Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Counting blessings : ) (Psalm 103)

A Doodle to say, "I'm thankful for you!"
Watercolor & Colored Pencil

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I wanted to take a break from Revelation to just think about what I'm thankful for.  I honestly can't believe how well this blog has done.  I was reading my Bible one day and found so much encouragement.  Then the still small voice whispered, "Everyone should read this."

It's been a great experience trying to figure out how to make this inspiring and fun.  And a little intimidating.  There's times I sit and stare wondering if what I wrote makes any sense at all!  Was I too harsh?  Then I lift up my eyes and ask, "Are You pleased Father?"

Peace usually comes soon after.  And some edits now and then. 

Hahaha there's been bad days I've just sat and thought, "I'm thankful for: a car, a place to live, gifts and talents, blankets, the Bible, Church, paintbrushes, cameras, God's creation.  For my husband, my 2 cats, our beautiful state, sunshine, snow, flowers.  So much to shoot so little time : )"  It's amazing how I feel better when I count my blessings.

As we go through Revelation it's hard not to be a little scared about it all.  Especially because we know so much more about science.  We also know so much more now about the universe, sun, moon, and stars.  Ok I love astronomy!  I'm grateful for the constellations and every detail God put out in the night sky.  

So I got some turkey for my husband and I, some cranberries, and good stuff for tomorrow.  We're supposed to get some snow tonight.  Here's one of my favorite Thanksgiving Psalms. 

Psalm 103

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits: 
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies5 Who satisfies your mouth with good thingsSo that your youth is renewed like the eagle's

6 The Lord executes righteousness

And justice for all who are oppressed
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel. 
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities

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 those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. 
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all. 

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,

Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word. 
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure. 
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! 


Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You for your patience with us and your never-ending love.  I pray You will bless us all with creative ways to serve You.  So much talent out there.  Please be present with those who don't have much this year.  I lift up Israel (peace in Jerusalem), Ukraine, and all those who need more.  You are God You know all and see all.  Thank You so very much for this wonderful life you've given me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

My favorite Thanksgiving song-  Thanks Matt!
Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (link)

Monday, November 24, 2014

So much money can't buy (Revelation 18, 1 Thess 4:11-12, Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV, Matthew 6:9-13 The Message)

"Gigi, my Husband's Grandma"
Our visit in 2010

the richest things in life are free
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

My husband, "Todd," and I went to see his Grandma in New Mexico.  It was in Roswell the famous place for Martians and Extraterrestrials : )  We've been blessed to do lots of fun things but visiting her melted my heart.  She always hated her picture taken so I had to sneak a photo while my husband distracted her.  I'm afraid to post the photo with her glaring at me when she caught me.  She was just a really sweet woman.  She would wear clothes from the Salvation Army even though her husband worked in a bank.  She liked to save money.  Her simple life, antics, and fun sense of humor are surely missed now.  This kind of stuff is what is most valuable in life.  She passed away this year.

Revelation 18

The Fall of Babylon the Great
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 
Ok so glorious light that illuminates an angel is good.  Smoldering charcoal, ashes, and brimstone, endless depths... very bad.  Just a few thoughts.  

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 

3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
To me this describes debt and credit cards.  Buying things we can't afford to pretend to be rich, while children are home with no parents.  If you ask someone else they would probably come up with another answer.  I just remember playing hide and seek outside after school, swing sets and red rover.  God is pleased when we work hard.  He loves honesty and those who look after others.  We've all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  This describes a commercial Babylon, you can get anything on the internet these days.  It could be the latest Babylon.
11 ... aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NKJV)
4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow. ’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
I don't think it's wrong to go shopping.  I guess we need to really think about what God would say if He was behind the cash register.  The internet is so private, are there things He wouldn't like and we believe He can't see?  In verses 4-8 I sense God's compassion, "Come away from this."  He's saying, "This is not for you."
28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
The World Mourns Babylon's Fall
9 “The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come. ’
11 “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore 12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.
I'm thinking the bodies and souls of men are what God is most concerned about.  It reminded me of these words of Jesus.
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul.
(Mark 8:36-37 NKJV)
At first I read this and thought it's the shopping mall up the street!!?  Oh no!  Gold, silver and precious gems remind me of the stock market and the internet.  Face it we have access to some really bad and good stuff.  I don't know that the stock market is all that bad unless we put money in we can't afford to spend.  The internet?  We really need to be careful.  Adobe came out with this "iCloud" concept.  Just put copies of your original artwork on iCloud and we'll critique it for you...  Right.  And who loses the rights to it?  Artists.  We used to call that stealing... dunno.  Even more concerning is all our phone calls and messages can be stored in the ominous, "iCloud," without our knowledge.  When I shut it off on my iPhone, I got a message from AT&T saying, "We won't be able to see your photos!"  

Stuff that is mine stays in my studio unless I'm using it for the Lord, or want to sell it.  Sorry my programmer/artist side took over : )  What would we do without the internet now?  Just be sure to keep "location services" turned off unless it's an emergency.  Bad guys can track down children with it on a photograph.  Does it seem to you like the more cool stuff we get, the more chance of evil creeping in happens?

14 The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. 15 The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! 
I can relate to this.   Sometimes I get something and think it's just the most wonderful thing in the world.  In The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, it was Smeagol's "my Precious."  Smeagol lost his health, friends, happiness, and became consumed with a gold ring that made him invisible.  Is that what the web does?  Makes us invisible to do bad things?  Maybe it was prophetic : )

Then I have simple desires like: just sitting and reading the Bible, spending time with my husband, seeing someone's face light up when I say, "hi."  Painting something with animals in it, simple things that make life fun and happy.  I like to play games on the computer.  These things aren't worth millions.  They're worth far more than money.

When I got my new Nikon.  I thought how it is going to really make my photos awesome.  So I pulled it out and we went to find the fall colors.  This camera has a million settings...  It has options in rings around the shutter button for 3 levels!  The wonder and glory of the camera just went poof!  Now I have to spend time studying the camera argh!  I really love nature more than the tool to photograph it.  Now I get it...

17 For in one hour such great riches came to nothing. Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance 18 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city? ’
19 “They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate. ’

20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”

Finality of Babylon's Fall
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. 22 The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. 23 The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.
(Revelation 18:1-24 NKJV)
This is describing advertising that makes people addicted to buying new products. "Get rid of that old washer.  It's time to get a Zappo!  It will wash away all of your problems."  

Could elevator music be as or more annoying to God than we realize (verse 22)?  The other one that really stood out was about the bridegroom and bride.  It's very common for couples who will marry to get on a registry for wedding gifts. That's not wrong in itself there's more to this in God's eyes. 

According to verse 17 it only took 1 hour to destroy it all.  After we had the hurricane in NJ a few years ago, I felt like I was in the dark ages.  The house was really cold.  The heater didn't come on.  I used candles for light at night.  We could only watch dvds on a battery operated dvd player my husband had, and music on my boom box.  I cooked canned food primarily.  With a gas stove, I could use a match to light it.  It wasn't fun.  I felt like I could never create art again, shut down.  I read my Bible and prayed finding comfort with that.  There was a Christian radio station I could listen to with XM in my car.
Still hoping for the rapture first.  But there's also a happy surprise in Chapter 20.

Dear Heavenly Father,
There's so much to consider in this Chapter.  Everything disappearing in an hour.  I thank You for Your unending love and forgiveness when we come to You and confess.  I pray for those in Ukraine that You will bring peace and hope.  Bless the European countries father and help us overcome our greed. Open our eyes to see what all the shopping and stuff we buy really does to us.  Heal our creativity, help us to enjoy life like little children again.  I look forward to Your return.

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.

Another example of how much God loves us.  
This is a great song from Francesca Bottacelli, "He knows my name (link)"

My thanks again to Pastor Chuck Smith, Costa Mesa Calvary Chapel,  here are his notes for this chapter of Revelation: 

Though spiritual Babylon is identified as Rome, commercial Babylon isn't identified with a particular city. With the transfer of the world's wealth to the Middle East, some believe that the original Babylon will be rebuilt.
v.1-10 The destruction of commercial Babylon will be swift. In one hour it will be utterly burned. Since the onlookers will be "standing afar off for the fear of her torment," perhaps there will be radiation contamination.
v.20-24 While those on earth are mourning the fate of Babylon, heaven is rejoicing.
v.23 This verse speaks of the merchants. "By thy sorceries were all nations deceived" suggests a Madison Avenue-type advertising which makes people slaves to the acquisition of things.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Judgement of the Great Harlot (Revelation 17, 1 Tim. 6:10, Isaiah 1:18)

The Bible is our Road Map
God's Word

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I'm still working on cleaning out my coats.  Hope others are too.  At 54, I really don't know what size I'll be the next day hahaha.  I used to be incredibly skinny, not so much now.  I have an old Boeing jacket I will never fit into again : )

Revelation Chapter 17

The Scarlet Woman and the Scarlet Beast
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
The harlot is the false Church. It will span many nations (many waters).  I read this and think of Kings who claimed Christianity as an excuse to kill and steal.    The most disturbing is the Crusades.  It's the one people often use to illustrate how horrible Christians are.  It's more of an excuse to commit more evil than fact.  

There's a few things to think about. In the time period of the Crusades, people couldn't read.  Only a select group of individuals like monks and Popes knew how.  This left the average person without a Bible of their own.  They blindly trusted leaders from the government in the 1200's- or died.  It was really one of the Kings who set off the crusades and a corrupt Pope.  It hurts me to even think of someone abusing Jesus' name that way.  

Paintings like Michelangelo's were created to help people who couldn't read understand.  But they were still dependent on a Church official to explain it.  They never really knew the truth about Jesus.

I was on a NY Times forum and several people were saying how Christians are killers.  The truth is it wasn't a Christian thing to do at all.  We need to be more afraid of a Government controlled Church like in the Crusades, than we do the Church itself.  I believe the fornication described in verses 1-2 are the lies spread about God. When a leader claims to be declaring an act of evil in the name of God, it can't be right.  God has no evil within Him.  He will judge and condemn.

This re-enforces the need to have daily quiet times and make sure to read the Bible ourselves.  I always ask the Holy Spirt to speak to me through His Word.  Then it makes more sense.  Evil people will try and distort the truth for their own means (usually financial, like stealing treasure or relics).  The Antichrist will be worse than the crusades. Far more evil.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
(1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:
When people claim to be more knowledgable about God's will than they actually are, this would be blasphemy.  For example, I heard a man say, "My job is to stand in the place of Jesus on earth."

No one can take Jesus' place anywhere.  He is the Son of God, He is God.  He doesn't need an alternate when He's busy...  We do need to be His witnesses sharing our testimony with others.  But we will never be Jesus, He's alive, He rose from the dead.  No human on earth can take our sins away only the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.
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)
As I read the Bible I keep coming back to God's forgiveness.  These verses are humbling for me.  Scarlet or the color red symbolize two things:  1.  our sin, 2.  Jesus blood that can cleanse us and make us white (pure).  People are right, the Church isn't perfect.  We have all sinned.  But one day we will be perfected in Christ.  No more of those scarlet sins : )  I'm hoping I won't put my foot in my mouth in Heaven. lol  hate when that happens.

6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
This is creepy isn't it?  It reminds me of Jesus' crucifixion.  In that time period many of the saints were martyred by Romans.  In fact all of the twelve disciples were martyred.  Peter asked to be hung upside down on a cross because he wanted to show he was less than Jesus (from the book of Martyrs not in the Bible).  We all love the Apostles : )  So glad the Bible describes their personalities in it.

The Meaning of the Woman and the Beast
7 But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Ouch!  Verse 8 says people will marvel at the names of those who aren't in the Book of Life.  Sounds like people will think they are good.  They give good tips at restaurants.  They aren't mean.  But they never accepted Jesus as their Savior.

9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom:  The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. 11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
Rome was built on 7 mountains.  It is believed that the false Church is based in Rome.  It will be the home of the Anti-Christ.

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

I read this and what comes to mind is the financial markets.  To me it sounds like an exchange of power is coming to the beast, the time will be 1 hour.  And it will unsuccessfully  try and defeat all that is holy.  I don't know I just have a hunch money has something to do with these verses.  Maybe I'm off.  The Lamb wins!!!  That's what's important : )

15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth."

When I read about Rome, I can't help but wonder how that could be.  Modern day Rome has many issues it's not the incredible city it was in the time of Christ.  The old colosseums are ruins now.  Some of this will only make sense when it happens.
(Revelation 17:1-18 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I lift up the nations to You.  Please bless those who are unfairly persecuted today.  Please help our government leaders have courage and wisdom as they work out the path forward for our country.  Reveal the truth to us Father, set us free.   I thank You and praise You for giving us Bibles in our homes and those who gave them out.  I would never have lasted in the beginning without one.  Help us not to be taken by corrupt  government leaders.

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.

Sometimes life has a way of really knocking us down.  We wonder when the peace will come.  We are still assigned to bring hope.  This is an old carol we used to sing in Church.  It just seems like a good time to listen to it even though it's not Christmas...  I'll play it again next month : )
Casting Crowns, "I heard the Bells" (link)

My thanks again to Pastor Chuck Smith in Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA, also to Pastor Lloyd Pulley in Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, in NJ.  You both have different perspectives, thanks for your hard work and service.
 : ) 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Salute to our Veterans 2014

"May God bless our Veterans"

My husband and I were driving to Church and he noticed his coat had a hole in it.  I told him, "This year is supposed to be quite cold.  We need to get you a new one."

Then I started thinking.  So I told him we should put the old one in the Salvation Army box.  He said it was a most excellent idea.  Then I wondered if I can still fit in my coats.  Maybe I should get rid of some, you know more closet space.  The image of someone, a Veteran, or homeless person shivering flashed through my mind.  Next came the "gotta do" push from the Lord.  I thought about how cool it would be if all of us cleaned out our coat closets for people who could really use them : )  Churches could help out.

You see I feel very blessed.  My family has had veterans from all the generations. We came here in the 1600's. It makes me feel proud to know this.  I just learned it a few years ago.  One of them snuck away from home to blow up bridges in order to free the slaves.  I heard about a group that was telling children George Washington and all our founding fathers had slaves.  Sadly, many nations had slaves even in Jesus' time.  The difference in America is, men like Abraham Lincoln knew it had to be stopped.  He wrote the Gettysburg Address and set about stopping this.  Americans shed their our own blood to set them free.  Wow, I should call my brother today, he's a Vet.

I am so grateful for those who are willing to step up and serve.  

We are seeing more wounded soldiers coming home, and it breaks my heart.  Some of them will feel God abandoned them and have lost their hope.  I saw this link and humbly thank these soldiers for offering their sacrifice of praise to God.  We can praise God for everything when we are happy.  But when life is really bad it sometimes takes a lot of effort, a sacrifice to praise.  In my life, the sacrifice of praise has been rewarded with joy!  These wounds will be harder to heal.

Wounded Warriors - "Hallelujah" (link)

Dear Heavenly Father thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son, "Jesus."  Thank You for giving humans the ability to fight through their fears, have compassion, and lay their lives down for others.  I pray for Your hand of love to touch those in the military, fire fighters, paramedics.  All those in harms way.  Please bless Israel and grant them wisdom to be able to defend their nation.  We see Your hand at work.  Please bless our nation with the knowledge of how we can truly help.  

In Jesus Name, Amen.

13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
(John 15:13 NKJV)

Jeremy Camp, "There will be a day" (link)

This has been my 5th year writing this blog.  I still love doing it- well except the hellfire and brimstone stuff, but hey, it's God's Word.  Can't edit His Word not such a good idea  : )  I'd like to get organized and make some pages for the songs I pick out.  Do some organizing.

God bless!  Happy Veterans Day and many thanks!
In His love,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Seven Bowls (Revelation 16, John 3:16-19, John 8:12)

"Jesus is the light"
We are His candles
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Thanks so much to all who prayed for our elections in the USA.  Republicans are the majority in the House and Senate now.  I am also pleased to note we have people in office who have experienced war.  I am grateful because the decision to be in a war is a terrible, important, responsibility.  We need leaders who understand the horrors and will stand by our soldiers.  My governor, "Chris Christie," said it so well, "Governors need to keep their heads down and focus on the job.  Avoid the drama and do what needs to be done for our people."  It would be wise for the president to do the same.

The next President will be elected in about 18 months.  Again, prayers are appreciated.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thanks!  I pray You will guide all of our leaders today and always.  Help us with wisdom to know how to fix so many problems.  Grant us peace and strength to be Your servants in love and compassion.  I pray You will stop the terrorists and protect those in Turkey, Israel, and all in harms way.  Please bless Arabia, Ukraine, and all in Europe.  Help us all shine the light in this present darkness. At the end of the day Father, we are all made in Your image.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.   

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.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
(John 3:16-19 NKJV)
I confess this is definitely not my favorite passage in Revelation.  But you know what?  It's not supposed to be.  By this time, God has sent people to minister to others.  He's provided His Word, given us a Savior, and Church.  He allowed us to be a part of the body of Christ.  He even gave each of us a conscience to know right from wrong along with gifts and talents.  When all else has failed and people still won't trust God...  

Chapter 16
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

First Bowl:  Loathsome Sores
2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
Pastor Chuck Smith noted that as the ozone layer around the earth wears out, there will be no way to block the rays of the sun.  The ultraviolet rays will destroy sight and skin.

Second Bowl:  The Sea Turns to Blood
3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
In the days of Moses the Nile River turned to blood.  This describes  the affects of the death of all sea life. It's a much larger scale.

Third Bowl:  The Waters Turn to Blood
4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
“You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be,
Because You have judged these things.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”
7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
At this point all the water will become blood, symbolic of the blood of martyrs.  I am touched that God cares so much for us.  That out of all the billions of people who have lived and died in the world- He knows them by name and has never forgotten their sacrifice.

Fourth Bowl:  Men Are Scorched
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
This sounds really bad like a massive explosion on the sun's surface (solar flares).  It's interesting, I went to get my eyes checked this year.  The eye doctor told me because I have blue eyes I must wear sunglasses outside.  He said that the Ultra Violet rays from the sun are doing a lot of damage to our eyes.  The earth's ozone layer is taking a hit.  

Fifth Bowl:  Darkness and Pain
10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
God did not forget the beast, "satan."  Even though he had the option to seek forgiveness with God, His pride and desire be god kept him from logic and wisdom.  As humans we can be guilty of this as well.  Some believe they don't need God.  They got it all under control until their child is sick or a divorce happens, their job fails.  

Sixth Bowl:  Euphrates Dried Up
12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15 “ Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
The Euphrates is being dried up now.  Turkey is trying to stop the terrorism by blocking water to Syria and Iraq.  Evidently some Russian scientists have also been experimenting with this idea.  Armageddon is where the last battle on this earth will be fought.  I get choked up thinking about it.  I know we will go to a much better place.  No one knows the time of His coming.

Seventh Bowl:  The Earth Utterly Shaken
17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. 19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Sounds like people lived through all this.  Babylon was a haven of evil.  Rome was the place where Christians were burned as lights at night when Nero was a Caesar.  The world has seen much horror and grief.  God has not forgotten anyone or anything.  The hailstone weighing as much as a talent would be around 200 pounds.  That would hurt.  
(Revelation 16:1-21 NKJV)

And of course life will be much better for those who accept His sacrifice (Jesus) before all this happens... it's not too late.  It's believed that the book of Revelation was written sometime between AD 68 and AD 96.  It's uncanny how this chapter seems to describe issues we are dealing with today, like solar flares and even the ozone layer.  But we still must remember- "No one knows the time of His coming, except Jesus."

This song is from Casting Crowns, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners (link)"