Hope Lives

Hope Lives

He died to give us new life,

He died to set us free.

He died because He loves us,

He died for you and me.

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He cried “It is finished!”

Every sin paid for in full.

Three days later he rose from the dead,

Giving us hope forevermore.

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“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

~1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV)

This Easter (and everyday) let’s celebrate the living hope we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

hannah

(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

My Joy to Honor Him

My joy

I had a muddled view of God throughout most of my teenage years. I believed in Him, but I had no clue how deeply He loved me. Because of some of my life experiences, a part of me even thought that I had to earn His love.

I was often viewed as the “responsible girl” who made all the right choices. I was very much of a “people-pleaser” and a perfectionist. And while the face I presented to the world might have been one of a girl who “had it all together,” the truth is—I did not.

On the inside I was confused and hurting. I yearned for love and affirmation, but I often felt like I didn’t measure up. I tried to earn acceptance by doing the right things and striving to be beautiful in the eyes of the world. I was living with a “you have to earn it” mentality, rather than living under God’s grace.

When I was 18 years old, God got a hold of my attention in a gentle yet very noticeable way. I realized that while I believed in Him, I wasn’t following Him with all of my heart—I wasn’t following His path for my life because I was trying to do things my own way. My heart was unfulfilled, and I longed to be satisfied. It was during that season of my life that I chose to fully surrender every part of me to the Lord. I stopped chasing after an illusion, and I decided to start trusting Him.

About 13 years have passed since that time, and my feet are now planted on the path of life. I have experienced the joy and peace that comes from allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life.

I no longer believe the lie that I have to earn His love. Instead, I believe that His love is unconditional and never ceasing. I know that He loves me just as I am. I know that His grace is always enough for me. I know that He is faithful and trustworthy. His promises are deeply rooted in my heart and no one can steal that away from me.

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God transformed my mind and my heart. I went from being a girl who believed that I had to “earn” God’s approval, to becoming a woman who thrives in God’s unconditional love and grace. God healed my heart with His love. God calmed my fears with His love. God crushed the lies with His love. God gave me hope with His love.

And now it is…

My joy to honor Him. And not because I have to. But because I get to.

When I think about how God chose to pour out His love on this world by allowing His only Son to hang on the Cross and take our place, I can’t help but want to honor Him. He’s my King and I love Him. It’s not a chore to honor Him—it’s a privilege. My life has been changed by His love and I trust that He knows what is best for me. His Word, the Bible, is full of truth and wisdom—and it’s not meant to be a book of rules. It’s meant to point us in the direction of Him and His love. He desires to bring good to our lives. And if He asks us to stay away from something, it’s out of His great love for us. He doesn’t want us to choose the things that He knows will harm us.

Jesus said this to His disciples shortly before His death:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

~John 15:9-11 (NLT)

True joy comes from abiding in God’s love. And we can have joy at all times, because unlike happiness, it doesn’t depend on our circumstances. Obedience to God is not always easy. Sometimes it means that we will look very different than the rest of the world. Sometimes we will loose friends because of our faith. Sometimes we will be stretched beyond the realms of our comfort zone.

But remember all that Jesus experienced during His ministry here on earth. He was mocked, He was rejected, He was betrayed…He was crucified. And He endured it all for us. He understands it all, and if we remain in Him, He will help us every single step of the way. His love will give us the strength we need to endure the bumps in the road.

Understanding God’s love changes everything. It changed my heart. It changed my thoughts. It changed my perspective. It changed my attitude. It changed my actions. It changed my entire life because it gave me ‘new life’ in Him. God continues to renew me, and as He does, day by day…

It is my joy to honor Him. 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

~Galatians 2:19-21 (NKJV)

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hannah

(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

John Newton was a British sailor and slave trader in the eighteenth century. His mother was a devout Christian and she died when he was only six years old, leaving him to be raised by his father who was a ship captain. Newton was rebellious and denied God for many years of his life, but eventually accepted Jesus as his Savior during his time at sea. He later went on to leave the slave trade, become a preacher and write hymns. He also helped put an end to the slave trade.

He came to put his trust in the Lord after a stormy night at sea when he wasn’t sure if he was going to live to see the next day. After that shaky night his life began to gradually change, but he continued to sail ships involved in the slave trade and even took the position of ship captain for a while.

Just before he was about to embark on his fourth voyage as captain, he suddenly came down with an illness and was advised not to set sail—so he did not. And the captain who replaced him, was later murdered during an uproar that occurred on the ship.

After Newton said good-bye to his life at sea, he started to pursue his faith even more. He eventually became an ordained minister and wrote hymns such as the well known hymn, Amazing Grace—a highly inspirational song to many.  He also partnered with William Wilberforce and they became key players in abolishing the slave trade. In 1807 the slave trade was outlawed in Britain, and just months later Newton left this earth to go home.

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Amazing Grace is my favorite song of all time—and it took on a whole new meaning for me several years ago when I learned about the history behind the song. It was written by someone who rejected God and promoted the ugliness of slavery for many years, but then came to realize that he had a Savior who came to set him free and forgive him for each and every sin. He became a new man and made it his mission to share the Gospel with the world. He also fought hard to put an end to the very thing that kept him in bondage to shame and guilt for many years of his life—the slave trade. God created good from his mess.

Newton was a man who was touched by grace, and it changed his life. And while our stories probably look much different than his, we too have the opportunity to experience the life changing power of God’s grace. We are full of sin, yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The story of the Cross is grace. Jesus, the perfect spotless Lamb, took our place on that cross. He died to know us. He wants an eternal relationship with us. He loves us with every thread in His being. We don’t deserve Him and we don’t deserve what He did for us—but He willingly endured the pain so that we can have the gift of Amazing Grace.

No matter who you are, or what your past involves…God’s grace is an invitation to all. He loves you, He wants you and He’s waiting for you to come running into His arms.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

~Ephesians 2:4-9 [NLT]

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Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
-Original lyrics, John Newton, 1772

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hannah

(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

*Above photo adapted from here

* Historical information for this post was gathered from Wikipedia and several Christian online sources.