Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Faith!!!! (Galatians 3:1-14, Hebrews 11:1-3,11:6, Isaiah 40:31, Zech 4:6)

"Mustard Seed Faith"
Fuji Finepix Camera

St. John, Caribbean 
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I honestly read these verses and feel very afraid because I'm clumsy.  If I moved a mountain who knows who would get hurt?  I don't think that's what Jesus meant.  Sometimes life is full of mountains:  financial, work, family illness, etc.   Paul starts out, "O foolish Galatians!"  I can definitely sense his frustration here.  Isn't faith something we struggle with even today?  The mustard seed story is about faith and not works.  With faith anything is possible.  With despair even getting out of bed is a huge effort.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Galatians 3

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you:  Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
This is a common temptation.  After I became a Christian I dove into the Bible and read every morning.  I wanted to do the right things and not the wrong.  I remember trying out different ministries and then the pride sneaks in.  "Wow, I'm doing great!"
"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:6)
And then the realization that I wasn't giving God the credit, and I forgot about faith.  It takes awhile to get into the habit of faith and prayer.  And even then we all get distracted.  A few problems send me back to my knees in prayer.  The Holy Spirit helps us when we ask Him too.  He is God's Spirit within us.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
(Hebrews 11:1-3 NKJV)

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? — 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Abraham and his wife, "Sarah," were to have a child that would be named, "Israel."  It was the beginning of the nation.  Ok, ok, so it was his wife, Sarah, that got anxious and figured God needed help with this since it wasn't happening fast enough.  And then stuff happened.  Patience is a virtue and it's always best to have faith and wait on the Lord.  All through the Bible there's a story of someone, male or female, that decided to take things into their own hands and then it's never good.  One of those underlying messages I often forget.  Even my best photos come after I pray.  I see with new eyes.

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
Faith!  I can see why the Apostle Paul was so determined to forge faith into the minds of the Galatians.  You see, when I try and do everything alone without God's blessing it never goes very well.  I get tired and frustrated and give up.  BUT!  After I give up, His peace comes.  And then the song comes back to my heart, joy is restored.  He sets me on a new path, the right one.

I'm so glad faith is what God requires.  There's no way I could be perfect enough to obey all the laws, all the time. 

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The good news is we don't have to be crucified to become a Christian or do the most excellent possible things.  We just need to believe.  And on those days when we don't feel faithful or like a Christian.  He carries us, and waits for us to come back to Him in faith.
(Galatians 3:1-14 NKJV)

"I believe in the sun when it's not shining, I believe in love even when I feel it not, I believe in God even when he is silent."  Old Irish saying 

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Ukraine and Israel to You.  I pray for peace in both nations.  You are God nothing is impossible for You, please let the wrong fail and the right win.

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 from Steven Curtis Chapman, "Glorious Unfolding"(link)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Living by faith (Galatians 2:1-21)

"Church Ladies"
Minolta DiMage Camera
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

It's kind of fun.  If you remember the verse from Psalm 23,
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

My last job was the very worst one ever.  It was incredibly unprofessional.  There was gossip and all sorts of weird stuff going on.  My manager loved to yell at the top of his lungs in staff meetings.  The commute was at least 3 hours.  My husband was in between jobs so I stayed as long as I could and finally quit.  News of what was going on spread to the upper levels of management.  On my last day, I said goodbye to my friends and headed toward Human Resources to turn in my badge.  I got on the elevator and all these ladies surrounded me.  One asked me, "You're a Christian aren't you?  I can tell." 

I had to laugh and told them, "Yes I'm a Christian."
Then one of the ladies exclaimed, "I knew it!  I told you so Marge, she's a Christian.  You'd have to be to get through all this and smile."

It was so encouraging.  Next I met the Human Resource guy.  He asked me what I would do next.  I replied, "I'd like to help some homeless people; do something worthwhile."

He paused, "Fascinating.  I consider those who would help others to be the most valuable."

It was so encouraging!  So that's how I had a table prepared for me in the presence of my enemies.  I was just trying to leave and forget it all, when these people treated me like something special.  I still smile remembering His goodness and all the nice people.  I did help homeless people for a short time and then the Lord inspired me to write and illustrate this blog.  Hoping it helps others.  I love visiting elderly people in Nursing Homes too.  

Galatians 2

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 
In Judaism, it was required for all the boy babies to be circumcised.  It was considered a symbol of adherence to the Jewish law.  As people became Christian, the circumcision was no longer required.  Faith in Christ's sacrifice became the only law.  It is still a practice in the United States for health reasons, which could've been God's intent in the first place.  It's interesting how much God's laws make sense.  If we'd all followed the 10 commandments, it would've been a very different world today.

4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Yikes!  Some people were pretending to be Christians and trying to get new Christians circumcised.

6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
This is where the  ministry was divided between Peter who preached to the circumcised Jews, and Paul.  I can imagine it would've been difficult for Paul, who once destroyed Christians to be taken seriously by those who were devout Jews.  It also shows how God can open hearts to meet the needs around them.

Barnabas is an encourager.  I imagine him to be a large man with giant arms that occasionally gave hugs to those who needed it.  I'm not a hugger (except my hubby).  I look forward to meeting Barnabas in Heaven one day.  In the New Testament, he seems to show up at just the right times.  Like when Paul needs some cheering up.

11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
James is Jesus' half brother.  The Apostle Paul talked to Peter face to face to rebuke him for eating with the Gentiles and not the Jews.  To me, this sounds like showing partiality for Gentiles instead of being open to all people including Jews.  It's like he was afraid of what the Jews would think of him.  Today we struggle with this in race, education, and denomination.  The Church isn't a building with a big cross on top, it's the people who believe Jesus is our Savior from all types of lives.  The presence of Christ and our faith will carry us through all sorts of troubles.

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Paul is still a bit upset here it sounds like.  He is telling Peter that he shouldn't try to persuade people to live like the Jews, if they aren't Jewish. We aren't justified by God because of our works or pretending, only by faith.  We seem to complicate things don't we?  That hasn't changed.  We've all sinned and no one can keep all the laws in the Bible that God gave us.  I wish I could but I can't.  This is why Jesus became the sacrifice for us in the first place.

Here's where Paul gives us the clarity to apply all this to today.  We can memorize these verses for the dark times when we feel forsaken or forgotten by God.  It also helps when we feel we've failed beyond repair.

  • 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 
  • 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 
  • 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me
  • 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

(Gal 2:1-21 NKJV)

This song is by Moriah Peters, "You carry me" (link)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finding comfort in Psalm 23

"One of our Sheep"
What can I say?  New Jersey has everything.
Canon Rebel t1i

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We just heard from our President about the bombing of the Malaysian airline over Ukraine.   He is also backing both Israel's and Ukraine's need to protect their land.  We are all hoping and praying respect will come to these nations. Even Obama said, "They should be able to enjoy their land in safety."  The USA and Europe feels the pain.  So much heartache.  When I am afraid, confused or hurt I remember King David's song in Psalm 23.

Psalm 23

The Shepherd's Psalm
A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
God will provide my needs. I just need to believe and wait.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
He is an ever-present Lord concerned about what we need, able to comfort and provide just the right blessings.  Even when I'm all out of sorts, He restores my peace and joy.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
His rod and staff hurt sometimes.  I know when I've made a mistake.  Sometimes it's a strange realization of how I said the wrong thing. My heart sinks and even if I had an eraser those words linger...  I'd much rather be punished by my loving God than anyone else.  His forgiveness is final and absolute.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I've always loved this part.  God not only promises He will anoint me, and fill my cup till it overflows, He says He will do it in front of my enemies : )  We are all winners with the Lord on our side.
(Psalm 23 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those who have lost loved ones in the Malaysian airline bombing.  Please comfort those who mourn and encourage those who want to give up.  I pray for peace in Ukraine and in Israel.  Please send the angels to tend to their needs.  Please let the right win and the wrong fail.  I also lift up Jordan to You for their safety in the middle-east.

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.

Some History-
I did some research into the history of Israel.  In my lifetime, I remember Arafat calling his people, "Palestinians," for the first time. I was born in 1960.  Romans called Israelites Palestinians as an insult when they came in to conquer their land.  Israel first became a nation in it's location in 860 B.C.  So when someone wants to take their land claiming it's theirs that would be wrong.  This is all documented in our Bibles and archaeology.  Jerusalem, the home of the Jewish temple was built by Solomon, King David's son.  It wasn't built by representatives from different religions.  40 years after Jesus' crucifixion, Rome destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and stole the artifacts.  Many of the Jews left Israel in despair.  There was no place to make sacrifices to God.  Some wound up in Europe.  

My husband and I recently watched footage from World War I and II.  An estimated 100 million people died, some in death camps.  That includes doctors, scientists, artists, musicians, relatives, from all religions: Christians, Jews, Muslims.  Only God knows what people we lost through all of this.  The Jews were restored back to Israel after WWII.  They did amazing things in their desert.  It became a thriving successful nation with technology and an airport.  Some of the surrounding nations were envious.  The rest is unfolding today.

100 million people lost.  This just can not happen again.  I don't know much about the Arab nations.  I have a lot of respect for them.  

Here's a song by Matt Redman, "You never let go"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paul's letter to the Galatians (Gal. 1:1-17)

"These flags wave together in Ocean Grove, NJ"
We still love England
Canon Rebel t1i
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Since I've recently read about Paul, I want to finish going through his letters to the Churches.  I'd love to see more flags from other nations in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, (the Christian beach).

Galatia was where Turkey is today.  It's a small world.  It's believed this is where Noah's ark landed.  All sorts of things happened in Turkey which is also why there are lots of early Christian artifacts there.  I'd love to see them someday.

Chapter 1

1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me,
Paul can honestly say he didn't become an apostle by man's doing, it was Jesus Himself.  On the road to Damascus (Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-8:3, and 9:1-9).

To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

This was a time period of lots of philosophies.  There was Gnosticism, "whatever I think is true. Facts just confuse me. Truth is what I want it to be.  As long as I feel good."  
Sounds very familiar in our time.  There were Jews trying to bring people back to Judaism to deny Christ.

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 
It sounds like these people pestered each other to try and get their way.  Paul is reminding us even today not to give in to annoyances but to keep the faith.

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
The Bible is our truth detector.  If someone tells me something that doesn't sound right about our faith in Jesus, I need to look it up in my Bible.  It's good to read the Bible often: encouragement, hope, healing, awesome stories and determining the truth about our faith.  Children used to do Bible drills.  The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit.  So the leader would ask them to find a verse and the winner was the first one to get there.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Ouch!  Paul is reminding us not to be people pleasers.  Oh dear, I hope I didn't offend anyone hahaha.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
This is why I think of the Apostle Paul as an all or nothing kind of guy.  He never seemed to go half way.  I think if I met him, he would have piercing eyes that tried to look into my soul.  But I don't think I would be afraid.  I'm kind of dumb that way : )  I tend to look right back until one of us flinches hahaha.  Since he walked and talked with Jesus, he would have that indescribable love and gentleness I see in Christians.  It's like a beautiful sparkle within.  And joy!  I love Jesus' joy!

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Paul is saying here that when God called him to preach to Gentiles (us), he didn't mess around.  He went right out and did it.  In these verses we see references to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.  I need to research how old Israel really is in the Biblical archaeology.  No idea why our president would pretend to know more than they do.
(Galatians 1:1-17 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Ukraine and Israel to You.  I pray You will bring peace to these nations.  Please let the wrong fail and the right win.  Let Your hand be with them to give them strength and know Your presence is with them.

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)

Father, You have provided my needs so much I don't know how to say, "Thank You."
I offer this prayer to You for Israel and Ukraine.
10 ... “Oh, that You would bless (Israel & Ukraine) indeed, and enlarge (their) territory, that Your hand would be with (them), and that You would keep (them) from evil, that (they) may not cause pain!” 
(1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV)

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Here's a song by Whosoever South, "All the time" (link)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jesus' message to the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7, Genesis 3:22-23)

We finished Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  Pretty great stuff in there.  Next in Ephesians is the Armor of God (link).  I've already written about it in another area so I'm just linking (sorry!).  Honestly, I don't have a real plan with this...  Just reading the Bible and I get into it.  I'll try and be more organized in the future.

We've read about Paul in the book of Acts.  His testimony on coming to know Christ is amazing!  We read the letter he sent to the Ephesians.  There's one more piece to the puzzle.  The apostle John was tasked by Jesus, to write down His Words to the seven Churches in the book of Revelation, including Ephesus.  I thought it would be good to read it so we can get the whole picture.

Seven, "7" is known to be God's number.  He created the world in 7 days.  We should rest on the 7th day. 

1 “ To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘ These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

2 I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
(The Nicolaitans were people who encouraged new believers to eat meat offered as sacrifices and also were promiscuous.) 
7 “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

(Revelation 2:1-7 NKJV)

This is cool.  In the Garden of Eden, God put both the tree of life (everlasting life) and knowledge (good and evil, intelligence and reason).  satan took the form of a snake and talked Eve into eating of the tree of knowledge.  After God got angry with them He removed the tree of life.  Verse 7 says that it is in Paradise with God.  We will not die again.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
(Genesis 3:22-23 NKJV)

We sometimes think of God as being alone in a giant throne room.  But He isn't.  Jesus is there, and the angels.  Talk about an awesome choir!  That would explain His words, "the man has become like one of Us..."

I'm not sure when but I will read through Revelation eventually.  It's very challenging to understand.  

Here's my prayer- lots of stuff going on in the nations.

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Israel to You.  It is a miracle that they have endured so much, a testimony to Your amazing grace and power. I lift up Turkey to You.  There are many Christians in this region that are being taunted by terrorists.  I pray You will bring peace and hope, comfort those who are living in fear.  I pray the Holy cities will be preserved.  I also lift up Ukraine to You.  The battles seem to surge in and out. Please comfort these people and bless the children.  It must be so awful for them.  I also lift up Japan.  They have recently experienced another earthquake.  We know the weather changes to manage the needs of the earth. I pray for Your mercy, hope and strength on all these people.   In all these things I pray the right will win, and the wrong will fail.  

Thank You Father for the gift of prayer and that we can help in even a small way. 

 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 Rush of Fools, Held in Your hands (link)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day USA 2014 (Ephes. 5:13-14, John 8:31-32, Acts 13:38-39, Romans 3:21-24, Romans 6:22, Romans 8:1-4, Romans 8:20-21, 2 Cor. 3:17, Galatians 5:1, 13-14, Ephesians 3:12, Col. 1:21-23, 1 Peter 2:16)

"Through Christ we are set free : )"
USA 4th of July since 1776
National Independence Day

Whenever I think of freedom, the words, "With freedom comes responsibility," always come to mind.  No man is an island that doesn't affect others.  There is only one God and one Savior.  If we accept God's Son as our Savior, we are set free.  The more we study the Bible, the closer we come to God.  Our nation is going through a lot of struggles right now.  We look forward to new elections and have faith that God will supply our needs.  Some of us might just wear out the knees in our blue jeans praying : )  America's not done yet.  And neither is the Lord!  His eye is on the nations.

13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is 
why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:13-14 NIV)
Here's some verses that describe how we can be free.

John 8:31-32
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Acts 13:38-39
38 "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Romans 3:21-24
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:22
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Romans 8:1-4
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in human flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:20-21
20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

2 Corinthians 3:17
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Galatians 5:1
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13-14
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 3:12
12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Colossians 1:21-23
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

1 Peter 2:16
16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves.

Dear Heavenly Father I thank You and praise You for all Your great works.  When our world seems impossible You bless and keep us.  It is hard for us to see Your glorious light at work.  Thank You for this most awesome gift of faith and Your constant care.  Father I lift up Israel to You.  I pray You will send encouragement and hope.  They are still Your chosen ones and we will not forget.  I pray You will send them encouragement and safety.  Please grant peace and protection to Jordan and a strong alliance for Israel.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Honoring others (Ephesians 6:1-9)

"Shining light in darkness"

Canon Rebel t1i and Corel Painter

It's firefly season in New Jersey : )  I love these little rascals and it reminds me of our faith.  We too need to reflect the light to shine in our countries.  The fireflies are nearly impossible to capture on film so I painted them in on my photo.

This is the only passage I sincerely wish wasn't in the Bible...   I'd rather just forget my childhood and enjoy today. But God put this here for a reason and it seems He chose today for me to dig in and deal with it.  I had a good talk with my husband about this, his family wasn't perfect either.  In fact, we both agreed no one's is.

I had a talk with God.  I asked Him why I have to be nice about my parents.  The still small voice whispered, "Have you read your testimony?  Haven't I provided all your needs and more?"  
I smiled, swallowed my pride and whispered, "Above and beyond Father, thank You so much."
My testimony is the "About Me" link on the side.  It's time for me to quit judging and just accept what's done is done.  Today is all I really have.

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. 19 "Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NASB)

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:  3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

My first question is, "What does the word 'honor' really mean?"
Webster's Dictionary- good name or public esteem :  reputation
b :  a showing of usually merited respect :  recognition <pay honor to our founder>  

It's about how we present our parent's actions to others, what we say about them in public.  Everyone's parent's made mistakes.  Some mistakes are bigger than others.  But most of it wasn't done intentionally.  In my New York Institute of Photography class, we were discussing how to critique other people's photos.  Our leader Chuck Delaney told us a story about receiving a photo in a ripped up, taped together envelope.  Chuck asked the Director what he should do with it.  The director told him he should congratulate the man for being able to attach the stamp.  He had lost most of his fingers.  We really don't know what other people struggle with.  Some people are great parents and some just don't know what to do.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12 NIV)

Verse 1 holds an important key for me.  It says, "Honor your Mother and Father"  and then it says why, "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."  I think I finally figured out what this means.  If we badmouth our parents and constantly talk about how bad we've had it in life, no one wants to be around us.  It's depressing and others look at us differently.   I have some favorite memories: on my birthdays my Mom made the most fantastic birthday cakes for me.  My Dad saw how much I enjoyed riding horses, so he took me to English riding lessons every Saturday, then we'd get doughnuts afterward.  

To be honest, it's the same with marriage.  If I don't honor my husband it reflects poorly on me and visa versa.  Not only that, it gives the in-laws the wrong idea and makes life way more difficult than it should be.  Actually, home is happier when I act nice : )  I even like myself better when I don't complain.

4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
To me, this is about taking a belt and hitting a child until they scream.  Using methods on children that a parent wouldn't want to experience.  Parents aren't supposed to gain domination, but rather respect.  Domination brings retaliation not love.  Another way to lose trust and respect is constant verbal threats. 

Webster's Dictionary- A Bondservant  is a person bound to service without wages; also :  slave

5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men- pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
I always tried to honor my bosses.  It wasn't easy.  One of them yelled at me every morning to find out the status of my work.  It was amazing.  Can you think of a better way to demotivate your staff?  Yikes!

9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
(Ephesians 6:1-9 NKJV)

God has no partiality He died for all of us.  I think He loves how different we all are.  I know He loves us all.

This is a great song by Kari Jobe, We Are (link) 

 Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Ukraine to You.  I pray You will bring peace- Your peace that passes understanding.  I pray also for Jerusalem.  Protect these people Father from all that would seek to destroy.  In all these things let the wrong fail and the right win.  Thank You for good decisions in the Supreme Court this week.  I pray You will grant us wisdom in selecting the next president. Please grant our Congress wisdom to know how to fix things.

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.