Setting the Stage for Jesus

Setting the Stage for Jesus

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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From before the earth ever existed, God had a plan to redeem the people He knew would sin before He even created them. The idea that he has been setting the stage for Jesus to come hits my heart and reemphasizes how much He truly loves us.

But one thing has always intrigued me, even as a child: Why did God choose the exact moment He did to send Jesus to the cross?

Why didn’t God send Jesus sooner?

Like, immediately after Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden?

If Jesus had just arrived on the scene without any forewarning, would anyone have believed him to be the Son of the living God? Many had a difficult time with that already. But because God set the stage for Jesus’ coming, He could point back and say, “Yes, indeed this is me! I am the Messiah, the One you have been waiting for.  I AM the One the I AM was talking about!”

Why didn’t God wait longer?

Can you imagine if Jesus showed up today? I think we would all be so distracted by celebrity “X” or our phones that we wouldn’t even look up and notice the miracles he performed. Or Jesus would perform a miracle and people would claim it was only special effects or computer-generated.

Obviously, I don’t claim to know the answer to this question. It is one I have on my list to ask God when I get to heaven. But as I’ve studied the Scriptures more, I am constantly in awe of how God’s timing works and I’ve noticed so many wonderful events that set the stage for Jesus’s first coming!

Peter’s and Paul’s Explanations

In 1 Peter 1, the apostle Peter writes:

He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

1 Peter 1:20

And in Acts, Luke records Paul’s words:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.

God was setting the stage for your sake!

God planned out everything in this way so that YOU and I would seek him!

For your sake!!

What stuns me is what a methodical planner God is. Seeing how he works through the smallest details just puts me even more in awe of Him. He takes his time, lays out ALL the necessary elements for THE perfect entrance into the world and THE perfect time for Christ’s death and resurrection.

God’s Word shows it all through:

  1. The Prophecies
  2. The Prophets
  3. The Parallels

The Prophecies

Within the Scriptures, there are 400 prophecies about Jesus.  According to this count, 353 of them have been fulfilled by Jesus.

God knew that many would claim to be the Messiah. It seems like He wanted there to be no doubt as to whom the chosen Messiah actually was.  He clearly told John to look for the One who has a dove come down on him:

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

 

John 1:32-34

The Prophets

I’ve read the Old Testament many times, so I have read all the things that the prophets had done. But for the first time ever, I started seeing how God used all the miracles done by previous prophets to prepare people for the Messiah and to cement the fact that Jesus was who he claimed to be. I sat in amazement.

It was almost as if God was slowly over centuries building trust in His people, so that they could look back at the Scriptures and verify God did indeed work in this way. God did use prophets to perform miracles like this in the past and now here is One, the Messiah, who doesn’t perform just a few miracles but is able to do all these things that have been done and so much more!

Here are a few examples:

Like the prophets of the past, Jesus:
  • Turned water, a life source, into something else.
    • Moses turned it to blood and Jesus turned it to wine.
  • Turned a small amount of food into enough.
    • God provided manna and quail when there was nothing else in the desert wilderness.
    • Elijah told the widow at Zarephath to use the oil and flour she had left to make a small cake and she was able to feed her family and Elijah for a long time
    • Elisha took 20 loaves of bread and some heads of new grain and fed 100
    • Jesus on different occasions fed many with a little food.  He took two fish and five loaves and fed 5000 and seven loaves and a few fish to feed 4000.
Greater than Any Prophet

God wanted his people to know that his son was greater than Moses and Elijah, the greatest prophets, and all the other prophets.  He did this by allowing a few of the apostles to see Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses and then declared Jesus greater than them!

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Matthew 17:5

Yes, indeed Jesus was not the first to heal people or even raise them from the dead, but He was the only one who did ALL of these things and so much more.  Jesus also cast out demons, made the blind see, and ultimately FREED us from the chains of death for all eternity!  He fulfilled prophecies to show himself the One that they’ve been waiting for:

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Matthew 11:4-6

 

The Parallels

There are many beautiful parallels in the Old and New Testaments.  The one that stands out to me the most is the parallel between God sending a rescuer to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt and sending the ultimate rescuer to deliver humanity from the slavery of sin.

When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, they waited for the prophesied rescuer to come. 400 years later, he came in the form of a baby, born in a time when baby boys were being killed. He was hidden away and raised in a way that the people did not expect. When he came in the name of the Lord to lead them, it took miracles and God confirmed that Moses was indeed the chosen leader. Not only did Moses, through the power of God deliver the people from slavery, he:

And finally, God took care of him in death.

Much like someone else the Israelites were waiting for so many years later….

Four hundred years passed between the last Old Testament book and the first New Testament book.  The Israelites were waiting for the Messiah. Their rescuer also came as a baby, whose life soon became endangered because Herod demanded the death of all baby boys under age two. He too was hidden away and raised in a way the people did not expect. When he came, it took miracles and God to confirm that yes, Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen one!

Not only was Jesus baptized even though he was sinless, he fasted for 40 days while God sustained him. He more thoroughly explained God’s teachings to the people. And he rescued and delivered people from the slavery of sin and death with his own blood, the blood of the lamb. Now he is preparing a place for all who believe in Him. And one day he will lead us to the Promised Land!  And finally, in life, death, and in resurrection God took care of him.

The Bible is so full of amazing details that lead back to God’s perfect timing! Delve into the scriptures for yourself. See how God set the stage from the beginning for everything to happen at the right time for your sake! 

 

The Passover Points to Jesus

The Passover Points to Jesus

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Looking forward to Passover each year makes me excited!

Until a handful of years ago, Passover meant nothing to my husband and me. When a friend invited us to a Passover Seder, we were curious and a bit leery but decided to attend.  We wondered, “As Christians should we really be participating in this?”  At first we weren’t sure.

After participating in a Passover Seder, my answer is a wholehearted “Yes!” I wholeheartedly encourage every Christian to participate in this amazing celebration that not only REMEMBERS the Lord’s powerful ways of bringing his people out of Egyptian bondage, but completely points to the Messiah freeing us from our own bondage of sin.

On top of that, I realized Jesus used something his disciples knew well. The exact same words are said at every Passover Seder every year, to teach important lessons like humbling one’s self, being a servant leader, that He is the Passover Lamb and remembering him. It truly is powerful imagery!

Insights into the Passover #1 (1)

 

A New Understanding of Communion

Celebrating the Passover Seder meal helped my husband and I understand communion in a whole new way.  Because it has impacted our lives so greatly, I wanted to share it with you and explain many things I never knew before.  However, there is no way I can explain an entire Passover Seder in one little post.  

Instead, I hope to pique your interest with what stands out to me most, so that you will want to learn more or even participate in a Passover Seder yourself.  (Be sure to check out the resources listed below.)

Insights into the Passover #2

The Passover Seder

The Passover is all about remembering how the Lord delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. But it also points to the Great Rescuer, Christ Jesus, and to his second coming. Taking the bread and the fruit of the vine, which is part of the Passover Seder, Jesus calls us to remember how he has delivered us from bondage too.

So grab your Bibles and let me give a little explanation!

 

Basics of the Passover in Exodus 11-12 and how It Points to Christ

Here is a quick reference to re-familiarize yourself with the specifics of the Passover in Exodus chapters 11 and 12 and how they point to Christ.

Basics of Passover

My Favorite Parts of the Passover Seder

The Four Promises 

Four promises are repeated in the Passover Seder.  These are taken directly from Exodus 6.  I am adding the numbers so you see how they number the promises:

Therefore, say to the Israelites:
1. I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
2. I will free you from being slave to them,
3. and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement.
4. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
Exodus 6:6-7

Oh, I get chills just reading over these promises!  The Lord did not promise these things only to those He delivered from Israel, because He knew Jesus was coming.  These promises are for us too. As Jesus recited the words of the Passover, he taught us how to remember Him too.

Each of these promises is stated separately throughout the Passover dinner.  Each blessing is associated with a cup from the fruit of the vine. (Hmm…where else have we heard about the fruit of the vine? The Lord’s Supper!)

A New Testament Parallel

This is not in the Passover but every time I recite the above promises I can’t help but think about what the Word says:

1. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:30

2. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18

3. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7

4. “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21

I hope you have started to see how all of God’s plan fits together so well and that Passover not only pointed to the Messiah but that Jesus incorporated the idea of remembering Him into it as well!

Insights into the Passover #3 (1)

 Recitings

Many of the recitations throughout the Passover Seder have been recited for centuries upon centuries, even back to Jesus’ day and before. It’s neat to think we are reciting the same things Jesus did.

(Due to space, I will not type them all out but will refer you to where you can find them.)

 

A spot reserved for Messiah – The Honored Guest

Jesus participated in the Passover feasts during his lifetime. After his death and resurrection, many believers spent the night before Passover fasting and praying his return.  They would leave a place of honor for Him at the table waiting his arrival.

The wonderful thing is that because he instituted the Lord’s Supper during communion, we are able to dine with Jesus every time we take it and proclaim Him until He comes!

Is Jesus an honored guest at the table of our hearts?

 

The First Cup – The Cup of Sanctification

This cup goes with the promise “I will bring you out.”  The cup is lifted, everyone leans to the left like a freeman (which symbolizes reclining) and then everyone says together:

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
King of the universe
And the creator of the Fruit of the Vine.

Blessed are you, O LORD Our God, King of the Universe,
Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this festive season.

This cup is most likely the cup that Jesus blesses at the beginning:

After taking the cup, [Jesus] gave thanks… ”

Luke 22:17

Insights into the Passover #4
Washing

At this point, the father and mother help everyone wash their hands.  It is at this point in the Seder that Jesus would have washed the disciples’ feet and taught them about being a servant leader.

 

The Bitter Herbs

Bitter herbs like parsley are dipped into salt water and eaten.  This represents the bitterness and tears of bondage while the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt.

This was possibly the point that Jesus dipped his bread in with the one who would betray him.

Later on in the Seder, the parsley is dipped into charoseth, which is a sweet mixture of apples, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon.  This is a reminder that we must take the good things in life along with the bitter things in life.

 

The Four Questions

In Exodus 12:26-27, the Lord gives instructions how to talk to our children about the Passover:

“When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”

There are many things within the Passover that are different from ordinary life, and so the four questions help make clear that we are doing them in order to remember God’s power, grace, and mercy.

Question #1 – On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only matzah, which is unleavened bread?

Question #2 – On all other nights we eat vegetables and herbs of all kinds. Why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?

Question #3 – On all other nights we never think of dipping herbs in water or in anything else. Why on this night do we dip the parsley in salt water and the bitter herbs in charoseth?

Question #4 – On all other nights, we eat either sitting upright or reclining. Why on this night do we all recline?

These questions are not only asked but answered in the resources below.

Unleavened Bread: Bread of Affliction and the Afikomen

Matzah, unleavened bread, is used in the Seder. Three pieces of Matzoh are placed into a cloth pouch, called a Matzah Tosh, which has three pockets–one piece of Matzoh per pocket.  “Each piece is separated from the others by a piece of cloth.  They are a unity, yet in three parts, as we understand the triune nature of GOD to be (3, page 8). “

The bread that is eaten is called the Bread of Affliction. The Matzoh used today are striped and pierced.  It reminds us of Christ’s suffering before and during his crucifixion because his body was striped and pierced.  Even in the bread we see a reference to Christ!

This is so cool:  

The middle piece is taken out and broken in half. The smaller half is eaten with one of the other Matzoh pieces. The larger half is wrapped in a white napkin and hidden.

“The hidden piece of matzah is called the AFIKOMEN. which is a Greek word meaning, “I have come” (Psalm 40:7-8), a yearly reminder that the Messiah, the true Passover Lamb, has already come.  Later it will be “found” and returned to the table, which signifies to believers in Yeshua [Jesus] that He was buried, resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of GOD the Father soon to return.  The Seder is not complete until the afikomen is “redeemed,” for a price, to the child that finds it (3, page 9).”

Isn’t it awesome? This directly reminds us of how Jesus paid the price so we could be redeemed to our Heavenly Father!

Insights into the Passover #5

Passover Lamb

Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world .Praise the Lord, he keeps us from ever needing any other sacrifice for our sins! It is by Christ’s blood that we are covered and saved from the destroyer (John 1:29).

(FYI – Since the temple’s destruction in AD 70, most Jews replaced the lamb with a shank bone and the matzah has become the focal point of the meal.)

 

The Second Cup – Praise

This cup goes along with the promise of “I will bring you out.”  It’s a time of praise for freedom. A song called Dayenu meaning “It would have been enough” is typically sung.  A blessing to the LORD is recited with the cup held high, but a drink is not yet taken.

It’s during this time that ten drops are removed from the cup and one at a time are dropped in memory of God saying, “Let my people go” and the plagues when Pharaoh refused.

Again, the second cup is lifted, this blessing is stated and then the fruit of the vine is drunk:

Blessed are You O Lord Our GOD, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine!

According to Ray Vander Laan, it is during the meal and during this section of the second cup, that Jesus “took bread [matzah], gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying:

This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:19

To put Jesus’ words in the context of the Passover really brings His words to life!

It’s like Jesus is saying,

This, this bread that represents your deliverance from bondage
this bread without yeast,
this sinless bread,
this bread is My body, My sacrifice, My offering.
Eat it. All of you. Remember me!

And every time from then on they had Passover and had that unusual taste of unleavened bread, they remembered.
-Ray Vander Laan (5).

Insights into the Passover #6

 

The Third Cup – Redemption (aka the Blessing or the Eucharistic Cup)

The promise with this cup is “I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm.”

Oh, how Jesus redeemed us!  He spread out both of his arms on the cross and took all of our sins upon Him!

It is assumed that this third cup, the Redemption cup, is the one Christ used to initiate the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus said,

This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Luke 22:20

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says:

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, too bread, and when he had given thanks, he brok it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Insights into the Passover #7

The Fourth Cup – Cup of Acceptance

The promise with this cup is “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”

This cup calls us to the service of God, to what awaits us–a time to be gathered to the Lord. It’s a cup of protection.  Protection that Jesus refused to take as he was finishing his calling on Earth.

Jesus said,

I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Matthew 26:38

In essence, Christ didn’t drink to God’s protection so He could go to the cross. He rose from the dead and now is preparing a place for us in heaven, and then He will take us all home.

Insights into the Passover #8

Not So Random

You see, Christ didn’t suddenly take some bread and some fruit of the vine at dinner one night and say “Hey, here’s a new thing, whenever you are eating food, let’s do this.”  No!  Instead, Jesus took a festival that God set up as a REMEMBRANCE to continue to use as a REMEMBRANCE for how GOD has delivered us from EVERY kind of bondage, both physical and spiritual! In light of the Passover, we begin to better understand Christ’s words regarding the Lord’s Supper. It makes us giddy with excitement to REMEMBER all He still has in store.  HE IS RISEN and IS COMING BACK!!

Have you ever celebrated Passover?  What stuck out to you most?

Resources

So have I whet your appetite to learn more?  I hope so!  Here are some great resources.

1 – The Bible – Especially Exodus 6, 11, 12; Luke 22; and 1 Corinthians 11

2 – Attend a Passover Seder.  I would highly encourage you to attend a Passover Seder that is hosted in your city.  If there is not a local church that does this, check with the Messianic Jewish congregations. This will help open your eyes and heart to Christ’s words.

3- Behold the LAMB: Passover with Yeshua the Messiah compiled by Leon & Leslie Clymer.  We received this when we attended the Passover Seder with the Rosh Pinah Messianic Jewish congregation in OKC and used this when we celebrated Passover for the first time at home last year.

4 – Celebrating an Authentic Passover Seder: A Haggadah for Home and Church by Joseph M. StallingsThis book will walk you through everything including the history of Passover, an exact script to use during the Passover Seder, recipes for the dinner, and extra explanations!

5 – A DVD by Ray Vander Laan entitled The Path to the Cross: Faith Lessons vol. 11.  All of his Faith Lessons are wonderful because he travels to the places where the stories happened so you experience the story in a visual setting as well.

Over the years, I’ve learned much from all these sources and have compiled some of what I’ve learned in this post.  May you be blessed by it and continue being in awe of the Lord’s amazing ways!

Why not grab some friends and host a Passover Seder at your house next year?

 

remember

 

remember-pinterest

 

The Obedience that Saved

The Obedience that Saved

Melissa W
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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
Follow Me

When reading the scriptures detailing the death of Jesus Christ, believers often acknowledge that they sometimes can be difficult to get through. Yes, our souls celebrate the freedom resulting from that moment, but our hearts also mourn the harshness and pain of it, too.  Jen Wilkin has said, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” I get that.  Many times I have read through the scripture’s account of everything from the Last Supper to when Jesus cried out His last breath. For a long time, I didn’t love reading it. I didn’t love the words my eyes took in, because my mind did not understand what was there to see. Reading through those passages now, with a desire and purpose to understand, brings about a new meaning. 

Many things could be written concerning those last moments before the death of Jesus Christ. For this post, I want to focus on the obedience Jesus displayed. Christ’s perfect obedience to His Father is so powerfully and beautifully laid out; I wonder how I never saw it all those years ago.

At the Garden of Gethsemane, we get a glimpse of an intimate moment between Father and Son. We read the words Jesus spoke aloud to His Father:

Going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” Matthew 26:39 (HCSB).

Here we see Him not questioning. Rather, in full perfection, He submits to the rescue plan His good and loving Father had set in place since before the creation of the world. The Son lays down His life to His Father, so that He can then lay it down for ours. 

The beauty of the Son’s perfect obedience, as scripture shows, is ours to soak up and savor. We acknowledge Jesus Christ’s beautiful and wonderful perfection as He lived, walked, suffered, and died in perfect submission to His Father. By reading these passages, I am fully aware that my obedience to God is not contingent on my own strength or capabilities. It is only possible because of and through the perfect submission of Jesus Christ to His Father.

Our lives could never be the perfection as that of Christ’s. He lived the life we could never live and died the death we deserve. But, what a glorious gift — that His obedience brings us hope. What a thing it is that His obedience perfected is ours gifted. What a marvel and joy it is that Christ’s perfect obedience resulted in our redemption.

bonnie & Carole

For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. -Romans 5:19 (HCSB)

For just as through one man's disobedience the many were made sinners,

The Hope in the Easter Story

The Hope in the Easter Story

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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The Easter Story is one of the grandest stories ever told.

Jesus hung on a cross to die an agonizing death which he did not deserve. Three days after his burial the ground shook and his grave was left empty. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! He came to his disciples over the course of forty days to speak about the kingdom of God, and he lavished them with grace and promises to give them hope for the future. I love the glimpse Paul gives us in John 21:25:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

It’s like a really good series that you never want to end. Maybe if the internet had been around in those days Paul would have found some people to start writing about those “many other things” Jesus did during that time. Surely with the internet, we’d have room!!

Eventually the disciples ran out of time with Jesus on earth, and they watched their friend, teacher, and Lord rise into the clouds.

They clung to hope that Christ would return (as he promised he would) and they devoted the rest of their lives to building His church.

john-21-25

It is a story of hope.

Hope is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a very hard thing. The people who were closest to Jesus had just experienced a whirlwind of emotions. They mourned his death, rejoiced in his rising, and then had to bid him farewell again. It could not have been easy to leave company yet again with this man they loved so much. But they had hope. Hope in his return. This hope filled them with joy. Joy that glorified God and gave birth to generations upon generations of believers.

Each year I pick a word to focus on. Last year, I had a difficult time choosing a word because I kept hearing God whisper “hope” but I didn’t want that word! I didn’t want to find myself in a situation needing hope. (Which is silly because we all need hope!) Reluctantly, I gave in and declared “hope” to be my word for 2016. Lo and behold, a couple of days later I found myself in a situation requiring hope. God is ever so merciful! He has showed me so much about hope in just a short few weeks.

So what does that mean and how does that relate to the resurrection story?

When troubling times come our way we can place our hope in many things. Mostly, I think it’s natural to put our hopes in our desired outcomes. We pray for these things in the hopes that God will give them to us. There is nothing wrong with those prayers either! Philippians 4:6 declares,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But is your hope in your desired outcome or in God?

Two lines from two favorite worship songs come to mind:

My hope is in you Lord, all the day long.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

What does it really mean to have our hope solely in Jesus?

When the disciples faced hardships while spreading the gospel, I’m sure they desired relief but their hope remained in Christ and his second coming. They knew there was a bigger picture than what they were going through.

As I face my current struggle, I’ve been able to stay pretty peaceful (not that I’m always glad about my circumstance, because I’m not) but I know that there is a bigger picture than what me and my family are going through.

This picture is the life of Christ! The Easter story!!

God won when sin wanted to overcome and God invited ME to claim his victory. My hope in that promise is what gets me through my trials. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small problem or something completely life changing, I know that I take part in God’s victory and that ultimately I will see Christ one day.

No matter what struggles I come upon in this life, I’ve already overcome the bigger and more important picture!! Are you with me? Do you understand this truth tucked inside the writings of the gospel?

He said to them, “Go unto all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15

Let me tell you, I believe!!! I believe that Jesus is who he says he is. With that confession I was baptized, and I claim my salvation that he offered to me. I claim God’s victory over sin and death.

The Easter story is about hope.

Hope in his promise that we can overcome through Him. Hope that when we claim God’s victory over sin as our own, no trial on this earth can defeat us.

Wherever you are in your life this Easter, may you take hope in this glorious promise.

My Valentine’s Day Confession

My Valentine’s Day Confession

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. I perceive it differently.This perception has inspired me in how I love.

As a child we had fun with it. Getting to choose, who got which valentine’s card and what treat went with it.Taking the time to make cards that weren’t perfect but heartfelt.

My Valentine’s Day Confession

As I grew, my fondness for Valentine’s day wore off. My girlfriends and I would gather together to have anti-Valentine’s Day parties. We would make cookies with black frosting and celebrate our friendship even if we were dating someone at the time. We were determined not to let one day determine whether or not love was in the air.

That has seemed to carry on into my marriage as well. I no longer make cookies and frost them with black icing but my husband knows that gifting me something on the day doesn’t thrill me. That sounds kinda rude or mean, but the truth of the matter is because this day seems commercially forced upon us, it feels more like a day of obligation than of love.

I’d rather have a year full of small expressions of love than a day of forced love. If this day was not called Valentine’s Day would there still be a compulsive out flowing of love? 

What does our “love” look like to God?

I wonder how often God looks down on our time of worship and pines for our love to flow throughout the week instead of just seeing it expressed for a couple of hours. Do we pray, read our Bibles, sing songs, or even worship with the church out of obligation and compulsion or because we can’t help but express our love that way?

That has to be part of the reason why God gave us the choice to love Him. Forced love is no love at all but simply submission to what has to be.

Real love is willing to sacrifice itself and die to self for the sake of another.

“I will find you!”

My husband and I have a running joke. Sometimes, when we say good-bye or don’t know when we will see each other again because of hectic schedules, we will say in a husky voice, “I will find you!” (Think Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, my favorite movie.)

This simple phrase when said, not only makes us laugh, but conveys the thought that no matter what  is going on, we will be there for each other. We will go after and sacrifice ourselves for each other, if need be.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to find us! He came to save us long before we ever realized we need saving. He knocks on our door and we get to choose whether or not we open our hearts to receive his love and love Him back.

A Valentine’s Day Question

As you ponder what love is on this day, will you ask yourself this question:

Are you loving God and willing to sacrifice your life for Him, or are you just going through the motions because you feel this is something you need to do?

The Real Love Game

The Real Love Game

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

What is love?

In our house, we decided to turn learning about love into what I call “The Real Love Game.”

So many movies, books, magazines, songs, and TV shows have attempted to answer this question. Although some of the answers (like Saturday Night Live’s skit versions) are obviously not the right answer, there are many others that have added confusion to an already confused world.

The Real Definition of Love

That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite passages.  In black and white, it explains what love – real love – looks like.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hope,
always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

1-corinthians-13_4-7

Every year when February rolls around and LOVE starts to fill the air and the store shelves, we try to instill God’s meaning of love in our hearts as well as our children’s hearts. We do this so that as they grow and are introduced to the things of this world, they will know the difference between real love and fake love.  

The Real LOVE Game & Different Ways of Teaching our Kids about Real Love

Now, stop for a second.  Did you notice anything really interesting?  If you’re a numbers person, you might…within verses 4-7 there are fourteen different descriptions of love.  One for every day from February 1-Valentines Day! A few years ago, when I noticed this, we made a point to make sure every morning when our children woke up a heart with one of these descriptions was hanging somewhere in the house.

There are so many different ways to play with these hearts:

  • For several years, we hung them on a Valentine wreath in the living room.
  • We’ve even given them to our children like Valentines from God, one a day from February 1st-14th.
  • Last year we hung them on our kitchen window, where we do our school work during the day.
  • This year, I decided we are going to play a game with it.  Every morning when our children wake up, they will go searching for love!  Because isn’t that what most of us have done in life? As we are growing up, aren’t we always on the look out for true love? Once they find the heart, we will sit and talk about what it means and memorize it.  Then we can add it to our memory verse wall so we can add to it daily and by day 14 we will have these three verses memorized.
  • I actually plan on having two sets of these hearts.  One set to hide and hang up and the other set to use as a memory verse scramble.  Every time we add another heart the kids will mix up the hearts and then put them in the correct order.
  • What immediately pops into your mind?

 

Let Us Know How Your Family Plays the Real Love Game!

If you would like to play this game with us or your own version, here are the fourteen hearts. We would love to see how you use them.  Share your ideas with us by posting to social media and using #CaGDRealLove

Real Love Heart Game

Real Love Game Printable

Not only do we want our kids to know what love is, but we want them to know where it is found: in Christ Jesus.  If we are letting Jesus fill our hearts with His love, then we will not be easily swayed by the world.  And we want them to know how to share his love too.

Craving God’s Love

There is a song by For King and Country called “The Proof of Your Love” that recites parts of 1 Corinthians 13.  So many people who have only heard this song and have never read the Bible have come up to them and said how amazing and beautiful those words are and how that idea of love just captivates them. You see, the world is craving God’s love and they don’t even know it yet!

As we play this game with our kids, maybe we could also sprinkle some of these hearts around our neighborhoods too.  Share God’s amazing love with our neighbors, with store clerks and with whomever we run into during the day.  Just for fun one day maybe you could go love on some cars by putting these hearts under windshield wipers in a parking lot.  You never know how that little heart just might open someone’s heart to God’s word now or later.

Lord, we thank you for loving us like you do.  We absolutely do not deserve it and yet you give it freely and without reserve.  Your mercy and grace are showered upon us daily.  Our hearts sing songs of thanksgiving and praise for all the love you have bestowed upon us.  Give us courage to freely share this amazing love with others. In the One who did not hesitate to show what true love is all about – Amen!

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Unified Church Living Out Love on Valentines Day Family Prayer Wall Building Up Your Leaders

so-let-my-life-be-the-proof

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