Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finding the balance (Acts 6, Genesis 11:1-7 )

"God will direct our paths when we trust Him"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

It's official, I am now 55 : )  I've reached the speed limit!  I've already pretty much forgotten my age.  Back to jumping jacks, and stretching.  If I don't move that's a problem hahaha. My husband took me to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus for my birthday.  I love to shoot (photograph) and paint animals.  I didn't take my camera thinking they'd be annoyed with the flash.  But when we got there a lot of people were using cell phones with flashes.  I got a nice brochure I can use for reference.  Today I'm working on a watercolor of daffodils.  I love to play classical music while I paint.  So much to do, so little time! Writing with music is a bit more challenging for me though ...

In this part of Acts things take a different turn for the disciples.  It appears the early Christians were still gathering together and sharing goods.  As it is today they also separated themselves by preference.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  Some do better with evangelic messages, others prefer modern music, or solemn services.  The end goal always needs to be faith in Jesus, love, worship and prayer (as far as I can see).  Problems start when people look to leadership more than Jesus and criticize others.

As I read this chapter, I realized God doesn't want us to be by ourselves in our faith.  We need others.  The flip side is, He also doesn't want us to only hang out with other Christians.

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews.
  • Hellinistic Jews prefered the Greek/Roman lifestyle
  • Hebraic Jews were from Israel 
because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.
This is kinda cool it's like a lot of our Churches are today.  There are people who are fantastic at doing good works for the Church.  They vacuum, clean bathrooms, prepare for guest speakers etc.  Then there are people who are great at inspiring others through sermons, leading them to faith in Christ.  Pastors are like Shepherds today.  They look out for us and mine makes sure I'm doing ok.  I started this blog independantly because I wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible.  God's Word has been totally awesome to me.  I've found such love and encouragement in the scriptures.  I attend a Calvary Chapel Church and love the rock music.  Yeah us old folks still love to rock : )  I wanted to be able to use my artwork and just share my experience.  My spiritual gifts are encouragement, and healing through prayer.  

5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So we have consensus for now anyway.  These are all humans so you know...  I will enjoy seeing Stephen in Heaven.  He is described as:
  1. full of faith
  2. full of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is our encourager and gives us the gifts, knowledge, and abilities we need to serve God.  The result is below: 
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called) —Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia —who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

Sometimes it seems the greatest miracles are when people are in one accord.  We are all so different.  None of us are perfect.  But it sure is great when I go to Church and see people working together well.  I think our society is more closed now.  We have our own little world with TV, online shopping, radio... all sorts of stuff.  I'm grateful for my privacy, camera and paint, don't get me wrong.  People are actually nice in New Jersey.  We live in a small culdesac. 

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

This is just sad.  It sounds like what they did to Jesus.  Jealousy, greed and rage are terrible companions.  In New Jersey, we're seeing denominations joining together more.  When we sang at Carnegie Hall a few years ago there wer several denominations.
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

There's something else here that stands out to me. All of these Christians are together in one place.  Where is the rest of the world? These believers were building a community for themselves.  They lived together, argued, worshiped and hung out together.  But what about the tower of Babel?  God never intended us to be by ourselves.  The goal has always been for us to be God's servants to the world.  Here's the story of the Tower of Babel:
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
(Genesis 11:1-7 NIV)
(Acts 6:1-15 NIV)

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem.  I know they are not forgotten to You.  I also lift up those who have lost loved ones in the terrible plane crash.  I pray for wisdom for our leaders in the USA.  Grant us wisdom as we seek to elect a new President.  Thank You for hope secured in our hearts like an anchor. 
Help us count our blessings, especially in the good times.

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 is a great song:
Tenth Avenue North, No Man is an Island (link) 


  1. Happy Birthday, Karen!
    It may be weird...but I always thought that double digit birthdays are the most special ones!
    (I also think the number 333 is very special!)
    I agree, people do seem to be closed off more nowadays...mostly because of our love of entertainments and gadgets etc...
    It was so sad to watch the news today where they were showing the red flags marking the human remains on the mountain from the crash...One man in particular, who lost a loved one, showed remarkable grace when he was interviewed and said he felt bad for the co-pilots parents and what they must be going through right now... That blew me away!
    Yes, we must continue to pray for Jerusalem! ~In Jesus~ Amen!
    Blessings and love~ Lisa

  2. Hi Lisa so glad to see your comment. I agree this whole mess is crazy. I worked for Boeing and can't understand why the pilot didn't have a key to the cockpit to stop this. It was an Airbus plane, maybe that would be a simple fix to solve this problem from happening again. Also wondered if we need Sky Marshalls protecting planes. I don't like flying though. My legs are longer than the leg room and i get so stiff in planes. May God bless you abundantly!