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.

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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.

 

 

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

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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Hopefully, you have never been in this situation and will never find yourself there.  But sadly, many of us have.  So what should you do when someone bad-mouths you?

The answer is the easiest, yet most difficult thing you will ever do. You only need to do the following things.  Are you ready?

1. Pray.

This is the best thing to do in every situation.  Pray as if your life depends on it, because in reality, most of the time, it does.  Your relationship with the Lord will determine how you handle the rest of this situation.  At times, you will want to lash out at the person bad-mouthing you.  Resist that temptation.  Instead, pray for that person(s).

Yes, praying for the person bad-mouthing you can be difficult. But it is definitely something that must be done.  If nothing else, it will soften your heart for that person, and you will be able to face them with grace instead of venom.

2. Let God fight your battle.

I say it’s easy, but it is the hardest thing you will do.  You will be tempted to correct the gossip you hear about yourself.  Don’t be tempted to defend yourself.  God will send others to do that (even without you inciting them.)

Some years ago, I was going through a major ordeal.  I heard all this incorrect information about myself, some of which even made me laugh out loud because it was so outlandish. After months of trying to resolve it personally, I sat through a meeting designed to talk through the issues. Instead, it turned into something completely different.  Two of the people spreading untruths used the meeting to attack me with these untruths rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand.  At this time, I fully understood the following verse…

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

In that moment, I understood more than ever before that there was nothing I could have said to change their minds about me.  So if I could not change their minds, why engage them?

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Why not let God work in ways that I cannot?

For two hours I sat there, listening and praying that I would keep my big mouth shut.  (Because let’s just be honest here, I do not shy away from conflict.)  Thankfully, a friend was praying over me at the exact same time.  God was able to keep my mouth shut just like he did the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den.

On a side note: I am not saying that you should not try to work out misunderstandings and wrongs.  Of course, we should always try to reconcile our differences.  Matthew 18 instructs us to do so, but sometimes we must deal with people who do not want to resolve issues. They just want to stir up problems, manipulate the situation, and cause divisions.  This is what I faced, and I realized this after trying to resolve the issues one-on-one several times.

3. Follow Christ’s example.

This goes back to #2 and is the perfect illustration of how to accept malicious words.  When Christ was falsely accused and put on trial, he was humble and strong.  Some believe He was solely keeping quiet so that he would be sent to the cross, but I believe it was more than that.  I believe He was setting an example for us, knowing that his followers would face slander and similar situations as well.

There is a time to speak out and be bold.  But, unless I overlooked some verses–which is possible so feel free to correct me–what I read about Christ, his disciples and apostles speaking out boldly is that it was for God and others…rarely for themselves. We are commanded to speak out for others and defend the faith.

Paul “boasted about” himself in a way in 2 Corinthians 11, but goes on to say this is utter foolishness.

We are commanded to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

Proverbs 31:8

4. Realize it’s a blessing.

What?  How can we even contemplate that being bad-mouthed is a blessing?  We can! And we should believe this to be true because the Bible tells us so. When we are holding steadfast to God and His truth, letting Him guide us through crazy situations, we may very well find ourselves in the slander spotlight. When this happens, trust these verses…

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Matthew 5:11

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17

Our faith grows when we watch God work it all out and see Him get all the glory for all He has done! What a blessing!

5. Believe the truth will come to light.

Again, if you are going through this I am very sorry.  It is not a fun situation and can be distressing.  Just lean into Jesus.  He above all completely understands.  In the end, whether on Earth or in heaven, the truth will all come to light.

In the situation I mentioned above, a few years after that horrific two-hour ordeal, I received a letter from one of the two people involved. That person expressed complete sorrow for having said what was said and asked for forgiveness.  It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had and I was very thankful, that even though it took years, the truth became evident because God was working it all out.  Because of all this, relationships began to be mended where division had once resided.

He will fight for you! You can trust that!

My prayer for you:

Lord, you are beyond amazing.  You work in our lives in ways we could never dream.  You use what we feel are the worst of situations to bring about good and resolve situations that might have otherwise gone unresolved.  We thank you for always working behind the scenes, calming our hearts, and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us through such difficult circumstances.  We specifically lift up all those who are being bad-mouthed and slandered right now.  Give them your peace, which surpasses understanding, and the courage to let you fight for them.  In the One who let you fight for Him so that we could be redeemed to you – Amen!

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When You’re in the Trenches

When You’re in the Trenches

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see your way out. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, because you’re not even sure there is a tunnel. It’s hard to keep slogging through and exhausting to keep your chin up. You feel as if you are covered in slime, in mud, in disappointment and despair.

Perhaps you might have lost hope or energy. You might understand in your mind that this is “worth” it, but your heart is weary and burdened.

When you’re in the trenches, you can’t see your progress or the character built. You can’t see the shape of your heart or the influence of your efforts.

What if:

  • Your heart turns out to be right?
  • You are in it alone?
  • After all this work, you don’t reach your goal?
  • Despite the prayers and the tears, you come out empty-hearted and empty-handed?

Reach out your hand, and grasp onto the Father’s hand. Grip it with determination and desperation. Cling to it with the last strength you have.

Realize that, despite what you see, what you feel, what you are suffering, you are only seeing a tiny part. Yours is a small corner and one that you see with a skewed view. Just because YOU cannot see, does not mean that there is nothing to be seen.

Sometimes–no, many times–trust must come before character is strengthened. Faith must come before reason and experience can explain “why.”

Take heart. Take courage. Take perspective.

Think of Elijah. After drought and hunger, persecution and hatred, he comes before God’s presence. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah cries out to God: “And I, even I only, am left and they seek my life to take it away.”

Then God reveals the bigger picture:

He would anoint a new king and put to death those who deserved it and the last words are the ones that must have stunned him.

“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

You see, from Elijah’s perspective, in the trenches, he thought he was alone. And yet, there were 7,000 others standing with him.

I pray that God helps you to see over those trenches, to see over the horizon, to see that even if you feel you, like Elijah, are left alone–that you can see a bigger part of God’s plan. That just as God helped Elijah, He can help you too. You are not alone.

Courageous Perseverance

Courageous Perseverance

Jennifer E

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
Jennifer E

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As a new year approached, many people were reflecting on the peaks and pits of the previous year. Many of us are cultivating our hopes, dreams, and goals for the year that lies ahead. In a previous post, I wrote about the seasons and landscapes that my faith walk has journeyed through. Some may have had an amazing year where their faith flourished. Others may have struggled to keep their faith intact through the last year.

Religion or Faith?

I think it can be very easy to confuse “religion” with our faith and feel let down by God when His people let us down. A few weeks ago our minister shared this verse in a sermon and I could feel the tears well up in my eyes.

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

A Spirit of Courageous Perseverance

So, with the fresh beginning of a new year I hope this verse can encourage you. Maybe it will ignite a spirit of continuing courageous perseverance for those who are feeling tired and weary. For without those years which test us, our faith will not have the years of abundant growth.

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In what areas of your life do you need courageous perseverance?

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Say What?!

Yes!  He will give you more than you can handle!  I know the above statement will upset a lot of people because “It’s in the Bible.”  No, really, it’s not.  Find it.

Everyone believes that it is Biblical for two main reasons, I believe.  First, we want to believe that life as a Christian will be easy, that we will have few problems.  Well, without these challenges in life, we could not have the opportunity to grow in Christ.  The trials and tribulations we endure mature and cause us to grow as Christians.  If our life is perfect and we never face difficulty, we will not see our need for God.  Remember, the only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that a Christian has accepted Christ as his Savior.

Secondly, there is a verse in the Bible that is similar and has been misquoted to say that God will not give us more than we can handle.  If you looked up a verse, it was probably this one.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) states, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

1-corinthians-10_13

Let’s look further into this verse.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man.”  There is temptation all around us.  We face it everyday.  However, temptation is not a sin.  Remember, Jesus was tempted.  The sin is giving in to temptation.

How Much Can We Handle?

“…And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can handle turning away from.  He will leave you a way out so that you can “walk away” from the temptation without giving in to it.  God does not want to see us giving in to sin.  He always has a way out prepared for us, but we do not always go in the right direction.

Nowhere does it say in that verse that God will not give us more than we can handle.  This verse is about temptation, not about what God allows us to go through.  God wants us to turn to Him.

Do you turn to God?

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