October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

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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I love the tradition of lighting the jack-o-lantern. It’s one we don’t do much anymore for safety concerns, but thankfully there are some really great battery-operated lights to use in their place. The glow from the pumpkins in the dark night is just really cool! There are many negative connotations with Halloween so it’s a holiday I tread lightly upon, but one idea I can get behind is being a light. It’s a topic we can talk about year-round, but I especially love to use this time of year to think about ways to shine God’s love.

let-light-shine

Here are some fun ideas to help your family focus on shining God’s light this October:

Learn a lesson from a pumpkin. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

If you think about the message in this verse, it’s quite like the light that we shine in our jack-o-lanterns. Liz Curtis Higgs has a wonderful children’s book titled “The Pumpkin Patch Parable.” This story compares a carefully selected pumpkin, cleaned up and transformed by its farmer, to what happens when we let Jesus take over our lives. It is a great story to read with your children in anticipation of a trip to the pumpkin patch!

Take a family glow walk. 

With the cooler weather and the sun setting earlier, now is a great time to take a walk in the dark with your kids. Grab a flashlight and maybe some fun glow sticks. On your walk, talk about how the light allows you to see where you are going. Use this a bridge to discuss God’s word being a light for us.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Say a special pumpkin prayer together. 

Here is a simple prayer you can say together as you carve your family pumpkin this year. There is a different line to say for each step of the process. Click Here:  Pumpkin Prayer

Along those lines, here is another great version of the pumpkin prayer in the form of a printable book (from Christian Preschool Printables) that you can use to say the prayer over and over again! Click Here: Pumpkin Carving Prayer 

Participate in a family glow worship night. 

Give everyone a fun light stick to use while you sing songs that praise Jesus. Don’t forget to sing “This Little Light of Mine!” One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin prayer is said as the eyes are carved: “Lord, open my eyes to see all of the beautiful things you have made.” Take some time to pass around a special light (or candle, if your kids are mature enough) and let each person share something beautiful in their lives that they are thankful for.

Shine your light through family service projects. 

Matthew 5:16 says,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A great way to put this verse into practice is by doing a special service project together. It could be something simple such as baking pumpkin muffins for a new mom or an elderly neighbor. If your children are older, try volunteering at your local food bank or help someone with their yard work. Brainstorm together one night around the dinner table ways to shine the light of Christ and put a plan into action!

Place reminders in your home! 

At this stage in my life, I’m not a huge craft person. However, I do enjoy coloring sheets because they are EASY and my daughter loves them! These coloring sheets from Christian Preschool Printables focus on Christ and shining your light. After your kids have colored them, display them around your house. Each time you see one, your family will be reminded to shine the light of Jesus this season! Click Here: Free Coloring Pages 

I hope you’ve found some ideas to keep Christ at the center of your home through the month of October! Have a wonderful season shining for Christ!

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Be encouraged by these posts as well!
6 ways to shine for Christ during Halloween Teaching Kids about sin We all struggle Fast against laziness

A Priceless Gift for Father’s Day

A Priceless Gift for Father’s Day

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 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & 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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“Father’s Day is coming!” my daughter excitedly squealed.

It was actually twenty-two days away when our oldest daughter decided to start planning and creating the precious gift she would give to her beloved daddy. For two hours, she sat at the kitchen island, writing funny poems about her daddy.  Each poem was on a separate note card with an illustration of the poem.

She was so excited about her gift that she hid it so he wouldn’t find it.  But the anticipation of giving her gift was so great that the first moment she saw him, she ran to find her gift and gave it to him right then and there.

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Now what?!

With less than twenty days until Father’s Day, she came up with another gift idea.  She decided to make him a picture frame out of Popsicle sticks.  The picture frame idea evolved into a 6-inch container that she would decorate to hold his supplies.

Giving gifts is definitely one of her love languages.  Her eyes, smile, and heart radiated with love as she watched the gift being unwrapped, knowing that she put love into it.

Jumping Back to Mother’s Day

Our daughter had the same enthusiasm about creating a Mother’s Day gift for me. This ignited a passion in her younger siblings’ hearts as well. She and her brother worked hard on their gifts. Both spent lots of time…I mean days collecting and creating just the perfect gift.

But before the gifts could be given to me, my oldest son’s gift broke. So did his heart. He had worked so long on collecting and placing items just right in a glass jar. When he went to gather his gift and realized it was destroyed, he started crying .

Of course, as parents all we want is their love and appreciation. I happened to overhear the commotion when he discovered the broken gift. Quickly but quietly, I let my husband know to tell our son the best present  he could ever give me is the biggest and best hug he could give.

Once my son calmed down and my husband relied this vital information, our son came running to me and I received the best and biggest hug he has ever given me.  I loved on him and thanked him for that amazing present. His smile reached from ear to ear!

Giving the Simple and Priceless Gifts Top Priority

We live in an over-materialistic world.  As time has passed, physical gifts mean a little less to me every year.  It’s wonderful when someone takes the time to truly put their heart and energy into making or purchasing a gift that the other really needs or wants.  Or in the case of children, just shows how much they care.

But the idea of buying something just to have something to give because it’s a certain day doesn’t really mean that much to me.  I’d rather spend time with my family, making memories or cherishing the priceless personalized gifts which can’t be bought in stores.

Giving a Priceless Gift

These two instances, along with thinking about a sweet friend and her three kids whose husband and father is overseas, got me thinking about a priceless gift that would be treasured by fathers forever.

Instantly, this popped to mind: the precious voices of our children lifting us up to God!  

Doesn’t your heart just melt when you hear your children praying for you?  This simple, selfless act can hang on in our hearts and minds for weeks, months, and years.

doesnt-your-heart-just-melt-when-you-hear-your-children-praying-for-you-this-simple-selfless-act-can-hang-on-in-our-hearts-and-minds-for-weeks-months-and-years

So how about recording a video of your children praying over their precious fathers?  

Or if you do not have the ability to record a video, write out their prayers.

These beautiful recordings or letters can be easily accessed whenever their father is having a hard day.  He can hear the prayer from their own heart once again and feel the love and power surround him!

It may not be a new grill or golf club, but this priceless gift will inspire fathers’ hearts for years and possibly decades to come!

 

 

Mom: A Sacrificial Love

Mom: A Sacrificial Love

Candace B

Candace B

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I help my husband in every way in his position as a youth minister (It's a true labor of love and we wouldn't be anywhere else!). I am also working on my teacher certification so when both my kids get into school I will have a job that I am passionate about, get to see my kids all the time, and will be out when they are out. I am most importantly a Christian and strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B

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What do you think when you think of a mom?  The first thing that comes to my mind is love, and secondly, sacrifice, a sacrificial love.

Becoming a mother is the most instant kind of love you can have.  It’s love at first sight, literally!  At times you feel your heart will burst out of your chest because you have so much love.  But being a mother is a complicated love.  You have to discipline, make decisions that they may be upset by or not understand, save money for various things needed.  There are many different levels to a mother’s love, but most importantly it is unconditional and knows NO BOUNDS!

Sacrifice

I love this word because my own mother embodies it.  She gives of herself, her time, and her finances to all of her children and their families without a moment of thinking of herself.  I have been thankful and blessed beyond measure to have a mom who is the best example of this! She has shown and continues to show me not only what a mom should be, but most importantly how to be Christ-like in every way possible.  When you are a Christian mother, so much more is expected of you.  From the time your children are born, you must take your Christian responsibility much more seriously because you’re commanded to raise your children in the Lord.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 22: 6

Proverbs 22:6

The Most Sacrificial Love

As Christians, we come face to face with Jesus who lived and died for us, the most sacrificial love.  Thank God!  He showed us that example so that we can always live for him and to be the best part of ourselves we can. When we live like Jesus, it demonstrates to our children that one day they can go out and continue to spread God’s love and His Word.

On this Mother’s Day, please let the moms in your life know how much you love them. Thank them for all the sacrifices they continue to make on a daily basis.  Being a parent or a grandparent can be trying at times, but none of us would change it for the world.  Remember to be an encouragement to others. Look to the Bible for numerous examples of Jesus on guidance, sacrifice, and unconditional love.

“The living, the living–they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.”

Isaiah 38:19

Isaiah 38:19

Mothers are precious.

They are to be lifted up and daily shown love and encouragement for all they do.  Learn from what they have shown you and remember who was the perfect example to embody sacrificial love: Jesus.

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 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & 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 I, but 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.

But 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 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 associate 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

There are many recitations throughout the Passover Seder that 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 and 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

 

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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 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & 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)

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! 

 

Celebrating Easter with Babies and Tots

Celebrating Easter with Babies and Tots

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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Easter is such a fun time with little ones! Although they might not be old enough to participate in egg hunts and coloring eggs, it’s still a wonderful opportunity for our babies and toddlers to experience God’s creation and to be introduced to the story of Jesus.

I want to share with you some ideas for celebrating Easter with your baby or toddler. Hopefully, you will find something fun for your little one’s Easter!

Read books that tell the Easter story. 

my very first Easter bookThis is one of the easiest ways to keep Easter focused on Jesus. Perhaps you have some books already, but if you don’t, here are some suggestions.  My Very First Easter by Juliet David & Helen Prole has been our favorite board book to read about the story of Jesus. The text on each page is brief and the pictures are colorful and diverse. This is a good book for when you want to stay focused on the story. It’s great to read year-round!

The Story of Easter bookAlso,there are books which blend the story with thoughts for today, which is nice! We have some books like that as well. Our favorite of this type is The Story of Easter by Patricia A. Pingry. This book has beautiful illustrations and brings together how spring time is so fitting with Easter. The text is not too long, so it will hold your little one’s interest. This book is a treasure!

 

 

You can find out more about these books here:

My Very First Easter

The Story of Easter

 

 

Make an Easter Story Discovery Basket. 

Let your little ones experience the Easter story! Gather up items which represent different parts of the Easter story. Make sure the items are safe for your child to play with (under your supervision). For our basket we used:

  • Silk palm leaf IMG_4542
  • Toy donkey
  • Toy grapes (to signify the last supper)
  • Plastic cross
  • Strips of white fabric (optional: spray with perfume or drops of essential oils) to signify that Jesus was wrapped and prepared for burial
  • A small decorative “rock” to represent the stone in front of the grave (use a real rock if you have one!)
  • Purple fabric to signify that Jesus is our King
  • A pink foam heart because God loves us so much that he sent his son to save us
  • Our Easter story book

Discovery BasketUse whatever items you can gather up to help tell the story. It doesn’t have to be the same items we used! For example, you could add some silk flowers because Jesus prayed in the garden before he was arrested. Read the story in the Bible and see what you have around your house!  Place the items in a basket and let your child discover the different textures of the items. You can talk about their meaning as your child plays with them. I liked reading the story to Kate and pulling out items that correlated with each page. If some of your items were not designed for baby/tot play, remember to supervise your little one while they play with their discovery basket. This is a fun activity to do together!

This idea was adapted from Spell Out Loud

Make Spring Time Sensory Bottles. DSC_0305

Our little girl loves sensory bottles. They are a great way to expose babies and tots to the wonders of creation! We like to use small water bottles (with the cap glued on), but you can use clean peanut butter or applesauce jars, or if you’re brave, a glass jar. Kate loved her sensory bottle last year, but she still plays with it now too! These will last you a long time. Here are some different ideas for filling your sensory bottle:

  • Water and silk flowers
    • Here is a little song we sing about flowers: (Sung to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

“God made all the beautiful flowers, beautiful flowers, beautiful flowers.

God made all the beautiful flowers.

Thank you God for flowers.”

  • Fresh coffee grounds (NOT used) and toy insects
    • (Sung to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

“God made bugs to crawl in the dirt, crawl in the dirt, crawl in the dirt.

God made bugs to crawl in the dirt.

Thank you God for bugs!”

  • Easter basket “grass” with small craft Easter eggs  
    • (Sung to “Have You Ever Seen A Lassie?”)

“Do you see the Easter eggs, the very pretty eggs?

Do you see the Easter eggs?

They are hiding for you!

 

Have an Easter Photo Shoot. 

OK, so this one is more for you than your child but I promise it’s worth it! I’ve never been a fan of the life-size Easter bunny, and it really wasn’t in our budget last year to do that so I set up a little photo scene at home to do on Easter! DSC_0395I’m an amateur by ALL means. Ideally, it would be great to do this outside, but we had a rainy Easter. I tucked our daughter’s baby quilt into the top shelf of her changing table. Then I opened the blinds to let in what little bit of natural light we had in our apartment on a rainy day! This was MUCH easier than waiting in a long line at the mall! DSC_0370

 

 

 

 

 

Fill that Easter Basket! 

Last year I had to think really hard about what to put in our daughter’s basket. Obviously, candy was out of the question for a baby! We kept things super simple by purchasing a small basket, but I have plenty of ideas for things to put in your basket, no matter the size!

Books

It’s hard to narrow this list because we’re addicted to children’s books in our house. Here are some of our favorites! Click on the titles for links to purchase. 

Pat the Bunny–You can’t go wrong with this darling classic!Pat the Bunny book

 

I Love You, Honey Bunny–The rhymes are the sweetest!

I Love You, Honey Bunny

Jesus Loves Me! This book is perfect for Easter, not just because the song is appropriate, but the illustrator gives subtle hints to the Easter season throughout the pages. This is one of our favorite books in our whole library.

Jesus Love Me!

Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs?Your tot will love lifting the flaps!

Where Are Baby's EAster Eggs

Tickle, Tickle, Peter!–With different textures to feel on each page and short text, this book holds my daughter’s attention! This book is quite large. It might not fit in your child’s basket, but it will be lovely right next to it!

Tickle, Tickle, Peter

A Chick that Peeps

Hold the chick in your hand and listen to him peep! I found ours at Hobby Lobby. I can’t wait to see what our eighteen month old thinks of this one!

Chick that Peeps

 

Bubbles

Can you really go wrong with bubbles? Get ready for the giggles!

Bright Starts Giggling Eggs

These are so much fun! Perfect if you have a large basket you are trying to fill. You can purchase them here.

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Crayola Egg-Shaped Crayons

Perfect for little hands. Even if your baby is not ready for them now, they will be before you know it! You can find them here or look for them wherever Crayola products are sold.

IMG_4537

Bath Toys

Rubber ducks or other spring-themed bath toys make a great addition to an Easter basket!

Melissa & Doug Slide and Seek Egg

This is perhaps my most favorite basket item yet–so cute! Because it’s a quiet toy it’ll be great for our church bag. It is double-sided, with a hatching bird on one side and hatching chick on the other. You can find out more info here. The toy is currently out of stock from the manufacturer’s website, but I picked one up at Mardel. You can also find it at Amazon, but at a higher price.

Untitled design

Small Stuffed Animals or Puppets

We love to sing songs with our stuffed animals. Kate’s favorite is her bunny puppet. We sing the following to the tune of “Grump Went the Little Green Frog”:

Hop, hop went the fluffy white bunny one day.

Hop, hop went the fluffy white bunny.

Hop, hop went the fluffy white bunny one day.

God made the fluffy white bunny! 

Here is the one we have: Bunny Puppet

Empty Eggs and Filled Eggs

Yes, I know empty eggs sound boring, but honestly our daughter loved playing with them! I used the decorative kind that don’t come apart.

This year I’m going to fill a couple of eggs! Here are a few ideas for filling those eggs since jelly beans might not be in your tot’s diet!

  • Socks
  • Annie’s Bunnies (It’s like they are made just for Easter or something!) You can choose cheddar bunnies, graham cracker bunnies, or even fruit snack bunnies. You could also use goldfish, or whatever special treat your child likes. Even fresh fruit!
  • Play Dough–Homemade would be really fun! Just squish it into one side of the plastic egg.
  • Stickers
  • Egg Shakers–Fill eggs with rice and use decorative tape to keep closed. (Supervise your little ones with these.)

Remember the Meaning of Easter

I hope you’ve found an idea or two to use as you celebrate Easter with the babies and toddlers in your life! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with trying to create the perfect holiday for your children, so don’t feel pressured. Do what works for your family and don’t feel guilty if someone else seems to be doing more!

Remember that Easter is about the forgiveness and grace lavished on us through Jesus. Take time to worship God, and remind your kids how much Jesus loves them. Many years from now, that is the best memory your child could ever have of Easter. 

What things have you done with your little ones this Easter season?

 

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