Monday, May 30, 2011

Right into Your Presence

Sorry for the delay today.  I wanted to do something special since we've reached the end of Psalm 119.  I stepped out in faith and learned to use my Corel Painter software to cartoon. It took me awhile (all day!) until I realized I should just use it like I would a pencil and paper.  Doh!  It's at the end, after the Psalm.  Anyway,  Psalm 119 has a happy ending.  Actually, the whole Bible does : )  I've tried to read the whole Bible in one sitting and it never goes well for me.  I like to break it down into chapters or paragraphs.  I really enjoyed reading Psalm 119 this way.  My favorite verses are in blue.

Psalms 119:169-176

Our prayers and cries do come into the presence of God.  He hears every word and gives it personal consideration.  It gives me a headache to think of all the voices He hears, but He is God- omnipresent (everywhere). 
169 Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
170 Give my request your personal attention,
rescue me on the terms of your promise.

I always try to remember to praise Him.  There's so much to praise Him about.  This morning we had major thunder storms, the sky grew dark and we thought it would be a bad day.  But praise be to God, it's now sunny and we can have a barbeque.  He has control of the storms and weather.
171 Let praise cascade off my lips;
after all, you've taught me the truth about life!
172 And let your promises ring from my tongue;
every order you've given is right.

I need His Word and His hand to steady me.  I am both artistic and mathematical, my mind can be an interesting place at times.  Add on top of that good and bad memories, worries, hopes, fears...  We all have a lot to think about.  The Bible and prayer holds us together.
173 Put your hand out and steady me
since I've chosen to live by your counsel.
174 I'm homesick, God, for your salvation;
I love it when you show yourself!
175 Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
176 And should I wander off like a lost sheep — seek me!
I'll recognize the sound of your voice.

Here's a nice way to pray I learned in college, it's called ACTS (the first letters of each of the words below spell ACTS).  It fits in with this Psalm.  When I try and send up a To-do list to the Almighty God, it leaves me feeling empty and alone.  But when I recognize who I'm talking to, prayer comes to life for me and I can sense His presence.  Even my husband would be annoyed with a To-do list all the time.
  • Adoration- spend a few minutes telling God what you adore about Him.
  • Confession- spend some time confessing sins and failures.
  • Thanksgiving- give Him thanks for all He's done and given you.
  • Supplication- pray for your needs and the needs of others.
Here it is...  hope you enjoy it.

    © Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Stepping out in faith

    Today I was on the prayer forum, and noticed something.  A few of the requests seem like novels.  A person comes out with a request (usually relationship problems) and I pray trusting God will answer them.  But the next day they are back with more information, the same problem, along with more anxiety.  Here we go again...  I felt guilty thinking this way.  Then I started to realize sometimes prayer isn't enough.  I can pray until I'm blue in the face, but until the requester chooses to accept the situation, trust God, and make changes- it won't get better.  Of course, when I point one finger at someone else, I point three at myself!  Which lead me to realize if I want things to happen in my life praying isn't enough.  I need to work toward the changes I want, trusting God, so He can bless my efforts.  I should be full of abandon and trust, trying things, learning, soaring on wings like eagles.  My life in itself is a gift.

    Psalms 119:161-168

    Christians have been in this position for sure. God's Word is the only thing that can truly keep us stable.   Each day has new headlines.  But we know the end- Jesus wins!
    161 I've been slandered unmercifully by the politicians,
    but my awe at your words keeps me stable.

    His Word is pretty exciting when I stop and think about it- we strike it rich by growing closer to God.
    162 I'm ecstatic over what you say,
    like one who strikes it rich.
    163 I hate lies — can't stand them! —
    but I love what you have revealed.

    I remember Daniel had a time each day in the morning, noon and night to pray and praise God.  The author shouts praises seven times a day!  I notice when things go wrong but not necessarily the daily stuff that goes right.  Wonder how many times I praise God for all that's running right...   Thanking God is a great way to deal with anxiety.  It's amazing how fear disappears, when I thank God for my husband, home, the kitties...

    164 Seven times each day I stop and shout praises 
    for the way you keep everything running right.
    165 For those who love what you reveal, everything fits
    no stumbling around in the dark for them.

    Hmmm... not what I tell Him to do, what He tells me to do.  That's pretty clear.  Actually I'm very grateful He didn't say, "Yes," to all my requests.
    166 I wait expectantly for your salvation;
    God, I do what you tell me.
    167 My soul guards and keeps all your instructions
    oh, how much I love them!
    168 I follow your directions, abide by your counsel;
    my life's an open book before you.

    It's good to pray, God does say, "Yes."  It's great to pray for others.  The prayer in itself can bring hope to those in need.  It's best to study His Word, pray, praise, and step out in faith.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday

    Galatians 5:22-23
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
    longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

    We had so many storms in New Jersey this year, the flowers
    are beautiful!  It reminds me how the storms in my life help
    me learn to trust God, and experience the fruit of His Spirit.

    © Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

    Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Trouble? Us?

    When I was a little girl, my big brother and I fought a lot.  I was five years younger and much shorter. One of my favorite things to do was stand in front of my Mom while she was washing dishes and make faces at my brother.  My brother would yell at me, and Mom would turn around and yell at him.  Worked every time.  And later my brother would get even.  : ) I suspect some of our troubles aren't necessarily by chance.  Yet God still helps us.  Our Father who art in Heaven...

    Zephaniah 3:17
    17 "The Lord your God in your midst,
    The Mighty One, will save;
    He will rejoice over you with gladness,
    He will quiet you with His love,
    He will rejoice over you with singing."
    I memorized this verse years ago, and still find comfort in it.  Hard to imagine God rejoicing over me with singing.  To me, it illustrates how He still helps us.  He is here in our midst.  If I allow Him to, He quiets me with His love.  I love the story about Jesus making breakfast for the disciples after His resurrection (John 21:9-10).  I ask for His help a lot.  Sometimes I forget He helps me because He wants to.  Kind of makes me want to pray, "Surprise me Father, provide what You know I need.  Your will be done.  I will trust You."

    Psalms 119:153-160

    He knows all about our troubles.
    153 Take a good look at my trouble, and help me
    I haven't forgotten your revelation(commands)
    154 Take my side and get me out of this;
    give me back my life, just as you promised.
    One of the amazing things about God is that He is managing all the needs of people on earth.  I sometimes wonder how He weighs the scales.  One man's blessing may be another man's curse.  Two men lose their jobs and apply for an opportunity; God provides the job for one them.  The other is left unemployed.  This actually happened to a couple of men.  The second man received a job later that was much better for him than the first.  So much goes on that we simply don't understand.  God looks out for all of us.  We really shouldn't give up- perhaps the best is yet to come. : ) 

    155 "Salvation" is only gibberish to the wicked
    because they've never looked it up in your dictionary.
    I imagine His mercies are even into higher numbers now that it's 2011.  Billions of mercies!  Can you imagine?
    156 Your mercies, God, run into the billions;
    following your guidelines, revive me.

    Sometimes we tend to complicate things.  Thinking we must do this, this, this, and not forget to do that.  But, this verse sums things up pretty well.
    Micah 6:8
    8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justly,
    To love mercy,
    And to walk humbly with your God?

    Psalm 119
    157 My antagonists are too many to count,
    but I don't swerve from the directions you gave.
    I was a little sad about this verse.  When people fall away from their faith in Christianity, we usually pray for them and not give up.  Jesus always takes back anyone who sincerely seeks Him.
    158 I took one look at the quitters and was filled with loathing;
    they walked away from your promises so casually!
    159 Take note of how I love what you tell me;
    out of your life of love, prolong my life.
    160 Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.
    Your righteous decisions are eternal.

    God already knows we'll run into troubles.  He's got a plan in place to help us out.
    John 16:33
    33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Beautiful feet

    Ok, so it's May 23, and Jesus didn't return on the 21.  The truth is, no one knows the time He's coming,  Matt 24:36.  But we do know He'll come.  I was pleased to see an article in the NY Times newspaper on May 20 that described a local group of Christians in Milpitas, California.  They were preparing to minister to those who believed in the false prophecy.  How Christlike is that?  It really touched me.  The NY Times is pretty good about distinguishing between Christians and the "fringe" folks.  My thanks to the Times!  Now if people could just quit making these predictions, Jesus will have more days open on His calendar : )
    Apocalypse Central (link to article)

    I never thought I'd see Christians in the news.  Face it, a lot of what we do isn't sensational.  "John prayed today." "Susan helped her neighbor bring in the groceries."  "Gertrude gave George money because he didn't have enough for the vending machine."  Many work at collecting used clothing for those down on their luck.  Some serve in the food banks, there's no limit to the type of ministries He sends us to.  Jesus says these things are sensational.  He notices.  Personally, I like being unsensational to others.   When I do something really right, I get all excited and my head swells.   It's very difficult to help others when your head gets stuck in the door...  Jesus needs to be the most important one in the Church for sure. 

    Psalms 119:145-152

    This is a beautiful prayer.  It's a cry for help, a submission to God's will.  There's definitely times like this in our lives today.
    145 I call out at the top of my lungs,
    God! Answer! I'll do whatever you say."
    146 I called to you, "Save me
    so I can carry out all your instructions."
    147 I was up before sunrise,
    crying for help, hoping for a word from you. 

    It reminded me of these verses:
    Psalms 46:1-3
    1 God is our refuge and strength,
    A very present help in trouble.
    2 Therefore we will not fear,
    Even though the earth be removed,
    And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
    3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
    Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

    I've had nights where I was so excited about the Lord, I couldn't sleep.
    Psalms 119
    148 I stayed awake all night,
    prayerfully pondering your promise.
    149 In your love, listen to me;
    in your justice, God, keep me alive.
    150 As those out to get me come closer and closer,
    they go farther and farther from the truth you reveal;
    151 But you're the closest of all to me, God,
    and all your judgments true.

    His Word lasts forever.   If the author only knew we'd read them today : )
    152 I've known all along from the evidence of your words
    that you meant them to last forever.

    The believers in Milpitas, CA, and all those who serve Jesus, have beautiful feet. 
    Isaiah 52:7
    7 How beautiful upon the mountains
    Are the feet of him who brings good news,
    Who proclaims peace,
    Who brings glad tidings of good things,
    Who proclaims salvation,
    Who says to Zion,
    "Your God reigns!"

    Friday, May 20, 2011


    Zechariah 4:6
    'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,'
    Says the Lord of hosts.
    There's a beautiful song about this verse Not by power (link), it's being sung by Carola.

    This section of Psalm 119 is full of praises and humility.  The first thing that stood out to me is the number of times the word, "right" is used in this section.  If something is repeated in the Bible, it usually means it's important.

    Psalms 119:137-144

    God is right, right, right and rightly instructing us how to live faithfully to Him.
    137 You are right and you do right, God;
    your decisions are right on target.
    138 You rightly instruct us in how to live
    ever faithful to you.

    When the author describes his rivals, he points out how they ignored God's commandments.  He didn't see this as his failure, but rather God's promise to him being tested through and through.  That's an interesting perspective.  When I'm undergoing troubles, I sometimes wonder where God went.  Or maybe I dig in and pray and memorize verses.  You may remember the old television test they used to run, "This is a test.  It's only a test.  There is no need to adjust your monitor (give up), it's only a test."  One of my friends at work used to say this and make me laugh everytime.  Of course there's nothing like the right verse to keep my chin up!
    139 My rivals nearly did me in,
    they persistently ignored your commandments.
    140 Your promise has been tested through and through,
    and I, your servant, love it dearly.

    I love this verse, but I think I might say, "I'm too old to be important," or maybe "not worthy to be important.  Just a servant."  The enthusiasm of the young is so inspiring.
    141 I'm too young to be important,
    but I don't forget what you tell me.

    His righteousness is eternally right, mine might last for a few minutes. : )  If I focus...  The key through all of this is how God's Word, His commands are right.  Plain and simple.  We can love them, find delight in them, and live to the fullest by reading a bit of His Word each day.
    142 Your righteousness is eternally right,
    your revelation is the only truth.
    143 Even though troubles came down on me hard,
    your commands always gave me delight.
    144 The way you tell me to live is always right;
    help me understand it so I can live to the fullest.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Ordinary people extraordinary God

    I wish I could obey every word in the Bible.  But, I am even more grateful that God provided us a way through faith and His Holy Spirit to please Him.   Just when I think I've got it all figured out, I stub my toe.  A word pops out of my mouth.  I wonder where that came from!

    One of my favorite descriptions of Christians, is that we are like one blind man trying to show another where to find bread.  The Apostle Paul described this inner struggle this way:

    Romans 7:21-25
    21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Psalms 119:129-136
    His Word does bring miracles.  It's changed my life and brought hope.  When I pray, I get to see God do miracles sometimes.  People find jobs where there aren't any.  He heals them of illness, restores souls.  I highlighted my favorite verses in blue. 
    129 Every word you give me is a miracle word
    how could I help but obey? 

    We are just ordinary people worshiping an extraordinary God.
    130 Break open your words, let the light shine out,
    let ordinary people see the meaning.
    131 Mouth open and panting,
    I wanted your commands more than anything.
    132 Turn my way, look kindly on me,
    as you always do to those who personally love you.
    133 Steady my steps with your Word of promise
    so nothing malign gets the better of me.
    134 Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
    so I can live life your way.
    135 Smile on me, your servant;
    teach me the right way to live.
    136 I cry rivers of tears
    because nobody's living by your book!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday

    James 1:19-20
    19 So then, my beloved brethren,
    let every man be swift to hear,
    slow to speak, slow to wrath;
    20 for the wrath of man
    does not produce the righteousness of God.

    How to make life easier : )

    © Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

    Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    What to do?

    At one time I was leading a Backyard Bible Club for little kids.  One of the projects for them was to make cards for the person next to them.  A situation came up...  A sweet little boy drew a picture of the little girl next to him.  He was so proud of it.  So he gave it to her.  She screamed and cried.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said, "He drew me ugly..." with her lower lip sticking out.  What's a girl to do?  So I said, "You're not ugly.  He just doesn't draw very well."  I looked over at the little boy to see tears. "Yet!  Not yet.  He'll be a great artist one day."  Sometimes we get some interesting predicaments in our lives...

    Loving others can be tricky for sure.

    This section of Psalm 119 brought those that hurt others in the name of Christianity to mind.  The Bible teaches, to do to others as you'd have them do to you.  So that would mean, it's not right to protest a soldier's funeral because you don't believe in war,  unless you believe that others should protest your family's funerals to support their ideas.  It's not right to burn the Koran to express your opinion,  unless you would like others to burn the Bible to express theirs.  Thankfully, there are very few people who would consider things like this justice.  These things don't support Jesus' teachings; Jesus is the heart of Christianity.

    Psalms 119:121-128

    However we are to stand up for justice and the right.  But sometimes the outcome isn't what we'd hoped for. 
    121 I stood up for justice and the right;
    don't leave me to the mercy of my oppressors.
    122 Take the side of your servant, good God;
    don't let the godless take advantage of me.
    123 I can't keep my eyes open any longer, waiting for you
    to keep your promise to set everything right.

    So what are we to do?  Ask God to guide us, let the Bible speak the truth to us.  Be humble before God and let Him help us understand.
    124 Let your love dictate how you deal with me;
    teach me from your textbook on life.
    125 I'm your servant — help me understand what that means,
    the inner meaning of your instructions.

    It's not easy to see some of the things going on around us.  But God is still on His throne.  All things will be made right in the end. 
    126 It's time to act, God;
    they've made a shambles of your revelation!
    127 Yea-Saying God, I love what you command,
    I love it better than gold and gemstones;
    128 Yea-Saying God, I honor everything you tell me,
    I despise every deceitful detour.

    This is a great verse.  Sometimes the best thing I can do is just sit.  Let God give me the strength to move ahead.   
    Isaiah 40:31
    31 But those who wait on the Lord
    Shall renew their strength;
    They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    They shall run and not be weary,
    They shall walk and not faint.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Not religious

    There is much talk, in the USA, about everyone being equal and how religion gets in the way of true freedom. Jesus was concerned about religion getting in the way too. Under God, we are all equal, all shapes, sizes and colors. He loves us all; we're His creations. And truly Jesus never asked us to be "religious." Religious, meaning to me, being so caught up in the law, and a set of rituals, we forget to worship Him and serve others. Jesus detested how religious leaders would brag in the Temple about their offerings and good works. They would puff out their chest, lift up their chins, and basically show off. If I saw this, I'd feel there was no way I could please God. I'm not wealthy, not a leader, I don't have access to the rich and famous. Just the people around me, simple folks.

    Jesus said it this way:
    Matthew 7:12
    12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    My Pastor pointed out something very cool about this verse yesterday. Most religions tell people to not do to others what they don't want done to them. But Jesus is different- upside down and backwards. He wants us to do, to serve others.  

    Out of the ten commandments, these are the top two:
    Matthew 22:37-40
    37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

    It took a bit to get on the same page with this part of the Psalms,  after thinking through all this, and prayer, it came to life for me.  The double-minded would be those who fake Christianity, or Judaism.  There are some beautiful verses here, so I highlighted them in blue.
    Psalms 119:113-120

    113 I hate the double-minded,
    But I love Your law.
    114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
    I hope in Your word.
    115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
    For I will keep the commandments of my God!
    116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
    And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
    117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
    And I shall observe Your statutes continually.
    118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes,
    For their deceit is falsehood.
    119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross;
    Therefore I love Your testimonies.

    When I read this verse I felt a little sad because the author hadn't experienced Jesus' sacrifice.  If we accept His sacrifice, we don't need to be afraid.  However, God is not a big kitty cat.  He is the Almighty, to be respected and honored.   We will know His forgiveness and most powerful love.  Totally awesome.
    120 My flesh trembles for fear of You,
    And I am afraid of Your judgments.

    Here's some more verses that describe what Jesus looks for in us.
    Ephesians 2:8-9
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

    Matthew 9:13
    13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

    John 3:16-17
    16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

    Christianity isn't religious.  It's a relationship of worship and love toward God.  It's active and serves others.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Light my path

    This part of Psalm 119 reminds me of the Amy Grant song, Thy Word (link).  At one time it's all we heard on Christian radio in the United States.  Almost every time it got me singing in the car.

    This is the first verse in the New King James Version.
    Psalms 119:105
    105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
    And a light to my path. 

    Here it is in The Message.
    Psalms 119:105-112
    105 By your words I can see where I'm going;
    they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
    106 I've committed myself and I'll never turn back
    from living by your righteous order.
    107 Everything's falling apart on me, God;
    put me together again with your Word.

    God uses His Word to guide me on the right path.  Like when the bills are due and I feel anxious, my mind thinks about nothing else but where the money will come from.  It's paralyzing like the venom of a snake.  Instead of working, I'm worrying.  My mind goes to the past and I wonder how this happened.  When I am completely miserable, I realize this anxiety isn't from God.  I remember that verse about anxiety, so I look it up.

    Philippians 4:6-7
    "6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
    And this verse comes to mind about dwelling in the past instead of the present.
    Isaiah 43:18-19
    18 "Forget the former things;
           do not dwell on the past.
     19 See, I am doing a new thing!
           Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? ..."
    And this verse which He's always done for us:
    Phil 4:19
    "19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
    Peace comes and I know He is God.  I'm ready to keep going, after I ask forgiveness for giving up.  He always forgives.

    Had to look this word up. : )  "Festoon" means decorate.  Decorate me with Your Word Father!
    108 Festoon me with your finest sayings, God;
    teach me your holy rules.
    109 My life is as close as my own hands,
    but I don't forget what you have revealed.

    Ugh!  I actually had a woman antagonize me because she didn't like how happy I was, and how I smile.  She said that no one should be that happy.  Sometimes people's logic blows my mind...  Truth is, when you've been through darkness, and then follow Christ, it's extremely bright.  I can't help but smile in gratitude (most of the time- not always).
    110 The wicked do their best to throw me off track,
    but I don't swerve an inch from your course.

    The more I learn, the more I remember at work, home, when I'm sick, visiting others... always!
    111 I inherited your book on living; it's mine forever
    what a gift! And how happy it makes me!
    112 I concentrate on doing exactly what you say
    I always have and always will.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday

    Psalms 71:9
    Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    Do not forsake me when my strength fails.

    My husband and I visited his Grandma, in an Assisted
    Living facility, in New Mexico.  We took her out to a
    park so she could feed the birds.  Her response was,
    "I feel like I'm in Heaven!"  Simple things mean so much.

    © Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

    Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    No detours

    My husband and I fell in love while getting lost driving in Seattle.  It always took us three times as long to get places because we couldn't find them.  We'd talk as we drove and try and find our way.  In New Jersey people ask what exit number they live by.  When my Father-in-law came to visit from New Jersey we were enlightened.  He asked what the Freeway exit number was.  We looked at the signs and were shocked to see numbers on them!  Driving became much better after that, and we stayed in love with a little less frustration.  I had to smile when I read this Psalm.

    God's Word keeps us headed in the right direction toward His destination.  As a new Christian, it was harder to do the right thing than the wrong.  Detours were easy and painfully taught me why not to take them.  After 34 years, and God's extreme patience, detours are much harder.  I can't say I'm smarter than my teachers or wiser than old sages.  But, I have found reading the Bible and applying it to my life each day really helps.

    Psalms 119:97-104

    97 Oh, how I love all you've revealed;
    I reverently ponder it all the day long.
    98 Your commands give me an edge on my enemies;
    they never become obsolete.
    99 I've even become smarter than my teachers
    since I've pondered and absorbed your counsel.
    100 I've become wiser than the wise old sages
    simply by doing what you tell me.
    101 I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil
    so I can spend all my time keeping your Word.

    Although God has given me good directions, I sometimes wonder if I'm on the right path.  Sometimes I have to ask myself if I'm focusing on what God wants me to.  For example, politics.  I can spend hours thinking about how to fix the world.  But, is that my job or in my control?  Nope.  I need to be out taking photos and using the gifts and talents He's given me, helping others, things within my control.  Detours can be good when they lead me back to God's wisdom with greater appreciation and peace.  Not so much if I give up my soul food in the process, and waste hours of time on nothing.  It's good to think, just not too much.  Like my Grandma used to say, "Don't think about it.  Do it."
    102 I never make detours from the route you laid out;
    you gave me such good directions.
    103 Your words are so choice, so tasty;
    I prefer them to the best home cooking.
    104 With your instruction, I understand life;
    that's why I hate false propaganda.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Permanent as the heavens

    God's Word is forever.  It never goes out of date.  It's as fresh and up to date as the sunrise each morning.  It never goes out of style becoming old-fashioned.  Verses that brought encouragement years ago still apply today.   His love endures forever.

    Psalms 119:89-96

    89 What you say goes, God,
    and stays, as permanent as the heavens.
    90 Your truth never goes out of fashion;
    it's as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.
    91 Your Word and truth are dependable as ever;
    that's what you orderedyou set the earth going.

    I feel the same as the author of this Psalm.  If it hadn't been for God's Word, I'd have given up a long time ago.  When I'm afraid I remember verses like:
    Phil 4:19
    19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
    And He provides.

    92 If your revelation hadn't delighted me so,
    I would have given up when the hard times came.
    93 But I'll never forget the advice you gave me;
    you saved my life with those wise words.
    94 Save me! I'm all yours.
    I look high and low for your words of wisdom.
    95 The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me,
    but I'm only concerned with your plans for me.

    We all have our limits for sure!  But His Word does not.  It can't be contained or limited.
    96 I see the limits to everything human,
    but the horizons can't contain your commands!

    Friday, May 6, 2011


    When I hear the News reports of natural disasters,  nations at war, and new alliances being made, I feel homesick for Heaven and a bit frightened.   These times are so uncertain.  Thousands of years ago, before Jesus' birth, someone else felt the same way.  

    Psalms 119:81-88

    81 I'm homesicklonging for your salvation;
    I'm waiting for your word of hope.
    82 My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of your promise;
    how long must I wait for your comfort?
    83 There's smoke in my eyes — they burn and water,
    but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post.
    84 How long do I have to put up with all this?
    How long till you haul my tormentors into court?
    85 The arrogant godless try to throw me off track,
    ignorant as they are of God and his ways.
    86 Everything you command is a sure thing,
    but they harass me with lies. Help!
    87 They've pushed and pushedthey never let up
    but I haven't relaxed my grip on your counsel.

    I am to obey His every word.  To trust in Him.   He will revive me with His great love.
    88 In your great love revive me
    so I can alertly obey your every word.

    Psalms 90:4
    4 For a thousand years in Your sight
    Are like yesterday when it is past,
    And like a watch in the night.

    Jesus said it this way,
    John 14:1-4

    14 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  4 And where I go you know, and the way you know."

    Times like these remind me to pray the Lord's prayer.

    Matthew 6:8-13
    ...For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.  9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

    Our Father in heaven,
    Hallowed be Your name.
    10 Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done
    On earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread.
    12 And forgive us our debts,
    As we forgive our debtors.
    13 And do not lead us into temptation,
    But deliver us from the evil one.
    For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Breath of God

    This is a beautiful section of Psalm 119, it's a prayer. God made us with His very own hands. Each of us are unique and have special gifts and talents. Throughout all of history there's no one exactly like us.  His mind must be so amazing!  I can barely figure out what to cook each night.  He comes up with new designs everyday, every minute.  Sometimes when I photograph flowers, I look at the result and think, "Yup.  It's a flower... again."  But then I find that one shot that stands out, the one that makes me think, "Wow." 

    I wonder if He feels like that, when we do something incredibly right.

    Luke 15:7
    7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

    When we are of one mind in Christ we are a beautiful chorus- each with a different part in the melody, a different gift. And... well, when we aren't, we're a clashing, clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). Stuff happens. God loves us anyway and is always there to restore and guide us.  I confess, sometimes I'm the one that clashes... hate when that happens.

    Psalms 119:73-80

    Before I read the Bible, I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through His Word.  The Holy Spirit came first to the disciples in the upper room through Jesus breath.  He came to give us comfort, wisdom and understanding (John 20:22, John 14:26).  Life came to Adam when God breathed in him (Genesis 2:7).  His breath is very powerful, I believe it's inside us, surrounding us.  His Holy Spirit.
    73 With your very own hands you formed me;
    now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
    74 When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
    those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
    75 I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
    your testing has taught me what's true and right.
    76 Oh, love me — and right now! — hold me tight!
    just the way you promised.

    When I became a Christian I began to live.  To really live.  All the emptiness and anger was turned to joy.   Even though I still have painful and angry moments, He restores my soul to know His joy again.  I try and be very careful who I listen too.  One time I received a "prayer rug" in the mail.  It was printed on paper and if I would just send in $25, all my prayers would be answered...  God doesn't need money.  There's no requirement for a paper rug in the Bible.  He wants us to come as we are.  With God's Word I can tell the truth from a lie.
    77 Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
    your revelation is the tune I dance to.
    78 Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds;
    they tried to sell me a bill of goods,
    but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel.

    In these verses, he's seeking to be such a good example that people want to be like him, to get his advice.  Not because of his outward appearance- because of his inner-strength and wisdom.  I've known Christians like that.  People who are different than others, they have a peace about them.  It's not fake at all.  There's an inner glow and I feel very comfortable around them.  When I did my Nursing Home photo shoot last Friday, the Activities Director started to sing, "Amazing Grace" with the residents.  I was delighted.  I had to close my eyes and listen with my heart, to sing along without clashing with her voice.  When we were done, we both smiled at each other- eyes sparkling, we'd just worshiped God and allowed Him to minister to people.  We became instant friends, she's a great lady.
    79 Let those who fear you turn to me
    for evidence of your wise guidance.
    80 And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
    so I can always walk with my head held high.

    We are almost half way through Psalm 119!  I will design an award when we're done so we can celebrate- the longest chapter in the Bible.  And it is good!!!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday

    Isaiah 65:24-25
    24 "It shall come to pass
    That before they call, I will answer;
    And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
    25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    And dust shall be the serpent's food.
    They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,"
    Says the Lord.

    Today the world doesn't know peace.
    One day it will.  We watch and pray.

    © Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

    Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Bucket of lard?

    "Be good to Your servant, God."  That's how this part of Psalm 119 starts out.  I've never thought of asking God, the Almighty, to be good to me.  I always pray I'll be good for Him.  He is always good to me.  But today I pray He'll be good to me, as good as His Word- just to see what it's like.  The author asks God to train him in common sense.  I could sure use that!  Even though I am committed to Christ, I still wander at times.  Now, what was my point?  Oh yeah.  Hahaha, I definitely wander.   And, when I get too emotional, I get run-on sentences!

    Psalms 119:65-72

    65 Be good to your servant, God;
    be as good as your Word.
    66 Train me in good common sense;
    I'm thoroughly committed to living your way.
    67 Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
    but now I'm in step with your Word.
    68 You are good, and the source of good;
    train me in your goodness.

    These verses reminded me of my last office job.  While God teaches us to build each other up and encourage others, my boss thought he should go around and make up stories about me.  It was very annoying.  It's been almost two years since I left.  A guy who lost his job in the most recent round of cut backs, chewed the boss out before he left.  One of the things he said was that the boss forced me to quit...  I figured they'd all forgotten me by now : )  It kind of shows the results of spreading lies, it's "bland as a bucket of lard."  I love that, although I don't recommend calling your boss that.  The truth is, God allowed it to become impossible for me to stay.  He had better things in mind for me.  What good do lies achieve?  None.  They eventually draw all eyes to the liar.  I chose to focus on God's Word and found the courage and strength to move on.
    69 The godless spread lies about me,
    but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
    70 They're bland as a bucket of lard,
    while I dance to the tune of your revelation

    Now I "dance to the tune of your revelation."  Things worked out for the best for me.  This all drove me further to the Lord, my photography, writing, and artwork.  This blog helps me focus on His Word more.  My best friend kept trying to talk me into coming back to the old job.  But, I knew it wouldn't work out.  She's finally admitted I left at the right time.
    71 My troubles turned out all for the best
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.

    The funny thing about gold is that it just doesn't last very long...  Always seems to run out.  But the peace, joy and love of knowing Jesus endures forever.  I choose Christ. 
    72 Truth from your mouth means more to me
    than striking it rich in a gold mine