The Hope in the Easter Story

The Hope in the Easter Story

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
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.

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Follow Me

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
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Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

I love these words Paul wrote while he was a prisoner. I picture Paul as the Spirit overcomes him and he writes exhaled words of God as a letter to the Ephesian church. The words found in this letter, though written to people from another time and another place, still strike such heavy meaning thousands of years later in a world seemingly gone mad.  Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? His words are not bound by space or time. The words He breathed out then are still what we are inhaling today.

Walk worthy.

I read those words and my mind races just as my heart beats quick. I feel Him. His presence is near. It is not a question or a suggestion, it is eyes locking with mine and He says, “Walk worthy.” Maybe I should feel angst at such a command…but I back up a little and I read through the first three chapters of Ephesians.

This scripture reminds me of my righteousness attained through Christ. I remember his gift of grace and of my new identity in Christ. So I can quickly remove the fear that He is calling me to walk a life of self-sanctification. He is, rather, calling me to walk a life that reflects all that I have received in Him. I can revel in the hope and truth that the first three chapters of Ephesians give. Because He is worthy and my life reflects Him living in me, I can walk worthy. Not a perfect life, but a life that is full of grace and one which strives to bring Him glory. But, what is worthy?

Called to Unity

My eyes travel and these words stand out: humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love. Then this: diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. A call to unity. I cringe.

The struggle is there. A unified body is a great idea and can be found…until you mention your political opinion or until you mention who you voted for last election. Then the beautiful rope of unity begins to unravel and tangle, leaving a mess with knots so tight it has become a useless blob on the floor.

Walk worthy. So there it is again. However, I also see something else: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Did you catch that? Who [God] is above all and through all and through all in all. Does that cause anyone else to catch a breath of relief? There is no fine print, no ifs, ands, or buts, no political figure, no political party. There is nothing but God. HE IS ALL.

So where does that leave us?

As the political comments, remarks, jabs, and opinions become more prevalent each year, let us not forget what we know to be true.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and above all, He is where our identity is found. We can rejoice with our friends, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that our hope and joy is in Him. Our desire is to walk worthy as children called by His name. By this, we will show the world that His Spirit unites us as the body of Christ. Our unity is not through political opinion, party, or affiliation. Don’t hang your hopes on anyone other than the One whose purpose was to come to earth and rescue us through His death and resurrection.

This year, let us seek unity as believers no matter which political box we check. I pray that we will embrace a Christ-like humility, radiate His gentleness, and dwell in His patience. My prayer is that we will accept one another through His love and that we will be diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

God is in Control

God is in Control

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

God is in Control, Right?

Does the title of this post spark the memory of a song for you like it does for me?  It brings me back to my childhood, listening to my mother croon the words Twila Paris made so popular: “God is in control. We believe that His children will not be forsaken.  God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.”

Too bad I can’t seem to take these words to heart when I’m in the middle of a lack-of-control freak out.  Once upon a time I never would have described myself as a control freak.  I mean, I’ve got a typical Type A personality and am true to my birth order description, but I’m also generally pretty laid back.  Aside from my teen years and the random drama of junior high and high school, I have always tried to stay neutral through the ups and downs of life (at least that’s how I remember it).

To Everything There is a Season

Friends, I am here to tell you how the tides have changed.  Whether it is just that I’m getting older and losing that notion of invincibility, or the fact that I now am charged with the care and sustenance of four other lives, I don’t know. Maybe it’s too many consecutive years of stress, or perhaps a culmination of all of the above that sparked my intense need for control.  Yet at thirty-one years old, I found myself winding through the mental and physical implications of panic attacks.  I used to puzzle at the idea of fainting.  I knew people who fainted for various reasons, but I never quite understood how a person could get to that place.  Now I fully understand it. While I’ve never officially fainted, I’ve felt that feeling of “losing control” over my body enough times in the past year to last me a lifetime.

Finding the Pieces of the Puzzle, and Trying to Put Them Together

The most difficult part of this past year’s struggle has been figuring out what issues are actually related to a bodily problem and which issues are a result of the panic that has bubbled up inside of me.  For me, my panic is set off by the fear of physical trouble.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing my issues, and that alone has given me the ability to calm down most of the time.

However, I do have days where I can’t seem to kick the panic.  It’s ever-present and sometimes encompassing.  It tricks me into thinking that I’m having a heart problem, or a blood pressure problem, or that I might have a stroke.  This alone makes me feel like I’m going crazy.  This didn’t used to happen, why does it happen now?  In reality I know the answer.  A scary birth, my newborn being hospitalized, and the loss of a dear friend who also had young children seems to have triggered a type of control issues all its own.

Who Is in Control?

How can I control what’s going on inside my body?  How can I ensure that my valves open and close at the right times? Or that my heart continues to beat to the right rhythm? Or that I don’t have a stroke at home in the middle of the day, leaving my children to fend for themselves?  I can’t.  Obviously, I absolutely have no control of those things.  I can eat right, exercise, and get fresh air, but none of that guarantees I will carry on to see another day.  Here, in this setting, God is truly the only one in control.

Joshua 1:9 says:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

This is one of the verses that sustains me when I need to calm my mind and refocus on the Lord.  Here’s another of my favorites.

It turns out that worry and anxiety is not a new thing.

Turns out that the good Lord knew what kind of trials we might face, even those within our minds.  Alongside all of my introspection, I have also taken time to really consider the mental struggle Jesus must have endured during His last days on the earth.  Knowing that He would ultimately have to face not just death alone, but the persecution and hatred of people around Him.  Jesus often went off alone to be in prayer.  I have to wonder if many of His prayers were for mental strength.  How easily He could have been consumed by the fear of his upcoming crucifixion!  Fear of the pain and torture, fear of the hatred.  Spending time with the Father would have been the only comfort for Jesus, and the same is true for me.

Do you struggle with panic and anxiety?  I’d love to hear what helps you through it!

Interested in reading more about control?  Check out Toni’s post and Sara’s post.

A Restless Mind and Where to Find True Rest

A Restless Mind and Where to Find True Rest

Sara

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara

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A Restless Mind

Rest is often elusive for me. My mind goes crazy at night. I lie in bed with my eyes closed, desperate for sleep to relieve me of my thoughts. On a good night it takes about an hour from the time my head hits the pillow to the time my thoughts become dreams. Almost always my thoughts and dreams are driven by whatever my last focus was before going to bed.

If I checked my work email then I’m mentally mapping out the next work day. If I checked my son’s grades online I’m stressing about timelines of projects he has due. If I watched TV my mind runs wild with meaningless nonsense. If I’ve read my Bible I’m thinking on who I’ve read about and pondering the lesson learned, which almost always leads to prayer. That is when I stumble into a state of peace and my body releases the weight of all of life’s preoccupations. This is when I don’t toss and turn, when I allow my faith to usher me to sleep through the truest form of rest, God’s word.

 

this-is-when-i-dont-toss-and-turn-when-i-allow-my-faith-to-usher-me-to-sleep-through-the-truest-form-of-rest-gods-word-1

Mentally Checked Out

Many of us have days where we come home from work tired and spent with not a whole lot left to give. I’ve commiserated with friends and family who also have to commute to work about the zombie-like state that sitting in traffic puts us in. Walking through the front door sometimes feels more like sleepwalking through the front door.

These are the days that I just want to spend the evening retreating from anything requiring brain activity. On goes the TV, occasionally followed by a glass of wine. The kid will have to grab a can of something out of the cupboard for dinner. The Mom in me is a no-show. The employee in me has clocked out. The friend in me is off the radar. I just need to not be needed in any capacity and rest.

So what about the Christian in me?

Does the Christian in me get to check out when I’m tired? The answer should be “no”, but the reality is that a lack of discipline will result in just that. Ironically my vices for “rest” are anything but. They do nothing to draw me nearer to an honest encounter with renewal, and instead leave me feeling guilty. The guilt? Only makes me more tired. Clearly checking out in front of the TV and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook only makes things worse.

I experience the opposite when I train myself to take a more disciplined approach. When I choose to open my bible, listen to worship music, or watch an online sermon, the things that occupy my mind which make me so tired take a back seat. The result is that when I do turn the lights off and close my eyes, my preoccupations are no longer center stage. They do weave their way back into my thoughts, which is an opportunity to take my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), and that is so much easier to do when I’ve just finished reading scripture. It gives me a mental focal point to draw back to, a truth to rest in.

Tossing and turning night after night is a frustrating experience, but a friend reminded me recently that it is a process of training ourselves to take our thoughts captive. It does not happen overnight. It is a process that we can trust God to solidify in us if we are willing to stay the course.

How do you find rest?

What are the vices for rest that you use to distract yourself from the pressures of every day life? Have you experienced true rest from those things?

What thoughts do you take to sleep with you on a daily basis? Do you have scripture readily available to combat Satan’s schemes? Are you equipped to take your thoughts captive?

but-blessed-is-the-one-who-trusts-in-the-lordwhose-confidence-is-in-him

 

More Encouraging Posts:

Bold Prayers Your Worth Speak Life

The Gift of Trials

The Gift of Trials

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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“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

 

Job 42:5

The Gift of Trials

The heartache that accompanies trials is not something we look forward to, but there is a blessed gift that occurs in the midst of trials – a knowing that we’ve never experienced before. Take Job for example. He was the most righteous man on Earth at the time. Satan wanted to destroy Job’s relationship with God, and this is exactly what Satan tries to do with all who believe Christ is the son of God and follow him. Job endured physical and emotional devastation in hopes of bringing Job to spiritual ruin. Instead of losing his faith, Job held onto the Lord tightly. And there, in reflecting on all of his trials, Job saw the most amazing gift of all that comes through trials–the gift of a deeper relationship with the Lord!

Job said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Did you catch that? The most righteous man on earth at the time, who wholeheartedly believed in God and His holy nature, felt like he had only heard of God. Through his trial period, he truly saw God in action. It is not that he didn’t have a relationship with God before. It is simply that the depth of that relationship grew.

When you are in the midst of a trial it can be difficult to see past it. You must remind yourself to stay focused on the Lord and remember that He will bring you through it in His miraculous ways. His ways may not look like how you predetermined, but they will bring immeasurable blessings and solidify your faith all the more. You will be given the gift of seeing the Lord too! This is the ultimate gift of persevering through the trials of life.

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Dear Father, You are holy and mighty and love us beyond measure. You bring comfort and blessings when we are going through the most difficult of situations and gift us with a seeing you. Thank you for building our courage when Satan tries to attack it. In the One who is our defender – Amen!

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