What Does Honoring the Sabbath Look Like Under the New Covenant? | alyssajhoward.com

What Does Honoring the Sabbath Look Like Under the New Covenant?

This is the final part of a series I am working on about honoring the Sabbath and what it means for believers today. Feel free to catch up by reading part 1part 2, and part 3.

 

I distinctly remember learning the Ten Commandments as a little girl in Sunday school. Every one of them made sense to me except for one… honoring the Sabbath. What did that even mean anyway? Did going to church on Sunday mornings count? Continue Reading

Did Jesus Break the Sabbath Day? | alyssajhoward.com

Did Jesus Break the Sabbath Day?

This is part 3 of a series about God’s Sabbath rest and what it means for believers today. Feel free to catch up by reading part 1 and part 2. Now to answer the question… Did Jesus break the Sabbath?

 

The Sabbath was a controversial issue between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day. They constantly accused Him of breaking the Law by breaking the Sabbath. But did Jesus break the Sabbath? Some would say no. Some say that He simply broke the religious (and often ridiculous) rules that the Pharisees had assigned to the day. Others say, however, that Jesus did break the Sabbath. He not only healed on the Sabbath, but He was constantly creating a stir regarding the issue. Continue Reading

What's in a Name? There is Power in the Name of Jesus | alyssajhoward.com

What’s in a Name? {There is Power in the Name of Jesus}

I’ve heard it said that people don’t mind talking about “God” but the name of Jesus makes them uneasy. And honestly, I have found this to be true. Many claim to believe in a distant God or creator, but there’s a significant difference between believing in God and bowing the knee to Jesus.

Time and time again, the New Testament tells us to place our trust in the name of Jesus. But why tell us to put our trust in His name? Why not just tell us to trust Jesus? Continue Reading

How to Reconcile God's Law and the Grace of the Cross | alyssajhoward.com

How to Reconcile God’s Law and the Grace of the Cross

Many Christians today struggle with the concept of law vs grace; and in many ways, I used to be one of them. Some teach that we are “under grace” and no longer have to obey God’s Law… unfortunately, this view leads many Christians to claim Jesus as Lord while still living lives filled with sin.

But on the opposite side of the debate, we have those who teach that we are still called to obey the Law (apart from the animal sacrifices of course). However, this viewpoint can lead to religious obedience and rule-following rather than a personal, loving relationship with our heavenly Father.

So which is it? Do we still have laws to obey even though we are now under grace? Continue Reading

Love as Jesus Loved: The Prayer of Christ | alyssajhoward.com

Love as Jesus Loved: The Prayer of Christ

Easter is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s resurrection day! For believers, it’s not just about bunnies, eggs, and chocolate; we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Jesus loved us so much that He died on a cross. He conquered the grave and defeated death making it possible for us to inherit eternal life and to be transformed into new creations. (Hallelujah!) Continue Reading

7 Reasons to Rejoice in Suffering | alyssajhoward.com

7 Reasons to Rejoice in Suffering

The book of James tells us to rejoice in suffering. I don’t know about you, but my first instinct when I’m face to face with struggle has nothing to do with joy. I’m angry, sad, frustrated, confused… but never happy it. Continue Reading

Love Came First: Loving the Way Jesus Loved

In recent years, the secular world has been painting a picture of Jesus as a man who embraced all people with no questions asked. He dined with the sinners of His day and did not judge based on sin. They proclaim that Jesus was a minister of love who was all about accepting people for who they are.

The truth is that Jesus did expect repentance. He spoke often of the cost to follow Him. But throughout His ministry, His love came first. Jesus knew that once a person experienced the true love of God, they would never be the same. Continue Reading

Not Guilty: There is No Condemnation in Jesus | alyssajhoward.com

Not Guilty: There is No Condemnation in Jesus

There is no condemnation in Jesus. Many of us have heard this truth as believers, but what does it mean to walk in it? I can know that I’m forgiven by God, but how do I reconcile that with the fact that I sometimes struggle and I still mess up from time to time?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll beat yourself up for every little stumble. Continue Reading

The Night King Jesus Was Born

This Christmas, I have had the privilege of explaining the birth of King Jesus to my daughters in a way I’ve never been able to before. They are finally old enough to understand that Christmas is the day we choose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It has been special for me to say the least.

My favorite part, however, has been teaching them some of my favorite Christmas carols. I still sing to each of my girls before bed, and over the last few weeks we’ve added “Away in the Manger,” “Silent Night,” and “Joy to the World” to our nightly rotation. As an adult, I’ve been singing these songs for nearly three decades; but they have been given new life in my heart as I teach them to my girls for the first time.

 

The Night King Jesus Was Born | alyssajhoward.com

 

Music has the power to transform us. I mean that. My life would not be what it is today without the power of music. It teaches us, it molds us, and it allows us to feel emotions that often get buried away in the busyness of life. (That’s why it’s so important to be choosy when it comes to the music we listen to… but that’s a blog post for another day!)

 

For my girls, learning these Christmas carols has taught them some amazing truths. Having known the songs as long as I have, it’s easy to sing them and not pay attention to the lyrics. But as I taught my girls the words for the first time, I was reminded of how powerful the lyrics truly are.

 

“Joy to the world; the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!”

 

Think about those lyrics for a moment. The night Jesus was born, the earth received a new King – one who would reign forever.

 

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”Luke 2:9-14 (NLT)

 

This Christmas, I have made it my goal to not let traditions get in the way of truly reflecting on what actually happened the night our King Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born.

As I go through the motions of attending church, singing Christmas carols, and reading the nativity story, I pray that it will impact my heart as if I’m hearing it all for the first time.

 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May you find His joy and peace this holiday season.

 

The Night King Jesus Was Born | alyssajhoward.com

 

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Now We Live with Great Expectation: Relying on a Hope That Will Never Disappoint

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true.”

When it comes to our children, our health, and our safety, we hope for the best because we know that the best doesn’t always happen. We hope because we know that this life is uncertain and can change at a moment’s notice. We hope…

 

Now We Live with Great Expectation: Relying on a Hope That Will Never Disappoint | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

Why Reputation Matters When It Comes to Christian Ministry | alyssajhoward.com

Why Reputation Matters When It Comes to Christian Ministry

I’ve heard it said that we should guard our reputation because in the end, it’s all we have. One wrong move and our reputation could be destroyed. But in some ways, Christians are taught to disregard reputation. We are told that we will be hated and persecuted, and that we should stand up for truth and not be ashamed of it.

 

Why Reputation Matters When It Comes to Christian Ministry | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

4 Ways the World Copes with Shame (and how Jesus made a way to get rid of it for good)

Shame is such an ugly word. By definition it is “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.” It’s something that we all have experienced at some point in our lives. Maybe we made a terrible mistake or hurt someone we loved. Or perhaps we felt the shame of others pointing out our flaws and weaknesses. Regardless, none of us enjoy shame. Therefore, we all make an effort to avoid it if possible.

 

4 Ways the World Copes with Shame (and how Jesus made a way to get rid of it for good) | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

Impossible Battles: Even the Winds and Waves Obey Him | alyssajhoward.com

Impossible Battles: Even the Winds and Waves Obey Him

We all have them. Obstacles and impossible battles that we have no idea how to overcome. We are taught from an early age to face them head on. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. For some of the battles, this is true. We can face them head on and win.

Then there are the impossible battles. The ones where it seems that no amount of fighting will keep us from defeat. The ones where our demise seems inevitable. What about these battles? How can we possibly face these head on when we feel hopeless about the outcome?

 

Impossible Battles: Even the Winds and Waves Obey Him | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

Are We Desensitized to the Things of God? | alyssajhoward.com

Are We Desensitized to the Things of God?

When the early Christian church was expanding after Jesus ascended into heaven, amazing things were taking place. Thousands were coming to know Christ as their Savior and the message of the gospel was being preached throughout the known world. These new believers were passionate about their new faith as well as the expansion of the Good News.

At the time, however, they were also being intensely persecuted. I find it interesting to think that while Christians everywhere were dying for their faith, somehow the church was still expanding. The message was getting out there, and people were responding by surrendering their lives to something that could potentially get them killed.

 

Are We Desensitized to the Things of God? | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

Happily Ever After: When Jesus is Your Prince Charming | alyssajhoward.com

Happily Ever After: When Jesus is Your Prince Charming

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who dreamed of becoming a princess. She had a good heart and was kind to all. As fate would have it, she unexpectedly discovered a handsome prince. Upon meeting, they fell in love and lived happily ever after. The end.

I am the mother of two beautiful little girls. Needless to say, our home is filled with all things princess. They know these stories forwards and backwards. On the surface, the fairy tales seem pretty innocent. They can even be empowering. They teach young girls that kindness and love pay off in the end, that true beauty comes from within, and that every girl can indeed become a princess. These are all good things – right?

 

Happily Ever After: When Jesus is Your Prince Charming | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading