Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blessing or curse

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in our works.  I know I like praise and acknowledgement from others.  It sure feels good.  But it's not just about me, it's about God, it's about others. On our prayer team, we have been praying for a Christian family.  It started three years ago, the Father was critically wounded in Iraq.  His injuries were so bad they didn't expect him to live.  He was sent to the US to die with his family.  He lost his sight, hearing, legs and his arm, he had a liver and kidney transplant.  He was kept on life support for four months.  His wife had to make the decision as to when to unplug him.  No one should have to make that decision, she couldn't tell if she was being selfish or following God's will.  Mercifully, his body shut down after four months.

There was a man who had planned to kill her husband in Iraq.  The plan backfired and he died.  His relatives in the United States decided to rape this soldier's wife, when the kids were out of the house.  The brutality led her to lose her mind.  She took her life.  Their six year old son, became angry and violent when his Dad was wounded.  After his death, he got worse and was locked in an institution.  He also committed suicide.  Now there are only the twin girls left.  One is dieing of lung cancer.  She's had problems with her lungs since birth.  We are praying for a miracle for her.  Some of the people on our team, have been praying about this for 3 years.  

People have walked away from the thread saying, "Why won't God answer!  Where is God?"  Sometimes our prayers sound like begging.  It's hard to understand how one family can go through all this.  Our ways are not like God's.  I was praying yesterday for the little girl- Jaylie.  After reading this Psalm, I realized, we can't pray for our sake.  We can't strong arm God into doing our will.  Even if Jaylie isn't healed, He is still merciful and faithful.  She will be in Heaven with Jesus and her family. Though we don't understand, we must trust in God's unfailing love.  I will continue to pray for a miracle.  Not for my sake, but so the family will know there is a God.  Even in this, I realize God knows how to reveal His love; He's been doing it since creation.  Feel free to say a prayer for Jaylie- she's passed the amount of time the doctors gave her to live, but is in critical condition.

Psalms 115
1 Not for our sake, God, no, not for our sake,
but for your name's sake, show your glory.
Do it on account of your merciful love,
do it on account of your faithful ways.
2 Do it so none of the nations can say,
"Where now, oh where is their God?"
3 Our God is in heaven
doing whatever he wants to do.

On a lighter note, I used to love playing with Barbies when I was a little girl.  She had the coolest outfits, a car, a house.  But one day, I realized Barbie couldn't move unless I moved her.  She was just a doll.  And I put her away.  Idols are worthless.  Serving God is much more interesting.
4 Their gods are metal and wood,
handmade in a basement shop:
5 Carved mouths that can't talk,
painted eyes that can't see,
6 Tin ears that can't hear,
molded noses that can't smell,
7 Hands that can't grasp, feet that can't walk or run,
throats that never utter a sound.
8 Those who make them have become just like them,
have become just like the gods they trust.

The word, "bless" or "blessed"  is used many times in these verses.  The tricky part is being able to determine when something is a blessing.  The Exodus felt like a curse at times, for Moses and the Israelites.   They even wanted to go back to Egypt and be slaves again.  But God was with them. They reached the end of their journey to enter the promised land.  These verses remind us to "Trust in God! Trust your Helper!  Trust your Ruler!"  It'll all make sense in the end.
9 But you, Israel: put your trust in God
trust your Helper! trust your Ruler
10 Clan of Aaron, trust in God! 
— trust your Helper! trust your Ruler! 
11 You who fear God, trust in God
trust your Helper! trust your Ruler!
12 O God, remember us and bless us,
bless the families of Israel and Aaron. 
13 And let God bless all who fear God 
bless the small, bless the great
14 Oh, let God enlarge your families 
giving growth to you, growth to your children
15 May you be blessed by God,
by God, who made heaven and earth
16 The heaven of heavens is for God,
but he put us in charge of the earth.
17 Dead people can't praise God 
— not a word to be heard from those buried in the ground. 
18 But we bless God, oh yes 
we bless him now, we bless him always!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Praise the Lord!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Psalms 106:1 NKJV

There was a terrible drought in Africa.
I worked at a third world relief and development agency,
headquartered in the U.S.
One of the fieldworkers came back to the office.
I asked him, "What do people praise God for in such terrible conditions?"
He said, "Every drop of water."

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dry and thirsty

This is a Passover hymn about how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.  The author is unknown.  The Psalms have many references to the exodus from Egypt.  You'll know I'm not a super-saint when I confess I saw this and thought, "Oy!  Another Psalm about the Exodus!!?"  Maybe the children felt the same way when they gathered for Passover celebrations.  "Can we sing something else please? We get it.  Ok?"  But the truth is, this is a part of Christian and Jewish heritage.  We must remember what God did in the Exodus.  These miracles are mighty acts of God.  It shows us how God can use an individual, as His servant, like Moses, to save His people.   I wonder what He has in mind for you and me.   I saw Jesus in this Psalm!

Psalms 114

The twelve tribes (offspring of the sons) of Israel (also known as Jacob) came to Egypt to seek refuge and food during a terrible drought.  They multiplied a great deal. They eventually were made slaves.  They were stuck in a world with a foreign language, a world with a strange religion of many gods.  
1 When Israel went out of Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is referred to as the lion from the tribe of Judah.   In this Psalm, Judah, a tribe of Israel becomes His sanctuary, His dominion.
2 Judah became His sanctuary,
And Israel His dominion.

I have this image in my mind from movies.  The red sea became a roadblock for the exodus.  Moses placed the staff in the red sea, and God parted the waters.  Mountains like Sinai smoked.  The earth trembled at God's command, it would've been so awesome to see- much better than the movies.  Jordan refers to the river.
3 The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
6 O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,

This incident happened along their journey, they camped in Rephidim.  There wasn't any water.  The Israelites took it out on Moses.  He was accused of bringing them out of Egypt so they would die of thirst.  Oy!  Poor Moses!  Moses went to God asking what to do.  So God told him to go to a rock with some of the elders as witnesses.  Moses hit the rock with his staff, and water gushed out.  God was not pleased with the attitude of the Israelites  (Exodus 17:1-6).  It reminds me of how important it is to go to God first before you put a plan in place.
8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.

Like the Israelites, I sometimes feel dry and thirsty.  People can really get on my nerves, bring out anger and feelings I'd rather not experience.  The latest news is a prime example.  I find reading the Bible and praying melts the hopelessness around me.  Jesus is my rock, the Bible is the way for me to tap into Jesus' refreshing spring of water giving me an endless supply of hope and peace.  It gives me the knowledge that no matter how crazy the world seems, God is still on His throne.  
Jesus is the Rock of our salvation. 
Ps 95:1-2
5 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Jesus said,
Matt 7:24-25
24 Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Jesus is the water of life, He said,
John 4:13
13 ..."Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,  14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

Monday, March 28, 2011

To speak His name

On my last post, I described painting with Janice, a woman who was paralyzed by MS.  Here's the rest of the story.  My husband and I had just moved to New Jersey for his career in Occupational Therapy from Seattle, WA.  God gave me this burning desire to help someone paint who was paralyzed and in a wheelchair.  I asked my husband to see if there was someone at his new job in the Nursing Home.  It turned out there was a woman who had been asking for an artist to help her for a long time- Janice.  He brought me the news and I excitedly applied.  The Nursing Home wanted to reward the volunteers by giving an art show so we could share our artwork.  Some read to patients, others just talked and listened.  It sounded like a fun idea, so I got some paintings ready and took them in.  I went and got Janice so she could see.  She said, "Wow.  What are you doing here with me?"

It hurt that she felt inferior to anyone, especially me.  I stammered, "I'm a Christian, this is what Jesus wants me to do.  He loves you and so do I."  We both got teary eyes and didn't speak much more that day.  

After an hour a week for many months, Janice passed away.  I believe she's up in Heaven dancing and running around now. I'm hoping God has some paint brushes ready for us. So we can set up our easels by the River of Life and do some painting together again. 

Psalms 113

1 Hallelujah!
You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
2 Just to remember God is a blessing
now and tomorrow and always.
3 From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!

4 God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
5 Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
6 Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
7 He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who've been thrown out with the trash,
8 Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
9 He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.

Jesus said it this way-
Matt 25:34-40
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'  40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

Friday, March 25, 2011

The good life

This is one of my favorite Psalms.  To me, it describes what it's like to be the kind of Christian that pleases God.  

Psalms 112
To fear God, means to respect Him.  To me it means acknowledging His power and supremacy over the earth and all that is in it.
1 Hallelujah!
Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God,
Who cherish and relish his commandments,

When I lived in Utah, there were many Mormon families.  We moved there from Southern California.  I was struck by their rosey cheeks, and health.  They didn't drink coffee or coca cola.  But of course they got into their own trouble.  The Amish are like this as well.  There's a sense of strength and well-being in the people.
2 Their children robust on the earth,
And the homes of the upright — how blessed!

Wealth isn't always money.  It's in the heart.  When I stop and thank God for all my blessings:  my husband, my cats, a house to live in, food, my camera, my Church, friends.  I realize how wealthy I really am.  I want to give to others.  When I think of God's generosity, giving someone a drink of water when they need it seems pretty simple.
3 Their houses brim with wealth
And a generosity that never runs dry.

We do experience darkness as Christians.  My brother is sick with cancer, my Mom is in and out of the hospital.  I praise God for every moment I've had with them, for every moment I can have with them now.  I choose to focus on the joy and greet them with a smile.  I will miss them one day, but they will be in my heart forever.  (And keep praying for miracles!)
4 Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people —
God's grace and mercy and justice!
5 The good person is generous and lends lavishly;

God gives me purpose and direction.   Each day I have something to do.  I'm never bored!  That's for sure.
6 No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,
But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.

I confess rumors and gossip does bother me.  But I move on.
7 Unfazed by rumor and gossip,
Heart ready, trusting in God,

I'm usually pretty stable in my faith.  But I can't say I'm never perturbed.  You can ask my husband, I do have my moments for sure!
8 Spirit firm, unperturbed,
Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,

Gifts for the poor can be money or time.  I helped a woman paint who had Multiple Sclerosis once.  She was paralyzed from the head down. She used an adapter to paint with her mouth.  I'm an artist.  Like most ministries, I think I got the most out of it.  She said the same thing.  There was something wonderful about giving my time and talent to someone else, it's hard to describe.  Her spirit was set free from her paralysis for a short time.  I saw the sparkles in her eyes.  I prayed before I went, knowing I didn't have what it would take to help her on my own.  There was a wave of warmth and joy when we painted.  Eventually her condition deteriorated.  So I'd ask her what she wanted to paint.  She'd ask for a bear so I did it.  Her eyes got big and she giggled like a child.  It's honestly the best time I've ever had painting in my life.  God always has some cool stuff for His servants to do.  More than just money.  It made my life beautiful with purpose.  I'm so grateful He led me to that opportunity.
9 They lavish gifts on the poor
A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.
An honored life! A beautiful life!

This is true too.  I have been accused of some weird stuff- but the end is usually just frustration for the accuser.
10 Someone wicked takes one look and rages,
Blusters away but ends up speechless.
There's nothing to the dreams of the wicked. Nothing.

Maybe it's time to find another ministry.  Remembering some of the things I've done has inspired me.  : )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

His gift

What a beautiful Psalm!  It brought so many good things to mind.  I honestly didn't plan this, but it's another good Psalm to meditate on as we approach Easter.

Psalms 111

The first verse reminds me of the Church.  When the Church is of one mind and filled with the Holy Spirit, it's an awesome experience and pleases God very much.
1 Hallelujah!
I give thanks to God with everything I've got
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.

2 God's works are so great, worth
A lifetime of studyendless enjoyment!
3 Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
4 His miracles are his memorial

I can testify to this!  I've been studying the Bible for 34 years now, almost 35.  The more I study, the more I understand and enjoy.  His Word is so amazing, applying to everyday of my life.  Do I know it all?  Nope!  Just a bit more than when I started.  I'm also on a prayer team.   We get to see miracles.  Jobs turn up for people just in the nick of time.  People get well, and problems are solved.  God is so full of compassion and love- miracles.

But there's something else too.  The older I get, the more I understand the clouds and appreciate the differences in the sky.  I understand personalities in animals so much more.  I have 2 cats.  Frankie is shy around new people, he loves to hunt and bring me presents.  He has stuffed animals all over the house.  He brings them to me, meowing at the top of his lungs.  I tell him, "Thank you.  What a good boy."  He sits up with his chin high, so proud of himself.  Jake is my teddy bear.  He has short legs and a wide body, six toes on his front paws.  He loves to sleep and snuggle; he has a very loud purr motor but never meows.  He loves people and is fearless.  He'll greet the mailman wagging his tail.  Animals do have personalities.  I love to study the world around me.  God's creation is amazing: flowers, animals, people, stars, planets, the ocean.  Study it all!  Really look and see His handiwork.

This God of Grace, this God of Love.
5 He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.

6 He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter — a gift!
7 He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last — 
8 Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:

Jesus paid the ransom for us.  We were doomed to death, by His sacrifice we are saved.  His blood was our ransom.  His gift is for all nations and people.
9 He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.

He is personal with all of us and that is a gift.  Each time I open my Bible it applies to my situation that day.  A verse that gave me courage to stand up to harassment a year ago, gives me courage to trust God as I make career changes today.  He never gets bored with my prayers but always listens.  The fear of God is a healthy respect.  If you are smart, you won't approach a rattle snake with your bare hand.  God is the most powerful being in the Heavens and earth.  He deserves our respect.  In my experience, He also requires honesty about ourselves.  He's not real fond of false claims, pride and arrogance.  He knows the truth already.

He's so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
10 The good life begins in the fear of God
Do that and you'll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!

Hallelujah!  Thank You Father for everything!  
(I put a link to a photo of Jake & Frankie in the comments)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Matt 26:64
Jesus said to him,
"... I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Power,
and coming on the clouds of heaven."

I went out to do some shooting. 
The sky was dark. I wasn't sure I could find anything. 
So I prayed, "Show me where the good shots are Father." 
I looked up and saw sunbeams!
I love the way it ties in with the last Psalm we were reading.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grand finale

For the past 3 posts, God has been showing me His compassion for people who are:  different than me (Ps 106), trapped in unbelief, addicted, afraid (Ps 107), and in war torn countries (Ps 109).  This Psalm is a prophecy about Jesus written by David, the grand finale.  It's so exciting to see the unfolding of scripture.  And also a great Psalm to meditate on as we approach Easter.  Ok, I'll say it, "Hallelujah!"

Psalms 110

1 The word of God to my Lord:
"Sit alongside me here on my throne
until I make your enemies a stool for your feet."
2 You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies!

Looking forward to the holy armor!  And we'll have the vigor of youth.  I'm starting to miss that.
3 Your people will freely join you, resplendent in holy armor
on the great day of your conquest,
Join you at the fresh break of day,
join you with all the vigor of youth.

Melchizedek was "the priest of God most High." Gen. 14:18  He brought bread and wine to Abram and blessed him.  Bread and wine is used for our communion today, symbolizing Jesus' blood and broken body.  Jesus is the permanent priest.  At last He will bring peace and sit on the throne.  vs. 7 "...the True King rules with head held high!"
4 God gave his word and he won't take it back:
you're the permanent priest, the Melchizedek priest.
5 The Lord stands true at your side,
crushing kings in his terrible wrath,
6 Bringing judgment on the nations,
handing out convictions wholesale,
crushing opposition across the wide earth.
7 The King-Maker put his King on the throne;
the True King rules with head held high!

Here's the New Testament verses that refer to this Psalm:
Quoted by Jesus- Matt 22:44
44 'The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"'

Acts 2:34-36
from the Apostle Peter
34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
'The Lord said to my Lord,
'Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Hebrews 1:13-14
Probably from the Apostle Paul- the author of Hebrews is unknown.
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Hebrews 5:5-9
5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
"You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You."
6 As He also says in another place:
"You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek";
7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Libya and our military

I read Psalms 109 today.  To be honest, I much prefer the happy Psalms, like Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want."  Then I prayed, "Father, do I have to write about this?  It's so dark and awful."  

The answer came back, "No you don't.  It's your blog- you can skip it.  America is peaceful.  Think about Libya, think about the armed forces overseas.  What do you see?"   

Then the Psalm came to life. I'll do my best with it.

This Psalm is written by David.  He was a King, most kings or presidents don't seek God these days.  David was a great King, a man after God's own heart.  It's important to note, the Psalms are songs of praise and prayers of desperation.  This one contains both.

Psalms 109

David is facing another war.  He feels abandoned.  He feels like the world is out to get him even his own people betray him.  
1 My God, don't turn a deaf ear to my hallelujah prayer.
2 Liars are pouring out invective on me;
Their lying tongues are like a pack of dogs out to get me,
3 barking their hate, nipping my heels — and for no reason!
4 I loved them and now they slander me — yes, me! —
and treat my prayer like a crime;
5 They return my good with evil,
they return my love with hate.

If I lived in Libya today, I would pray a similar prayer to the one below.   They face horrors we can only imagine.  These words are very hard and very realistic.  The horrors the military must be experiencing overseas are hard to imagine. The weapons today are sophisticated. They are seeing things man never thought possible.
6 Send the Evil One to accuse my accusing judge;
dispatch Satan to prosecute him.
7 When he's judged, let the verdict be, "Guilty,"
and when he prays, let his prayer turn to sin.
8 Give him a short life,
and give his job to somebody else.
9 Make orphans of his children,
dress his wife in widow's weeds;
10 Turn his children into begging street urchins,
evicted from their homes — homeless.
11 May the bank foreclose and wipe him out,
and strangers, like vultures, pick him clean.
12 May there be no one around to help him out,
no one willing to give his orphans a break.
13 Chop down his family tree
so that nobody even remembers his name
14 But erect a memorial to the sin of his father,
and make sure his mother's name is there, too —  
15 Their sins recorded forever before God,
but they themselves sunk in oblivion
16 That's all he deserves since he was never once kind,
hounded the afflicted and heartbroken to their graves. 
17 Since he loved cursing so much,
let curses rain down;
Since he had no taste for blessing,
let blessings flee far from him
18 He dressed up in curses like a fine suit of clothes;
he drank curses, took his baths in curses
19 So give him a gift — 
a costume of curses;
he can wear curses every day of the week! 
20 That's what they'll get, those out to get me — 
an avalanche of just deserts from God.

Then in David's usual style, He turns His thoughts to God and gives Him glory.  This is an honest prayer displaying the beauty and goodness of God.   We can all relate to this prayer.
21 Oh, God, my Lord, step in;
work a miracle for me — 
you can do it!
Get me out of here — 
your love is so great! —  
22 I'm at the end of my rope, my life in ruins
23 I'm fading away to nothing, passing away,
my youth gone, old before my time
24 I'm weak from hunger and can hardly stand up,
my body a rack of skin and bones
25 I'm a joke in poor taste to those who see me;
they take one look and shake their heads.
26 Help me, oh help me, God, my God,
save me through your wonderful love
27 Then they'll know that your hand is in this,
that you, God, have been at work
28 Let them curse all they want;
you do the blessing
29 Let them be jeered by the crowd when they stand up,
followed by cheers for me, your servant.
Dress my accusers in clothes dirty with shame,
discarded and humiliating old ragbag clothes.

David offers the sacrifice of praise.  This pleases God very much.  It's when things are falling apart around us.  All seems lost.  And we turn our hearts toward God in total and complete faith.   We offer the sacrifice of praise, hope and trust.
30 My mouth's full of great praise for God,
I'm singing his hallelujahs surrounded by crowds,
31 For he's always at hand to take the side of the needy,
to rescue a life from the unjust judge.

My prayer for Libya and our military:
Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Libya to You.  I pray You will bring peace to this nation.  Please comfort those who mourn and are living in terror today.  I pray You will send the angels to help fight this battle and strengthen the people.  I also lift up our military.  The battle wasn't supposed to last long and many are worn out.  Please lift their spirits and provide blessings and hope.  I pray You will heal their wounds both emotionally and physically. Bring an end to the madness soon.  Forgive us our sins, and renew a right spirit within us- give us strength for another day.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nick of time

I read this Psalm today and forgot it was written over 3,000 years ago.  It seems like it was written for our time.  But that's how the Bible is, timeless.

Psalms 107

God's never-ending love is a common thread throughout the Bible.  He never gives up nor does He let go.  Today He still sets people free of addictions and oppression all around the world.
1 Oh, thank God — he's so good!
His love never runs out
2 All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how he freed you from oppression
3 Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

To me, this describes a person who wanders aimlessly through life.   They have no real purpose.  The sun comes up and goes down, another day, another dollar.  Such an exhausting life, the clock ticks and there's no joy.  It's like when the Israelites wandered in the desert.  Are we there yet?  In verse 6, God gets there in the nick of time.  Believing in Jesus is as marvelous as God's love.  You never know what to expect or how God will answer prayers.  Each morning you get a little twinkle in your eye knowing who made the sunrise.  People become more than obstacles or things to do.  You begin to understand how they feel.   And then you get to help them.  We have no idea how many people we bless each day, with a simple smile or prayer.  But the thought of actually helping another human being and that God includes us in His divine plan is awesome!
4 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live, 
5 Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion
6 Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time
7 He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live. 
8 So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. 
9 He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

This reminds me of fear.  Fear can be so horrible like a dark cell.  It can prevent people from leaving their homes, trying new things, or meeting new people.  It's allowing someone or something else to literally control our lives.  In verse 13 it says if you call out to God, He will deliver you in the nick of time!  He breaks open jails, shatters jailhouse doors.  In a literal sense Paul experienced this.  He was thrown in jail because of his beliefs.  An angel came and actually wiped out the whole jail!  The guards were a bit alarmed...  Joseph was thrown in jail because of a lie told about him.  Joseph made connections with the Pharoah who hired him to prevent starvation, releasing him from jail.   He helped Egypt store enough grain- for Egypt, Israel and the world in this time period.  Who knows what we can do today if we let Him break down our fears.  Smash our jail cells wide open.
10 Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
cruelly confined behind bars, 
11 Punished for defying God's Word,
for turning your back on the High God's counsel —  
12 A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
and not a soul in sight to help
13 Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time
14 He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
broke open the jail and led you out. 
15 So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves
16 He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!

Addictions...  These are so hard for people.  I know an alcoholic who wanted nothing more than to die and taste alcohol.  She stayed in bed as much as she could.  If someone had walked up and said, "Just stop."  She would've rolled back in bed and tried to sleep.  The body builds up a dependency on alcohol and drugs.  It literally craves more, it goes beyond controlling your thoughts.  Even at the cost of life.  Hard for some of us to understand.  It's a nightmare for a person that's trapped.  But when we call out to God, He hears us!  No matter what we've done or how ugly and ashamed we feel.  We're His children and He wants us as His own.   He gets us out in the nick of time, if we really want Him to.
17 Some of you were sick because you'd lived a bad life,
your bodies feeling the effects of your sin
18 You couldn't stand the sight of food,
so miserable you thought you'd be better off dead
19 Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time
20 He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death
21 So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves
22 Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
tell the world what he's done — sing it out!
43 If you are really wise, you'll think this over — 
it's time you appreciated God's deep love

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The right thing

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I love the word, "Hallelujah!"  It just sounds joyful- kind of rolls off the tongue.   It means "Praise Jehovah!" or "Praise God!"  I confess I say this sometimes when a wonderful thing happens.  I try to avoid using too much "Christianese" and be real to people.  This Psalm is very long, so I pulled out the first 7 verses that spoke to me.  The rest of the Psalm describes the sins of Israel after they left Egypt. 

Psalms 106:1-7

1 Hallelujah!
Thank God! And why?
Because he's good, because his love lasts.
2 But who on earth can do it —
declaim God's mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?

I have to admit I am much happier when I do the right thing instead of the wrong:  no guilt, no wondering how to make things right, no apologies.  There's also a strange sense of rightness in helping others.  The look in their eyes is priceless.  It's like they are saying, "Thank you," from deep within.  

There was a woman in the building I worked.  She was shorter than me.  Her front teeth were missing, her hair and cleaning uniform always messy.  I saw her pushing a trashcan everyday, she frightened me a bit at first.  I wondered what she was doing in our high tech building.  The Lord kept nudging me to speak to her- I'm a little slow sometimes; but gave in.  What a sweetheart.  She was a grandma trying to earn a little money for her grandkids.  After I introduced myself, she greeted me with a wave and a big toothless grin each day,  "Hi Karen!"  It really felt good, so glad for the Lord's nudge.  Seems He intended to bless us both.

One day she was wearing an iPod as she pushed the trashcan.  I could see the earplugs in her ears, her head hung down.  She seemed lonely, so I walked up beside her and started snapping my fingers and bouncing up and down like I was listening too.  She jumped when she saw me, laughed and asked if I could hear her music.  I didn't realize some VP's were standing in the hall behind me...  They started laughing too.  I turned red, laughing as well.  Amazing how something so simple and even silly can touch so many.  My friend was no longer invisible.  Loving your neighbor as yourself, is the right thing to do... even if it doesn't go exactly as planned.
3 You're one happy man when you do what's right,
one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.

This part of the Psalm is so humble.  "Remember me."  The writer isn't demanding his rights or proclaiming his goodness.  He simply says, "Remember me."
4 Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people;
include me when you save them;
5 I want to see your chosen succeed,
celebrate with your celebrating nation,
join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!

Someone else said that too.  Remember the two thieves that hung on crosses beside Jesus?

Luke 23:40-43
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."
43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

None of us are worthy.  Our salvation is by God's grace alone, it was His decision to forgive us- when we accept Jesus' sacrifice.
6 We've sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
We've fallen short, hurt a lot of people.
7 After our parents left Egypt,
they took your wonders for granted,
forgot your great and wonderful love.

These verses help me a lot.  Hope they encourage you as well.
Rom 3:23
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

1 John 1:9-10
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Matt 6:26-27
26 Look at the birds of the air,
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they? 
27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Talk about it....

Psalm 105 is a very long Psalm about 3 pages. So I picked out the first verses, they stood out the most today. The rest of the Psalm describes God's faithfulness and covenants with Joseph, Abraham, Jacob, Israel and more...  So many stories of tragedy and victory to encourage and give us hope.   

What stands out to me in this Psalm is how we are not only to sing to the Lord, but also talk of His wondrous works.  Ok, I've had a rather challenging life...  So, I thought for a long time that God's blessings for me were like a fortune cookie message.  You open it and read it, then if you don't eat the cookie the blessings disappear.  I thought talking about how God blessed me would make Him disappear.  It was a secret between me and Him.  But now that I'm mature (sometimes...) I understand He wants me to tell others what He's done for me!  It pleases Him very much and also helps others. 

So here's my most recent huge blessing.  I've been unable to bring in a steady income for awhile now.  I've been working on getting freelance work set up in photography, illustration, and writing.  Which is also why I have to watermark and copyright my photos.  Sorry!  My husband is working and each time we start getting low on funds the money turns up.  Because I was out of work last year, we got a nice tax refund this year.  My praise is that He supplies all our needs and takes care of us in ways we simply don't expect.  Amazing!

Psalms 105

1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
3 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
4 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
6 O seed of Abraham His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

7 He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations...

Prayer for Japan:
Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Japan to You.  I praise You and thank You for the survivors in Japan.  I pray You will open up communications and let identification of the dead be known so the families can mourn and heal.  Please wrap Your loving arms around those who have lost loved ones.  I also thank You for the many relief workers who are helping in Japan right now.  Please protect the workers and all residents in Japan from a nuclear disaster.  You created the earth and everything in it, You know more about the earth than anyone.  Please guide them to know how to prevent harm.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Earth's design

When I opened up my Bible today, I was a bit surprised at the timing of this Psalm.  It describes God's maintenance of the world He created.   When I read this Psalm I saw creation as not just a one time event, but a system that changes, even evolves.  It proves to me that it's not our hairspray that controls the earth.  Nor is it the moon working independently that controls the earth.  It was designed by God to erupt, grumble, and take care of it's inhabitants.  Geologists believe the recent natural disasters are a result of the plates in the ocean shifting.  Gas builds up in the earth's core and must be released.  

If the waves didn't move back and forth across the ocean, it would be a big pool of saltwater.  There's not much fish in the Great Salt Lake in Utah- but you can float on top of it...  The first recorded tsunami to hit Japan was in 684 AD in Hakuho.  The name "tsunami" is actually a Japanese word. Sadly they receive the most tsunamis in the world.  It means, "big water."  This is not a new thing.

Although all these facts don't help Japan at the moment, it does help me understand what's going on.  The world was never designed to hold still for man.  It was designed to provide his food, home, place of worship, and to raise a family.  In order for that to happen change occurs; it can be harsh.  It's never been easy, except in the Garden of Eden.  I continue to pray for Japan, for protection from nuclear disaster, communications, and restoration.  Although I don't understand God's ways, I do understand His love.  We simply don't have as much control as we think we do.  I praise God for the lives saved in Hawaii and the west coast of the USA.

Psalms 104

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
4 Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

5 You who laid the foundations of the earth,
So that it should not be moved forever,
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters stood above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
8 They went up over the mountains;
They went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.
9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man's heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

19 He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knows its going down.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions — 
25 This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
26 There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

27 These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
28 What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
29 You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works.
32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.
35 May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

If you get a chance to read Genesis 1 about how God created the earth, it's beautiful.