Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't fret yourself (Acts 8:26-40, 1 Thess 4:11, 2 Tim 1:7 )

"My Studio"
Yes, I do still love Yogi Bear : )

Painting and Photography help me not to worry and relax.
...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11 NIV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)

My Grandmother used to crochet all the time- there's something amazingly relaxing about taking things one stitch or one glob of paint at a time.  It's ok to turn off the TV.

Those of us who were alive in the 60's are seeing a repeat of history.  Only back then it was in Watts, California.  I listened to some kids playing a game and they asked who's fault this Baltimore and Ferguson mess was.  So I told them it was their parents.   They asked why.  I told them the parents didn't raise them right.  One of the kids told me I sounded like his Dad.  I considered it a compliment. : )  The other part to this is the decline in our schools.  We were taught right from wrong until they went into a progressive program.  Everyone should be able to do what they want?  Really?

I remember Watts.  I was a little girl.  They put all the rioting kids in paddy wagons and shipped them to jail.  They all got criminal records and were required to complete community service.  The only change they made was obtaining a criminal record to keep from getting a job, and destroying Watts.  Honestly I feel the parents should have to pay for these damages today, but I don't know how they could.  It needs to stop.  I am grateful that my governor, "Chris Christie," along with other state Governors who are helping by sending the National Guard to Baltimore.

But the kids... is this a case of older people reminiscing and not thinking about how kids would interpret it?  Watts wasn't a good time.  None of this rioting brings happiness, only despair to parents, kids, shop owners and all Americans.

These verses came to mind.  If you're an older person and want to share the good old days.  Be careful to tell the whole truth, like how many people died or were maimed in Watts.

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)

The only way to bring change is to work together.  Church is a big help.  Kids need Pastors they can talk to that won't get angry like parents do sometimes.  I changed entirely when I accepted Christ.  Depression to joy, I wasn't angry anymore.  And God will never leave us or forsake us.  So, yes, Church is very important.  Faith and a reason to do right is a human need.  This is a great story about how an Ethiopian became a Christian:

26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 

29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
(Acts 8:26-40 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank and praise You for kids that are raised properly and know right from wrong. I am grateful for parents who teach kids right from wrong.
  I pray You will guide those in authority.  Help them get through to these kids and parents.  I continue to lift up all the nations:  Saudi Arabia, Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Israel. Bless France, Egypt and all those in harms way.  You know all and see all.  I pray the good will prevail.  Please bless our nation with wisdom as we elect the next President.  I pray You will revive our Churches and encourage our people.

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen   

Here's a song from JJ Weeks, Let them see You (link)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The light of the world (Acts 8:1-25, Matthew 28:16-20, Genesis 11:1-7)

Isn't it amazing how beautiful the flowers are with light?
We are too, with the light within from God.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

14 “ You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV)

I'm not sure if you remember in one of my last posts I pointed out how God doesn't want all of us to be together all the time in one place.  Like the Tower of Babel, we get into so much trouble when we are left with no faith and our own devices.  Especially all men or all women hahaha.  God gave us intelligence and love, we just need to use it responsibly. 

"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)

Can't you just see a giant face doing a facepalm?  Oy!  My personal take on this is that God knew our potential to fight and be greedy.  The more powerful we become, the more dangerous the world is.  We are seeing that today.  We have a lot of checks and balances in the USA.

"The Great Commission."
Today we also need to get out and use our God given gifts and talents.  After Jesus resurrected, He had a message for the disciples and for us today.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
(Matthew 28:16-20 NKJV)
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus by leading the Roman soldiers to take Him captive.  We know that this happened so we could have a Savior.  But there was still one disciple missing from the twelve now.  The disciples chose someone, but God had another idea.  After Stephen was killed, a man named, "Saul" stepped in to help defeat this new religion.  But, it didn't actually go the way he planned. 

1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
My last post I began with Stephen glowing like an angel.  This post we see a very dangerous Saul seeking to destroy others.

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
It must've been so exciting : )

9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
A great revival was taking place and even the man who practiced sorcery (sounds like a magician) knew He needed a Savior.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
I've said things in Church or around Christians that didn't make sense too.  It's so embarassing.  For some reason we all feel we should know everything.  And never say anything stupid.  We are human.  God made us that way.  I actually feel sorry for Simon.  I hope someone explained the truth to him in a kind way allowing him to move forward in his faith.

20 Peter answered:“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
(Acts 8:1-25 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank and praise You for music that lifts our spirits, flowers that show us how much You love beauty and color.
  I pray You will guide those in the middle-east that are struggling to survive.  Bless all the nations:  Saudi Arabia, Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Israel.  Israel is such a testimony of Your ability to save.  Bless France, Egypt and all those in harms way.  You know all and see all.  I pray the good will prevail.  Your creativity is awesome! And please bless the USA.

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 a song from Kari Jobe, We are (link)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7)

Happy Spring!
Windsor Newton, Grumbacher & Caron d'Ache Watercolor
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Hi everyone!  I'm back.  I took a break so I could do a watercolor painting of daffodils : )  We are finally seeing sunlight in New Jersey.  However, I have a whole bunch of snow photos.  I wanted to capture a few things this year- snow shadows (by color) made by trees, and photos with light that make me want to squint when I see the photo.  Plus do more painting so my hubby knows I'm really working.  Having way too much fun these days : )  If anyone is looking for a place to buy art supplies at a reduced price, check out Art Supplies from Dick Blick (link).  I've been able to get great deals on everything I need : )

It was hard to hear David Cameron from England proclaim his nation is based on Christianity.  They believe in Jesus and have used the Bible to lead their people for centuries.  Our president believes America was in Europe doing the crusades...  Truthfully our country is also a Christian nation.  Our constitution is based on the Bible.  A large majority of people are still Christian.  People are free to leave if they find the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence offensive.  This is a free country.

We left off at Acts 6:15 where Stephen was sitting looking like an angel.  Now it seems to me that if someone looks like an angel we should be nice to them.  But at this time period in Jerusalem everyone was trying to gain power over something at the same time.  Israel has always been in danger.  Someone has always tried to steal their land.  I need to remember this as I pray for the middle-east.  Chapter 7 describes how Israel left Egypt with Moses according to Stephen, a Jewish Christian (Jew for Jesus).  And Egypt has always been their ally even to today. 

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.
(Acts 6:15 NIV)

7:1-60 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”

Here's Stephen's answer:
2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you. ’
4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way:‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place. ’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

So Stephen is describing their journey into Israel from Egypt, Joseph was the one who stood up to Pharoah and helped Israel get to the land God had provided.  The Jews at this time became comfortable in Egypt but that wasn't God's plan for them.  The longer they stayed the worse their circumstances became.  I've honestly had jobs like this.  They start out all happy and then things go south.  Someone starts gossip and people become disrespectful.  Then the antagonism starts.  We really can't claim we're all that much better today.  We all have bad judgment and experiences at times.  The early Church was no exception.

The stories below describe how Moses obeyed God and set his people free.

 9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy- five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. 18 Then ‘a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ’ 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other? ’
27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday? ’ 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.
30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. ’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.
33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.

These would be the last words I would want to hear if I was Moses... "I will send you back to Egypt."  I'd be all over the place, "maybe an island this time? someplace happy with a nice breeze?"  He obeyed God.
35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge? ’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.
37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people. ’ 38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.
39 “But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him! ’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. 42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
“‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
43 You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek
and the star of your god Rephan,
the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,
46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.

47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?

50 Has not my hand made all these things? ’

Here's where Stephen applies his words to his time period:
51 “You stiff- necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors:You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him —
53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

So yes, we really should be honest when we have the opportunity.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Saul is actually our beloved Apostle Paul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
(Acts 6:13-7:60 NIV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am looking forward to Your return, for peace.  Like the disciples who saw Jesus crucified and thought there was no hope; we feel that way too at times.  Guess that's what faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  Bless our leaders with wisdom, bless us all as we seek to elect the next President.  I pray for Your hand of peace to be in the middle-east.  Help the nations come together and join forces to stop the evil.

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   

Sunday, April 5, 2015

He is risen! (Easter Story 7) (Col 1:18-20, Mark 16:9, John 20:1- 21:31, Mark 16: 9, Luke 24:50-53)

"It is finished!  We are free : )"

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
"18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Col 1:18-20

Peter, John's partner in the fishing trade, was outspoken!  John would often talk to Peter, and let him do the talking to others. In the gospels you'll often find John and Peter with Jesus.  John describes himself as the "disciple that Jesus loved" in many places.  Jesus made people feel loved.  He never forces people to be someone aren't.  He let John and Peter be themselves.  This is one of the mysteries about Jesus, everyone who knew Him felt loved- no one felt left out.  Those who know Christ today, know His love for them.
1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
John 20:1-21:19

John outran Peter and got to the tomb first.  But he didn't go in.  It was Peter who jumped in first.  All they found was the burial cloths.   The handkerchief that was around His head was folded neatly.  It's like Jesus appreciated the love people had shown him after death.  I wonder if He smiled when He resurrected.  Although the religious leaders were sure the disciples would steal His body, the disciples never understood what Jesus meant by the resurrection.
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,  7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Mary stayed at the tomb, weeping.  Mark 16:9  "...He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons."  Jesus had changed Mary's life dramatically.  He freed her from demons.  Now she could think clearly and live a normal life.  He set her free but what would she do without Him?  Would it go back the way it was?
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting,one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
She knew the Master's voice when He called her name : ) He would be with her always.  Jesus is with us today.
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Another priceless moment.  The disciples were hiding out in fear of the religious leaders.  The doors are locked; the room is dark.  When suddenly someone appeared in the room with them!  I can only imagine the shock on their faces.  He showed them His hands and side.  It was Jesus!  Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit to:  be their Helper, bring to mind all they had heard, and teach them (John 14:26).  
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the JewsJesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."  20 When He had said thisHe showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord
21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Then there was doubting Thomas.  Thomas wasn't with them when Jesus appeared.  When the other disciples told him, he required his own proof.  So, 8 days later, Jesus appeared again.  This time Thomas was there, He let Thomas touch his side and hands.  Thomas believed.  Jesus made a special promise to those of us who haven't seen Him.  He understands.  
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
John 21:29

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"  27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him,  "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:21-31

Jesus promised He would meet up with the disciples in Galilee.  This is one of my favorite stories.  All of the remaining disciples are present.  Peter announces he's going fishing.  Those annoying disciples insisted on going with him.  No privacy!  Peter had seen Jesus, but he still had to come to grips with his denial of Christ.  I understand how it feels to do the wrong thing as a Christian.  I wondered if God could ever use me again.  It filled me with a sorrow I couldn't shake for a long time- I felt worthless.  I learned God's forgiveness in a huge way and was able to jump back into ministry, wiser with more compassion.
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:  2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediatelygot into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?"
They answered Him, "No."
6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
John 21:1-19 

John recognized Jesus first.  Peter was so excited, he jumped into the sea and swam to Him!  Jesus had fixed them breakfast.  He had the fire going, bread and fish.  God fixed them breakfast!  He cares about the details of our lives.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 
11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?" — knowing that it was the Lord. 13Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

Peter had denied Christ 3 times.  It would always be branded in his conscience.  Jesus asked him if he loved Him 3 times.  And he replied, "Yes" 3 times back.  It was as though Jesus gave him a chance to receive forgiveness.  He is the God of second chances. 
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
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."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep."  18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."  19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." 
Peter was eventually martyred.  He was to be crucified but asked to be hung upside down.  He felt he didn't deserve to be hung as Jesus was.

It was time for Jesus to return to Heaven.  But, the disciples aren't sad.  They returned to the temple in Jerusalem with great joy!  They were continually praising and blessing God.  The cross couldn't destroy God, a tomb couldn't contain Him.  He is risen!   Hallelujah!  And today, we know Him in our hearts.  One day we will see Him face to face.
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. 
Luke 24:50-53 NKJV

It's important to note that the same Peter who fell into the water instead of walking on top of it, asked Jesus to wash all of him instead of just his feet, and just couldn't get that demon out of the man, found enough faith to perform miracles. He healed many in Jesus' name, recorded in the book of Acts.  He became a great leader in the Church. And John had a vision on the island of Patmos.  He was chosen to record the Book of Revelation.  If he truly was shy, this would've been the perfect assignment for him- although he did fall on his face a few times during the vision.  God has a plan for us all.  Jesus changes lives.

Happy Easter to you!  May you know the presence of Jesus and experience His love this Easter.

We got to see the movie, "God's Not Dead," it was a great movie if you get to see it. 
Here's a song by the Newsboys, God's NOT Dead (link)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday (Easter Story 6) (Psalm 139:14, John 1:1-14, Matt 27:57-58, John 19:39, Matt 27:59-66)

It's Friday but Sunday's coming!

I was thinking about why God would be the sacrifice for us.  I remembered He created us in His image.  Here's some things that came to mind:  babies giggle, when we fall in love it takes our breath away, we give Him praise and worship, of all the creatures we enjoy sunsets, the moon, and stars like God does.  We do have a hard time staying out of trouble (at least some of us do [me]) but even in that He still loves us.  He has said that He is our Father. He would do anything for us as long as it doesn't go against His own character.  He is solid that way, no changing His mind- consistent.  God is love.  Through all of our ramblings, and problems, we are a beautiful mess aren't we?  We are created in the image of God.  David said it this way:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  
Psalm 139:14
These verses describe Jesus as the Word.  The world was made (created) through Him.  The "Word was God." Jesus is God.  He is the light that shines in the darkness.  Though He created the world, the darkness (evil) could not comprehend it.  "In Him is life, the life that is the light of men."
John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

When it says that "His own did not receive Him,"  I believe He is describing the religious leaders: Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, chief priests, and elders.  The 12 disciples were Jewish.  Many Jews believed in Jesus by this time.  Like it says in verse 12, "...as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."  
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were bornnot of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of manbut of God. 

The Son of man; the Son of God.
14 And 
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Fatherfull of grace and truth.

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who believed in Jesus.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, who also believed (John 3:1-21).  These are just two names.  We have no idea how many Jews came to believe in Christ.  It was risky for Joseph and Nicodemus to bury Jesus.  They were going against some very angry, irrational, religious leaders.  I understand the feeling.  You get to a point where you give up fear, and do what's right.  Then God's strength gives you the ability to press on.
Matt 27:57-58
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimatheanamed Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him

John 19:39
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 

Matt 27:59-66
59 When Joseph had taken the bodyhe wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Marysitting opposite the tomb

There are always good people and bad people in every group.  While Nicodemus provided myrrh and aloes for Jesus' body, other Pharisees went to Pilate to ensure His body stayed in the tomb.  Pilate couldn't understand their anxiety.  As a business woman, it sounds to me like he wanted them out of his office.
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'  64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third daylest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 

65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb securesealing the stone and setting the guard

And so it was, Jesus' body was placed in a rich man's tomb like the prophecy foretold.  The tomb was made secure with a very large stone.  A guard stood in front of the tomb, so the disciples couldn't go and steal the body.  The chief priests and Pharisees must have breathed a sigh of relief.  It was over.  But the 3 days were not over... Could a tomb really contain God?

The disciples must've been so confused.  Jesus wasn't supposed to die.  What is this?  We have times like that today.  We wonder where is God?  In those times the only thing we can do is trust and worship.  When I get totally down and feel done for, I start counting my blessings: my husband, the house, a car, my cats, Church, the Pastors, chocolate and so on...

Dear Heavenly Father, Please bless all those who are facing persecution, hide them under Your wings of love.  I pray for peace in our hearts and wisdom to know what to do.  Guide us all with wisdom.  I pray that You will protect Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ukraine, Europe all those in harms way.  You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  You know all and see all.  Nothing is impossible for You. I trust in Your unfailing love.

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   

Song by Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons (link)