Saturday, April 19, 2014

3 days and 2 nights in the tomb (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, Psalms 16:10-11)

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, April 9, 2014

Gray Area part 3 (1 Corinthians 8:4-13)

"Sometimes it seems easier to take care of an animal than a stray person"
"Hairy" was a stray we took in.
Minolta Camera with Topaz Simplify Photoshop Filter

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

One of my favorite leaps of faith was when I was a Technical Writer at The Boeing Company.  When the web first became public, I was sitting in a Computing Department. My jaw dropped and I ran out and learned HTML.  God had already provided my artistic talent.  So I jumped right in.  It worked out really well for many years.  So if you're looking for work don't forget to look inside and beside you.  God has plans.  Every time I think of this I have to smile and thank God.

Jesus told us to give food to those who are hungry and water to the thirsty.  These easy little tasks bless Him as well.  This is both physical and spiritual as I see it.  Sometimes people are hungry for truth, righteousness and goodness.  We can feed them.  Sometimes they are thirsty for a simple, refreshing viewpoint.  I've had some fun with giving people literal water.  When a guy was out taking down a rotten tree I brought him a glass of water.  That's an easy one!  He really appreciated it.  But sometimes it seems these words of Jesus' are more than a glass of water.  He's telling us to reach out of our comfort zone and friendships and help someone in need.  Not so easy.  It might even mean giving up a favorite obsession.  

One of the issues the early Church had to deal with was idols.  They were everywhere.  To become a Christian, they had to turn away from their idols and focus on Jesus.  But there was this food on the idol's table. It seemed a shame to let it go to waste.  After all it was meant to be an offering to bring good luck.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so- called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

In today's world we all know idols are just wood or cement.  Most of us don't have much hope that they will do anything of value except look pretty on the coffee table.  I remember receiving a "Prayer Rug" in the mail.  If I knelt on this paper rug, faced a window and prayed, I'd be rich!  And if I sent them money woohoo!  I'd be even richer... sigh.  No worries I didn't try it : )  That's not God's way.  We still have idols huh?  Things like these make it hard for new Christians.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
What this means to me is if I claim to be a Christian, then decide I have no moral responsibility to prevent tempting others; I'm causing people to fall. One example may be alcoholism.  If I offer wine to someone who comes to my home who has been addicted to alcohol in the past, then tell them their chains are gone they should drink.  I am in danger of putting someone back into a dangerous addiction which isn't what Jesus had in mind.
(1 Corinthians 8:4-13 NKJV)

Here's my prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray You will help us all understand these words and not cause others to stumble.  The freedom we have in You is so superior, it's not worth tripping around.  I lift up Russia, Ukraine, and Europe to You.  I pray for safety and Your hand of peace.  I pray for Iran and Syria as well.  Please grant our leaders wisdom and our people hope.  I also pray for peace in Jerusalem and that Israel will stay strong.  Thank You for the many blessings You have provided.  I also lift up my friend Lisa and pray You will heal her body and mind.  Please bring wisdom to the doctors for safer cancer treatments.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

In Jesus, we are one Church of many nations : )
Another song from the Irish folks- Rend Collective Build Your Kingdom Here (link) .

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gray areas Part 2 (1 Peter 3:2-5, Deut. 22:5, Proverbs 31:10-31)

"50's car with Photoshop"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

The day I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I got this amazing joy!  Once I figured out how to read the Bible, I fell in love with God and all the people in it.  As time passed and my faith grew, I wanted to act like a lady.  It became very important to me to become beautiful on the inside.  I got really polite, which worried my parents, hahaha.  Honestly, I still struggle with some of the bad habits I picked up as a teenager.  Still can't claim perfection.  For someone who's never been in Church everything is a gray area.  A gray area is confusing, foggy, not clearly defined or absolute things.

When I was at Grand Canyon College (a Southern Baptist school that's now a University), I met an older Dutch woman.  I was a new Christian.  I saw the cross she wore, and said, "Look I have a cross too!"

It really hurt when she said, "It's not enough to wear these things you know."

I did know.  But I was a new Christian and didn't feel real confident.  Actually, confidence has always been a challenge for me.  I tend to close my eyes and jump a lot!  Thankfully God has always caught me and I've been able to do some awesome stuff.  When you come from a rough background and go to Church, it can be so intimidating.  At first, I felt like crawling under the pew instead of sitting on it.  Writing this reminds me of how sensitive new Christians feel.  We know how to ride the bike (be a Christian), they are falling all over the place like we did at first.  Good to keep that in mind.

The Apostle Peter wrote this:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. (NIV, 1 Peter 3:2-5)
What this says to me is that our beauty can not come from outward jewelry, clothing, make-up or fancy hair.  It's true.  The most beautiful women in the world are kind, compassionate, and generous.  We see so many movie stars in America who seem so beautiful on the outside.  Some eventually wind up in alcoholism, trouble, or jail.  It's so sad.  Pretending to be someone other than yourself must be very difficult.  We all get lost sometimes.  Sometimes we forget who we are.

Then there's this verse:
A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this. Deuteronomy 22:5
God loves to see women and men dressed appropriately.  I like to see my husband dressed in his suit, tie, and jacket.  I feel so blessed being with him.  He loves seeing me in dresses with make-up and perfume once in awhile.  It's good isn't it?  God's ways are always best.  When I paint, I put on scrubs (I've always been clumsy).  It's what's on the inside that makes us most beautiful.

So what's a girl to do?  What is right anyway?  Women work as police now, soldiers, doctors, surgeons.  In those roles they need to wear uniforms that are similar to men's.  Actually the description of a virtuous wife describes a lot of women in our day.  Some women are a lot better than we realize : )  I am both humbled and excited to read about the virtuous wife.  She's a business woman like me!

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:10-31 NKJV)
Sometimes just reading the Bible makes things not so gray doesn't it?  And large text is good for those of us who need reading glasses too : )