop us from walking away from Him.

I imagine a line that separates a dark path from a light path. As we cross over that line and walk in the darkness, God CANNOT cross that line too. But! Imagine Him just at arm’s length away at any moment along this line, through Jesus we get to repent and cross that line back into God’s path out of the darkness. How insanely incredible is this?!]

Let’s continue in Romans, “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.

“They traded the truth about God for a lie.”

So they worshipped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself… Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other.

Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness:

  • Sin
  • Greed
  • Hate
  • Envy
  • Murder
  • Fighting
  • Deception
  • Malicious behavior
  • Gossip

They became backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful…”

How aweful does that sound? Many on-fire for God disciples get to share their testimonies of how they came out of all that! And God goes on to warn us to never find ourselves judging those who walk in such destruction. Be on guard!

Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

So christians can be taught that because God “tolerates our sin” we can accept and turn a blind eye to the destruction it causes, but that’s not what God says in His word.

He warns us to NOT TOLERATE such teaching that sin is okay, because as we see it’s not.

Why? So many ask this. And part of the answer is because un-repented sin DESTROYS us from the INSIDE OUT. God instructs us to crucify our flesh and any destructive desires that the world/ the spirit of Jezebel entices us to think as good.

God warns us to not destroy our bodies because they are the house for our spirit. Jesus warns us here “not to eat food offered to idols”. We can’t “consume”—or take in— what is foolish, filthy, and dead because we too will become foolish, filthy, and dead.

Jesus went on to say this about the spirit of Jezebel among us, “I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality. Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly UNLESS they repent (put action to their choice) and TURN AWAY from her evil deeds.” [Church, you cannot compromise any longer getting in bed with such a spirit.]

“I will strike her children dead. [This Jezebel spirit will multiply and multiply among people just like those termites will] THEN all the churches will know I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person [gives you time to see if you are being destroyed from the inside out!].

But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have NOT followed this false teaching of Jezebel. I will ask nothing more of you except that YOU HOLD TIGHTLY TO WHAT YOU HAVE until I come...Jesus urges us to maintain our position of authority and occupy our position! Not accommodating or tolerating the teaching of sin, no matter how much pressure the spirit of Jezebel applies.

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Holy Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.”

Wow! What an on-time word for us to tighten our armour and guard THE FAITH. The Faith cannot be conformed to the world. The church cannot afford to lie in bed with such a deceitful, destructive spirit as Jezebel. We cannot be an Ahab church. (Ahab allowed her spirit to destroy his life and his kingdom through her cunning speech.)

All my prayers, Sara

What Church Am I? Part 2

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

For the last 2-3 weeks, the Lord has had me stirred up in the Book of Revelation. In particular the 7 churches. Some nights, we read over one of the church’s descriptions and talk about what it means.

If we were to be honest with ourselves, what church would we be a member of today? Honestly, many of us could say a combination of them either at the same time or different times in our lives.

  • Ephesus: loyal church
  • Smyrna: suffering church
  • Pergamum: compromising church
  • Thyatira: overly tolerant church
  • Sardis: dead church
  • Philadelphia: weak, but obedient church
  • Laodicea: lukewarm, uncommitted church

To the church of Laodicea, a lukewarm, uncommitted church:

Photo by Matteo Vistocco

This is the message from the one who is the Amen–the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!..”

So what does this mean? We as the church are God’s representatives on the earth. He chose us to carry and extend His salvation to others like hot water represents medicinal/ healing. He chose us to carry and extend His encouragement to others like cold water represents a refreshing to those who are weary.

Jesus isn’t saying He hates us by spitting us out. He is saying that because no one can drink or swallow such water. It isn’t good or helpful.

You say ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!”

Have we become self- confident? self- satisfying? self- seeking? Exalting ourselves over Him and others, not willing to let God into our lives or being able to use us in the earth. Exalting our family’s blessing over being able to bless others to; how, by settling with the amount that you have that is just enough for you and your family.

God needs us blessed to be able to be a blessing. God didn’t create you to live in self- dependance. Every day, we need to need Him and His word and His abundant blessing.

And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”

Are we looking at our lives with our physical eyes or are we seeing our lives with our spiritual eyes? Blind… Are our lives seemingly amazing on the outside, but empty and of poor quality on the inside? Wretched, miserable, and poor in spirit. Why so many successful people fall into suicide overcoming them. Are we living our lives without the righteous clothing of Jesus? Without the full armor of God? Naked…

So I advise you to buy gold from me, gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Buy your garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. Buy your healing eye ointment from me so you will be able to see.”

We may live in this world, but we are not of this world. We must live with a higher revelation and dependence in The One who is our real source. This world focuses on our outward identity instead of our real identity. God doesn’t want us exposed in our spiritual nakedness because there is hurt and shame found in that. God wants us to exalt and live by His healing word. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word of God.”

Insert from Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. IF YOU HEAR MY VOICE and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal TOGETHER as friends.”

Do we hear God’s voice? Do we hear Him knocking on our hearts? This knock is not just a few light knocks, that word actually means Jesus was beating, urgently on the door of His own church because they didn’t realize they had shut Him out!

I don’t want to live my life just knowing about Him, I want to live my life WITH Him. Whenever His Spirit reveals to me that I have started living in a way that leaves Him behind, I am so thankful for His knocking and correction! I am so thankful His mercy and grace gives me the chance for repentance and He can instantly come right beside me IF I CHOOSE to listen to His voice and let Him in.

“Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on His throne.”

I love this! Thank you Lord that He calls us victorious when we allow Him as the center of our life, our church! We get to live with the authority that comes from His throne, that’s far more powerful than anything in the world.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.”

Let us be honest with ourselves and how we are living our lives? Are we representing the power of Jesus or have we grown to be just lukewarm? Are we more committed to the culture of the world we live in or are we more committed to the culture of Heaven where we live from?

All my love, Sara

What church am I? Part 1

A Garland of Grace and a Crown of Beauty. Proverbs 4:9

Photo by Polina Kuzovkova

For the last 2-3 weeks, the Lord has had me stirred up in the Book of Revelation. In particular the 7 churches. Some nights, we read over one of the church’s descriptions and talk about what it means.

If we were to be honest with ourselves, what church would we be a member of today? Honestly, many of us could say a combination of them either at the same time or different times in our lives.

  • Ephesus: loyal church
  • Smyrna: suffering church
  • Pergamum: compromising church
  • Thyatira: overly tolerant church
  • Sardis: dead church
  • Philadelphia: weak, but obedient church
  • Laodicea: lukewarm, uncommitted church

To Ephesus: “I know all the things you do.

  • your hard work
  • your patient endurance
  • refusal to tolerate evil people
  • not fooled by false teachers
  • patiently suffer for my name
  • Never gives up

But I have this complaint against you.

  • you don’t love me as you did at first
  • you don’t love one another as you did at first

Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…”

How easy is it to grow calloused against God? Memories of times where our set our hopes up for something but we didn’t see it when we wanted to or maybe still haven’t.

We love God, but we’ve taken more of a passenger seat or even a back seat on how much we TRUST God.

What do I mean by that… How has our culture taught us to say “Que sera , sera” which is: whatever will be, will be or in christian terms: “If it’s God’s will, it will happen.” We took the pressure off of us trusting God for things He has said, like healing for example.

Or what about just becoming complacent, the way we become with our own spouse or parents? We love them, but our demonstration of love is as big as a fire just barely staying lit. We trust so much that they just become part of our safe surrounding. No effort being brought forth.

And how about in regards to when Jesus referred to “your love for each other”.

I can personally say I have to watch this in my own life, when you get hurt or disappointed so many times by others, your love for them reduces like a protective wall.

Or what about those who are so morally different than you, that almost everything they stand for is evil-minded, so blinded by the culture of the world that you can’t stand them.

God calls us to guard our hearts against this act of weakened love! Why? because GOD IS LOVE and we can love because He first loved us.

We cant afford to become complacent with our love for God in this time! He is coming back for His glorious church!!

And He didn’t choose you for this time to not be a representative of HIS love in the earth. we are known for love.

1 Corinthians 13 “Love is the most important thing. If i could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didnt love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…[Jesus listed all the good things this church did, but ultimately if they don’t repent/ change, they are NOTHING].

Love is…

  • patient and kind
  • not jealous or proud or rude
  • Not selfish or self-seeking
  • not irritable or easily angered
  • keeps no record of injustice [can we read that again?!]
  • rejoices in justice
  • never gives up
  • never loses faith
  • always hopeful
  • endures through every circumstance.”

Can we say that our heart is this kind of love? Does our life demonstrate this?

Are we holding on to injustice when we should be giving that injustice to the Lord knowing that He reigns with justice?

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”

Let us choose to not fall into this church category: loyal, but without love

All my love, Sara

A Thanksgiving to Remember

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

Last night I felt the spirit of God raise up in me with eager expectancy just like election night! God began just speaking to me about making much of this Thanksgiving!! Today and going forward, let’s keep our eyes on Him and Let’s offer thanksgiving to God because He reigns in this nation!

Photo by Hannah Busing

Psalm 150:6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

I believe with fellow believers that today as we fellowship we offer a sacrifice of praise with one heart and one voice as the scriptures say to do that “Jesus is still Lord in this country, that God is with us through His covenant, and we will see the goodness of God in the land of the living”!!

2 Chronicles 20:15-21… The Lord says do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged by what you see for the battle is not yours, but it is Gods!

March out against them but you will not even need to fight. Take your positions and stand firm and watch the Lord’s victory! He is with you… and King Jehoshaphat appointed singers to walk ahead of the army PRAISING God for His holy splendor, offering “Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!”

(Why?!? because our praise withGod’s spoken word is our greatest weapon!!)

AND at the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the hand of God intervened and God fought and won the war for His people!

We dont fight with physical weapons, we fight with spiritual weapons to keep standing in the very positions God has given us!

Out of nowhere this song rose up in my spirit:“🎶 This land is your land, this land is my land. From the California, to the New York Island. From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters. This land was made for you and me!” Amen!

Let’s not forget this land was given to us by God’s own hand and victory hundreds of years ago. This land belongs to God’s people based on the foundation of unity and freedom!

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony who survived the previous cold winter and enjoying a bountiful harvest feast with the Wampanoag people!

The actual holiday of Thanksgiving didnt begin until 1863 after President Abraham Lincoln said: “I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Dayof THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE to our beneficent FATHER who dwelleth in the heavens.”

This declaration was given in the darkest of years among a devastating national division: the United States Civil War from a motion to unite the country after just 1 daring woman, Sarah Hale, followed the leading of the Lord who had suggested this union festival year after year for 17 years to many elected officials ! Wow! It only took one man, who had the heart of the Father, for this letter to “cross his desk” and put action to it!

Here is more from Abraham Lincoln’s speech:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET THE SOURCE from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the EVER-WATCHFUL PROVIDENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

In the midst of a civil war of UNEQUALLED MAGNITUDE and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, PEACE HAS BEEN PRESERVED with all nations……and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of AUGMENTED STRENGTH AND VIGOR, is permitted to expect continuance of years WITH LARGE INCREASE OF FREEDOM!

NO HAN COUNCIL HAS DEVISED, NOR HATH ANY MORTAL HAND WORKED OUT THESE GREAT THINGS.

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be SOLEMNLY, REVERENTLY, and GRATEFULLY acknowledged as with ONE HEART and ONE VOICE by the whole American People….

And I recommend to them that while OFFERING up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and FERVENTLY IMPLORE the INTERPOSITION of the Almighty Hand to HEAL the wounds of the nation and to RESTORE it as soon as may be consistent with the DIVINE PURPOSES to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union…”

Photo by Scott Umstattd

Wow! What is the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart today? God is with us and anyone who remains in continuous fellowship with Him knows He is working on a massive table turning of darkness and corruption to light and justice! This will be a Thanksgiving to remember for greater things than most can even imagine!

Psalm 118: 14-15 The lord is my strength and my song, He has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly!

Photo by Todd Trapani

Happy Thanksgiving, Sara

Who Even Needs a Church?

A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9

Spiritual Renewal starts with physical honor.

Yesterday was Hinley’s Anniversary of being dedicated to the Lord. I love this picture so much! We were in a different church then, but God was still very present! A church is not a religion, it is a place of His Glory (presence, power, and goodness). Since that day, we got to witness our daughter choose to get baptized in the local church God called us to not long after this precious picture was taken.

I see and hear many people- christians- who want to see the church—the building—fall and waste away to nothing. “Church is not essential” “Jesus came to destroy the church building” “Church doesn’t do anything for me or anybody” “We don’t need church” “God never focused on the church building.”

My heart literally aches over hearing the Church—people— say these things. I cant even begin to fathom how much it grieves God. Jesus for that matter…. He spent his 33 years of life building the Church—people and buildings. He gave His life for building His new church and that includes physical temples/ buildings to hold His church to come together as 1 local body for specific purposes.

“No he didn’t?” Yes, friend, He did. Scripture from the oldest, Genesis, to the newest, Revelation.

“Jesus came to tear the curtain of the church, Sara, He despised Pharisees and religion”. Yes and no. Jesus tore the curtain of sin that seperated man from God. That curtain was in a church full of churchy people-pharisees. Jesus loved everybody and that included the pharisees, He died for them to have a transformed heart and in the mean time Jesus brought correction and revelation for the pre-existing church that was infected with wrong living. The church had become just a building instead of an honored place for relationship with the Father. Jesus built a new church that could house jews and gentiles—christians!

Are there churches that resemble the old church with the same spirit their pharisees taught from- yes. Its horrible. But that doesnt mean local churches as a whole is hopeless and useless?? The church is THE POWER in this world to flood darkness with light. To cultivate a kingdom of Heaven on earth.

So why on earth do we think that everything else in the world that God created gets a physical place of honor except for His church? Do we say “forget church, too many people screwed it up?” So did you say the same thing for the bank? Thats essential.. what about the grocery store or the department store? What about your place of business? Your schools? Better yet…. what about your home?

I know this is coming off “ouch”, but guys we need a good “love slap out of it”! Whose own home is perfect?? Whose own home has zero strife, zero judgement, zero anger, zero issues where we as people have messed up? Nobody’s! So then are we going to say that a houses aren’t essential for our families? No!

Jesus was hosting church one day where whole families could come and worship and learn God’s word together. Jesus said, “let the children come to me. Do not stop them!” And He placed his hands on their heads and blessed them in Matthew 19.

Can we look at just teeny , tiny amount of scripture for a few minutes? When Jesus was a boy and traveled with his parents to Jerusalem, he was found 3 days later in The Temple. Jesus said, “..didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?

And then later Jesus told Peter, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock) and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” in Matthew 16. Peter was the first member of the church Jesus would build. Granted, that doesn’t mean only a building, but a designated place for anyone to come and find the transforming presence of God.

Then after Peter (the chosen first member of God’s church) denied Christ and Christ rose from the dead, Jesus found him and gave assignments to Peter for His Church: “feed my lambs…take care of my sheep”. Peter and the disciples did just that. So did Paul and other assigned believers. How? Did they go into churches saying, leave the church. This is not essential to God at all. Go home and worship God by yourself? No!

We see from Acts to Revelation that through The Church -people and designated places for congregations- were created for great purposes! Scriptures give us references of how when the church came together in a place there was greater power available! Acts 12:5 while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him…God broke Peter out of prison.

God instructed Paul and the other apostles to help the churches God was building to get on track to be The Churches positioned across the world. God gave instructions for how His new churches could flourish across the earth and explaining that “the church is one body with many parts each positioned for God’s use” and how “Jesus is the head of the church body, and the church is made full and complete”. God warned us not to say “I dont need you” to the different parts of the body.

All of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it. Here are SOME of the parts God has appointed for the church, apostles, prophets, teachers… one who prophesies, strengthens, encourages, and comforts THAT ENTIRE CHURCH. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their responsibility is to EQUIP God’s people to do His work and BUILD up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We wont be tossed and blown about every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

From God’s word we know that every believer is called to be actively involved in their local church’s growth. So if there is no local church, how are people strengthened, encouraged, grounded, healthy, and remaining in love? Alot of us think we walk in love, but we need to go back and read what love is and what love is not and allow ourselves to be refined by the Word of the church in 1 Corinthians.

Yes, we each have a ministry as an individual church outside of the 4 walls of a building, but we have a ministry together as a church inside of a designated building! I can be the hands of God by myself in great ways- sure, but i can join the hands of God in a congregation and accomplish FAR MORE than I could ever dream to do alone unlike many other countries. Together, from a local church we get to bring the kingdom of Heaven out onto the streets He leads us to and we get to serve the families God joined us to in the local church as our own families are served and flourishing here too.

God gave instructions for a healthy church —people and a building/ temple to house and honor His Spirit, to flourish His people. Jesus formed His first church—people and physical places. A church is a place of worship and fellowship with believers, but in God’s word He says “ I will give you pastors after my own heart to lead who will guide you with knowledge and understanding…my wayward children come back to me and I will heal your wayward hearts”. -Jeremiah 3

In Malachi 2 &3, God said “the words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s armies”. The priests became cultured instead of culturing the world fo God’s word… but God prophesied “Look, I am sending my messenger (THE HIGH PRIEST FOREVER—Jesus Christ).. the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple…He will purify the church so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”

God said “the people are saying, the time has not come to rebuild the house of the Lord..why are my people living in luxurious houses while MY HOUSE lies in ruins? Look a what is happening to you. You have planted much but harvest little…Look at whats happening to you. Now go up to the hills bring down timber and REBUILD MY HOUSE…My house lies in ruins while all of you are busy buikdong your own.. I will fill this place (His temple- physical/place and spiritual/ people) with glory. The future glory of This Temple will be greater than it’s past glory. In This Place, I will bring peace, for I the Lord of Heaven’s armies has spoken.”

In Zechariah, God says “ Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building… Now I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit…I will make you a SYMBOL and a SOURCE of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding The Temple!”

So why in the world do we buy the righteous anger of “church is not essential!” To me, that says “it’s not essential to YOU” because YOU have allowed yourself to be hurt by the people in the church- whether it was a disagreement over what you thought God meant in His word or you may have been in a church that was more like a social club rather than a house of God. I get it and those situations are hard, but church is essential!

It’s essential to me. It’s essential to Jesus. It’s essential to God. It’s essential for the Holy Spirit. It’s essential for my community! Where else will we have a place to come together to 1)pray with one heart, one mind, one voice in unity over God’s word… 2) a place where there should be accountability to bring what God said in His word over any other word/ idea that exalts itself over His 3) a place where I can breathe away from the stress of home and work and receive the needed On Time Word for me specifically which is “food” for me to grow healthy and stay on the path.

Church is not a social visit, but in this place of His Spirit I am blessed with fellowship that I can’t get anywhere else. Its not a 2 hour minute pow wow where I feel so included, but it is a smile, a simple acknowledgement, and most importantly its a deeper love that honestly isnt usually “outwardly spoken with words per say, but a sense in my spirit”. Often times I sit alone or with my husband when he gets to be there because I am there for His word above anything else, but He gives me more than what I come for.

One scripture that God repeatedly speaks to me is “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God (can be the altar of heart but also is a physical altar of honor in a building) with sincere hearts fully trusting him…Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to encourage one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God (Includes His church- house and heart) and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained (considered unworthy of one’s consideration) the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” -Hebrews 10

All this to say, God loves His church, whether it’s people who worship from home or those who come together in a public place for even greater assignments! Church is essential and we cannot afford to tear down something that God sent Paul and the other apostles out into the world to build in the foundation if Christ himself. Guard your hearts and read the word with open ears to hear the loving correction and conviction to not be used as a tool to destroy what God is using in the earth. Be the church that is the church 24/7 in every area of your life’s ministry.

All my love, Sara