The Joy Set Before Him


“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2-3

It was for us, you and me, that Jesus endured the cross and rose again to life. Because of his sacrifice, we can be in relationship with the living God now in these last days on earth and forever in heaven. Never underestimate the power of his love and grace for us. No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or who we think we are or aren’t, God created us, has a plan for us, and redeemed us through Jesus.

All we have to do is say “Yes. I want that relationship. I’m sorry for going my own way. Thank you, Jesus.”

He Chose You


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For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame… Hebrews 12:2

Jesus thought of you and me when he chose to lay his life down.

He thought of being with us as a joy. That’s how much he loves us. He didn’t want to be without us. So he endured the humiliation, torture and devastation of being nailed to a cross.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

He overcame death and rose again. Not only so he could be alive, but so we could live forever with him. Forever alive. Forever without tears, sorrow or pain. Because he took all of that on him for our sake.

Wow.

Happy Easter. 

 

Getting a Handle on Fear


Aussie land 145A couple of weeks ago, I posted about fears sinking us.

As I learn to trust God more, I’m beginning to understand to a greater depth that he really is in control of every situation. I don’t believe he causes bad things, but I see how he allows them to bring about something better for us. Sometimes our idea of “good” isn’t as good as his “best.”

As a result, my fear is diminishing.

Over the last three months, I’ve read a couple of books that are changing my perspective.

Prison to Praise is the testimony of Merlin Carothers who describes his journey finding God and his power in Merlin’s life. Power in Praise gives numerous stories of people, including Merlin, who began to praise God for every situation in their lives – both good and bad.

God’s plans for us are good. And they can’t be hindered.

I know that you can do ALL things, and NO purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Job 42:2

So every situation is from his hand in order to bring about something good.

every. single. situation.

I get that is hard to wrap our minds and hearts around. I have friends who just lost a son. How do we apply this mindset? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Yet.

I won’t offer platitudes. But I do know that God is good and is doing something good even in that situation. It comes down to whether we can fully trust God, his goodness, his promises and most of all his love for us.

And that is what alleviates our fear.

No matter what happens, I’m trying to choose to praise God and trust that he is doing something good. Even when it looks bad.

At the very least, my heart is calmed, and I find peace and joy.

But I’m also finding that God works out the circumstances I thought had no answer or were too bad to take – not usually as I envisioned, but always better than I hoped.

As we approach Easter, I see the ultimate example of this.

When the religious leaders dragged Jesus away, and mocked, tortured and crucified him, his followers scattered. Terrified and alone (so they thought), they tried to make sense of the turn of events. They had believed, expected that Jesus would rescue them from the oppression of Roman rule. They watched their hopes and dreams die on that cross. Right?

Wrong.

God had a better plan. An eternal plan for life beyond the one they were living on earth. He sent Jesus to save them from being forever separated from God. God’s perspective was far greater than theirs. Saving them from their current situation was not as crucial as saving them for eternity.

With God, there is always a bigger picture.

One we can’t usually see until after the fact. You know, that 20/20 hindsight thing. So if we can believe this, trust God and thank him for what he’s doing even when we can’t see it or understand it in the moment, we experience peace. We also take our hands off situations which allows God to work things out.

To experience his best way, we have to get out of the way!

I challenge you to consider taking your life forward by praising God even for the tough stuff that seems bad. What looks bad to us, is a gateway to the ultimate good from him.

Let me know your thoughts…

 

Do You Have Hope?


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Tamera Lynn Kraft

This week’s post is written by my featured author, Tamera Lynn Kraft.
She’s given us an encouraging piece about hope and a brief excerpt from her novella, Resurrection of Hope.

Often, when life feels stuck or circumstances seem to press in on us, we can lose hope. But Tamara points out that our true hope is in Jesus. With God nothing is impossible.

We all hope for things.

If our flowers need watering, we hope it will rain. If we have a picnic scheduled, we hope it will be sunny. We all hope life will be easy. Hope in the Bible is different than this kind of hope of wishing something would happen or wanting something.

In the New Testament, the word hope is translated from the word elpizo. Elpizo means confidently trusting in and waiting for something or someone.

Hebrews 16:19 calls hope an anchor for our souls.

When our hope is in Christ instead of in our circumstances, that kind of confident expectation brings us a peace the world can’t understand and a joy that doesn’t depend on everything happening exactly right. We can rely upon Christ to work things out for our good.

That relieves us of the pressure to fix things we can’t fix.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.     Romans 15:13 (ESV)

My Easter novella, Resurrection of Hope, is about two broken people, Vivian and Henry, who find hope together that only Christ gives. At one point, Vivian visits a friend named Hope who has just lost a child. Hope was told she couldn’t have children.

Here’s a short excerpt from that scene….

Vivian swallowed. “I… I don’t know what to say. I expected to find you distraught after what happened, but you seem to be… almost cheerful.”

Hope’s eyes closed and her head tilted back into the pillow. “I have my moments. Trust me.” She opened her eyes and smiled. “I keep my hope in Jesus Christ, and He gives me the peace I need to get through this.”

Vivian held back a snort. “How can you of all people talk of hope knowing you’ll never have any children?”

Hope pressed her lips together as she propped herself up on her pillow. “If my hope rested on having children, then you’re right. There would be no reason, but my hope is the kind they talk about in Psalms. ‘But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.'”

Resurrection of Hope

She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?
After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.
Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

Get this book.

 

Available April 11, 2017

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. In April, her new novel, Alice’s Notions will be released. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. You can contact Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net