Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wives, husbands and engagement (Ephesians 5:22-33)

"Our wedding photo 1992"
taken in our apartment before the wedding
We're not so skinny now : )

I was praying for people on a prayer forum awhile back. A young guy was heartbroken.  His fiance told him she needed time away so she stopped the relationship.  She went on to write down everything about him that he needed to change before they got married.  I was amazed.  I told him that this was a one sided request and she was not acknowledging his needs.  I suggested he write everything she needed to change in response.  So he did.  She read his thoughts and grew more distant.  I explained marriage is for two people to become one.  There must be some balance.  I would never dream of telling my husband how he should be (ok except using the laundry basket).  I love watching us both grow with time, together and in our own ways.  He's thrilled to see me working as a writer, photographer and artist now.  I'm very proud of his work in Occupational Therapy.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
These verses have been hard to completely understand.  To be a submissive wife doesn't mean I do as I'm told without speaking.  To me it means I let my husband take the lead.  When I ask my husband what he thinks instead of telling him what to do, he smiles and after a few minutes answers me with a better idea.  He's getting really good at it.  He has insight that I don't.  I asked him for a bird feeder to put outside so I could take photos of birds.  He did a great job and came home with two : )  It's been really good when it comes to money.  I am better with numbers and had no time for shopping while I was in offices.  After I started working at home, I was able to put together a budget for us.  It's taken awhile but now my husband tells me how to use the budget.  I love it when he says, "Wait before you spend money, so we have more in Savings."
9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The third strand in verse 12 is the Holy Spirit within each person. 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 
My husband loves this blog.  He asks me if I've done a post and then goes out and reads it.  He likes to go to Church with me.  I like it too.  Neither of us are perfect for sure.  But with him I feel special.   We have our arguments at times.  Just noticed verse 25 is repeated in verses 28 and 29.  Must be important.

28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
We've had some big trials.  There's been sickness, and financial struggles.  We've both felt like running away from home.  I've tried but there's this invisible wall that blocks me.  And Todd teases me saying, "Without you, who would make my dinner?"  In the morning he says, "Hi baby. I love you."  This year we'll have been married for 22 years.  There's nothing like a good pillow fight to clear the air.
(Ephesians 5:22-33 NKJV)

I totally love this song:
Red Roots (triplets) Christian Girl (link)  
Free Publicity for Christian Musicians

This song reminds me of before I got married and actually used my foot to literally kick a guy out of my apartment hahaha!  Go girls!  We're way more valuable than to be used.

I forgot to pray...

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Ukraine to You.  I pray You will stop the violence and bring peace.  Please let the wrong fail and the right win.  Bless those who are wounded and afraid.  I also lift up our government in the USA.  I pray You will give Congress the courage to stand up for what is right and true.  Reveal the truth Father.

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

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Do the do's; don't do the don'ts (Ephesians 5:1-21)

"Lilies in our garden"
Canon Rebel T1i
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

First I'd like to thank all who prayed for our boardwalk in Ocean Grove (God's square mile).  The boards came, and it's almost done.  Next week Governor Christie is coming to cut the ribbon.  I don't know who did what and how but thanks!  The Lord has provided : )

This morning my husband and I were walking on a local trail.  I looked at the ground and saw sand.  We're miles from the shore here.  Then I remembered all the seashells  I found on top of mountains in Washington state.  It makes no sense unless there really was a flood that washed over all the mountains.  It could've happened in creation but it just seems like a flood thing to me because the shells were already created.  Perhaps the flood created the Grand Canyon as well.  DNA blew away the big bang.  One thing is for sure, God knows.  I'm hoping He'll show us one day how it really happened err from a safe place : )

I am excited to see Scientists and Christian leaders dig into the Bible to figure this all out.   I can only imagine how delighted God must be : )

Walk in Love
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet- smelling aroma.
We are to imitate God, to walk in love.  We know that God loves us or we wouldn't be forgiven.  He would've walked away before the flood receded.   He could've made a new planet with robot people (I would've hahaha).  But He didn't.  Amazing God, amazing grace.  We must remember this so we don't give up:

23 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...
(Romans 3:23-24 NKJV)
I quote Romans 3:23 to myself when I start feeling bad.

God inspired the Apostle Paul to give us some do's and don'ts.  They're so practical.  You want to live in peace?  Don't be unwise (stupid).  You want to be respected?  Don't be drunk all the time... be honest and helpful.  You want to be happy?  Give thanks to God for what you have.  You want to contribute ideas that are accepted?  Listen to the ideas of others, remember God is with you.  Try and use everyone's ideas not just yours.  Reading through these verses showed me some great stuff.

Don'ts vs. 3-6, 15-18
  • don't even mention fornication
  • uncleanness
  • covetousness
  • filthiness
  • foolish talking
  • coarse jesting
  • idolatry 
  • be unwise
  • be drunk with wine
  • walk as fools
  • speak of the things done in darkness
 Do's vs. 8-21
  • give thanks
  • stay away from people doing the don'ts
  • walk as children of light 
  • “Awake, you who sleep,
    Arise from the dead,
    And Christ will give you light.”
  • goodness, righteousness, truth 
  • have no fellowship with people doing the "don'ts"
  • understand what the Lord's will is
  • be filled with the Spirit
  • speak to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs
  • sing
  • make melody in your heart to God
  • give thanks for all things to God
  • in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • walk circumspectly (cautiously)
  • submit to one another in the fear of God
  • redeem the time, because the days are evil

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Walk in Light
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”


Walk in Wisdom
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
(Ephesians 5:1-21 NKJV)

Love this song : ) by Hezekiah Walker, Every Praise (link)
Giving Christian Musicians some free publicity : )

Friday, June 20, 2014

God's world (Ephesians 4:17-32, Philippians 4:4-7, Psalm 24:1-2)

"The  earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains. The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers."
(Psalms 24:1-2 NASB)
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I forgot to mention in my last post, when I go out and do ministries on my own, I let my Pastors know what I'm up to.  That way they know we don't all sleep in Church : )  They work so hard and certainly deserve encouragement. It was fun to thank my first Pastor for leading me to Christ 38 years ago.  I sent him a copy of my testimony.

(Ephesians 4:17-32 NKJV)
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Hmmm "walking in the futility of your mind..."  Yikes!  I see that as someone who is living in an imaginary world.  Just there.  Sometimes I ask Todd what he's thinking and he says, "Nothing."  
So I ask, "Nothing?"
He answers, "doooooo.  Yup nothing."
I think all the time!  It must be so relaxing : )  

To me, these verses describe people who are constantly thinking.  If something doesn't make sense, they make up a solution they like.  They close their minds to any other options.  They have done this for so long their minds and hearts don't know what truth is.  They are self serving and ignore God even making up lies to justify their thoughts.  

We keep hearing about climate control in the USA, it's Obama's favorite topic and investment.  After Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, an Environmental conference was held.  It was horrible there was less than 1/4 of an inch of water lost from our shorelines.  That doesn't concern me as much as the people still trying to rebuild their homes.  They also worry about the polar ice caps melting.  Yet 2 ice cutter ships got stuck in the ice last winter.  I love Christianity.  With God, humans are His best asset.  Not the ice or the water which He created.  We must protect our world but not pretend to control it. That's God's domain.

What would it feel like to believe we are just fine the way we are?  To just relax, work hard, sleep well, laugh, love and dance.  We'll know in Heaven for sure : )

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
When I put off my old ways and temptations, I feel like a new woman.  I have joy in my heart.  I am respected and loved.  Only God can provide the peace that passes understanding.  When we have faith and walk in the light, the fruit of His Spirit comes.  Paul describes it in his letter to the Philippians.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 
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.
(Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV)
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” 
Guilty!  I have a hard time telling other people (except my husband) that they are upsetting me.  We live in a townhouse that's close to other homes.  My neighbor  throws their beach towels over our courtyard fence when they're wet.  It's a small private space and I usually just push them off our side onto theirs.  I really should ask them to stop.  Nothing like seeing someone elses laundry in your courtyard...  Do we have to be honest?

for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath
Members of one another describes the body of Christ.  We are His hands, ears, feet...  God has given all of us gifts and talents to share.  My husband and I try not to let the sun go down on our anger.  I just can't sleep when I'm mad.  Neither can he.  We sometimes have pillow fights or squirt gun fights to get out of the angry mood.  It works well. Basically it's taking ourselves too seriously.

27 nor give place to the devil
This describes giving the devil a place (foothold) when we dwell in anger instead of faith.  I hate being angry it's so annoying.  Anger is a necessary emotion to help us change things but it's not good to constantly feed it.  "Did you see that lady?  She just hit my cart with her cart.  How rude!" and then pace all night... Not that I would ever... ok I would.

28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
This verse sounds like it's for new Christians. I was so confused when I first became a Christian.  I didn't feel like sinning as much.  I think that's normal when we first go to Church.  It's all so intimidating.  Paul is giving an alternative that's to be useful.   I am happy to say, "I'm working quietly with my own hands now!"  I'm at home.  Hopefully this blog is useful for others : )  Ok I do talk to myself and the kitties sometimes... /blush

 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking greaves the Holy Spirit.  I definitely don't want to do that.  He would rather we are kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving, just like Jesus forgave us.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for those in Iraq and Israel.  I pray for peace in Jerusalem, for the Holy cities in the middle east.  They are in a precarious place with all the fighting.  Lord, I pray You will give our Congress courage to do what must be done in the White House.  Please let your Spirit bless the children from Central America still waiting in warehouses.  I pray they will be able to live safely in Central America.  Thank You for all the blessings you have given us.  Be with those in Ukraine.  Bless our allies and help all our nations be strong.  In all these things let the right win and the wrong fail.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Here's a song by Matt Maher, "Alive Again" (link)

If you have a prayer request feel free to write it in Comments.  I'd be happy to pray for you.  God bless!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Walking worthy (Ephesians 4:1-16)

"Hey ladies how do you like my toupee?"
(just felt the need to see my favorite buffalo again : )
(No, I didn't make the hair it's real)
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

No matter what we look like,  or do, He will never give up on us.  Now that's good news for sure!  They are still sorting out the issue with the children coming into the USA from Central America.  One of the mayors in Arizona plans to go find out what is causing the exodus into our country from the source.  The President is focussed on ideals, and Republicans, no idea if he plans to do anything so the kids can go home or ever actually listen to qualified people.  God won't give up on him either (we'll keep praying).

It was really fun how my friend from one of my jobs contacted me and wanted to meet.  She lives in Vermont and I'm far away in NJ.  So we met in between.  She told me that I led her to Christ at work.  I was shocked, "I did?"

I'd go to work and share verses that I was excited about from my quiet times.  We walked every day at lunch.  She said that she really enjoyed it and she went on to read the Bible for herself.  She joined a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Vermont.  I think we make this stuff a lot harder than it is sometimes : )

Ephesians 4

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Paul calls himself a prisoner of the Lord again.  I feel that way too. I never want to leave Him.  He is asking us to be worthy of our name, "Christian."  

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.)

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He broke chains that held us captive and gave us gifts.  There are so many He passed out.  Some of us have more than one gift.  My strongest gift is Encouragement.   But I can do Evangelism and teaching as well.  The spritiual gifts He gave us allow us to minister to others.  One of the cool gifts is "Works".  These are people that use hammers, nails, ovens and paintbrushes.  They see a need and jump in.  I remember Pres. Jimmy Carter jumping into Habitat for Hummanity and helping build homes for the homeless.  All of our gifts are very cool and they were given to us to bless others. None are better or lower than anyone elses. And sometimes we want to have a gift but just don't.  No harm, just try other things.

These verses describe formal titles and purposes for the people in these positions:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers

You'll know I'm not a theologian for sure now : ) Ok an apostle is a person sent as a messenger to share the good news of Jesus. We usually only call people apostles who actually walked with Jesus.  A prophet fortells future events.  John the Baptist knew Jesus is the Son of God.  Jonah prophesied to the Assyrians that they would be destroyed if they didn't repent.  Evangelists are those called to share Jesus with others and lead them to Christ.  Pastors are Church leaders who give sermons at Church and also shepherd people (help them stay on track).  Teachers are those who help us figure out how to apply the Bible to our lives and how to use gifts (just my thoughts here).

  • for the equipping of the saints
    God designed the Church to be dynamic and strong within.   His vision is that we would be helping each other out with our gifts.  I realize I'm independent : )  I believe our ministry is an individual calling to do what's in our hearts.  I visited a woman in a Nursing Home for an extended amount of time.  No one at Church told me what to do.  I volunteered at the Nursing Home.  I think that's what Jesus had in mind.  We should also be equipped for those who cross our path.  It could be playing hopscotch with a neighbor girl or passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to homeless people. I've done both always cool!  We also need to work together at times.  Like singing in a choir or passing out food to homeless people.

  • for the work of ministry
    The name, "work of ministry" reminds me of missionaries overseas.  It reminds me of street evangelism, and children's ministries.  Men and women who are able to Pastor lots of people for extended periods of time.  Our Church has an awesome ministry with children teaching them how to give gifts and help others from an early age on.  We desperately need more of this in the USA. Our kids need some old fashioned fun and to learn good from bad.
  • for the edifying of the body of Christ
    The cool part is, when we use our gifts and follow the little nudges to help others, we are building up the whole body of Christ.  Of course we all mess up... But God never gives up.  (1 Corinthians 1:9)
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
God must have known that as humans we would break into different denominations.   He made us : )  Of course He would know our nature.  In verse 13 He's telling us we will all be in unity one day.  No more competition or comparing ourselves to others.  I bet there's some amazing singers in Heaven not to mention the Angels : )
  • to a perfect man
  • to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
  • 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
    This is why I make sure to read the Bible for myself.  Then I can recognize the truth.  God has different messages for me each day.
  •  15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 
  • 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

(Ephesians 4:1-16 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up the children who are leaving Central America.  I pray the truth will be revealed as to what is happening to cause this.  Please help these little ones be safe from harm and help the President understand and focus on the real problems of today.  Comfort those in Iraq who are terrified.  Let the right win and wrong fail. 

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

In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Here's a song from Peter Furler, Reach (link)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Exceedingly Abundantly (Ephesians 3:14-21, James 5:15-16, Matthew 6:9-13) updated 6-12

My husband and I have an earthworm ministry.  When we see an earthworm trying to crawl across cement, we put them in the dirt so they can live.  Honest! It just feels awful seeing them stuck and slowly dieing on the cement.  No worries Todd works in a Nursing Home as a Therapist, which is a great ministry. I write this blog.  So it's ok to save the earthworms in our spare time : )

God is with us, that's what the name, "Emmanuel," means.  His Holy Spirit is within and we can pray.  We can make a difference.  We can look up.   There was so much bad news on TV, my husband and I went to bed and agreed no TV before bed.   Sometimes I feel like an earthworm stuck on the cement.  We need to take care of our mental, spiritual and physical health.  It's good to count our blessings and remember the goodness in our lives and our God.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
(James 5:15-16 NKJV)

Here is Paul's prayer for the Gentiles:
(this is the bulleted list and the Bible verses follow)

  • First he bows to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • acknowledges our family in Heaven and Earth are named after our Lord Jesus Christ 
  • prays that we would be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man
  • that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith
  • be rooted and grounded in love
  • be able to understand what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge
  • be filled with the fullness of God

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
(Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV)

I love his view of God, He can do exceedingly abundantly, not just "above what I can do," but exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think.  This makes me wonder if I limit God by not accepting His true abilities and asking for more.  We do know Jesus gave us the Lord's prayer and asked that we not babble on and on.  

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God You know what is causing the shootings at schools.  I pray You will help our leaders understand how to stop this.  Please open the eyes of Hollywood movie makers.  Help them understand kids don't know what's real or not in movies.  Maybe this would help.  Guide us all with wisdom for the kids.  Father I pray for the children coming across the borders to the USA .  You know all about it.  Please bring peace to Central America so they can go home and be in families again.  I ask for You to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think.  I believe in You.

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

In Jesus Name, Amen.

This song is so perfect for where we are in the USA:
John Guerra, "I will Follow" (link)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Prisoner of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-13, Galatians 5:22-23, Phil. 1:21-26)

Ocean Grove, New Jersey
"God's square mile"

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Ephesians 3:1-13

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
Paul is calling himself, "the prisoner of Christ Jesus" for us.  I wondered how Jesus could make him a prisoner when He came to set us free.  Then 2 things came to mind:  
  1. When Jesus blinded Paul to get his attention, it was like a prison for 3 days. That's something it would be hard to forget.  He had received holy reverence for Jesus.  This pulling us aside and causing us to do a sacred search of our souls and values isn't common today.  I admit sometimes my prayers are a quick to do list for God rather than soul searching and worship.  I think the monks were really good at this even having times of quiet without speaking.  This would be nearly impossible for me : )
  2. The other thing I see here is Paul admitting he is a prisoner of love.  After I first experienced the fruit of His Spirit I was captivated.  Joy is so awesome!  It's just one fruit which Paul describes in Galatians:
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. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)
In Philippians, The Apostle Paul is enjoying his ministry so much he's content serving the Lord.  Yet longing to be with Jesus.  I can understand that to an extent.  We've never known anything but earth, so some of the descriptions of Heaven are hard to grasp.  So glad He gave us the Holy Spirit so we could get a taste of Heaven on earth. 
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard- pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
(Philippians 1:21-26 NKJV)
The other thing to note is in AD60-62 Paul was literally in a Roman prison.  Even through his suffering, he was able to give us these letters.
5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
At one time it was believed the Messiah, "Jesus," would only come for the Jews.  Most of us are Gentiles, those who are not born Jewish.  It was believed that the Messiah would slay all of Israel's enemies and set them free.  Israel has endured so much.  I've heard some Jews say they are only tormented because they are the chosen ones.  satan and his darkness doesn't tolerate light.  Light reveals the truth and extinguishes darkness.

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
(Ephesians 3:1-13 NKJV)

There is a Christian section of the Jersey Shore here.  It is privately owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.  Unfortunately, our tax dollars didn't pay for the restoration of the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.  My husband and I were there the other day and noticed it's not up yet.  We don't have a lot of money so I thought I could pray feel free to join me if you like.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Ocean Grove to You.  I pray You will help them get enough money to restore the whole boardwalk.  I thank You for the wooden cross on the beach, and how You protected the people, hotels and buildings.  We are grateful for a beautiful place to have baptisms and Christian concerts.  Thank You for all the wonderful blessings we have received.  
In Jesus Name,

Here's the link to the Ocean Grove site.  You can see how beautiful it is : )
Here's a song from Natalie Grant, "Your Great Name" (link)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Open door policy (Ephesians 2:11-22, Revelation 3:20-21)

"Broken doors can be repaired"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
When I worked in business we had managers who were open door guys, and some that didn't want to be disturbed.  We are so blessed to be able to go to God anywhere anytime, 24x7.  He has an open door policy : ) definitely!  The verses above refer to our closed and broken doors (hearts).  This is a photo I took of our hot water heater closet.  It was really cold out and all of the sudden this burst of freezing air came at me!  As a very old girl scout, I knew what to do.  I grabbed a 2x4 and propped it closed.  It worked!  The door is fixed now. Overcoming in life can be hard but with faith, it's possible.  I have so many stories like really laughing for the first time at age 16 after I became a Christian.  

Sometimes our hearts feel like ice, like no one can ever bring us back to who we really are.  Jesus is knocking always.  He never gives up and wants us to sit with Him on His throne.  Looking forward to that. 

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world
We have hope because Jesus bridged the gap with his sacrifice and the covenant between man and God.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
The promise was for Jews first, they were the circumcised.  Jesus was circumcised as a baby.  We are the Gentiles, those who are saved through Jesus' death (sacrifice), rather than the law and birthright.  However we still strive to live as the ten commandments and Jesus example taught us.  Hope, faith, love and obey. We don't make sacrifices now.  Jesus did that once and for all.

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
I have to stop and realize here that Paul is an example of these verses literally.  He was a devout Jew.  He studied the law under one of the top Jewish teachers.  Then he learned about God's covenant with man, that Jesus is our final sacrifice.  Through Jesus the Holy Spirit gives us access to the Father (God the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  The wall referred to here is the one in the temple that kept everyone out except on one day of the year, for one person to come near to God.

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11-22 NKJV)
There was once a temple made by man. At one time it was God's temple.  Animal sacrifices were made to please Him.  But it became corrupt.  Instead of offering their very best to God as atonement.  People offered fake alternatives, sheep that weren't really white.  Doves that could be bought at the temple instead of from personal sacrifice.  We still have the option to offer sacrifices (time, money, talent) to God.  But it's no longer for our forgiveness, it is for His  pleasure and our thanks.  Our hearts are His home now.

I love being God's servant.  I can ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and to let His will be my desire.  I've had some great adventures with the Lord.  This blog has been one of them.  When I see someone who is down I can ask the Holy Spirit to give me words to say.  It's amazing : )

Here's a song by, "Needtobreathe" Multiplied (link)