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AFTER EASTER
 
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened….“What things?” Jesus asked.
 
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.  But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.  We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”  Luke 24:13-14, 19-21 (NLT)
 
Melanie listened intently to the upcoming weather forecast.  Winter had dealt their part of the country one last blow and she was hoping that the weather would be nice for the weekend Easter egg hunt.  The weatherman was promising and said that after Easter, it would start to warm up.  There would be a change in the weather.  Melanie was glad to hear that.
 
She went to her closet and pulled out her new Easter outfit.  She couldn’t wait to wear it.  Mom had made her save it for Easter but said that after Easter she could start wearing it to school if she wanted.  Even the shoes.
 
Melanie thought about the Easter egg hunt and how Mom always put some money in some of the plastic eggs.  She hoped that she found a lot of the money eggs.  Then she would have enough to get that new backpack she wanted.  After Easter she would probably have enough.
 
And things at school were going to get a little easier, too.  They had made it through a couple of long weeks of state testing, but after Easter they could go back to regular lessons.  There were sure to be some fun activities added in as the school year began to wind down.  Melanie couldn’t wait until after Easter. Things would be different.
 
Melanie lay on her bed, listening to music, and thought about what “after Easter” meant to her right now.  And she thought about what she had heard at Good Friday services today, about Jesus’ sacrifice and how his disciples had thought it was the end.  She felt sorry for them because she knew what that was like.  To believe in something so badly and then to have it seem like it was not going to happen. To think that all of their hope was gone. She wished she could go back in time and tell them that it was not over, that after Easter things would be different.  She wished she could tell them to not give up hope because soon they were going to see their miracle.
 
Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”  Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)
 
She knew what those dark days were like.  The time in her family when it seemed like it was the end of their hopes and dreams for a restored family.  The time when her family had walked in defeat and despair.  But they had not given up hope because they knew with God, all things are possible.  And after some time of dark days, they had gotten their own sort of Easter.  The Lord had healed their family, made them whole again, resurrected them from the dead. 
 
Melanie realized that Easter wasn’t about money or activities or clothes or eggs.  Easter was about fulfilling a promise God had made thousands of years earlier.  It was about a chance to have eternal life with God because Jesus had given up His.  It was about God loving us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only son so that we could be forgiven.  It was about light coming into the world after some very dark days.  After Easter, nothing would be the same.
 
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17 (NLT)
 
God bless, 

Kim, a stander in Nebraska
Read about me

Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc. 
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061

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Hiding God's Word in Your Heart
Weekly Scripture Memorization:

 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:1, 5

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THE JOURNEY
 
The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’”  Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.  Matthew 21:14-17 (NLT)
 
Marissa loved this time of year at Sunday School.  She loved the story of Resurrection Sunday, how Jesus arose from the dead, defeating Satan, opening the way to forgiveness of sin.  But even more, she liked the story about Jesus’ triumphant procession into Jerusalem.  How the people praised Him and laid palms out before Him.  She could imagine herself as one of those children in the Temple, crying out, “Praise God for the Son of David.” 
 
What made this story so meaningful for Marissa was that Jesus had to wait so long for this day.  He had to go through a lot of different things to get to this day.  He had been mocked and ridiculed and stalked by the Pharisees.  It hadn’t been easy at all.  Yet Jesus knew what He had to do and He did it.  Not in His own strength, but with the strength that His Father gave Him.
 
Marissa’s family had been on a similar journey.  When Dad first left, they were like the world before Jesus was born, living in darkness, not knowing which path to take, never sure of where their next step would take them.  It had been a confusing and scary time for all of them. 
 
But Marissa’s mom had been drawn to start praying for Dad.  She had talked about God’s plan for their family and her trust that the Lord would give them guidance and direction.  Her faith and belief had grown every day as the Lord provided for them supernaturally.  Every time a bill got paid that they didn’t know how they would be able to pay, every time something good happened in their lives, every time they made it through another “circumstance,” Marissa’s mom would be tell the children about how the Lord was surrounding them with His love.  How He was providing for them and caring for them.  How He was the head of their home now. 
 
How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.  Psalm 128:1-4 (NLT)
 
Soon Marissa began to believe, too.  She began to believe that even this thing that had happened in their life was not too big for God.  She began to believe that He did hear their prayers and that He was at work all the time on His good plans for their family.  She began to believe that He truly was the God of the impossible.
 
But the journey had been long and there were times when it seemed like the impossible would never happen.  There were many in their extended family who had often said, “This is not what God wants for your life.  He wants you to be happy.  He wants you to move on.”
 
But just like Jesus before his triumphal entry, Marissa and her family kept doing the work the Lord had called them to do – praying and believing and trusting, having faith that one day their long, hard journey would be over and Dad would find his way back.  Back to Jesus and back to their family. 
 
And here it was, another Palm Sunday at church.  As Marissa lined up with the other children to carry the palms into church, she poked her head around the line to focus on the fourth pew from the front, left side.  And there they were.  Her two little brothers, her mom….and her dad.  Yes, they had had to wait a long time for this day, but it was here.  Jesus had answered their prayers.
 
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.  He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 146:9-10
 
God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska

Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061

Hiding God's Word in Your Heart
Weekly Scripture Memorization:  

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

 
A PROMISE OF SPRING

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts….They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.  Psalm 145:3-4, 7

Macy couldn’t believe it.  It was supposed to be spring, wasn’t it?  And yet here she was once again stuck inside the house as the winter that wouldn’t go away dumped another round of snow on her part of the country.  They were already scheduled to attend school longer at the end of the year since they had used up all their allotted snow days – and then some.  This would just add one more day.

Reluctantly, Macy crawled out of bed.  She could hear the excited voices of her younger brother and sister in the kitchen, talking about the snowman they were going to make and the snow fort they were going to build.  They didn’t care about extra days or cold weather.  They were just looking forward to the blessing of another snow day off from school and all the fun things they were going to do with it.

Even her mom was excited about the snow.  Macy knew it meant missing another day of work and another small paycheck at the end of the month for her.  She knew it meant endless rounds of buttoning and zipping and wrapping as her little brother and sister trudged in and out of the house.  She knew it meant Mom would be doing several extra loads of laundry today. Yet there she sat, buttering pancakes, pouring milk, answering excited voices with enthusiasm.

“Macy!” her little brother yelled as she came into the kitchen.  “Mom has a great idea for a new snow fort.  We’re going to use those big boxes out in the garage for walls.  And see that big drift in the corner over there?  That’s the perfect spot for a snow fort.  We can play out there all day! Mom’s going to help.  Will you help, too?”

Macy had to smile at his enthusiasm but told him she was just going to stay inside today and find a good book to read.  As the morning wore on and the snow continued to fall, Macy watched out the back window as the snow fort took shape.  By the mid-morning cocoa break, it had been constructed.  As the dryer hummed with wet mittens and hats,  her little brother tried to talk her into coming outside with them once again.  “Just because it’s cold and snowy, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.  And we got an extra day off school.  How can you not be happy with that?”

Figs might not grow on the fig trees, and grapes might not grow on the vines. Olives might not grow on the olive trees, and food might not grow in the fields. There might not be any sheep in the pens or cattle in the barns.  But I will still be glad in the Lord and rejoice in God my Savior.  Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ERV)

Mom shared a look with Macy.  She remembered talking with Mom about the family situation and how it just seemed like nothing good was ever going to happen.  Mom reminded Macy of how the Lord has so many blessings, even in the midst of adversity.  How it might seem like nothing was happening, but that the Lord was always at work for their family - touching hearts, changing lives, drawing Dad to himself.  How even though it seemed like this would last forever, this trial would end some day and they would all be better for having gone through it. Macy remembered Mom’s instructions – look for the blessings.

She peered out the kitchen window at the snow fort.  It really was kind of neat.  And it wasn’t snowing as hard as it had been earlier.  “Why not!” she thought to herself, as she joined her family in bundling up for another trek outside.  They spent the rest of the morning in the snow fort, telling stories, sharing jokes, talking about the long winter and the spring that was sure to come. 

On her last trip into the house for the day, Macy spotted something yellow in a patch of the yard where the snow was not as deep.  Coming closer, she saw that it was a dandelion, poking it’s bright yellow head above a thin layer of snow.  Macy smiled because she knew it was a promise from God.  A promise that this winter would not last forever and spring WAS on its way.  And a promise for her family that this season would not last forever.  That God was at work right now bringing their spring.

 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilledJoshua 21:45 

God bless, 
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
Read about me

Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc. 
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061

Ministry Web Site  |  Bookstore  |  24/7 Radio 
Donations  |  Chapel Page

Hiding God's Word in Your Heart
Weekly Scripture Memorization:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die."
John 11:25

 

Making the Sacrifice
 
But you will go across the Jordan River and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. There he will give you rest from all your enemies, and you will be safe. Then the LORD your God will choose a place that will be the home for his name. You must bring everything I command you to that place. Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, one-tenth of your crops and animals, your special gifts, and any gifts that you promised to give to the LORD.  Deuteronomy 12:10-11 (ERV)
 
Sophie eyed her brother’s soda enviously, wishing she could have one.  But there were still two weeks left in Lent and she had given up pop for Lent.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now she really wanted a soda.  “I guess I didn’t realize how long 40 days really was,” Sophie thought to herself.  “I’ve been good so far.  Maybe I can have just one.”  Just as she was reaching in the refrigerator, she heard the garage door go up.  Mom was home.  Mom knew about her sacrifice for Lent.  Sophie didn’t want to disappoint Mom.  So she closed the refrigerator door and went up to her room.
 
Later, during supper, Sophie asked her mom why Lent was so long.  Mom explained that the word Lent actually comes from an Old English word that means “long.” It occurs when the hours of daylight are getting longer. There are 40 days of Lent, not counting Sundays, to coincide with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.  Jesus made the sacrifice of going without food or water for 40 days to prepare Him for the hard work of His ministry.  Just like we spend 40 days of Lent, making whatever sacrifice we have chosen, to prepare us for the upcoming dark days before Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
 
Sophie told Mom how tempted she was to drink a soda, despite her promise.  Mom talked about how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, also, and how He got his strength from His heavenly Father.  He was able to resist the temptation because He relied on God.
 
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.  Mark 1:12-13 (NLT)
 
“Mom,” Sophie asked, “have you ever been tempted to give up on something you promised to do?”
 
Mom smiled and sent up a quick prayer for wisdom.  “Yes, Sophie,” she began, “I was tempted to give up on something I had promised to do.  Many years ago, when you were very small and your brother wasn’t even born yet, your dad and I weren’t getting along.  Daddy moved out of the house and he was not very nice to me.  For awhile, I wasn’t very nice back to him.  But then I found a place where people were praying for their marriages to be restored; a place that believed anything was possible with God.  And somehow I knew inside that I wasn’t supposed to let go of my marriage to Daddy.”
 
“But Daddy is still here with us,” Sophie said quizzically.
 
“Yes, he is Sophie,” Mom answered.  “And he’s here with us because I didn’t give into the temptation to give up.  I chose to make the sacrifice.  I prayed for your daddy; that the Lord would bring him home to Jesus and to us.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do, Sophie, and many, many people told me to get on with my life and forget about Daddy.  But the Lord wouldn’t let me give up, even when I was tempted to.  He kept giving me signs and promises in His Word so I kept relying on His strength to keep walking day by day.”
 
“I can’t believe Daddy was ever mean,” Sophie smiled.  “I think he’s a pretty nice man.”
 
Mom smiled back.  “He is a pretty nice man, Sophie.  The Lord has a way of touching and changing hearts that is nothing short of miraculous.  Once your daddy let Jesus into his heart, he became a new person.  It didn’t happen right away, but little by little your daddy became the man we know and love with all our hearts today.”
 
“Well,” Sophie said thoughtfully, “if Jesus can make that sacrifice for me in the wilderness and if you can make that sacrifice for our family, then I think I can probably go two more weeks without pop.”  She quickly hugged her mom and poured herself yet another glass of juice.
 
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.  Psalm 50:14-15
 
God bless, 
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
Read about me

Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc. 
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061

Ministry Web Site  |  Bookstore  |  24/7 Radio 
Donations  |  Chapel Page

Hiding God's Word in Your Heart
Weekly Scripture Memorization:
 
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." John 10: 11, 14
 
"TELL ME ABOUT THIS JESUS"
 
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”  Luke 10:25-28 (NLT)
 
Aaron and his friends laughed noisily as they made their way home from school, jostling each other good-naturedly, rehashing some of the important highlights of their school day. Aaron always loved this time of day – after the hard work of school and before the demands of chores at home. His friends had been so supportive since his dad had left.  He didn’t know what he would do without them.
 
They heard whooping and hollering behind them and turned to see the neighborhood bully careening down the sidewalk on his bike, “accidentally” shoving those who were walking aside. Aaron had had several encounters with this bully, both at school and in the neighborhood. He had hurled insults at him, took things from him, even got physical with him. Aaron had no desire to meet up with him today.
 
The boys saw the encounter coming and stepped into a nearby yard, giving him a wide berth. “Sissies!” he yelled as he sped by them on his bike. The boys just regrouped and continued their walk.
 
When they came around the corner, they were surprised to see this bully laying in someone’s yard, his bike bent, his knee bleeding, his head in his hands. “Serves him right,” one of the boys sneered. 
 
“Yeah,“ another countered as they walked past. “How does it feel to have a taste of you own medicine?”
 
“Sissy!” another chimed in. They walked right by him, laughing loudly.
 
Aaron’s heart didn’t feel right. He stole several glances back as they continued walking. The boy was still sitting in the grass and Aaron could see by his body language that he was crying. Even though this boy had been mean to him in the past, Aaron knew he had to help him.
 
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.  The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”  Luke 10:33-37 (NLT)
 
“You guys go on,” he said to his friends. “I’m going to see if he’s all right.” With his friends giving him grief, Aaron returned to the site of the crash.
 
“Are you OK?  Can I help you?” he asked the boy. 
 
“What do you care?” he answered. “Nobody cares what happens to me.”
 
Aaron set the bike upright as much as he could and sat down beside the boy. “You know, I used to feel that way, too,” he said. “Especially when my dad left. I felt like no one cared about me or what I felt. Like I had no one I could count on.” 
 
“Your dad is gone, too?” The boy finally looked up at Aaron. “How long?”
 
“Too long, “Aaron answered him. “But my mom and sister and I are praying for him. It feels good to be doing something to help him, even though I hated him at first for leaving. But praying with my family has taught me about forgiveness and about unconditional love and about Jesus, who loves us no matter what we’ve done. If God can forgive me for some of the stupid things I’ve done or the mean things I’ve said, then I need to forgive my dad, too.”
 
The boy swiped at his eyes, sighed deeply, and got up on his feet. Aaron grabbed the mangled bike and starting wheeling it. The two boys made their way slowly down the sidewalk and as they walked, the boy said to Aaron, “Tell me about this Jesus.” 
 
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!  Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)
 
God bless, 
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
Read about me

Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc. 
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061

Ministry Web Site  |  Bookstore  |  24/7 Radio 
Donations  |  Chapel Page

Hiding God's Word in Your Heart
Weekly Scripture Memorization:

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:9
(NKJV)