Thursday, June 23, 2016

Not The End again...

Mozilla Firefox came to the rescue.  Firefox is an excellent web browsing tool.  It's a free browser that accepts donations. It has the ability to lock our content so  it can't be stolen. Basically Google has purchased Blogspot.  So we need to respect their decision.  For some reason they believe taking our passwords will gain great things (I have no idea).  Time to change all passwords on all places except blogspot they're not worth anything now.

Thankfully I saved all my photos and artwork in Adobe Bridge so they're all safe. 

This week I'll be going to listen to Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey.  He is addressing our issues with the high property taxes and also spreading money to all schools instead of just a few.  My prayers are in this.  Our state is beautiful.  I saw a Snowy Owl one day, fly above our house.  I saw a pheasant sitting on a rail on the NJ Turnpike.  In Winter, deer walk behind our townhouse.  We have bunnies in the backyard and fireflies in Summer.  And of course the Jersey Shore.  What I'm saying is this is an extraordinary place to live.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Paul's Goodbye (Acts 20:13-38, Philippians 4:10-13, )

After the Apostle Paul left the house where the young boy fell asleep and fell out the window, Paul didn't give up or get embarrassed.  He kept going.  His personality type is definitely a driver.  He never stopped even when he was put in prison.  Maybe that's why I like Paul so much, I'm a driver too.  Keep going until it works!!!  I think Peter was an expressive.  He always said what he thought.  And probably regretted it at times.  I can relate to that too : )

I like these verses written by Paul:

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:10-13 NKJV)
Truly the Bible must be inspired by God.  We can all relate to it, if we pay attention.

13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. 15 We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.
Pentecost is the celebration of Christians receiving the Holy Spirit from God. It gives me chills to think of it : )  How amazing!

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
Some people believe to speak in tongues shows they are Spirit filled.  I've always thought speaking in tongues is for missionaries and those who need to communicate with people of other languages.  I ask the Holy Spirit for words to say when I'm confused, I sound much better after.  The Holy Spirit provides our needs when we need them.  Others may disagree with me which is fine.  My Greek professor, in college used to laugh and say, "Well Paul's talking again.  You can see all the run-on sentences : )"

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,

These verses that Paul wrote, sum up what it's like to be Christian, none of us are perfect:

  • 19 serving the Lord with all humility,
  • with many tears 
  • trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 
  • 20 I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 
  • 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Sometimes we feel like we have to be perfect to serve God.  Really a simple prayer for others can change another person's life. 

22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 
God's Holy Spirit is within us.  At times I feel I've said or done something wrong.  I know it's His Spirit helping me get on the right track.  So I pray for forgiveness and healing so I can stay on the right track.

24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul was willing to lay down everything to serve the Lord.

25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 
Originally, Paul set out to destroy Christians.  But Jesus saw more in him than even Paul realized.  With a bolt of light Jesus stopped him and Paul learned the truth.  He openly shared the gospel and lead many people to faith in Jesus.

27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears."

32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
(Acts 20:13-38 NKJV)
The Bible doesn't say how the Apostle Paul died.  Tradition tells us that he was beheaded and tortured in Rome in AD 67.  Unfortunately, it was the time of Nero's persecution of Christians.  Word of Nero's actions probably spread.  And Paul was never one to let fear control him.  The good news is we will see Paul in the New Jerusalem, after Jesus returns.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Talking non-stop (Acts 20:1-12, Matthew 10:14)

"Jesus gives us all we need to be strong and have faith."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
These verses take place after Paul had a bad experience with the Diana idols...

1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. 2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece 3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
It's nice to see that wherever Paul went, he met a lot of new friends.
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.  (Matthew 10:14 NKJV)
I don't recall the Apostle Paul ever being rude or trying to force his faith on anyone after he became a Christian.  Jesus asked us to leave behind anyone who isn't interested in the gospel.   He wants us to be polite and leave an opening for someone else to share Christ.

7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. 9 And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” 11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.
Paul kept preaching even after he saved the young man... until daybreak!  He was so driven and motivated to share the Lord.

My Pastor is pretty good about not talking so long we fall asleep : )
(Acts 20:1-12 NKJV)

Here's a song by Jonny Diaz, "Breathe, link"

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is risen! (Easter Story 7) (Col 1:18-20, Mark 16:9, John 20:1- 21:31, Mark 16: 9, Luke 24:50-53)

"It is finished!  We are free : )"

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Col 1:18-20

Peter, John's partner in the fishing trade, was outspoken!  John would often talk to Peter, and let him do the talking to others. In the gospels you'll often find John and Peter with Jesus.  John describes himself as the "disciple that Jesus loved" in many places.  Jesus made people feel loved.  He never forces people to be someone they aren't.  He let John and Peter be themselves.  This is one of the mysteries about Jesus, everyone who knew Him felt loved- no one felt left out.  Those who know Christ today, know His love for them.

1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
John 20:1-21:19

John outran Peter and got to the tomb first.  But he didn't go in.  It was Peter who jumped in first.  All they found was the burial cloths.   The handkerchief that was around His head was folded neatly.  It's like Jesus appreciated the love people had shown him after death.  I wonder if He smiled when He resurrected.  Although the religious leaders were sure the disciples would steal His body, the disciples never understood what Jesus meant by the resurrection.

3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,  7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Mary stayed at the tomb, weeping.  Mark 16:9  "...He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons."  

Jesus had changed Mary's life dramatically.  He freed her from demons.  Now she could think clearly and live a normal life.  He set her free but what would she do without Him?  Would it go back the way it was?

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting,one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).

She knew the Master's voice when He called her name : ) He would be with her always.  Jesus is with us today.

17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Another priceless moment.  The disciples were hiding out in fear of the religious leaders.  The doors are locked; the room is dark.  When suddenly someone appeared in the room with them!  I can only imagine the shock on their faces. 

He showed them His hands and side.  It was Jesus!  Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit to:  be their Helper, bring to mind all they had heard, and teach them (John 14:26).  

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 
21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Then there was doubting Thomas.  Thomas wasn't with them when Jesus appeared.  When the other disciples told him, he required his own proof.  

So, 8 days later, Jesus appeared again.  This time Thomas was there, He let Thomas touch his side and hands.  Thomas believed.  Jesus made a special promise to those of us who haven't seen Him.  He understands.  
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 
John 21:29

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"  27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him,  "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:21-31

Jesus promised He would meet up with the disciples in Galilee.  This is one of my favorite stories.  All of the remaining disciples are present.  Peter announces he's going fishing.  Those annoying disciples insisted on going with him.  No privacy!  Peter had seen Jesus, but he still had to come to grips with his denial of Christ.  I understand how it feels to do the wrong thing as a Christian.  I wondered if God could ever use me again.  It filled me with a sorrow I couldn't shake for a long time- I felt worthless.  I learned God's forgiveness in a huge way and was able to jump back into ministry, wiser with more compassion.

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:  2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."

Jesus chose regular people to show Himself to.

They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 
Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?"
They answered Him, "No."
6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
John 21:1-19 

God is full of surprises for us today too.

John recognized Jesus first.  Peter was so excited, he jumped into the sea and swam to Him!  Jesus had fixed them breakfast.  He had the fire going, bread and fish.  God fixed them breakfast!  He cares about the details of our lives.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?" — knowing that it was the Lord. 13Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

Peter had denied Christ 3 times.  It would always be branded in his conscience.  Jesus asked him if he loved Him 3 times.  And he replied, "Yes" 3 times back.  It was as though Jesus gave him a chance to receive forgiveness.  He is the God of second chances. I can't count the number of second chances He's given me!  We have all sinned.  Here's how Jesus helped Peter.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"
And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep."  18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."  19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." 

Jesus forgave Peter 3 times, the same number he denied Him.  Peter was eventually martyred.  He was to be crucified but asked to be hung upside down.  He felt he didn't deserve to be hung as Jesus was.  Our Savior forgives us and helps us change.  He knows more about us than we do.  I believe we can all relate to Peter, Thomas and Mary, who had a demon.  God is still helping us with our struggles.

It was time for Jesus to return to Heaven.  But, the disciples aren't sad.  They returned to the temple in Jerusalem with great joy!  They were continually praising and blessing God.  The cross couldn't destroy God, a tomb couldn't contain Him.  He is risen!   Hallelujah!  And today, we know Him in our hearts.  One day we will see Him face to face.
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into   heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. 
Luke 24:50-53 NKJV

It's important to note that the same Peter who fell into the water instead of walking on top of it, asked Jesus to wash all of him instead of just his feet, and just couldn't get that demon out of the man, found enough faith to perform miracles. He healed many in Jesus' name, recorded in the book of Acts.  He became a great leader in the Church. And John had a vision on the island of Patmos.  He was chosen to record the Book of Revelation.  If he truly was shy, this would've been the perfect assignment for him- although he did fall on his face a few times during the vision.  God has a plan for us all.  Jesus changes lives.

Happy Easter to you!  May you know the presence of Jesus and experience His love this Easter.

We got to see the movie, "God's Not Dead," it was a great movie if you get to see it. 

Here's a song by the Newsboys, God's NOT Dead (link)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday (Easter Story 6) (Psalm 139:14, John 1:1-14, Matt 27:57-58, John 19:39, Matt 27:59-66)

It's Friday but Sunday's coming!

I was thinking about why God would be the sacrifice for us.  I remembered He created us in His image.  Here's some things that came to mind:  babies giggle, when we fall in love it takes our breath away, we give Him praise and worship, of all the creatures we enjoy sunsets, the moon, and stars like God does.  We do have a hard time staying out of trouble (at least some of us do [me]) but even in that He still loves us.  He has said that He is our Father. He would do anything for us as long as it doesn't go against His own character.  He is solid that way, no changing His mind- consistent.  God is love.  Through all of our ramblings, and problems, we are a beautiful mess aren't we?  We are created in the image of God.  David said it this way:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  
Psalm 139:14

The "Word was God." Jesus is God.  He is the light that shines in the darkness.  Though He created the world, the darkness (evil) could not comprehend it.  "In Him is life, the life that is the light of men."
These verses describe Jesus as the Word.  The world was made (created) through Him.

John 1:1-14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

When it says that "His own did not receive Him,"  I believe He is describing the religious leaders: Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, chief priests, and elders.  The 12 disciples were Jewish.  Many Jews believed in Jesus by this time.  Like it says in verse 12, " many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." 

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

The Son of man; the Son of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who believed in Jesus.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, who also believed (John 3:1-21).  These are just two names.  We have no idea how many Jews came to believe in Christ.  It was risky for Joseph and Nicodemus to bury Jesus.  They were going against some very angry, irrational, religious leaders.  I understand the feeling.  You get to a point where you give up fear, and do what's right.  Then God's strength gives you the ability to press on.
Matt 27:57-58
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 

John 19:39
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 

Matt 27:59-66
59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. 

There are always good people and bad people in every group.  While Nicodemus provided myrrh and aloes for Jesus' body, other Pharisees went to Pilate to ensure His body stayed in the tomb.  Pilate couldn't understand their anxiety.  As a business woman, it sounds to me like he wanted them out of his office.

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'  64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 

65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. 

And so it was, Jesus' body was placed in a rich man's tomb like the prophecy foretold.  The tomb was made secure with a very large stone.  A guard stood in front of the tomb, so the disciples couldn't go and steal the body.  The chief priests and Pharisees must have breathed a sigh of relief.  It was over.  But the 3 days were not over... Could a tomb really contain God?

The disciples must've been so confused,  "Jesus wasn't supposed to die.  What is this?"

We have times like that today.  We wonder where is God?  In those times the only thing we can do is trust and worship.  When I get totally down and feel done for, I start counting my blessings: my husband, the house, a car, my cats, Church, the Pastors, chocolate and so on...

Dear Heavenly Father, please bless those who are facing persecution, hide them under Your wings of love.  I pray for peace in our hearts and wisdom to know what to do.    You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  You know all and see all.  Nothing is impossible for You. I trust in Your unfailing love.  Jesus said there'd be days like these.

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen         

Song by Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons (link)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

3 days and 2 nights in the tomb (Easter Story 5) (Luke 23:42-43, Jonah 2:1,6, Psalms 16:10-11, Ephes. 4:8-10, 1 Tim 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18-20, Colossians 1:18)

We don't know for sure what happened after Jesus' body was sealed in the tomb.  I can't believe the Son of God would drift into a mindless sleep.  He is God in human form, the trinity, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."  

When Jesus was speaking to the thief on the cross, He said He would be in Paradise with the repentant thief that day.  

42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
(Luke 23:42-43 NKJV)
Jonah's story relates closely to what Jesus did.  Sheol means death (sleep) in the Jewish faith.  It is believed that while Jesus' body lay in the tomb, He actually went in Spirit and delivered the dead to Heaven.

1 “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.'"

6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
(Jonah 2:1,6 NKJV)

I'd like to meet Moses and David one day : )
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:10-11 NKJV)

This was written by the Apostle Paul,
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
9 Now this, “He ascended” —what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.
(Ephesians 4:8-10 NKJV)

Beautiful words.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)

He made it possible for us to dwell with God again.  One day, it will be like Eden (with no serpent or temptation).  Free at last!
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
(1 Peter 3:18-20 NKJV)

He will never leave us or forsake us.  
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:10-11 NKJV)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Crucifixion (Easter Story 4) (Isaiah 43:4-6, Matt. 27:26, 51-54, 32-39, Mark 15:16-20, Luke 23:39-43, John 19:25-37, Heb. 9:11-12, Acts 17:24, Psalms 34:22)

"Wounded for our transgressions,
the last Passover lamb"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:4-6

This is the hard part to read and to write.  Who crucified Jesus?  The Romans?  The Jews?  Not just them, it was all of us.  Mankind crucified Jesus.  I did.  He was God's plan for the Passover sacrifice in 33AD.  The final lamb to be slain.  He was without blemish; He never sinned.   If I added up all the things man has done wrong since creation, I would've decided to trash the first batch and start over until I got a world that was perfect. Even after the flood that was sent to bring a new start and a new world, Noah got drunk.  I honestly can't explain why He loves us so much.  Although I do understand how I love others.

If we were born like robots, programmed to love God and never mess up, would God consider that true love?  Probably not.  It would be like a self-help book that says to repeat the words, "I am wonderful" every morning and night.  You think you're wonderful, but no one else does, kind of lonely.  He gave us a free will instead- the choice to either love Him or not.  Like a Father, He longs for us to sincerely love Him- so much He sacrificed Himself for us. 
" His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

Matt 27:26
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
After Pilate released Barabbas, he had Jesus scourged.  Scourging was done with a whip.  It had several leather thongs weighted with pieces of lead or sharp metal.  The victim was stripped to the waist, then bound, in a bent-over position, to a post, and beaten on the bare back with the scourge until the flesh was torn open.

"The chastisement for our peace was upon Him..." Isaiah 53:5

Mark 15:16-20
16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 
Purple was the color of royalty, the crown symbolized a king.  They mocked Him.  To hit the crown of thorns on His head, with a reed, must have been excruciating.  That along with the scourging, must have left Him barely able to stand.  He lost a lot of blood.  The cruelty He experienced was clearly satanic.  He had been proven innocent.  This was God's sacrifice for man.

Jesus was unable to carry the cross.  He didn't want to drink wine to numb the pain.  He had work to do from the cross.
Matt 27:32-38
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. 

35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
"They divided My garments among them,   And for My clothing they cast lots."  Psalms 22:18
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:

The Roman soldiers had no idea who Jesus really was.  It was just  another criminal to crucify for them.  
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 

Luke 23:39-43
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying,  "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 

40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
This is the attitude I have seen the most in street ministry.  Most people have a fear of God.  But this robber chose to believe Jesus, and found forgiveness of his sins.  He confessed his sins, and received salvation.

43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." 

If He chose to jump down from the cross healthy it would have been a miracle.  But He would've only saved one generation.  He died so He could save all of mankind.  The final sacrifice; He died so we could live today.  
Matthew 27:39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 
And He did save Himself, and us. If we are willing.

41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.  43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 

As the Son of man, Jesus loved His Mother, they had experienced much together.  As the Son of God, He wanted her to be safe and well cared for.  So He chose John to be her son- and Mary to be John's Mother.  After His death, they could talk about Jesus and remember all they had seen and experienced.  Jesus would no longer walk on earth as a man, soon He would return to God's throne.
John 19:25-37
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"  27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. 

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!"  29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. 

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 
"Not one of His bones shall be broken." (Psalms 34:20)  37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." (Zechariah 12:10)
And then what happened...

I would've loved to see the reaction of the scribes and chief priests, when the events after Jesus' death happened.  The only recorded reaction in the Bible I found, was that of the Centurion.  The veil of the temple has been estimated to be 60 feet high and 4 inches thick.  It was the curtain that divided man from the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant rested, the place God's presence dwelt.  It is the place where animal sacrifices were made.  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter one time a year.  When Jesus died, the veil was torn and God's presence left the temple.  His blood became the sacrifice for all of man's sin: Jew and Gentile.  The earth quaked and rocks were split!  How could you not notice?  Again, I would've loved to see Caiaphas' (the High Priest) face when the dead started rising : )  
Matt 27:51-54
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
Indeed, He is : )

Other verses that help explain what happened:
Hebrews 9:11-12
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Jesus no longer dwells in a building built with human hands.  For those who allow Him, He dwells in the hearts of men and women.

Acts 17:24
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.

Psalms 34:22
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. 

And now!  We have direct access to Him any day, any time.  We don't have to wait for a year and a High Priest to offer our sacrifices anymore!  I am so glad He didn't give up on us.  In Heaven, we will finally be able to understand His great and wonderful love, without doubt, or question.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I am looking forward to Your return, for peace.  Like the disciples who saw Jesus crucified and thought there was no hope; we feel that way too at times.  Guess that's what faith is, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  Bless our leaders with good things, stamina, and words to say. 

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen       

1Halley's Bible Handbook

Here's a song by Big Daddy Weave, Redeemed (link).