Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Humility & Laughter (Philippians 2, 2 Corinthians 12:9)

"Dragonflies aren't exactly tough guys,
yet they kill mosquitos"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Philippians 2

At first, I heard the word, "Nor' easter" and thought, "Lord no please one is enough!  We already did this remember?"

I listened a bit more to the weather report and realized I got a few details wrong.  I thought, "Seven feet of snow," but then learned the water on the shore would rise seven feet.  We're above sea level.  The storm hit hardest up North.  In Maine houses have two front doors one on the bottom floor for summer and one on the top for winter. Yikes!  We're just fine though.  I got some exercise shoveling snow and made my husband scrambled eggs and pop-tarts. It's a good reminder to listen carefully to what people are saying and not jump to conclusions /blush.  Communication can be a real challenge!

When I was a little girl there used to be a television show called, "Hee Haw."  It was a fun show with country singers.  My grandparents always had it on. One of the songs that stuck with me all these years went like this:

"Oh Lord it's hard to be humble,
when you're perfect in every way.
I can't quit lookin' in the mirror 
I get better lookin' each day
to know me is to love me.
I must be a heck of a man.
Oh lord it's hard to be humble 
but I'm doin the best I can."

So when I think about humility this song makes me laugh at myself.  We take ourselves sooo seriously don't we?  It's so refreshing to meet people who laugh and enjoy their lives. We'd be much happier forgiving ourselves and others and moving on.  I love the following quote:

“From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.”  St. Teresa of Avila

Here's some things I learned leading groups in business and the Bible:
The Do's
get along with each other
try to understand what others say
ask questions
consider others more important
treat others like they're better
look out for other's interests
be like minded

The Don'ts
be selfish
force opinions
pretend to be better than others
show off
think about what you can say while someone is talking
ignore others and think about something else 

Rich Mullins, a musician who died in an airplane crash, had these words in one of his songs, "If I can make you laugh, I can make you like me."

I believe God gave us laughter to help us out in those awkward moments, and He's probably a fantastic laugher Himself.  We were created in His image after all.

1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like- minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
I remember one of the women who tried to teach manners in America was asked what you should do if someone trips?  She replied, "Laugh and believe they don't do this all the time." 

Most of us trip sometimes.  I personally have lots of bruises to prove it lol!  I am clumsy at times.  Sometimes my words don't come out right either.

The Humbled and Exalted Christ
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
After thinking about being humble, it makes me wonder how patient and tolerant Jesus must be.  He saw all that wasn't right in Jerusalem.  Yet He didn't get mad and destroy.  He did the opposite.  He allowed others to destroy Him so we could join Him in Heaven.  There are some stories about Jesus and the children in the Bible, not a lot of detail.  But I can imagine tickle fights and hide and seek.  Jesus probably loves listening to children giggle.  

Jesus Himself is the perfect example of humility.  He left Heaven and cared about prostitutes, thieves and tax collectors.  People most of us would avoid.  He spent time with Mary Magdalene who had mental illness and healed her.  So it seems when it comes to us we should do the same. 

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In Jesus' humility God chose to exalt Him.  We will never be Jesus.  I would be a terrible savior.  Sometimes I forget to use the timer when I cook dinner...  Jesus is always right on time.  The verse below is one of my favorites.  God's strength  is made perfect when I'm not being so tough.  It's when I'm weak and trusting Him things go the very best.  In artwork, photography all things.  I still ask Him to show me where the good shots are on photo shoots.  Hope it's not cheating : )  It appears to me He loves to share His love and creation.
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
I love the title, "Light Bearers."  I think it would mean different things to people.  To me when we get too heavy and dark it's hard to forgive, and forget.  On the other hand a Light Bearer brings hope, joy, love and light to those in need.

Light Bearers
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
I believe working out our salvation in fear and trembling is to remember Jesus' sacrifice. As I grow in Christ over the years I need to remember God is not to be manipulated.  It's not my behavior or desires that will change the world, it's His Holy Spirit within.  Being humble is not forgetting where we came from before Christ.  And speak to others from love and understanding not force or manipulation. Be humble and have compassion.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Oh man I can't even complain?  Truly though people who serve in the Church have a heavy burden to carry.  There are so many troubles and temptations they hear about.  It would be hard.  I've done prayer ministries and it can be hard.  But when the Holy Spirit comes like a dove to heal someone in pain and you get to be near it's amazing!  We need to remember to encourage our Pastors and leaders.

At one time I was helping out the little kids in a Church Nursery.  There was this little boy who always seemed sad to me. I didn't know why.  He would stand next to me, with his face down and a blanket in his hand.  So I'd ask if he wanted to sit on my lap.  He'd nod.  Then he'd do some crayon pictures.  Every Sunday this would happen.  Then one day his Dad came up to me and with tears thanked me for taking care of his son.  He had lost his wife and the little boy missed her, somehow God used me to help him heal.  Ok now I gotta go wipe off the tears.

We never really know what others are going through do we?  

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
Paul is saying he would be most honored if his work led to others knowing Jesus.  I second that.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like- minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
The Apostle Paul put a lot of time into training Timothy.  Paul was taught by Gamaliel, the leading teacher in Jerusalem.  So Timothy got into a really great deal with Paul.  By his personal experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and also his training.  

25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
These verses remind me of missionaries overseas and others who serve the Lord.  I'm sure that some of them face many similar problems.  It's a good reminder to keep them in prayer.  I may be wrong but it almost sounds as though Paul is saying goodbye to his friend Epaphroditus for good.  That would be hard I'm sure.  He also tells them of a plan to send Timothy soon.
(Philippians 2:1-30 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for protection for those in the upper Northeast like Maine and Vermont.  Please protect them and surround them with warmth.  Thank You for the million times You've saved my day and my soul.  Help us to laugh and enjoy others and not be to serious.  Inspire us all for the work You have chosen for us individually.  Thank You Father for summer!

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 I pray,

Colton Dixon, All of me (link)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Still waiting (Philippians 1, Isaiah 40:31)

"An old prayer that Pres. John F. Kennedy had in his study."
I took this photo in Aruba.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.


It took me awhile to figure out, but I believe we're in Philippians now.  This is another letter from the Apostle Paul.  In this letter, he mentions Timothy.  I think we all have that feeling that the world is so big and we seem so small.  We've been having trouble getting our mail lately.  Someone ran into the mailboxes and I was able to get it open but now it's just stuck.  I put in 3 phone calls to the Post Office, so now I guess I best pray and wait.  Waiting is a challenge isn't it?  tap tap tap 

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
Guess it's not just that we wait, but how we wait that matters : )

Philippians Chapter 1

1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Timothy was a young man who spent time with the Apostle Paul.  He became a Pastor and as we read the letters in the Bible the Apostle Paul thought of him as a son.  That would be quite an honor.  Paul was a hero in this time period for surviving many obstacles in jails and prisons.  You probably remember Paul started out trying to destroy Christians.  He thought it was the right thing to do.  God stopped him in his tracks and turned him in the right direction.  1 and 2nd Timothy were written by Paul's friend.

 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Verse 6 is a good one to memorize.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels hopeless about myself sometimes.  He's not done with us yet so we shouldn't give up on Him or ourselves.  He forgives when we confess.  Actually there's really great memorizable verses in all the letters.

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
This is one of the cool things about Paul and Peter.  They both were taken captive and then!  They led the guards to Christ.

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
To me, this describes people who want to appear holy and righteous but secretly seek perfection and approval.  If you've read the Bible at all you'd recognize God detests this attitude (the proud and lofty).  He hangs out with waitresses, police officers, programmers, and bus drivers.  Real people who aren't afraid to admit mistakes.  Paul is most interested in Jesus being preached.  Not whether or not people are perfect.

19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 
Paul has this awesome faith.  He knows that whatever happens to His body, he's going to be with Jesus one day.  He was the one that the Lord put scales on his eyes so he couldn't see.  Definitely got his attention.  Now he's with Jesus in Paradise.  And Jesus is working in us and those who come after us.

22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard- pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
We are hard pressed on every side too.  There's good TV and bad TV, so many temptations.  It seems like illnesses are getting more crazy every year.  Some of the schools seem lacking in purpose and hope.  Each generation has faced it's own demons haven't they?  Both of my Grandmas went through the depression.  They both had this distant look in their eyes sometimes.   Both of them used to save the wrappers from bread so they didn't have to buy plastic bags.  They were frugal with money.

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
(Philippians 1:1-30 NKJV)
We too need to be focussed on Jesus and remind ourselves of what will come.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those in Saudi Arabia who mourn the death of their King.  I pray for the children who have been kidnapped that You will set them free.  Nothing is impossible for You.  I know You can do anything.  You saved me!  Please continue to bless our world leaders with wisdom.  Guide and protect Ukraine.

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 I pray,

Tenth Avenue North- human trafficking, For Those who can't speak (link)
I have really come to admire Tenth Avenue North.  Their songs are so relevant to our world today.  My husband and I decided we'd buy more of their dvds to support them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bearing each other's burdens (Galatians 6, Proverbs 16:18-20, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Galatians 6

I was so excited to see the world leaders joining hands together last week.  My Pastor, Lloyd Pulley of Calvary Chapel, Old Bridge and others prayed with me.  Just to see the faces of people moving on and not giving up is so huge.  We have some good candidates for the next Presidential elections as well, in the USA.  I believe one is my Governor, "Chris Christie."  He has no problem speaking his mind at all : )  He genuinely cares about our safety and serving people.  It was good to see Benjamin Netanyahu with so many other great people.  He's had such a tough job for a long time.  I can't even imagine, except the hand of God.

God definitely has more plans for us than dodging all this terrorism.  We do have a responsibility to let the authorities know when something looks wrong.  In my experience they don't mind if it turns out to be nothing.    

On to the last chapter of Galatians.  It's kind of refreshing.

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
This is so important.  We all mess up, we all sin.  Sometimes we want to broadcast what others have done to us to the world just to show what a martyr we are.  But God tells us not to.    If we think we're so great even as a world leader, we're bound to trip and fall.  What goes up always comes down especially egos.  This is saying that if we see someone sinning, we should be kind and gentle and correct them.  

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
I've always loved this verse.  I was able to make a copy of my testimony for my first Pastor who led me to Christ in Utah.  He was really excited to get it and it felt great to let him know how much he had helped change my life.  It is good to share what we've learned.  We all have pieces of the puzzle to put together in Heaven.  What a magnificent story will unfold!

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
I don't know how many people I've led to Christ.  I never counted.  Just love the Lord.  We'll see the whole picture in the end.  I have ripped what I sewed though... argh argh argh...  < not a seamstress at all.  I do best with paints and cameras.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
(Proverbs 16:18-20 NKJV)
Proverbs 16:18-20 are some of my favorite verses.  When ever I feel like I am so good or cool, there's usually a stair I miss and trip over.  Actually it did happen at my husband's Christmas work party.  He went upstairs and I followed him.  When he turned around I did too and there wasn't a step there...  My Father-in-law said I was making an entrance.  Being clumsy is a real challenge lol.  These verses are good too:

9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)
What that means to me is when I am full of myself, I am most vulnerable to do something kinda stupid.  But when I am at my end and just don't know what to think, God inspires me with noble thoughts and deeds.  His Holy Spirit is full of wisdom.

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
The Apostle Paul is in prison as he writes this message.  I don't know what exactly is wrong with his eyes here.  He did have vision problems.  So he mentions having to write with really big letters.  To me the point here is circumcision was an ancient Hebrew requirement.  Grown men shouldn't have it done just to fake holiness.  God doesn't require it for salvation.  Honestly, it was probably first started by God for health reasons. Under Jesus' sacrifice it's all about faith and believing that's what God wants from us.

Paul is praying for us all in these verses.  The Holy Spirit has changed him inside and out.  He's no longer the Saul who persecuted Christians.  Now he's a leader.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
This sounds like Paul is suffering from his many jail sentences.  He probably had some serious wounds inflicted on him.

(Galatians 6:1-18 NKJV)

Here's a song by Toby Mac, Speak Life (link)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5, Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 11:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:9)

"Fruit is better than thistles : )"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I realized I left Galatians to read Revelation which was really great.  I learned a ton and got a lot out of it.  And then Christmas came so I wanted to go through that.  So here we are back in Galatians.  Don't know about you but I'm still a little worn out after the holidays.  It was great fun!  We had people over and I made baked ziti, an Italian dish.  We did get some snow on Monday and it's really cold in New Jersey right now.  Awesome time to do some artwork and blog.  Oh I did exercise today, some days not so much. 

Galatians Chapter 5

This part of Galatians sounds really familiar with terrorism on the rise.  Fear can be a terrible, paralyzing force.  When the News replays the tapes of a terrorist murder scene over and over, or even a protest, I am afraid it empowers bad guys to do more to stoke their egos.  God is telling us to stand fast in our freedom with Christ.  
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 
We sometimes forget how much has been sacrificed for our faith, how much it took to have a Bible and Church.  All of the Apostles were martyred.  It's not a time to give up at all.  Our prayers matter and our songs please God.

These verses came to mind as I was thinking about Galatians-

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:31-39 NKJV)

2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Our faith isn't like, "The Hokey Pokey," you put your right foot in, you put your right foot out and shake it all about.  It's about faith.  It's about taking some time out and reading a few verses in the Bible each day, praying for others and smiling at someone who needs it. Jesus will never leave us or allow us to be separated from Him.

7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
I remember times when I wondered why things weren't easier.  Why does it take so much effort?  Then this peace would come and I knew everything would be alright.  God has my back.  He has never let me down.  
1 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)
We have no idea about tomorrow do we?  Things can change so fast.  
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)

11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
Yes even men bite and devour each other don't they?  It's not just us ladies...  I worked in business I know : )

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
When I work on my blog I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through His Word.  It's huge to pray for the Holy Spirit's help at work, silently.  Then good things start happening.  Meetings get calm.  People start listening to each other.  Very cool.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are:  adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We are all forgiven when we sincerely confess and seek God's help.  But for those who refuse to honor God at all, there's no place for them in Heaven.  We were reading about that in Revelation.  The rapture will come and the believers who have died will rise first, then those who are alive.  After this happens there will be some left behind who will be given the choice again.  They will need to stop doing verses 19-21.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another

(Galatians 5:1-26 NKJV)
These are favorite verses.  When we dwell in the Holy Spirit our actions bring fruit to others that are blessings.  I'm not so sure how good I am, but I've seen many great people and experienced the Holy Spirit's fruit myself.  <not perfect at all>  The fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  God doesn't want His people to be conceited, irritating or envious.  I've honestly never been too envious, maybe sometimes.  Just feel God has blessed me more than I deserve already.  

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those in France who are struggling with the violence yesterday.  I pray You will bring healing and wisdom to our world leaders.  Please comfort those who mourn today and bring special blessings to these people.  I pray You will stop the terrorism.

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 I pray,

It took me awhile to really understand this song. But now I get it, darkness is already crumbling...
Tree63, Sunday (link)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

"May this year be the best ever!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

A few years ago I realized I don't keep my New Year's Resolutions, so I quit making them.  2014 was hard for a lot of us.  We had wars and rumors of wars, even some new bad guys.  Most of us are impressed with Pope Francis, and are grateful for his thoughts.   Maybe it's a good time to lay down denomination, and just be Christian, believe and grow in our faith.  I'll continue doing Hope Faith & Life this year. It's a fun ministry and challenges me in good ways. I feel like it fits like a glove: photography, illustration, writing, the Bible...  I'm loving it.

I'm beginning to find some business opportunities for my art and photography, which is very exciting.  This year, I'll focus more on selling my work and setting some work hours for myself.  I've always worked from my heart so it's a mental shift to think business about my doodles.  While I was working in business, I bought art supplies whenever I could, and now I'm pretty well stocked up : )  Yay!  

Two things we can always count on is change and God's love for us.  I pulled out some verses that came to mind about finding peace and some goals for the New Year.

This is my favorite prayer in the Bible:

The prayer of Agur
2 Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And do not have the understanding of a man.

One finger points out, and 3 point back at me...
3 I neither learned wisdom
Nor have knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son's name,
If you know?

I know! Jesus!
5 Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
6 Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
7 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:2-9 NKJV)

This is so true.  I am happiest when I have just what I need, too much gets confusing.  More creative too.

More awesome verses:
9 "I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done––kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.

11"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. 12 This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. 13 This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. 14 You are my friends when you do the things I command you. 15 I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.

16 "You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. 17 "But remember the root command:  Love one another."
(John 15:9-17 Message)

These are Jesus' words for us.  We didn't choose Him, He chose us.  A good reminder that love isn't just a feeling, it's an action, challenge and necessity.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

We can find forgiveness in Christ.  We just need to believe we are really forgiven.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
(Romans 8:28 NKJV)

Sometimes the goodness comes later in life.  When I was younger, His peace and wisdom helped me succeed.  I like to ask God for words to say when I'm stumped.

19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen
(Philippians 4:19-20 NKJV)

This is tricky. The television has one idea of what we need, and God doesn't necessarily agree!

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV)

It's time to put the past to rest.   I feel much better now letting it go.  Forgiveness and compassion are provided by God everyday.  I'm definitely not qualified to judge others.

Chris Tomlin, Amazing Grace (link)