Friday Faves // vol. 2

How has it been a month since I have posted my Friday Faves?! I am excited to give a little sneak peek into a few of my favorite things on everyone’s favorite day… FRIDAY! I hope you all have a relaxing and fun-filled weekend ahead!

1. organic rice cakes, super YUM!

I have eaten this bad boy every morning for at least two weeks. Top it with a spoonful of natural peanut butter with nuts (my fave), an egg, or even avocado for a delicious and surprisingly filling breakfast food! Let your imagination run wild on top of this healthy thang. I buy my organic rice cakes at our local Earth Fare. Give it a try!

///

2. unleash the nerd… pottermore.com

20140711-134607-49567452.jpg

This website was created by the author who posts updated tales straight from “Reeta Skeeter” herself.
>activate nerd side now<
Yes, we love Harry Potter. My husband and I love watching Harry Potter together. I think they’re just so fun and makes me feel like a kid again. I was never allowed to watch these as a kid since my parents jumped on the “no Harry Potter allowed in Christian homes” bandwagon. I plan on letting my kids enjoy a little Harry if they so wish. My opinion: Remind them that all things Harry Potter is make-believe & move on. Easy-peasy. As long as they are old enough to know the difference between truth & fantasy. What are your thoughts? I’m curious!

///

3. it’s time for a new devotion!

20140711-134527-49527156.jpg

Since my Beth Moore Prayer Journal is now filled to the brim, it’s time to start a new devotional! Although this is more of a read than a daily devo, I plan on reading a few paragraphs and really dig into what the author is teaching. It’s about being intentional in your time with Jesus and not letting this busy life get to you. This book was left in my mailbox by a sweet & dear friend, Jessica. She absolutely loved it & I am so excited to get started! If you haven’t read the encounter of these two sisters & Jesus, check out Luke 10:38-42!

///

4.  work it, girl!

20140711-134526-49526722.jpg

Our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY BEACH TRIP is approaching us quicker than I would like! My hubs and I joined an awesome gym in a local church & have been watching more closely what we eat! Our health & fitness has been a priority that we are finally seeing through. We fail a lot (we love our chocolate cupcakes) but like God’s grace, everyday is fresh & NEW! My bffs have become spinach salad with a handful of cashews & a drizzle of organic dressing, homemade coffee creamer, all kinds of fish, freezer smoothies & lots of water! Recipes & work out plans are in the works for the blog soon!!!   

///

5. faithful friendships are my fave!

20140711-134526-49526799.jpgMy sweet friend, Jaimie, sent this to me this morning with the caption, “praying for you!” It’s the little things, friends! I am so thankful for friendships based on God, true care for the other person, & encouragement. Listen, God is glorified when you and I carry the burdens of the people in our lives. That’s what we are called to do! That little encouragement was just what I needed! Oh, and Jaimie is also a super-new blogger with a website I am sure you will be hearing about in my upcoming posts! Let’s focus on people rather than our blog’s fame. Friends over Facebook. Family over our own little personal bubble. Let’s live life with one another. That glorifies God.

You are loved!

-Katie

Advertisements

Summer Bible Study: Romans // CHAPTER 3

It’s that time again!! Before we get started…

Hey friends! I feel as if I haven’t been able to catch a break this week. Father’s Day weekend, my mom was admitted into the hospital the day that both families were supposed to come to visit us and have a cookout for Joe’s birthday. Joe’s family was still able to come and visit which was great! Still, we ended up traveling back to our hometown on Father’s Day to see my mom & help with my family while she was sick. Thankfully, she is doing lots better & is back at home, continuing to heal! Praise God! Yesterday was my sweet husband’s birthday. I surprised him with tickets to the Atlanta Braves v. Phillies baseball game! It was a blast. It was such a relaxing and sweet time together. Unfortunately, I have let these things get in the way of my time studying Romans as much as I wanted to or normally do. But, I am trusting that in my weakness, God will work in a mighty way!

How has your bible study been? Creating time throughout the day to dig in? Have you been asking God to reveal Himself to you? He is so very faithful to reveal Himself to us when we read His Word because He yearns to be in intimate communion with His children! I encourage you to keep pressing on, keep praying, keep studying, keep seeking God.

20140619-161350.jpg

Let’s jump right in…

////////////

{{Chapter Three}}  verses 1-4

What is this passage saying?

Paul starts out by explaining to his readers that the Jewish nation has special benefits {old testament times} like possessing the oracles of God. This privilege of old carries heavy responsibility to live a life pleasing to God. Paul encourages his readers right off the bat that even if someone doesn’t believe God’s words doesn’t cancel out the faithfulness of God. God is not dependent on man’s opinions. His words are always truth no matter what. This is encouraging yet challenging since our culture says that we can act & think however we think is right or correct.

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

What culture doesn’t let us in on is that when we live in such a way that pleases us and us alone, it ultimately leads to destruction. “For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away…” This is from 1 John 2:15-17. BUT, John goes on to say that “he who does the will of God abides forever.” {17b} God has given us His Word for a reason. We are commanded to share His love, His truth, & His life with others. Is there someone in your life whether it be a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a coworker who you can share this Truth with? Get in contact with them this week. Call them up, pray for them, and even plan a time to get together if that’s possible. All throughout scripture, the Jewish nation has been given faithfulness, grace, & special blessing. Today through Jesus, God gives, without measure, the same blessings. Share them with someone!

///

verses 5-7

What is this passage saying?

At the end of verse 3, Paul states, “What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness?” I love that. No matter how unfaithful I am to God, He will never be unfaithful to me. It’s a grace-filled promise that I hold on to. We must be careful, though, not to take His faithfulness for granted. Like Paul goes on to explain through verse 8, we should never use our short comings as excuses. God’s truth will not increase through our lies or evil ways. {v.7-8}

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

When we focus our words around Christ & His righteousness, we will stay away from such unfruitful speech. We must be intentional about speaking to others in love and in God’s truth.

///

verses 9-26

What is this passage saying?

The law does not save. Paul tells us that both Jew and Greek are under sin. So, although the Jews had this special ordinances and laws from God, it wasn’t their salvation. No one in and of themselves is righteous. All have sinned. There is no fear of God before the eyes of those who live and thrive in sin. We know that we are guilty of sin because of the law of God. It reveals to us our sinfulness. There is only one way to be righteous. Righteous being blameless in the sight of God. And that is through the One who has been and always will be blameless, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Through faith in Him, we are deemed righteous. This pretty much rocked the Jewish people’s worlds. They were so used to striving to simply be good enough. Their reputation and outward appearance was squeaky clean but their heart, their soul was dead and dry.

Do not be discouraged. There is good news. Praise God that He doesn’t leave us in our sinfulness….

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.” {v.23-26}

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

  If you can relate to the Jews who strive and strive and work and work hard as they can to please God but always fall short, let me encourage you to let go. Christ died to set you free from living a mechanical life simply going through the motions. If you haven’t asked God to cleanse you of your sin, do it now. “Then, go and sin no more” {John 8:11} It starts with giving yourself over to Jesus. Realize that you can look perfect and do everything by the book and even LOOK like a Christian yet be dead inside if you haven’t humbled yourself before the Lord and asked for forgiveness. God is faithful to forgive you of your sins. You don’t have to keep pretending. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9

If you follow Christ, be encouraged to push even deeper into your relationship with God. You can never be too close to Him. This walk with Christ isn’t about only doing good deeds. If we spend all of our days doing good deeds yet neglect our relationship, we are missing out on fellowship with our Father. Take some time out of each day to simply sit in silence in the presence of God. His Word says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. {James 4:8} So often we take on the “Martha” role in life, hurrying through our busy days even doing good yet forget to take time to be like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus, listening intently to every life-giving word. It’s not about works, it’s about faith in Jesus.

///

verses 27-31

What is this passage saying?

 Paul is no dummy when it comes to works and righteousness. He knows all too well that when we, mankind, focus on what WE DO– we get a big head. We boast in how well we do things. We boast in how smart we are or righteous we are. We forget that all wisdom and every good gift is from God.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” {v.28} Justified means to be in right standing with God. This standing can never be earned. It is a free gift from God. {Romans 6:23}

It is through faith in Jesus Christ alone that you are right before God. That goes for every Jew, every Gentile, every Greek, every American, every human on earth.

How can I practically apply this to my life?

Take some time right now to thank God for The Way to Him. That is, Jesus and faith in Him. The cross. I think about the way my life used to be before I accepted Jesus and starting walking with Him in faith. Back then, at times, I was trying my hardest to work my way into heaven. I was living like the law could make me righteous. I was dead inside. I was working to please God and I would fail every. single time. At other times, I was living so selfishly for myself, indulging in whatever I thought was right and whatever felt good to me. I thank God that in His unconditional love & grace for me, He saved me.

He stretched out His hand and in faith, I took hold of it. In faith, I believe that Jesus Christ was the one and only perfect sacrifice needed to please God, to look over my sin–to take it away! In faith, I walk with Him daily. In faith, I believe that He has a plan for me. In faith, I trust that whatever we walk through, His hand will never slip away. In faith, I wait. I wait for the day that my faith will be my sight!

He is faithful. You can trust Him.

Whattya say?

His hand is stretched out for you!

How did God speak to you while reading chapter three? I want to hear what you are learning!

-Katie

 

Summer Bible Study: Romans // Chapter TWO

Welcome friend!!

I’m so glad that you are back! I am excited to hear about what God has revealed to you through studying His Word. If this is your first time visiting our online bible study over Romans, check out the Romans Intro and get caught up because today we are reviewing & talking about Chapter TWO of Romans!

Over the weekend, my hubs and I camped out with about 35 youth kids and learned about being IN this world but not OF this world. We learned that a key principle to not being conformed to this world is being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Say what?! We renew our minds through the truth in God’s Word. {Here is the kicker that made me so excited since we are studying Romans together…} You shouldn’t simply read the Word and do the whole “skim-read while thinking about something else”, then closing your bible and go about your day as if nothing happened. That’s exactly what James warned us about in James 2, “be doers of the Word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.” In our associate pastor’s convicting & encouraging words, “We need to get the Word IN us!” Studying is so much more than just reading and then marking bible study off your to-do list {I’m so guilty!}. Studying God’s Word literally transforms us into looking more like Christ! I don’t know about you but that sounds like exactly what I want in life!! I hope that encourages you to really dig into His Word, in this bible study over Romans, and in your everyday reading!

20140612-145859.jpg

////

Talk about a doozy. Romans chapter two is no walk in the park. It’s reoccurring theme is about God’s righteous judgement. Oh, judgement. It’s one of those nice over-coffee & macaroons subjects..not. Let’s start in verse one.

“Therefore, any of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.” {rm. 2:1}

Ouch, Paul. Gettin’ a little bit too personal, buddy.

But, he is spot on. And for women, in my opinion, we need a small venti sized dose of humility in the department of judging one another.

In the day of Pinterest/Facebook/Insta/blogs, it’s SO easy to judge one another. For me, it’s out of jealousy because that woman has a coffee bar that I want and I’m going to slander her in my head until my coffee bar appears in my kitchen because. Of course, James was talking about more serious things than kitchen accessories. Yet, no matter what we are judging someone for, we will be held accountable for our actions. God is the judge. Not us. And before you start judging someone, remind yourself that you are just as sinful as the one you’re pointing fingers at. And also remember that grace covers each of our sin’s. God’s got it. Don’t worry your pretty little self about what that person is or isn’t doing anymore. {Preaching to the choir!}

\\\\

Chapter two’s main theme is righteousness & judgement. James is writing about the coming wrath of God. Pretty much.. Your choices in this life carry over into how you will be judged in the next eternal life. “He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness…” {rm. 2:6-8}

This is a lot to take in. But, do not be discouraged.

No one can work their way into heaven. Salvation, the belief in Christ Jesus and acceptance of His free gift of salvation from sin, brings about good works. Good works do not bring salvation. I struggled with this for years. You can not work yourself into heaven. The Jews who Paul is writing to in this chapter focus their entire being and energy in trying to keep the law {trying to be good enough}. My HCSB study bible explained it in a mighty way…

“Christians are declared righteous by faith. At the moment of that declaration, the person is joined to Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, becoming a new creation [2co. 5:17] created for good works [eph 2:10]. As Paul wrote, “what matters is faith working through love.” [Gl. 5:6] Thus the person of faith who seeks glory, honor, and immortality and continues to do good demonstrates that he is truly regenerate and thus is assured of eternal life. To the person who obeys unrighteousness and disobeys truth, however, wrath is his/her destiny.”

You are righteous only by Christ in you. He bridged the gap between you & God and accepting and believing in that transforms you into a righteous being because when God looks at you, He sees Jesus, the spotless lamb. This doesn’t mean that He is not blind to every choice you make. Faith without works is dead. {James 2:17} Like my husband tells me, “if you truly believe in your heart that Jesus is who He says He is, then your life/faith WILL SHOW.”

////

Being a Christian is not doing a list of “good” things to get yourself into Heaven or praying the sinner’s prayer 18 times. God WANTS you to have a relationship with Him. Your righteousness is in Christ alone. But you must be IN Christ alone to receive that righteousness. The fruit (good deeds) will grow and show after that relationship is planted! “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” {Colossians 2:6-7}

\\\\

What have you learned from chapter two? I want to hear from you!!!

In Christ alone, you are accepted. In Christ alone, you are declared righteous. In Christ alone,

You are loved!

-Katie

 

 

Coffee Break // Humility

“The Lord is King forever and ever,

the nations will perish from His land.

Lord, you have heard the desire

of the humble;

You will strengthen their hearts.

You will listen carefully,

doing justice for the fatherless

and the oppressed

so that men of the earth

may terrify them no more.”

Psalm 10:16-18

—-

Lord, help us to have humble hearts and live humble lives. May your mighty hand hold us and keep us. Strengthen our hearts today. Lord, you are a good and faithful God. Even when it seems like there is no justice in this world, you remind us that You alone have the right to judge. You will not abandon the fatherless and the oppressed. We trust in You. Give us hearts like your heart. Give us hearts that hear the cries of the oppressed & fatherless. Thank you for your great love for us! In Jesus name, Amen.  

///

As you go through your day today, ask God to give you eyes to see the oppressed and fatherless people around you. Then, share with them the Love of Christ that set YOU FREE & made you a member in the family of God!

Isn’t He a great Father?! He is good.

Katie

20140610-102557.jpg

***If you haven’t been following along with us in our Romans bible study, do that now! We will be going over chapter two today! It’s not too late to get involved and into God’s Word!

Hospitals & Harry Potter/ / SUMMER STUDY!

Friday afternoon, I was taken to the emergency room due to sharp pains and overwhelming pain in my side. After hours of tests and pain medicine, I was able to go home. Turns out, a large cyst that had been growing on my ovary for who knows how long decided to rupture {right before a cook out we were hosting}. I was so scared there were issues with my one kidney that I have but praise God, my kidney was perfectly healthy! God put sweet and caring doctors and nurses in that room that night. Everything went smoothly & pretty quickly {or maybe I just thought so because I was floating on cloud morphine, haha}. My husband deserves the Best Husband Ever award. For these past days since last Friday, he has taken amazing care of me. He is so gentle and sweet. We laid in bed and watched almost the entire series of Harry Potter. We love that magical little trio.

I am so happy to be back in the land of the living! While recovering, I texted my sweet friend, Jaimie, who is away for the summer with her hubby if she wanted to start an online bible study together over the summer. She agreed! We started Romans chapter one this morning.

After reading the first chapter this morning, God nudged me to widen this bible study. So….

I’m going to start it through the blog on TOMORROW!

That’s right…

Hot Tea and the Empty Seat’s Summer Weekly Bible Study through Romans!

If any of you faithful readers and even new friends are interested in a stress-free, fun, weekly summer Bible study reading through Romans, join us!

Each week {starting tomorrow, Thursday, May 29th}, we will be reading a chapter of Romans.

I encourage you to grab a bible/bible app and a journal! You will have all week {Thursday-Thursday} to read each chapter. Can it get any more easy?! 🙂

Each Thursday, we will meet up here on the blog & discuss what we have learned, favorite verses, passages that convict or encourage us, and any questions we may have! That’s my thoughts & YOURS!

This will be super casual and down to earth since I am no theologian or smarty pants. I just ADORE reading God’s Word and learning with my fellow siblings in the faith. If you have a blog, feel free to LINK UP & post your own thoughts or whatever God has been showing you each week. If you don’t have a blog, no problem! You can follow us each week by subscribing through email at the bottom of this page and also comment below with your own thoughts/etc OR you can “like” Hot Tea and the Empty Seat on Facebook and follow along there!

JOIN US, won’t you?! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Starting tomorrow, I will post the first official “Thursday in Romans” blog post to get this party started! Please don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to become closer with God, learn from His Word, and flourish in community with other believers in the faith!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”

Romans 1:16

-Katie

Don’t forget, week 1-chapter 1 starts tomorrow!

I encourage you to wake up {duh}, start a pot of coffee or travel to your local coffee shop, and pray for God’s wisdom to be poured out on you as you read Romans 1!

20140528-173624.jpg

He Reminds Me…

I’m currently sitting outside in a lawn chair listening to Phil Collins on Pandora in my backyard watching our puppy play. Before I walked outside, a thought flashed across my mind. It was one of those thoughts that Jesus tells me to bring captive to Him so that He can deal with them correctly. “What is God doing for me?” flashed as quick as lightning across my mind. I can so easily become consumed by what God is doing all around me that I lose sight of what He is doing in my life and in my heart. Friend, do not be consumed by those thoughts. Thankfully, right after that thought floated across my mind, the Holy Spirit intervened in me & quickly evaporated that negative thought with the TRUTH.

God woke me up this morning. He gave us this beautiful warm morning and working legs so that I could walk my puppy (or so she could walk me). He blessed me with a husband who is out working and providing for us. He DAILY bears my burdens. Psalm 68:19 declares that truth! “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

You see, God had to remind me that He is ALWAYS working in my life. He is always for me. He is truly always with me. It’s not just some cliché Sunday school answer. God Almighty CARES FOR ME daily! And He cares for you daily. If you are reading this right now, you have a Good Faithful God who loves you more than you can even fathom. He knows you. He is carrying your burdens. He is faithful. He will see you through whatever you are facing. No mountain is too heavy for our God to throw into the sea!

We must realize and remember daily that our God is DAILY working in and through us. For our good. He is for us.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22

Read that again if you have to! Let the amazing and comforting TRUTH soak into your soul down to the deepest part where you need Love the most.

50ab30605f45a6479823c987c3806f3c

{via}

Beloved, we are truly loved by our Father. If it feels as if He has left you or is too far, let this truth that He has never left your side permeate into your mind. Don’t go another second without believing this. He loves you! Accept it & believe it. That is where you find freedom & joy & contentment. Then, give Him your all. It is all safe in His caring arms.

You matter.

You are loved.

Live big for Him.

-Katie

 

Fear is just the beginning

 20140414-155740.jpg

Fear started in the Eden garden and it blossoms it’s deadly little vines out into our life sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly. It presents itself in many different shapes yet crushes the heart all the same.

Fear.

It has a hold on so many people.. sometimes for their whole life.. and they don’t even know it..

Fear.

it kills dreams, deadens the future, fogs the mind, weakens the heart.

Some people are even afraid of fear itself.

How do we stop it? How does one simply quit… being afraid?

The simple truth is this: fear will live as long as sin reigns on this finite earth.

but it doesn’t have the power that it thinks it does. just like satan, fear has already lost the battle.

you see, fear is just the beginning. and freedom is the end.

in glory, fear flees. in the presence of Jesus, fear bows down low.

so how do you and how do I overcome this fear that so cripples us in the now?

we act. we believe. we trust. we jump.

we act on that fear— are you afraid to take that first step in something that you know God has given you the desire to do or start? act upon that dream & inspiration. make it happen despite fear’s constant nagging. Because God is the only true Constant.

we believe in who He is— If God is for us, who can be against us? is fear bigger than God? Never. we must believe that God is God and nothing can come against Him. He never loses. He never fails. Fear falls dead when it is up against our Mighty and Living God.

we trust— we trust in a Savior who broke the chains. He has broken every chain that holds us down. fear is just a link in the long, clanking, heavy, rope of sin. and Jesus ripped them apart when He arose from death & conquered the grave. Nothing is holding you back. because Jesus is holding you up. “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces.” Psalm 107:14

we jump— Jesus says go. fear says stay. Jesus say serve. fear says don’t move. Jesus says love. fear says freeze. Jesus says have faith. fear says there’s no hope. Who never lies? Who is perfect? Who loves you? Who gave His LIFE for you? Who came to this earth to give you abundant life? Who created you? Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. fear has no room in your life. none. Jesus is everything. He says have faith & live. He says trust Him & believe.

stop letting it control you & let God’s spirit control you. because His spirit is one of power, love, & self-control, NOT fear. & that Spirit has been given to us!

God has been speaking to me powerfully over the past couple of weeks about fear and how it can be defeated in my life. He tells me that sin has no dominion over me therefore I am not a slave to sin (fear) but a slave to righteousness. He tells me that I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me and He will never forsake me. I am realizing that I KNOW these things but sometimes I don’t BELIEVE them. I am slowing down, quieting my mind, and realizing…

The God of Gods, the All Powerful One, the Creator and Sustainer of all things is telling me that He is ever with me. Through thick and thin. Through fear, death, hell, sin, pain, everything. When I believe this, fear does vanish.

I am learning that the only way that I will overcome fear in my own personal life is if I stop talking about it, stop writing about it, stop thinking about it, & just jump. Just believe Him. Just follow Him. While I am afraid.

Right in the middle of my fear, I must act against it.

I am not alone.

-Katie