The Vast Ocean of God’s Love

The Vast Ocean of God’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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Discovering the Vast Ocean

Recently, I took my almost-two-year-old to the beach for the first time. Watching her discover the vast ocean was truly a sight to behold. As we walked along the boardwalk she giggled at the bumpy logs. Then, as we moved on, she became curious about walking on the sand. It didn’t take long for her to notice the shells. She bent down and took such delight in the fact that I was encouraging her to touch them.

Then the sand began to get wet…all of a sudden she noticed the ocean. She looked out at the unending water and was amazed. She giggled and walked toward it, thrilled when the water splashed over her feet. Her eyes remained fixed on the immensity of the ocean. There was no end in sight, only water. She’d never seen something so big before. Something as big as the ocean.

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As her mom, there was so much to think about as I watched her in that moment, but there was one thought that rang over the rest:

 

“How deep the Father’s love for us. How vast beyond all measure.”

As Romans 5:8 tells us,

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

It’s a truth I so often forget to savor. That God loved me enough to let his son die for me. Honestly, it’s impossible to wrap my mind around what that even means. That sort of love is not something we know on this earth. The ocean, so vast that it’s impossible to see its entirety in one view, reminds me of God’s immeasurable love. The love God has for us is so deep, so wide, so all-encompassing that we can’t wrap our minds around it here on earth, for it’s too great. 

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is…”
 Ephesians 3:18 

Redeemed by the Son

On our own, we are full of fault–too dirty to be in God’s perfect presence. He sent his Son to this earth to redeem us. Jesus gave his life on the cross so that we could be made clean and pure before the Lord and live in his glorious presence for eternity. It’s a gift we could never earn or deserve–even the most “perfect” Christian you know is undeserving of God’s great grace. Salvation is given out of grace, mercy, and love.

I’m not sure where you are on your walk with God, but friend, God loves YOU so much! Have you discovered his love for you yet? If not, we’d love to help you find it. (Please send us a message or comment below if you’d like to know more.)

If you have discovered and accepted his love, are you remembering his love often? Are you taking time to dwell on it? I’m not sure I meditate on God’s love enough, but I’m thankful for the reminders He so gently gives me.

vast ocean

 

Message of Love

I love the worship song, “How Deep the Father’s Love.” It’s a beautiful reminder of how God demonstrated his personal love for us. I want to stand in wonder of God’s love the way my daughter stood in wonder of the water. Witnessing the amazement in my daughter’s eyes as she discovered God’s great ocean was a reminder to me of God’s vast love for us.

If you have a moment, I encourage you to listen to “How Deep the Father’s Love.” The video I’m attaching is an a capella version by Keith Lancaster and the Acapella Company. If you don’t have time to listen, you can read through the lyrics below. Even if you’ve heard the song hundreds of times, the message is a beautiful one. It’s the message of God’s great love. With a sweet message like that on your heart, you’ll be able to create a great day for sure!

How deep the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure.

How Deep the Father’s Love

Click HERE to hear “How Deep the Father’s Love”. 

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss–
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life–
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart–
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Famous Soup Creating a Fall to Remember We all struggle  Clean up for an emotionally healthier you

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The God Greater than Our Hearts

The God Greater than Our Hearts

Tracy Watts

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

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When you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to find your way out, what do you do? You feel lost and alone, unnoticed and under the radar. You are shuffled and jostled about, people walking past you, even talking to you, but not really seeing you. Not really knowing you.

Are you there? Are you in that dark place?

Your best friend may not see your inner heart. Your preacher may not. Even your mom or your husband or your kids may not. You might be drowning and no one sends out the lifeboat.

But there is Someone who does.

He sees the struggles and the tears. He sees the heartache and the loneliness. You can’t fool him–he knows exactly how wonderful you are and how awful you can be too.

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But those voices whisper in your heart.

Why would He care about me?

He can’t really love me that much. After all, he knows exactly what I have done!

Why bother? I know I can’t do it.

Friend, let me whisper to your heart as well.

Psalm 9:10 says,

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Consider Romans 8:32, which says,

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

When you’re feeling low and in that dark place, read these verses from 1 John 3:

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

It’s true. We don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. That’s the true meaning of grace: we get what we don’t deserve. He give us forgiveness and not punishment. We get a second chance and not death. We get salvation and not condemnation.

But God is amazing like that. He is greater than us, loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and gave up his son–before I even committed to serving Him.

That thought should humble me, motivate me, and comfort me, all at the same time. It is the lifeline you can cling to when you’re in that dark place. And it can be what helps pull you back into the light.

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Lift Up Your Eyes

Lift Up Your Eyes

Tracy Watts

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

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The Ungratefulness of the Israelites

One of the Israelites’ biggest struggles throughout their history with God was ingratitude (and apparently a selective memory).

Time and again they complained.

And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”

Numbers 21:5

Their words drip with thanklessness and bitterness.  We think to ourselves, “How could they possibly have forgotten what God has done for them? What God is STILL doing for them?”

And yet, don’t we struggle with the very same thing?

Don’t I complain of the mundane when my eyes should be lifted heavenwards? Haven’t I grumbled about my thorn in the flesh, when God has healed the entirety of my sin? Don’t I too grow complacent?

I think of the rest of that passage in Numbers. God sent fiery serpents which bit the people, poisoned them, and ultimately led to many deaths. The irony and the imagery is uncomfortably close to home. Just as they had spread such poison from their mouths, they were subjected to poison. They cried out to God and God provided a solution:

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:9)

Lift Up Your Eyes

The solution to the problem was tough. Because the Israelites had to be reminded to lift their eyes to the symbol of suffering. The symbol of their sin. The symbol of why they needed God.

And yet, we must do the very same thing.

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In order to drag ourselves out of the muck of the world, in order to continually live gratefully, joyously, truly for Christ, we need the reminder–that serious, weighty reminder–of the cross. If we don’t remember how very costly and serious our sin is, we won’t be grateful. We won’t be humbly submissive to him.

So today, remember with me the cross. Remember how much we have to be grateful for. And think of how much we can look forward to seeing the One who hung on that cross for us.

Does He still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does He hear the crowd cry
Crucify, again?
Am I causing Him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting Him.

(Ray Boltz)

 

 

Splinters: Allowing God to Heal and Restore

Splinters: Allowing God to Heal and Restore

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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Last week my nearly three year old son had a splinter in the bottom of his foot. I told him to wear shoes outside on our wooden playset, but he chose to disobey and took them off before climbing the ladder. Lo and behold, he got a huge splinter. And it hurt him a lot.

My husband was working late that evening so it was just me versus the splinter. BIG SIGH.

I tried a few different tactics with my little boy trying to gain access to the bottom of his foot with my needle-nose tweezers, but he screamed and wiggled before I even touched him. I found myself contemplating sitting on him to keep him still. Seriously.

Finally, I grabbed him up in my arms and held him tight. I told him I needed him to relax and calm down and focus on the movie I turned on so I could help his foot feel so much better. He looked at me with tear-filled eyes and cried, “But mommy, no! I love the splinter.”

Suddenly, it struck me how similarly we act when we have a “splinter”–something harmful we hold on to when God is trying to make us new. But we can’t seem to let it go.

Whether it’s a particular sin we are struggling with, something we aren’t trusting the Lord with in our lives, a pain we are holding on to, or lack of obedience in our lives–how many times have you held on to your “splinter” and said you loved it instead of letting Christ heal your heart?

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Psalm 31:19 says:

How abundant are the good things
    that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in you.

It also reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce when he describes the man with the Red Lizard.  I found a partial transcript in Christianity Today if you want to read a longer segment, but pick up the whole book if you haven’t already. In this story, a man has a lizard on his shoulder which represents sin in his life. It’s a startling allegory about what separates us from God.

A mighty angel approached the man and asked, “Would you like me to make the lizard quiet?”

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh—ah—look out! You’re burning me. Keep away!” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel…. “Shall I kill it?”

“Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

After much discussion and indecision, the man finally allows the Angel to kill the lizard. As the lizard dies, it transforms into a dazzling white stallion.

The man, now free from his torment, climbed upon the stallion that had been his sin and rode into the glowing sunrise toward the Savior.

That is available to all of us. We can be free from our torment. Free from the sin in our lives.

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Galatians 5:1 assures us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” {sin}

Walking around life with “splinters” in our feet is slavery. What pain, what agony, what self-inflicted misery we can wallow in if we don’t seek the forgiveness, restoration, and loving healing of Jesus Christ.

Why is our old nature so hard to let go of sometimes? We think it will hurt, and it might a little…but life will be so much better afterward.

Do you have a “splinter” in your life that you need to surrender to God? Have you experienced the forgiveness and healing of Christ? Did you know that even though it seems incredibly hard to be refined by God through repentance and obedience and trust in the Lord, that He loves you and wants to see you restored, healed, and following Him?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans 8:1-4

 

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.

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

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

Why didn’t God send Jesus sooner?

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

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

Why didn’t God wait longer?

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

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

Peter’s and Paul’s Explanations

In 1 Peter 1, the apostle Peter writes:

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

1 Peter 1:20

And in Acts, Luke records Paul’s words:

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

God was setting the stage for your sake!

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

For your sake!!

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

God’s Word shows it all through:

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

The Prophecies

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

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

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

 

John 1:32-34

The Prophets

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

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

Here are a few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 11:4-6

 

The Parallels

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

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

And finally, God took care of him in death.

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

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

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

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

 

Fun Ways to Learn about the Easter Story

Fun Ways to Learn about the Easter Story

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)

Every year, our family looks forward to celebrating the Easter story and helping our kids understand what it truly means!  It’s a time of mourning our sinful nature but joyfully accepting Christ’s amazing sacrificial gift of forgiveness and love.

When I contributed to the Oklahoma City Moms Blog, I wrote about a couple of our Easter Traditions. These traditions help our family focus on Christ’s sacrifice for us during the Easter season.  In this post, I detailed how to make resurrection cookies and shared some wonderful videos and books we use.

If you have never made resurrection cookies before, you are in for a special treat.  These cookies are deliciously scrumptious! Also, the preparation process helps connect Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection with actions and scripture neither you nor your children will forget. Check out this post to find resources to help explain why Christ chose to die on the cross.

Get a printable version of the resurrection cookie recipe by clicking here!

We have since added other traditions like:

Resurrection Eggs – This is so much fun!  We hide a few eggs with money (because we were bought at a price) or candy (to remember this sweet gift). We also hide these resurrection eggs. Each resurrection egg contains a symbol of the Easter story.  After the kids gather all the eggs, we sit down as a family to open our eggs. The kids get excited about what we found, and then we use the Resurrection Storybook Cards to tell the story.  As we read the story, we have the child who found the item we are discussing hold it up and show it off.  We even have the kids retell the story by putting the found items in their proper order.

Celebrating Passover – This is a tradition we started several years ago.  Celebrating Passover has given us a whole new understanding of how Jesus is the perfect sacrificial lamb. He is the ultimate sacrifice.  Read the powerful story of the Exodus and share with your children how amazing God truly is and how He sent Jesus to redeem us from the bondage of our own slavery–sin!

You might even check around the city you live in to see if anyone is hosting a Passover meal you could join.  I highly recommend celebrating it with a group of Christians or Messianic Jews because then you get the true understanding of how the Passover points not only to Christ’s first coming, but his second coming as well!

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Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper aka communion during the Passover meal!

There are so many fun ways to celebrate Easter and Christ’s Resurrection.

What are your family’s favorite traditions?  

How do you bring the focus back to Christ’s sacrifice?

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