Friday, February 27, 2015

The Super Saint within (Acts 2:22-46, Psalms 46:1-11, Zephaniah 3:17)

19 Then He said to them,
“ Follow Me, and I will make
you fishers of men.”
20 They immediately left their
nets and followed Him.
(Matthew 4:19-20 NKJV)
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I sometimes don't quite know how to react to things.  This business of persecuting Christians is terrible to say the least.  Kirk Cameron (Left Behind Series) shared this link about how we should respond to today's persecution.  It makes a lot of  sense:  Iwo Jima and the Monumental Sacrifice (link).

I am very grateful to be in America.  Although I must admit we've had some really bad days for sure.  But even in the times of the early disciples, walking with Jesus and before, humans have faced bloody wars and persecutions.  Not just Christians either.  

After the disciples received the Holy Spirit they turned into Super Saints!  Verses 22-24 are the words that Peter preached after Pentacost.  We have Super Saint within us too.  Jesus called it being servants and fishers of men.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 

25 For David says concerning Him:
I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
If you remember the story of David the simple shepherd boy chosen to lead God's people.  He loved animals and music.  Sounds like a normal teenager doesn't he?  I love animals and music too.  Yet even David knew Jesus back before Pentacost.  These words are so encouraging aren't they?  The Holy Spirit comforts us when we're afraid through His Word:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
(Psalms 46:1-11 NKJV)
Even today people are facing horrible wars in Ukraine.  Everything was fine and now it's all messed up.  The Psalm above and the verse below are some of my favorites when I get scared.  In the end, God will change it all no more evil, no more pain.

17 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)
Peter is speaking here:
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’
Not bad for a fisherman right?  Jesus was born of the lineage (house of David).   Who knew Peter could preach like this?  God did.  Wonder what we can do that we don't realize...  I always remember Moses studdering to the burning bush.  God asked him what was in his hand.  Moses held out his staff, "a staff."  God set Moses' people free from slavery.  What's in our hands?  Maybe God could use them too.

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those who are being persecuted to You.  I pray You will come again and set the captives free.  We know that You're timing is perfect and Your love pure and safe.  Please bless those in Ukraine and the Assyrian Christians.  I pray You will comfort those who mourn and praise You for those who rejoice knowing the time is near.  I continue to pray for wisdom in our country in choosing a President.  There are so many needs in the world.  Please bring peace and a special blessing to Jerusalem and Benjamin Netanyahu for all his hard work.

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, Amen   

Mercy Me, I can only imagine (link)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pentacost (Acts 2:1-21, John 21:17, Revelation 6:9-11, Mark 13:32-37)

"My idea of a blood moon"
Just a Photoshop'd version

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I've never seen a true "Blood Moon."  So I thought this might be what it would look like.  It is a bit scary.

I was reading this chapter in Acts and realized there's some pretty interesting stuff happening right now.  The 21 Christian martyrs shot by terrorists were from Assyria.  If you remember the story of Jonah, he was sent to Assyria to prophesy for God.  But he hated the Assyrians so much he didn't want to go and ran in the other direction. After a few uh challenges with God he finally went and reluctantly, painfully, did his job.  The Assyrians repented and worshipped Yahweh, our God.  But it was before Christ.  Somehow the Assyrians converted to Christianity.  

There was a statue created about Jonah in this region.  Jesus called Peter "son of Jonah." Remember the name, "Simon, Son of Jonah?"
17 He said to him the third time, 
Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
(John 21:17 NKJV)
This was after he had denied Jesus 3 times.  It kept bugging me that they were Assyrian Christians.  Then I remembered Jonah, Jesus and Peter.  I believe the Apostle Peter was the disciple that may have led these people to Christ!  It's a small world isn't it?  It's like God is giving us some encouragement today about the truth in the Bible.  He hasn't forgotten His Word.  

There's something else that seems to fit with all this from Revelation:  
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
(Revelation 6:9-11 NKJV)
Ok then there's this interesting turn of events as well.  We've been experiencing what's called, "Tetrads,"  It's where there is a complete eclipse and the moon turns blood red.  It's known as a "Blood Moon."  When this happens Israel is usually blessed.  The Blood Moon is mentioned in verse 20 of this chapter.  In the year, 2015, there will be a blood moon on April 14 and October 8.  It will be interesting to see what happens if anything : )

So here we are in Acts.  This is Pentacost.

Acts Chapter 2

God wasn't finished after the Upper Room.

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

This is what is known as, "Speaking in Tongues."  It is a gift of the Holy Spirit in the Bible it's the least of the gifts.  Some people believe that prayer in tongues is sacred.  It's a language that only God knows.  I tend to be more conservative.  I've put my foot in my mouth so many times I have no desire to pray and do the same!  I tend to believe this gift was meant for us to be able to communicate with people who don't speak our language.  Like the people in verses 5-10 above.  There are some great missionary stories of being able to speak to natives in foreign countries with no training.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 

16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood, (happening this year)
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.

We don't know when Jesus will return.  The Mothers of the Martyrs were very happy to know their sons could be a part of God's plan.  None the less it's still sad, and scarey.  God promised to provide all of our needs.
32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all:  Watch!"
(Mark 13:32-37 NKJV)
 (Acts 2:1-21 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those in the middle east who are being tortured as a form of terrorist sport.  I pray You will bring peace.  I pray You will step into the center of this situation and make it stop.  Confuse the bad guys and open their eyes to what they have become.  Help the middle east find it's way to stop all the craziness.  Please bless the nations with good things.  Restore the joy of our salvation and renew a right spirit within.  We are so looking forward to Your return when there will be no more evil and bloodlust in the world.  I pray for wisdom in the USA as we select a new President.  Help us make a good choice that would please You and bring us back to being America land of the free, home of the brave.

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, Amen 

 This fun song is from Lauren Daigle
Lauren Daigle, How can it be (link)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1)

"Winter Window 2015"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

It is so cold and snowy out still... I hope we get some sunshine soon. -2  degrees tonight.  I found this cute slideshow of animals playing in the snow:

When I think about some of the other countries and even states like Alaska, I really am acting a bit wimpy...  We usually don't have snow after the beginning of March.  I am finally figuring out my Nikon camera.  Decided I should just be brave and dive into the manuals.  I love to do art not so much read about it... 

Chapter 1
It's believed that this book was written by Luke, the doctor.  If you read the Gospel of Luke you'll notice he has a lot more compassion than Matthew who was a tax collector.  This book was written to give the Roman, "Theophilus" the truth about Christianity.  After reading about the disciples before they received the Holy Spirit you can really see how God changes lives.

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

After Jesus was resurrected and rose from the dead, He showed up in the Upper Room where the disciples had gathered and breathed the Holy Spirit into them.  I believe the Holy Spirit is God's breathe, His whisper.  This changed everything for the disciples.  They had courage now and words to say.  I always ask the Holy Spirit for words to say especially on this blog.

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “ which,” He said, “ you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “ It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There are a few ideas today on how to receive the Holy Spirit.  Some believe in the laying on of hands, others by simply accepting Jesus as Savior.  That's how I received the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is alive and comes to us of His own will (God the Father, Son and Spirit are the trinity).  So as humans we can't really explain this mystery.  I can only sense and know in my heart that God is with me.  And sometimes I'm grumpy and I think God leaves me alone for a bit : )  I don't feel real spiritual all the time.

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
In a sense I'm glad I didn't walk with the disciples during this time period.  It would be so heartbreaking to see Him leave.  He must be so wonderful to be around.  But we won't be disappointed.  He's coming back yay!  And we will join Him one day forever.

The disciples received the Holy Spirit so they would be able to sense His presence.  It might have been a gloomy walk to Jerusalem.
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying:  Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
It would've been different now.  This unexplainable joy would bubble up and remind them of Jesus.  Words He said would come to mind like Bible verses we memorize today.    Maybe they would stop and have a good laugh at the day Peter's boat capsized after Jesus got all the fish inside or the look in Mary's eyes when she saw Jesus wasn't dead He is alive.  

If you remember Jesus said that Peter would be the rock He would build His Church on.  When you don't know the whole story, like I didn't, I rolled my eyes the first time I read it.  He kept messing up- fell in the water, denied Christ, probably more than we can imagine.  The Holy Spirit gave Peter grace both physically and mentally to follow what Jesus asked him to do.  He asked to be hung upside down on a cross because he felt he wasn't worthy to be martyred like Jesus.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
This is what happened to Judas Iscariot.  He misunderstood Jesus.  It wasn't about the money at all.  Jesus came for our salvation.  When he finally realized he couldn't handle his guilt. 

20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it’; and,
‘Let another take his office. ’
21 Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
(Acts 1:1-26 NKJV)

In this time period they cast lots, or drew sticks of different sizes to figure out what to do.  Then let God figure out the rest.

This is a great song from the Newsboys.  Such a crazy time in history.  
Newsboys,  We Believe (link)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day (1 Corinthians 13)

Happy Valentine's Day!
One of this year's cards.

It's been so crazy in the News it's hard to tell which end is up! I started making my family and friends Valentines just for fun and to give them a little laugh.  I actually get nice comments and the people I send to seem to appreciate a home made gift.  This year is the ladybug!  Hoping it reminds us all that we will see gardens soon.  It's been cold and snowy in New Jersey lately.  But!  My Governor, Governor Christie is going to run for President.  He would be a great leader.  Has no problem speaking his mind at all : )  We've had a really great Valentine's day this year.  Corinthians (the love chapter) is also written by the Apostle Paul.

Love isn't just a feeling; it's a choice.

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love isn't easy all the time is it?  Sometimes I don't feel loving at all.  Confessing to the Lord helps.  The stuff going on in the world is hard to hear about.  I see Ukraine in the News and my heart breaks.  But I love them, I can't imagine what they're going through.  They can't even have a simple Valentine's Day.  I'll keep praying.  Maybe it's times like this that makes it all the more important to just thank God for all that is right, and wonderful.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Paul is telling us  love isn't just a nice feeling.  It's a decision.  It's not proud or obnoxious bragging all the time.  It's simple, quiet and patient.  Sometimes marriage is a huge challenge.  Men and women just don't think the same.  I'm so glad and so frustrated.  It's all good.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

God's love will never ever fail.  It's lasted through everything good, holy and wrong.  He is our Master, Teacher, Friend, Counsellor, God.  Jesus showed us His image.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

God has more in mind than we can fathom!  What a glorious day is coming for us!  We can only imagine now.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NKJV)

Love is the greatest and the most challenging.  Thank You Father for love.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Ukraine to You.  I pray You will bring peace.  Please comfort these people Lord.  Bless them with good things.  Help the middle east find it's way to stop all the craziness.  Please bless the nations with good things.  Restore the joy of our salvation and renew a right spirit within.

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, Amen 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Favorite Verses (Philippians 4)

"We are so not angels!"
God still loves us.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Every year I make Valentines for my friends and family.  Some of my family have passed away over the years.  It's a strange feeling.  I'm thankful to have a lot of memories.  It's that way with the Bible too.  Over the years I've memorized verses that I knew would help me when I'm scared or worried.  I got a big smile when I saw a lot of them in this chapter. I'll try and scan one of my cards in on Valentine's Day and put out the Love Chapter, "1 Corinthians 13."

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Romans 10:17 NKJV)
This chapter of Philippians has some great verses to memorize.  I was told once that in order to recall verses when you need them, you have to know them.  I put stars by the verses that I've memorized.  Maybe you'd like to as well.  God's Word makes life much easier and faith is awesome!

Philippians Chapter 4

**1 Therefore, my beloved and longed- for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Paul is telling all the disciples from his time to ours to stand fast in the Lord.  He calls the believers "his beloved, joy and crown."  Can you see the change from the rugged soldier out to destroy Christianity?  Wow!  God is so good with people : )  Paul is still our beloved Apostle today.
2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

I don't know what Euodia and Syntyche did exactly.  I smile because I'm a woman and can only imagine.  I imagine rude glares and snippy words.  I don't believe all women should always be silent all the time.  I've shared my testimony in Churches and always received good comments.  I've been able to accomplish a lot working with men and we see it in the military as well. Some of the Churches do believe that women should be silent.  Paul isn't telling them to put muzzles on these two ladies mouths.  I believe he's asking Timothy to help them stop arguing.  In my world today, I know arguments just sneak up on us... then voices rise and eyes start twitching... Oy!  It's a challenge being human isn't it?  hahaha at least it's not just us...
**4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

**5 Let your gentleness be known to all men.

I think a sense of humor really helps leading teams of men and women.  Defining software requirements doesn't have to be a snooze fest.  We all feel better when we can look at ourselves and realize how silly we can be.
**6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

**7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren

** whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

I could never say this.  I'm not good enough to be an example.  The times I do the very best healing and helping is when I'm not thinking about myself at all.  I'm just not worthy to claim to be an example.  But, some people are.  Paul certainly lived a rugged life filled with all sorts of things: wealth, jail time for simply believing in Jesus, military training, leadership training, blindness, and so on.  He was such an amazing man.  Hope we can chat in Heaven one day. I wonder if he paints.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
I don't know what this means exactly.  It sounds like Paul is thankful for the help he has received.  Also, there must've been something interfering with his receiving the aid.  To be honest even in American Churches workers often do things out of the kindness of their hearts.  So, it's important we help out financially and make sure those who have given all for the Church aren't lacking in necessities.

**11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

**13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet- smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God

Paul sounds as though he wants to encourage those who have helped him out.  We should always seek to help those in need.  Sometimes a huge blessing comes and overwhelms me.

**19 And my God shall supply all your (my) need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
I memorized this verse and when my contract jobs ended in a company, I would recite it.  It always brought peace and sometimes the Lord led me to visit Nursing Homes to help out.  I walk into those places where elderly are in bed and when I ask the Holy Spirit for Words to say I sense this huge wave of joy!  He loves it when we help others. 
20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen

I never really noticed this before.  Wow!  There were Christians in Caesar's household.  Something must've changed after Jesus was crucified.  Probably God's will and Paul's work as well.  I saw that Paul liked to add information about Christians from other places so they would be aware of each other during this time period.

Dear Heavenly Father-
I lift up our President to You.  I pray You will surround him with intelligent people.  Help him to understand what is going on and move in the right direction.  Help him let go of the past and quit trying to blame dead people.   We long for You to do something new and stop the terrorists.  Father I am reminded of the prayers of George Washington.  He was so humble and sincere in his quest for freedom.  Bless us again with a strong healthy nation that we might be able to help out our allies and bless You.  Guide us with Your presence Father.  Thank You so much for giving us the Bible so we could know more and more of You.  I pray our next president will have military experience. 

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, Amen 

Here's another song from Chris Tomlin-
Chris Tomlin (link) "Our God"

(Philippians 4:1-23 NKJV)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

No confidence in flesh (Philippians 3:1-21, Acts 9:1-5, Zephaniah 3:17, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

"We are the work of God's hand!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Philippians Chapter 3

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
As I understand it, the Apostle Paul dictated letters from prison and had someone else write on pottery and send them to Churches.  On one of his letters he wrote how large the letters were in his own handwriting.    Timothy and others must've helped him do the lettering.  What's really cool about using pottery is archaeologists found them and in God's vast wisdom and knowledge we have the Bible today.  I believe Paul is saying the pottery is safe for people because the Romans were stalking about trying to kill Christians.  There was also a branch of Christians who were insisting circumcision was required to be a Christian.  Not true.  It's practiced in America for health reasons in small babies.  Which to me shows yet again how God's laws are always practical and healthy.  But Paul is adamant that circumcision is not required to become a Christian just faith.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
I believe mutilation is circumcision.  It's good to be a girl!  Yikes!

Here's the story of how Paul came to know Jesus:
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “ Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
(Acts 9:1-5 NKJV)
As I read this I am so grateful for God's forgiveness and His ability to change our lives!

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul was quite a man.  He was a highly educated Jew taught by the leading teacher, "Gamaliel." Actually he was both Roman and Jew receiving dual citizenship.  This was very uncommon.  He must've come from a wealthy family.  Personally, I don't think Paul has any reason to believe he won't rise to be with Jesus in the sky by rapture.  Verse 11 tells me he is still humble.  To think 1,975 years later we are still inspired by his writings.  Thanks be to God.  He always picks the right folks to share His message.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Even from prison with poor vision he pushes himself on to be ready when Jesus comes for him.  Many of us need the reassurance that the past is behind us.  We must trust in God's forgiveness, Jesus' sacrifice.  Fear and guilt are terrible walls that can stop us in our tracks.  I like to memorize Bible verses personally.  This has always been a favorite of mine for so many circumstances:  leading business meetings, painting, health problems and marriage.  I recite it when I need some extra faith.  These verses stack up in our hearts and bring strength and peace.  I challenge anyone to look at the little Bible chapters and find gems like this one:
17 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 3:16-17 NKJV)
Please share verses in comments so we can all see what you find.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
This is another reminder to listen to others and not be so proud we're a clashing gong or a clanging cymbal.  I love these words from the Apostle Paul.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV)
Hate it when I accidentally say something unkind.  It feels terrible doesn't it?  So glad God forgives.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
One day we'll sit at a table with the Apostle Paul.  I hope he will tell us stories.  Maybe he'll join me for some painting at the River of Life.
(Philippians 3:1-21 NKJV)

Love this song- Matt Maher, "Because He lives (link)"