Friday, August 29, 2014

Sardis and Philadelphia (Revelation 3:1-13, 1 Thess. 4:15-18, Matthew 24:29-31, Ephesians 5:28-31)

"Our 22nd Anniversary"
I think God created roses for husbands, to make up for all the laundry we wash.
Hope you can smell these, they are so beautiful.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
We had a great anniversary this year.  My husband took me out for a nice dinner, and I felt spoiled.  I'm so grateful for our marriage.  The people at the restaurant were thrilled that we had been married for 22 years.  It's not very common in the USA today.  We even got some extra goodies : )  Here's the Bible marriage verses:
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.”
(Ephesians 5:28-31 NKJV)
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You and praise You for marriage, love and all that is good.  I lift up those who are facing war, or the prospect of war.  Please grant our world leaders wisdom as to what to do.  I pray You will guide the nations to work together.  Help our president to comprehend what is happening and how quickly it can be stopped.  Grant courage and strength where it is needed most.  Please send the angels to help us out.  

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.

Back to Revelation

Sardis - The Dead Church

This is not what any of us would want to hear about our Church, Dead!  Yikes!
1 “ And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
“These things says He who has the seven Spirits (Isaiah 11:2 Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord) of God and the seven stars (angels of the Churches):‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
(2 Peter 3:10 NKJV)
Don't know about you but I really like hearing about the good Churches : )  Philadelphia is a good Church.  It's not the USA town, it's from a long time before us.  Jesus calls this the Faithful Church.  I think most of us want to be known as faithful people who keep commitments and don't pretend to be things we aren't.  I'm a Christian by choice.  I'm glad even though some don't understand it.

Philadelphia - The Faithful Church
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
“These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:8 “ I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
(Revelation 3:1-13 NKJV)

There's more detail about all this as we read through Revelation.  Some important things to remember is God loves us and wants us to win the battles we face.  Holding on to our faith is critical and Jesus knows and appreciates how hard it is at times.  He was tested and tempted as we are and has compassion for us.  However, He never sinned. These letters were written so we would know how God sees the Churches.

One thing I forgot to define for folks is the difference between the Rapture and the Great Tribulation.  The rapture is when Jesus will call us to Himself. We'll rise through the air and be with Him.  It's believed the Great Tribulation will come after the rapture.  It is the time when people will need to choose right from wrong.  People will be able to accept Christ as Savior up until the end of the Great Tribulation.  

The Rapture
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV)

End of the Great Tribulation
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
(Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV)
Here's a song from Chris Tomlin, "Indescribable" (link) 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pergamos & Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Corinthians 13:1, Romans 3:23, Revelation 22:16)

"Jesus is the Morning Star"
light in the darkness
Canon Rebel T1i

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Ukraine to You.  I pray that the right will win and the wrong will fail.  You know all and see all.  Please bless these people with good things.  I also lift up those in the middle east who are fighting to survive.  I pray Your hand will be with the nations to give us all guidance.  Comfort those who mourn.  Please provide shelter from this terrible storm.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Compromising Church- Pergamos

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
‘These things says He who has the sharp two- edged sword: 
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
13 I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 

14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."
(Revelation 2:12-17 NKJV)
It sounds like the Church at Pergamos was allowing things that God forbids.  These are individuals that practiced idol worship, and eating food offered to idols.  When Churches close their eyes to what God hates and pretend that it doesn't matter, God remembers.  The Nicolaitans established a priesthood over the congregation.  Under Jesus all of us are to serve God, not one person over all.  The curtain that kept us away from God has now been removed.  This priesthood would be in defiance of all that God had sacrificed for us.

Jesus gives us all a chance to overcome the sin that is around us.  Those who overcome will get a new name written on a stone. 

The Corrupt Church- Thyatira

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  
(1 Corinthians 13:1 NKJV)
Jesus keeps mentioning His feet of brass and eyes like a flame of fire.  His servants are flames of fire. I interpret this to mean that without love, people are noisy clanging cymbals.  That's not something anyone would want to be around.  Yet that's how we sound to God when we are mean and rude to others, demanding they believe what we do.  Good question to ask myself, "Am I helping or stopping someone from having faith?"

Jesus always starts out talking about the good stuff-
19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
In the Old Testament Jezebel married Ahab,a King of Israel.  She was not a Jew and things went really bad for them.  Her memory in history is that of an evil, designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful and cruel.  Definitely one of the bad girls in the Bible.  She was the first great instigator of persecution of God's saints.  She was killed when Jehu saw her looking out a window and told the chamberlains to throw her out.  She was dashed to pieces on the street.  Jehu's horses trampled her and the dogs ate her.(1)  Ok, so why is Jezebel mentioned in Revelation?  That would mean this Church will not be raptured but will go through the last days of tribulation.  They were seduced into temporary pleasures and did not obey God's will.  It sounds to me like a person who destroys other people's faith in God, marriage, and all that is holy will not see Jesus.  They will go through the great tribulation.  The rapture will come in the blinking of an eye for those who believe.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)
In these verses Jesus is saying that He knows who is doing right, has faith in Him, and doesn't participate with the ones who are against Him.  Before the rapture, people can still come to Him for salvation.  More details about the Rapture and Great Tribulation are further into Revelation.  And, again this is symbolic in many places.
24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 “He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels’ — as I also have received from My Father;
28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
(Revelation 2:18-29 NKJV)
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."(Revelation 22:16 NKJV)
(1) Easton's Bible Dictionary, Jezebel, 1 Kings 16:31, 18:19, 21:19, 2 Kings 9:7-37.

This song is so good for us today, from Tenth Ave. North "Worn" (link).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Governor Christie Townhall & the Church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-17)

"Governor Chris Christie"
Long Branch, NJ

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
This is my Governor in New Jersey.  I'm actually quite proud of him.  He's been doing these townhall meetings along the Jersey shore.  My husband and I went to Belmar to listen to him first. I was struck by how he really cares about our people.  I understand he's popular in England too : )  You can't have him he's ours hahaha.  I thanked him for all his hard work and shook his hand.  Then I told him that we need him as President.  He told me he's thinking about it.  That was in Belmar, NJ last month.  In Long Branch, he talked more about my question.  He said his first concern is for his family, especially the kids.  Their lives would completely change.  I was impressed by that answer.  Also, our property taxes have risen to new heights this year.  It's much higher than our mortgage payments.  He is very concerned and wants to fix it for us.  He even asked if we could handle anymore tax increases.  We all shook our head, "No."   I got lots of photos of him talking.  He also said he still has time to think about the Presidency.

Now here's where I need prayer as a photographer.  After he finished talking, he walked off to the side.  I wanted to tell him about the Urban Promise ministry in Camden. So I tried to get his attention.  He saw a Veteran in a wheel chair and stood and talked to him.  My heart melted and I didn't get a shot...  (I sent him an e-mail with the web address).  Then he started doing selfies with the crowd it was really cute AND I DIDN'T GET A PHOTO!!!  OY!  Please pray for me on these photo ops for more mental focus...  To sum up, my husband and I were both impressed by him.  And to be honest sometimes it's best to just let people have fun.

So, here's more from Revelation, (I added some of my favorite verses).

Smyrna was the Church that faced persecution.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
I think the second death is for people who do not believe in Jesus.  People who deny God's existence.  We are seeing this in Iraq today.  Jesus is telling Christians not to be afraid.  It would be hard not to be afraid in the face of death.  But, I can say from experience that when I am most afraid and pray, God gives me this amazing peace.  I quote Bible verses, like,
"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.
(Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV)"

I have also prayed for Jesus to cover me with His blood.  His sacrifice and blood is the most powerful thing on earth.  Revelation 12:11 helps us know how to defeat satan.
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
(Revelation 12:11 NKJV)
It's important to memorize Bible verses.  I can quote them in times of need.  I read a doctor found patients with faith get well much faster. : )  The Holy Spirit can use them as well.  Here's another one of my emergency verses, I used to quote this every time a contract job would end and found peace:
"19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:19 NKJV)

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
(Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
There's a battle between good and evil in Heaven and on earth.  Even our President now understands the insanity of this evil.  Evil isn't a holy war, it is what it is.  An attempt to destroy all that is good. It is not a religion.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I continue to thank and praise you for Interpol and the joining of nations to fight terrorism.  I pray for Your hand of protection on those who are in danger.  Please comfort those who have lost loved ones.  I lift up our Governor to You as well and pray You will guide and bless him in his decisions.  And Lord, please help me not to forget to click the shutter button and miss the good stuff.  People are harder than animals for me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Loving even though... (Revelation 2:1-7, John 8:3-11)

"Great Auditorium"
Built in the 1800's, Ocean Grove, NJ
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This year my husband and I have been going to Church on the Jersey shore, in Ocean Grove.  It's been a lot of fun.  They have this huge, "Great Auditorium."  The doors and windows are open so the sea breeze can flow through.  This is our hot season in NJ.  I don't know how they used to get through the humidity without air conditioners to be honest!  Each Sunday a new speaker comes.  Last Sunday was Tony Campolo.  He's another one of those men of God that has made a difference in my life.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and showed me that Christians laugh. Sunday, he had us all raising the roof with laughter : )  He told us about a time when he was in one of the inner cities in the USA with high crime rates.  He wound up in a dirty cafe to get a bite to eat and coffee.  It wasn't clean, there weren't waitresses.  Instead he found himself surrounded by local prostitutes.  And a grimy chef.  It was uncomfortable to say the least.  But his ears perked up when he heard one of the girls say, "Tomorrow is my birthday.   I've never had a birthday party."

Tony decided he'd set up a party for her in the coffee shop.  So he worked it all out and had lots of people invited.  The next day the woman came into the diner and saw the cake.  She was so amazed she couldn't speak.  She stared at it, and took it home to show her Mother. It reminded me of a story about Jesus.  The religious guys (Pharisees) in town caught a woman in adultery and pulled her out in the dusty street.  

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." 
(John 8:3-11 NKJV)
This is what Jesus meant about love.  Not just the people we know, the people who are beautiful or have lots of money.  It's about the people who are alone, sick.  Those that don't smell good, or talk properly.  Those that have bad teeth and drink too much.  We're not supposed to pretend to be better than those who are wealthy.  Jesus sees us all as His children.  Nicodemus, a wealthy Pharisee, was one of Jesus' friends too.  He loves all of us.  According to Revelation, the Church is to be different.  Chapter 2 of Revelation contains letters Jesus had the Apostle John write to the seven Churches.  The first one is to Ephesus (we read this recently but it's always good).

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.
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)

I can understand forgetting my first love.  I think all of us have times as Christians where we just don't feel like doing something loving.  Sometimes I wake up and wonder why I feel so irritable.  My poor husband...  What I think Jesus is describing is when we put the Bible in the closet.  I feel like I just want to be invisible and do my own thing.  I am an artist and that's what artists do after all.  But the true inspiration for my photos and artwork comes from God.  It's just not the same without Him in the middle of my work. Who else could show me where the good photos are : )  In this section, He calls Himself our first love.  I was taught to have my quiet time first thing in the morning.  To seek my first love first.  My husband is my human first love- need to treat him well too.  

After seeing all the violence in Missouri these last few weeks; I wanted to share something I stumbled upon last Sunday.  Camden, NJ is one of the worst places in the USA.  I worked there for 2 years and was told if it's dark out don't stop at the red lights, just drive through. Bodies were dredged up in the Delaware River next to Camden.  A ministry has been set up called, "UrbanPromise (link)."  The group helps teens and teaches them how to mentor younger kids to get good grades in school.  The kids I met were awesome filled with hope and joy.  Feel free to use my own testimony (About my faith) linked on the right side. I know all too well what being alone as a little girl, and hopeless means.  God changed all that for me.

My prayer,
Dear Heavenly Father I thank You and praise You for the great things I've seen in Iraq.  Many of us are waiting to see what will happen next.  I lift up the Kurds and ask Your blessing on them.  I also lift up Ukraine and Israel.  Father I pray for those in Missouri who are bringing about violence in their city.  Bless the kids with good things and help them turn away from harm.  Please raise up good leaders to help.  I pray the right will win and the wrong will 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 great song from Owl City, In Christ Alone (link)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Symbols of God's love (Revelation 1:12-20, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 1:18, Exodus 27:20, Matt. 5:14-16, Psalms 104:4)

This part of Revelation 1 is full of simple descriptions and phrases, "one like the Son of Man,"  would be Jesus.  He is also known as the Son of God.  I'm having fun : )

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two- edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
Revelation 1:12-16

The image described in verses 12-16 is stunning.  Jesus is standing in the midst of 7 lit golden lampstands.   He is wearing a white robe with a golden band around his chest.  His head and hair are white like snow and His eyes are like fire.  His feet are brass.  His voice sounds like the ocean.  And a sword is coming out His mouth-  He is brilliant like the sun.  These are symbols.  I looked up the key words in my Olive Tree software and here's what I found:

The Sword is the Word of God (Bible).
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
Snow is the forgiveness of our sin, purity.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool."
(Isaiah 1:18 NKJV)
God's command for the temple lamp stand (the Menorah) there were no windows for light only the lamp stand.
"You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually."
(Exodus 27:20)
As Christians, we are the light of the world now.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
His Servants are His flames of fire.  His eyes are on us.
4 Who makes His angels spirits, 
His ministers a flame of fire.
(Psalms 104:4 NKJV)
His feet are brass, refined in fire.  His chest is covered by a golden band which implies royalty.  He is King of kings.  He is love.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1 NKJV)

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
(Revelation 1:12-20 NKJV)

After reading the Bible for many years, I've come to love the disciples in the Bible.  Jesus chose men and women of character.  People like us with fear, humor, and hope in the Messiah.  I think I would have the same reaction as John if I saw Jesus like this.  He fell on his face in fear.  My knees would be shaking I'm sure.  In these verses, John is tasked with writing down the content in the book of Revelation.  Let me know if you figure out more of the symbols.

Here's my prayer.  So much stuff happening around the world.  Even the Pope is concerned and asking our country to jump in and stop the violence.  I hope we will.  

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Ukraine, Iraq, and Israel to You.  I pray the right will win and the wrong will fail.  Please help our President understand the difference between appearance and allowing terrorists to thrive at the cost of so many Christians, humans.  Please help all the nations understand how to stop this madness.  Help us to react swiftly and with wisdom.

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 great song by Building 429, "Glory Defined" (link)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:1-11, Matt 24:36-44, John 3:16-17)

"We won't know the day until it happens"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Canon Rebel T1i
It sure is exciting to think about the second coming of Christ.  An archangel is the lead angel in heavenly battles.  Michael is an archangel.  From this verse, it sounds like Jesus will take the lead in the second coming.  Gabriel was the angel that announced the birth of Jesus to Mary.

As I write through Revelation I'll be using Chuck Smith's, Blue Letter Bible (link) notes.  Chuck would never recognize me now.  The last time I saw him I was a little girl in Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California.  Needless to say if the Lord kept leading me there in person, it doesn't surprise me to be lead there from New Jersey : )

Revelation is an apocalyptic book.  It's written in symbols like the book of Ezekiel.  It contains a description of the End Times. If you live in America you would've heard the end has already come many times...  Sometimes people use this information to try and frighten others into Christianity.  At one time a group of people were so certain it was the end, they left their homes and all earthly goods and stood on a mountain.  It wasn't the right day.  It happened again in the USA a few years ago.  We need to be cautious and remember the opening of Revelation.  We will not know the day He comes period.

We shouldn't ignore Revelation, just remember it's written in symbols that can be hard to interpret.  It's called the great and terrible day of the Lord.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field:  one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
(Matthew 24:36-44 NKJV)
It's all going to take place when we are going along in our daily business.  People will be getting married.  They'll be going to work.  Heading out on vacation.  Then some will disappear.  We call this the rapture, when believers are taken to Heaven mysteriously, without death.

There will be a last battle on earth.  I believe that.  I see trouble brewing all over the world.  Weapons are getting more powerful.  The good news is Jesus will physically return.  Faith has never been more necessary than now.  Jesus inspired the Apostle John to write these letters.  They give us insight into what God requires of our Churches.  In fact, one reason I always pray for peace in Jerusalem is because the last human battle on earth will be outside of Israel.  I haven't read Revelation in awhile.  There is so much symbolism, beautiful and sometimes frightening images.  

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.
(John 3:16-17 NKJV)

Here's a fun acronym to remember:  Fear = Fake Evidence Appearing Real 

I have a feeling when we are raptured to be with Jesus, we won't be afraid. It will probably be filled with a ton of peace and joy. : )  Light as a feather.

Chapter 1

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Something to keep in mind when reading Revelation is "4 For a thousand years in Your sight, Are like yesterday when it is past..."
(Psalms 90:4 NKJV)
That's why it's so hard to predict when this will all take place.  

I remember a funny story.  A man approached God and asked, "Is it true a day to You is like a thousand years?"
God smiled and said, "Yes it is."
Then the man asked again, "And a penny is like a million dollars?"
God smiled again and said, "Why yes that's true."
The man asked, "Can I have a penny?"
God chuckled and answered, "In a day."

Jesus tasked the Apostle John with telling the Churches how God viewed them.  The thought of it makes me nervous.  But God is full of mercy and grace.
4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
The first thing you notice in Revelation is the use of the number Seven.  It is considered to be God's number.  He created the world in seven days.  We are to rest on the seventh day.    There are seven colors in a rainbow.  The rainbow is God's visible covenant that He won't flood the earth like in the Ark.  In America we consider Sunday as the seventh day.  We use this day to worship with others at Church.  Seven is the number of completeness.  Six is the number of evil.  
The seven spirits are described in Isaiah 11:2-
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD...
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
His blood is the final sacrifice for our sin.  After Jesus was crucified there was no place to make a temple sacrifice.  Now it's all about faith.

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
Time in Heaven is so different from ours.  We have days, deadlines, hours, minutes, seconds.  I don't know exactly how this works but in Heaven time doesn't seem to be important.  Yay!  We'll never be late for work again!  Err we'll be dancing around the throne and really living.  Verse 7 says that even those who crucified Jesus will see him coming in the clouds.  All the tribes sounds like the Pharisees who didn't believe Jesus.  

8 “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “ who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The "Alpha" is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, "Omega" is the last.  The New Testament was written in Ancient Greek.  Jesus is saying, "I am the first and last, the beginning and the end."  He was in the beginning in Genesis.  He is also in Revelation, the end.  He is, "the Great I Am."  John was the disciple that recommended Jesus send down a lightening bolt to take out a village that wouldn't believe in Him.  Here in Revelation, John is a very important messenger entrusted with giving us the message of what is to come.  God forgives.  Jesus understands our weakness and doesn't give up on us.

9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “ What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
(Revelation 1:1-11 NKJV)

Friday, August 8, 2014

God became a baby? (Galatians 4:1-20, Revelation 12:11, Matt 24:6)

It looks like the Lord is providing blessings again.  I stumbled onto an opportunity to work with an Art Gallery owner, "Jason Horejs."  He has written a book, "Starving to Successful," for artists.  I've been reading it and figuring out how I can succeed.  It's pretty exciting stuff. I've been saving up some money to buy quality art materials too.   My husband and I went to Red Bank in New Jersey and found a local gallery.  Who knows?  Maybe my dreams will come true. Prayers are welcome of course : )

1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
These verses describe Jesus.  As a child He was powerless and like a slave though in reality He is the Master.  God became a baby in a helpless form, amazing!  We also were born helpless, messy, and vulnerable.  At the right moment, God brought forth His Son who came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.  Breaking the 10 Commandments was punishable by death, through Christ the Covenant of forgiveness came into being.

6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The name, "Abba" means Father, some interpret it to mean, "Daddy".  I for one, am not comfortable calling God, "Daddy."  He has allowed us to become His heirs, His sons and daughters.  He deserves our respect and gratitude.  He is more powerful than anyone or thing on earth.  We will inherit a home in Paradise one day (Heaven).  We can bless others with our testimony, and even defeat evil. 
They triumphed over him (devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Revelation 12:11
When I first learned about our testimony being so important I was pretty surprised.  But it does make sense.  The Holy Spirit is within us and our testimony is part of it all.  If we believe, then the words to defeat satan's attacks will come.  We can pray for protection through Christ's blood which is incredibly powerful, and also our experience (testimony).  Of course there is also power in using Jesus' name.  Best not to use it as a cuss word tho...    

8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
These verses are a description from the time period.  There were many Greek temples where people would make sacrifices to idols (statues) in Galatia.  The early Christians faced many things.  Roman occupation of lands, Greek temples (eventual destruction), paranoid Jewish rulers.  

12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. 13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
Telling the truth to others can be hard.  Sometimes the people most reluctant to become Christians are those in our families.  I think they remember us before and just don't get it.  We do need to keep talking and reaching out to them.

17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
It sounds like the people who worshipped statues constantly tried to get the Christians to go back to worshipping statues with them.  They were missed since they joined the Church.  I've always tried to stay friends with family and friends.  I don't enjoy the same things as they do- and I'm 54 now so it's different.  One of our family friends recently asked, "Why did you become a Christian anyway?"

So I told her. 
(Galatians 4:1-20 NKJV)

The news is getting more and more crazy every day.  Jesus said,
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Matthew 24:6
I'm going to stop here in Galatians and move on to Revelation next.  I'll come back to Galatians later.

Dear Heavenly Father,
So many nations to pray for now.  Lord I lift up Ukraine, Israel, Iraq, and Turkey.  I pray the wrong will fail and the right will win.  Please grant our world leaders wisdom in stopping the terrorism.  Help them to put aside selfish ambitions.  Open their eyes to the needs of the people.

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 David Crowder Band, “How He loves us” (link)  David looks a little scruffy but his heart is definitely in the right place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Promise (Galatians 3:15-29, 1 John 1:9, Psalms 103:11-13, Luke 1:26-38)

"Giraffe" by God
Six Flags Animal Park, NJ
Minolta DiMage Camera

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

One of the struggles in being human is we sometimes don't want to be honest.  So we make things up.  
I confess I say, "I promise," meaning if I can.  Most of us are careful not to say exactly what we will do about the promise.  This ensures we will never be guilty of not doing what we promised.  Sometimes we forget that God isn't human.  And that's a really good thing.  He will never break His promise to us.  Never ever.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,

So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities (has compassion for) those who fear Him.
(Psalms 103:11-13 NKJV)
The words, "fear Him" describe a healthy respect for God- His power, love, knowledge, authority and sense of humor.  He did create kangaroos and giraffes, you know.  He could've deleted us (geek speak) when Adam and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden. But He didn't.  

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men:  Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
God promised Abraham that he would be the Father of Israel, the nation and also the Messiah, "Jesus."  There was only one seed.

19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
We usually read Luke 1:26-38 at Christmas (story of Jesus' birth).  It actually describes what is mentioned in verses 19-20.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The Old Testament law is still good.  It's just that as humans, we couldn't get it right.  As time passed Jewish leaders added more laws to the laws.  The book of laws could fill a room!  So glad Jesus came to set us free with faith, really glad He simplified things.  We still need to follow the 10 Commandments but we can find forgiveness when we mess up. In fact, when the second coming happens, the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel will be on the gates in Heaven.  The Jews are still chosen and loved by God.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
No matter what race or religion, job title, nationality, male or female all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, will receive the Promise of forgiveness and eternal life.
(Galatians 3:15-29 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Ukraine and Israel to You again.  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.