Friday, September 30, 2011

Bible Study: Battling For Perseverance In The Faith - Jude - verses 8-17


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Jude. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Natural disasters are happening – volcanic eruptions in Alaska and rising flood waters in North Dakota. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the book of Jude again. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


8 – In the same way, these “dreamers” (as people at that time referred to godless men) mistreated their bodies (name ways). They rejected authority (anarchy, dissention). They talk bad about celestial beings (God, angels, church leaders, preachers).

BATTLE: Unreliable leaders. How do we combat this? First, pray for your leaders. Second, protect yourself from being misled by testing everything a leader tells you against the Word of God!

9 – This is a powerful statement.

The archangel Michael is one of the chief princes according to Daniel 10:13. He is the great prince who protects “your people” (the Jews) according to Daniel 12:1. He is the angelic warrior who commands angels according to Revelation 12:7. His voice will be heard before Christ returns. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

Why would Michael dispute with the devil over Moses’ body? God, Himself, buried Moses and no one knows where. Deuteronomy 34:5-6. If the devil learned the whereabouts of Moses’ bones, don’t you think he would make sure they were found and identified and worshiped as an idol?

BATTLE: Spiritual warfare. Although we learned earlier that angels have certain authority, Michael didn’t bring slanderous accusation against the devil. He said, “The Lord rebuke you.” We would be wise to do the same.

10 – The godless men who have infiltrated Christian circles speak blasphemy against what they don’t understand (2 Peter 2:12). Their animal instincts lead to their demise because they know they’re on a path to eternal destruction.

BATTLE: Blasphemy. Lack of Understanding. Have you ever pretended to know more about a topic than you actually did just so people would listen to your expert opinion? I certainly have. Stop this practice, now. And test everything you hear or read against the Word of God! Memorize it so you know it.

11 – These ungodly men take the way of Cain, which is evil (1 John 3:12), not approaching God as He demands, not giving the best to God, murderous (Genesis 4:3-8). They rushed for profit to Balaam’s error, which was loving the wages of wickedness (2 Peter 2:15). Balaam wanted to curse Israel and take money from Balak (Numbers 22-24). They were destroyed by Korah’s rebellion. In Numbers 16, Korah led a rebellion against Moses that led to the Lord opening the earth and swallowing him and the other rebels.

BATTLE: Taking shortcuts. Doing things our way, not God’s. Are you motivated by money, power or jealousy? Pray fervently to break the hold these things have on you. Let Jesus be your motivation in all things.

12 – 2 Peter 2:13 says blemishes revel in pleasure, carousing in broad daylight. 1 Corinthians 11:20-21 says these godless people don’t gather for the Lord’s supper. They overindulge and don’t see that everyone is served, like the shepherds who feed only themselves – seeing to their own needs, but no one else’s.

BATTLE: Self-serving. Over-indulgent. Go out of your way to serve others. Practice random acts of kindness. What ideas can you come up with to be less selfish.

Who are the shepherds who don’t care for their flocks? Preachers. Ezekiel 34:8-10 says the shepherds didn’t protect the flock, so the flock became prey for wild animals. But God will rescue the flock and hold the shepherd responsible.

Clouds without rain are like a man who boasts about gifts he doesn’t give according to Proverbs 25:14. 2 Peter 2:17 says that the blackest darkness is reserved for them.

Blown away by the wind of false teaching and cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming, says Ephesians 4:14.

Trees without fruit and uprooted refers to Matthew 15:13 that says every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.

Twice dead – in this life (mortality) and the next (eternity).

13 – wild waves of the sea – Isaiah 57:20 – the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot rest.

BATTLE: Recklessness. Lack of discipline. Start with daily Bible reading, routine prayer time, memorizing scripture. Go for prayer walks. Just be with the Lord everyday. Schedule the time if you must.

Foaming up their shame – Philippians 3:19 says their glory is their shame. Their best will be an embarrassment.

Blackest darkness – see v. 12

14 – Enoch was 7th in Adam’s lineage according to Genesis 5:18. He was the father of Methuselah (Genesis 5:21). He walked with God for 300 years (Genesis 5:22). He was no more because God took him away (Genesis 5:24). Apparently, he walked with God as a prophet, and prophesied about the counterfeit Christians that the Lord is coming with 1000s of angels to judge.

15 – Jesus is coming with His angels to judge everyone (Daniel 7:9-10) and to convict the ungodly’s actions and words.

16 – The Israelites were notorious grumblers. See Exodus 15:24; 16:2; 17:3; Numbers 16. The consequences of grumbling are horrible. See Numbers 14:27-35 and take notice that even after this event, they grumbled again…

faultfinders – follow evil desires – boastful – flatter others for their own advantage.

BATTLE: Grumbling. Complaining. Look for Christ’s fingerprints everywhere. Praise Him when you least feel like it. Thank Him for the good things and the bad. Pray He will empower you to do His will and reveal His will clearly.

17 – What did the apostles foretell? We’ll look at that in verse 18.

The way this verse is phrased would indicate that Jude was not one of the apostles, but rather the brother of Jesus Christ.



• The book of Jude teaches much about how to protect yourself and others in the battle to keep and build our faith. What have you learned about how to guard your heart or the heart of others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

REVIEW: Setting Boundaries with Difficult People by Allison Bottke

Here is my review of this amazing self-help book:


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Allison Bottke and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Setting Boundaries with Difficult People" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.


“Setting Boundaries with Difficult People: Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships” by Allison Bottke is a MUST HAVE guide for any human being who is not a hermit! There are so many things I ADORE about this book. First and foremost, it doesn’t encourage the reader to point fingers. Rather, you are persuaded to look in the mirror to resolve conflict. Hallelujah! The remaining five steps to SANITY are equally as challenging, yet completely do-able, and they will change your life – GUARANTEED!

Another thing that I love about this book is that it leads the reader to yield to God. The world would be a much different place if we would do that regularly. I keep a copy of this book at work. It provides the little extra inspiration I need to get through some frustrating circumstances, reminding me of the steps I must take to maintain my own SANITY.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Heiress by Susan May Warren

About the book: Heiress

They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.


Read an excerpt here.



About Susan: Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia , Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota ’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder ofwww.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota , where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:www.susanmaywarren.com.

Check out these other blog tour reviews.


Here's my review of this amazing novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Susan May Warren and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Heiress" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

In her latest novel, “Heiress”, Susan May Warren whisks her audience immediately into the lifestyle of two high society debutantes at the end of the 19th century. Elegance and propriety drip from the opening pages of this story about the daughters of a New York newspaper magnate. Esme and Jinx Price have very different ideas about what their dream lives would look like.

Jinx, the youngest sister, desires a family and a household to manage within the New York high society she knows. Sadly, she cannot hope to marry until her older sister, Esme, is settled down with the right man. Unfortunately for Jinx, Esme dreams of being a published author rather than a dutiful society wife. This engaging story has it all: romance, betrayal, wealth and adventure.

I cannot wait for the release of “Baroness”, book two in the Daughters of Fortune series.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bible Study: Battling For Perseverance In The Faith - Jude - Verses 1-7


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Jude. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Natural disasters are happening – volcanic eruptions in Alaska and rising flood waters in North Dakota. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the book of Jude. It’s only one chapter. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

We're going to take three weeks to study this crucial new testament letter. So really savor it.


I’ve titled our study of Jude “Battling for Perseverance in the Faith”. You will notice that there are several specific things Jude mentions that we will have to contend with as Christians. Some battles that I mention are not specific warnings, but rather things I noticed while reading scripture that simply struck a chord with me, personally, so I mentioned them in the event that you may struggle with the same things.

1 – Jude is believed to be either Judas, the brother of Christ or Judas the disciple (not Iscariot). Matthew 13:55 says Jesus had a brother names James and a brother named Judas. He also had brothers named Simon and Joseph. Since Jude doesn’t claim to be an apostle (see v.17), it is likely that he was Jesus’ brother. According to Mark 3:21, Jesus’ own family said He was out of His mind. John 7:5 says that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him. Therefore, Jude wasn’t initially a follower of Christ. But Jesus’ death and resurrection changed them just as it changed you, me and the world! In Acts 1:14, the Bible tells us that Jesus’ brothers joined the apostles constantly in prayer which is an indication that they had come to follow Him. I hope they didn’t spend too much time brooding over all they missed out on by not following Him sooner.

This letter is addressed to those who have been called to belong to Christ. See Romans 1:6-7. What does that mean? He is writing to Christians and those who are destined to be Christians. Since Jude’s primary message in this letter is warn Christians at all stages of development about the infiltration of counterfeit Christians into their circles, this makes total sense.

BATTLE: His name. Notice that the title of the book is Jude, not Judas. Can you imagine the stigma attached to the name “Judas” after Jesus’ betrayal at the hands of one of those closest to Him with the same name? If the author is Christ’s brother as scholars believe, I wouldn’t blame Jude for going by a nickname – possibly even what Christ Himself called His brother when they were growing up together.

Have you ever struggled with your own name? I don’t mean to ask if you’ve ever liked your name. How did you overcome? Let me help with this: the Lord has a new name for you. He will present it to you when you join Him for eternity. And I promise you, that name will be the most beautiful name you’ve ever heard – except for the name Jesus, of course.

2 – Jude prays an abundance of love and grace upon those who belong to Christ.

BATTLE GEAR: Love and grace. They are like armor. They help us to persevere. Just remember that we are at war spiritually and must put on the armor of God. Read Ephesians 6:11-18.

3 – Jude’s purpose was to encourage Christians to build their faith in the face of counterfeit Christians.

The gospel was entrusted to us to share with others. Who have you shared with lately?

BATTLE: Perseverance. We battle to persevere on a daily basis. We are rejected when we share our faith. People avoid us because they think we’re pious. It’s hard to make friends because others don’t want to really know us. How do you push through under such circumstances? Are you asking God for help and direction? Or are you trying to persevere under your own strength?

4 – False brothers had infiltrated Christian circles according to Galatians 2:4. They claim to know God, but don’t behave as followers of Christ according to Titus 1:16. In fact, they use God’s grace as an excuse to keep on sinning! THIS IS IMPORTANT: How SHOULD a follower of Christ behave? You will know a true follower of Christ by the fruit they produce. The fruit of the Spirit appears in Galatians 5:22-23. They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

BATTLE: False Christians. My advice: Don’t dwell on the negative. Keep your focus on Christ. Love others as He instructed so that we may draw all men to Him!

2 Peter 2:1 talks about false prophets and false teachers. I’ve commented in previous studies that one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned was during my participation in the study “Experiencing God” by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. In order to train Canadian police to identify counterfeit currency, these agents are not shown counterfeits. Instead, they study the genuine article so thoroughly that they come to know it so well and can’t help to spot the counterfeit. This is how diligent we need to be with studying Christ and His character. That way, we will not be fooled by counterfeit christs or counterfeit Christians! This will be imperative in the time of tribulation!

1 John 2:22 talks about the antichrist, which is anyone who denies the Father and the Son.

5 – Why would Jude want Christians to remember what the Lord had done? The simple answer is so we wouldn’t forget and sin by grumbling about Him. Israel did that a lot! See Numbers 14:27-30 for the sentence against Israel for grumbling that led to their death. Or you can read almost any account once the exodus from Egypt was underway (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy). It was a lack of remembering that led to unbelief that led to their grumbling.

BATTLE: Forgetfulness. We “forget” God even after we’ve seen Him working in our lives. We need to do something to remember. Pray that God will help you remember His work in your life. Create tangible reminders: journal, scrapbook, paint, draw – do whatever it takes to help yourself remember what God has done for you. Remember that forgetfulness leads to unbelief which leads to grumbling. Is there anything about which you complain? Pray God will help your unbelief just as a boy’s father asked Jesus in Mark 9:24.

6 – This passage describes the great white throne judgment.

BATTLE: Endurance. How we endure determines how effective our earthly ministry will be. This has a direct bearing on judgment – not our eternal destination, as there is nothing we can do since salvation is a gift from Jesus to us – but rather the rewards that we are given when we get to heaven. But remember that our responsibility is ONLY to share our faith. It’s God’s job to convict someone of sin and draw someone to Him.

Angels have authority. Those who didn’t keep their positions of authority are fallen angels. They chose to abandon heaven and follow the devil in rebellion against God. They will be judged for their sin. If even the angels knew better and chose poorly, why would we be any different?

7 – BATTLE: Peer Pressure. Entire cities gave in to sin as the angels did. The demise of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:1-19:29) is supposed to dissuade people from choosing to sin and thus suffering in the eternal fire. What does this teach us? Sin is contagious! RUN FROM IT!!!

The destruction of these cities was so complete according to Deuteronomy 29:23, that nothing would grow there. That is pretty complete destruction if you consider that a pine forest will rejuvenate itself with fire. The flames that decimate the trees also open the pine cones to release the seeds inside. Not that this is a Biblical principle, I just thought about how God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The good that comes out of a pine forest fire is new trees. This complete destruction is a testament that there was no love for God, here. And that the lives lived here were NOT according to His purpose!


• The book of Jude teaches much about how to protect yourself and others in the battle to keep and build our faith. What have you learned about how to guard your heart or the heart of others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman






She Left Ireland And A Man Who Broke Her Heart...Only To Find An American Who Could Restore It.


Julie Lessman’s new novel A Heart Revealed, the second offering in the “Winds of Change” series, opens in Boston in 1931, where thirty-one-year-old Emma Malloy has fled from an abusive marriage in Ireland.

Although her former husband has left her haunted and deeply scarred. Emma cannot help but develop strong feelings for her friend Charity’s brother, Sean O’Connor.

Described by his sister as very stubborn, Sean maintains that he is not the marrying kind. But as he and Emma draw closer and closer, will her strong, tender heart ensnare him and change his mind?

Transporting readers back to a time when the Empire State Building was brand new and the local speakeasy was a common destination, Lessman outlines the fascinating era and its citizens with deft precision.

Lessman, who has been hailed as a writer with noteworthy skill by Publishers Weekly has once again delivered an epic tale featuring vibrant characterization, wonderful thrills, sharp dialogue, and surprises both large and small.









Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose books give readers “Passion With a Purpose,” underscoring her intense passion for both God and romance. Julie is the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and was chosen as #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She was the winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Her “Winds of Change” series has recently released with A Hope Undaunted, which ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010. You can contact Julie through her website at http://www.julielessman.com/.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.



Here is my review of this wonderful historical romance:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Julie Lessman and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Heart Revealed" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“A Heart Revealed” is Julie Lessman’s second novel in the Winds of Change series. A continuation of the chronicles of the O’Connor family, this story belongs to characters that this reader has already developed affection for: Sean O’Connor and Emma Malloy.

Emma has borne the bruises of an Irish temper – enough for a lifetime. And she bears the scars, both physically and emotionally, of being the wife of an abusive husband. Although still married to Rory Malloy, Emma has left Ireland, taking a job in America and she has grown very close to her hosts, the O’Connor family.

Sean O’Connor is a confirmed bachelor. He is also Emma’s best friend’s brother. She falls for him unwillingly, fighting every step toward longing and love. Not only does Emma not believe that Sean will ever be able to see beyond her scars to the beautiful woman inside who loves him. Sadly, Emma also doesn’t feel that she is worthy of the love of a good man. Not only is she still married, but she believes that her life of abuse has been exactly what she deserves.

This beautiful, tender and passionate story of love, family and friendship is a masterpiece! Julie Lessman paints a very intimate portrait of her characters’ hearts with such depth and texture and color that these people seem capable of walking off the page and into the reader’s living room. You may want to pick a long weekend to read this novel since you will absolutely lose sleep from being so engrossed in this wonderful story that transports the reader to early 1900s Boston.

Friday, September 16, 2011

REVIEW: Saving Savvy by Kelly Hancock

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Kelly Hancock and his/her publisher for sending me an electronic copy of "Saving Savvy" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and their generosity.

Kelly Hancock’s “Saving Savvy” is a fascinating book that will get your creative saving and spending juices flowing. The concept of saving money AND living generously may seem like an oxymoron, but Kelly has done it, herself, and is called by God to teach others to do the same. After leaving her high paying job to be a “stay-at-home-Mom”, Kelly developed several money-saving techniques that helped others to save and really aided her own family when her husband’s company downsized and he found himself out of a job.

The advice that Kelly Hancock offers to spend less really does work. However, living in this way is by no means effortless. But I am confident that the reader will get out of it what they put into it. Plus Kelly has done much of the research on how to save big. And more money in your pocket means being able to support more causes. And having a bulk package of chicken in the freezer will feed a couple of guests at your dinner table.

Check out Kelly’s blog for terrific recipes and offers: www.faithfulprovisions.com

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Misinformed - 2 Thessalonians - Chapter 3


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. At the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


3:1 – Paul consistently asks the Christians he has visited to pray for him. The prayer he requests here is still timely, today, and I frequently pray this way: that God’s Word would spread like wildfire throughout the earth and be received by those who hear its message. I suppose I should add to that a prayer that all ears would be opened to receive the message of the gospel through hearing. And that those not in earshot would choose Jesus based on seeing the wonders of nature that God has made.

3:2 – Paul also asks that his brothers pray for his deliverance from evil men. Does this sound like part of the Lord’s Prayer? Read the entire Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

3:3 – God is faithful. Share a time when He was faithful to you. Better still, how is He being faithful to you right now?

Matthew 5:37 was referenced in my Bible for this verse. Read it. Think on it for a minute or two and see if we arrive at the same idea. I thought of being interrogated when I read these verses together. Evil will try to tempt and trap. Don’t engage evil. Say “yes” or “no” in answer to questions about Christ and the truth of God’s Word, but don’t pursue any interaction with evil. You won’t win over evil no matter what. Evil will only twist your words to make you doubt yourself. Better to remain silent as Christ did during his trial before the crucifixion. See Matthew 26:62-63, Mark 14:60-61.

3:4 – Paul trusted God to continue to prosper the Thessalonians. Who are you trusting to God’s care?

3:5 – Paul prayed for the Thessalonians’ loyalty to God. Take a moment and pray for those you know to be loyal to Him.

3:6-15 – One woman in my Sunday school class had a wonderful insight on this passage. She said that she related this teaching to spiritual rather than physical food. If these idle individuals wouldn’t serve in the church, they shouldn’t be permitted to sit in the pew every Sunday being “fed” the Word of God.

3:6 – Paul commands the Thessalonians to stay away from idle Christians. That is, Christians who are not busy doing the Lord’s work. Find some scriptures that explain what we are on planet earth to do. I’ll start you off. Read Matthew 28:16-20.

3:7-9 – Paul supported himself as a tentmaker. See Acts 18:3. He didn’t live off of his brothers, even though he indicates that he would have been entitled to do so. He did this to set a good example for others about idleness.

3:10-13 – Being idle leads to bad thoughts, gossip and dissention. Instead of participating in these counterproductive activities, put your effort into making a living to care for your needs. Doing what is right is pleasing to God.

3:11 – mind your own business.

3:14 – Those who don’t obey the Word of God cause division. Do not associate with such people. This can really limit your friendships. It certainly has in my life. This doesn’t give us permission to judge others. But we can observe their fruit and their behavior to survey their character.

3:15 – We need to lovingly correct our brothers in Christ even when we don’t socialize with them.

3:16 – Paul prays peace over the Thessalonians. We should pray for peace for each other.

3:17 – Paul declares this letter to be genuine. Remember that this letters was written to refute false teaching (supposedly from Paul and the apostles) that judgment day had already come.

3:18 – Just as Paul spoke grace over the Thessalonians, I pray the same over you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.



Each chapter of these letters to the Thessalonians teaches much about how to pray for yourself and others. How have you learned to pray today?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Pirate of My Heart

B&H Books (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, B&H Publishing Group, A Division of LifeWay Christian Resources for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805448152
ISBN-13: 978-0805448153


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



PROLOGUE

Arundel, England 1777

The grey clouds of dawn shivered against the paned glass of the castle, shrouding the three figures at the side of the four-poster bed in an eerie light. The raging storm of the night before had settled into a dreary misting rain though an occasional jagged flash of lightning flaunted its power, not yet ready to relinquish its right to ravish the leaden sky. Dim light clung to the faces of those inside the bedchamber where the very walls seemed to echo the anguish felt inside the room.

All that could be heard in the chamber was the shallow, labored breathing of the one abed. A frail creature, now, pale and lifeless after the travails of childbirth. The others included the old family doctor, Radley, who hovered beside his patient and friend of many years with a strained look in his eyes. Hovering in the shadows was Bridget, the lady's long-standing nurse and companion. But their suffering was not to be compared to the tall, handsome gentleman who knelt at the woman's bedside, her hand clasped in his; a haunted look in his eyes that attested to the fact that he too feared the end was near for his beloved.

He gazed down at the limp form of his wife. She lay so still, so pale, sunk into the feather mattress as if she'd become a part of it. In a matter of hours she'd become a shallow breathing shell of the bright and glorious women she had once been. How was he to live without her? His heart spasmed with the thought.

He held his breath as her thin, white eyelids opened to reveal pain-racked eyes the color of bluebells. She exerted a small strength in squeezing his hand while a serene smile played at her lips. Her voice was a weak whisper. "I will not be leaving you forever, my darling. Our daughter will grow strong and always be a symbol of the love we shared."

"No." Edward groaned in anguish, his head falling forward, his hand clasping tight as if to force his strength into her. "I will not let you go."

"Love her, Edward, love her with all that you are." Lady Eileen closed her eyes seeming to gather what little strength she had to continue speaking. A small, whimpering sound came from the shadows of the room where Bridget held the newborn babe to her bosom. Lady Eileen opened her eyes at the sound. "Please, let me hold my sweet child."

The nurse skirted around the bed with the tiny bundle, her eyes bright with tears. "She's the mos' beautiful of babes, my lady, truly she is." She laid the wee babe in her mother's fragile arms.

His wife stared down at their daughter and then looked up at him. Her voice became fierce but still so quiet Edward had to lean in to catch the words. "This one has a special purpose in life and I expect you all to care for her as I would have."

Edward could only nod, mute and staring, aching with grief.

"I have one more request to ask of you, my love." Her breath rasped in and out causing the panic in Edward's stomach to claw into his chest like a nightmare's hand, but he nodded for her to continue and clung to her hand.

"My greatest joy in life has been you. I want her to find love, someone to share her life with who is as kind, as loving and wonderful as I have had in you." She rested a moment before continuing. "Let her choose, Edward, do not make a match for her. I know it is right." She gasped for a final breath. "I've made provision. In my will . . . no entailments, Edward. Give her the dragonfly brooch as a promise from me that I will be looking down from heaven to keep her safe."

"Of course, my darling, anything you ask I will do."

A small smile touched Eileen's lips as she gazed at their beautiful child for the last time. With a single tear sliding down her cheek she kissed the light fuzz on the child's head. "I love you." She breathed the words with her last breath, barely audible, and then she went still.

Edward collapsed over her limp hand still clutched in his strong one. "No," he cried with ragged breath. He brought the hand to his check, soaking it with his tears, willing her to come back to him.



CHAPTER ONE
Arundel, England - 1796

Kendra stopped halfway down the path that led to the stables, happiness lifting her heart at the autumn scene. The leaves had turned into a crimson, sunny yellow and carroty riot of color, as if a magician had waved a wand during the night and created a new world. She stepped across the lawn, feeling the kind of happiness that burst against the walls of her chest, stopping long enough to turn in slow circles so to watch the waving leaf show. She closed her eyes, still slowly twirling and smiled up toward heaven, humming a simple song of praise to God. The notes of her song danced around her and made a happy knot form in her throat. There was nothing she loved more than singing praises to God. Her father had instilled his love for God in her since she was a child - always making sure they had a curate in the village residence for weekly services at St. Nicholas Parish Church, praying with her each night before bedtime and teaching her scriptures and hymns. Most of all, he’d been an example of someone who was temperate, kind and patient. They had memorized the scripture about the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - and often reminded each other of the one they should practice when the occasion called for it. She wished so much to be like him but sometimes her best intentions went awry and she fell short, far short of her father’s shining example.

The sound of wheels crunching over dead leaves gave her pause. She stopped, turned toward the horse-shoe drive at the front of the castle and saw a shiny black post-chaise carriage. Who could it be? They had not seen visitors in so long. Kendra hurried toward the entrance to meet their guest, then came to an abrupt stop and clasped her hands in front of her dress. She held her breath as a tall, handsome man sprang from the carriage. He was dressed in a waist-coat of navy wool with an intricately knotted necktie at his throat, cream colored breeches and matching hose. She lifted her gaze to his face. Her jaw dropped with surprise. The face staring back at her looked like the one in her bedchamber mirror each morning . . . except for the color of his eyes.
Andrew Townsend matched his nieces startling gape as he found himself looking into the younger, female version of himself. Surely this was not Edward's daughter! She could have been his own child. Recovering from his shock with more effort than he'd exerted in months, Andrew questioned the young lady. "And who might this lovely creature be? A relative of mine, perhaps?"

She curtsied and smiled up at him. "I'm Kendra Townsend sir, and who might you be?" Her smile was soft and contagious, so irresistible that Andrew found himself thawing in her presence.

"I am Andrew Townsend, your uncle, my dear." He held out his hand in greeting. "I am most pleased to finally meet you. It seems we bear a striking resemblance to one another."

"You're very handsome." She stated with bold faced honesty.

Andrew let out a bark of laughter. "Well. Thank you, I'm sure. Now, would you be so kind as to show me to your father? I have some business to conduct with him."

"Of course, sir." Kendra replied as she reached for his arm. "Your papa's brother, his twin, aren't you?" Her eyes lit up as she led him through the front door, past their astonished looking butler, and down the wide corridor, the elegant carpet making silence of their footsteps. Just as well, the surprise element couldn't hurt to gage how his dear brother was going to react to his request. “Father will be in his study with his solicitor this time of day.” At her knock they heard a preoccupied "come in."

The Earl of Arundel sat behind an ancient desk with stacks of documents in front of him. Facing him was Mr. Walcott, the trusted family solicitor. As they walked into the study, Edward's face lit up with joy. Then, as he looked beyond her, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.

"Andrew?"

Andrew put on his best smile and chuckled, walking forward toward his brother. He needed Ed to accept him back into the family fold and that might require some persuasion. "Great heavens, man, is it really you?" Edward came from behind the desk and greeted him with a handshake and an awkward hug that turned into a haphazard slapping against his shoulder. "You remember Parker Walcott." He motioned to the man who had risen, eyes round behind his spectacles.

"Yes, of course, how's the family, Parker? Dorothy and the children doing well?" Andrew felt the smooth mask of charm take hold of his being and hoped Parker would take the hint. He looked as if he’d seen a ghost.

"Oh, very good, my lord, yes indeed. And yourself?"

"After meeting my lovely niece here, I couldn't be in better spirits." Andrew replied. "Ed, why have you failed to mention our likeness in your letters? It nearly frightened us both out of our wits when we clapped eyes on one another." The laughter in his voice was real this time.

"It's been so long since I've seen you." Edward hastened to explain. "Until this moment I didn't realize just how much you resemble each other." He glanced from one to the other, astonishment and something disapproving, consternation perhaps in his eyes before continuing. "Your eyes are more blue than her unusual shade of violet, but you’re quite right, you resemble twins more than you and I ever did. It's remarkable, isn't it?"

Edward motioned for Andrew to have a seat. "Please, join us." They both looked up at Kendra to find her staring at Andrew. Andrew winked at her as he plopped down in the chair beside Parker. Edward cleared his throat and frowned at his daughter. "Kendra, go down and have Willabee bring up some refreshments please."

Kendra nodded but clung to Andrew's side before she left. "How long can you stay Uncle Andrew? You should stay at least until the end of the week." Her eyes were bright with excitement.

"And what, pray tell, happens at the end of the week?" Andrew asked with a half grin that he'd been told sent the ladies into a swoon.

"I've persuaded papa to have a garden party." Her eyes slid to her father before she continued. "He hates to entertain you know, but I've been so forlorn for company my own age since my friend, Lucinda, moved away that he's feeling guilty and has agreed. Please say you'll stay. Lady Willowbee's girls will be absolutely speechless for once."

"I seem to recall a Lady Willowbee, lives down the way, only other gentry around here, eh?" At Kendra's nod Andrew chuckled with the memory. "A bit of a sour puss. Are her girls as malicious and back-biting as she and her sisters used to be?"

Kendra put her hand to her mouth in an attempt to suppress a horrified giggle.

"Can't offend them though," Andrew continued with grave mirth, "must do our duty and invite the only other cream de la cream in the area, even though it is soured cream, is that the dilemma you find yourself in, my dear?"

“Papa says I must love them as the Bible says.” Kendra raised her brows in beseeching charm that he recognized as one of his own trademark moves. "But if you were there it would be ever so much easier. They will be nice in hopes of an introduction. Please say you'll stay."

Andrew caught his brother's gaze and asked in a soft voice. "Can you deny her anything?"

Edward looked down and cleared his throat, a red flush filling his cheeks. "Very little, I'm afraid.

Swinging back to Kendra's expectant gaze, Andrew mused. "I will have to give you your answer later, moppet, but I promise I'll try.

That seemed to satisfy her as she gave him a happy nod and turned to leave the men to their business.

"You're going to have a devil of a time fighting off all the suitors at your door, Edward. She's amazing." Andrew remarked as he watched the whirl of Kendra's skirts around the door as she left.

Edward sighed. "I've already had my share of offers, but she's just nineteen. I'm not ready to see her betrothed to anyone yet."

"I can understand why, she brightens up the old place." Pausing, Andrew ran his fingers through his blond hair and added. "I was truly sorry about Eileen, Edward. I would have attended the funeral had I not been out of the county."

"I won't pretend I was anything other than devastated. But time has a way of taking the edge off the grief and Kendra has taken care of the rest. I don't know how I would have gone on if she had died with her mother.”

Andrew didn't know how to respond to his brother's heart-wrenching revelation. Edward had aged in more than the receding hairline and creases around his mouth it would seem. Andrew cleared his throat and looked down at the floor.

Edward leaned across the desk, his hands clasped together. "Enough about me, what have you been doing with yourself these last fifteen years?"

"A little of everything, I dare say. Traveled around a good bit." The rake's smile slide across his lips and he shrugged. "Been enjoying life with good drink, fine horseflesh and beautiful women."

Edward shook his head in an older brotherly way. "I know only too well of your love for the worldly passions. It's a life that will never satisfy you, you know. I have to hear of your exploits every time I'm in London. When will you settle down? Start a family of your own?"

A bark of laughter escaped Andrew's throat. Not here ten minutes and he was already getting the lecture. "Now is not a good time for thinking of that, Ed. I - uh, seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a jam." Glancing at Parker Walcott, Andrew girded up his courage and rushed out the rest before his nerve failed him. "I was hoping to have a word with you, big brother. I have some business I would like to discuss."

Parker rose rather abruptly for one keen to the family's business dealings. Andrew smothered a chuckle as the solicitor beat a hasty path to the door. "I will bid you both good day, my lord. You and your brother have much catching up to do." Andrew suppressed a chuckle as he scurried from the room.

After the door was closed silence descended upon the room. Andrew braced his arms on his legs and pressed his sweaty palms together.

Edward broke the silence with a voice both grave and guarded. "What can I do for you, Andrew?"

Shifting in the chair, Andrew ran a well-manicured hand though his blond hair, took a deep breath and plunged into his story.
It would seem Andrew had heard, through a reputable source, about an investment that was sure to make him a very wealthy man. The Brougham Company had been started to finance several voyages of trade to America with goods the colonist desperately needed. Five great ships had set sail over six months ago to deliver their goods. Andrew had invested all that he had and was given a great deal of credit as he bore the Townsend name.

The first two ships to sail had been attacked by pirates and overtaken. The following ship did not survive a great storm, and of the two that made it to America, one had perishables on it that were ill-packed, causing the contents to spoil, while the other had cheaper goods that even when sold at an exorbitant price did not come close to making up for the expense of the trip. "I've lost everything and my creditors are threatening Newgate Prison if I don't come up with the funds."

Edward listened with sinking despair. It seemed fate would never grant his twin the power he so desperately coveted. "Of course I will help you, Andrew. Have your creditors send me the contracts and I will take care of them." He paused before continuing in a fatherly tone. "I understand you want to handle matters on your own, but please consider consulting me or even Walcott before plunging into a scheme like this in the future." Edward pressed his lips together with that eagle-eyed stare that always made Andrew squirm in his chair. "I could have had the company investigated for you, at the very least."

"Of course." Andrew shook his head, eyes downcast. The act was growing tedious but pressed on. "It's just that I was so excited. I wanted to surprise you and mother with my good fortune. I realize the family thinks me a spoiled dandy so I wanted to do something to make you all proud. Instead I proved what an idiot I am."

"Now don't be too hard on yourself. We've been through worse and we'll come through this together."

"I can't thank you enough, Ed, just the thought of that prison sent me fleeing here on wings. There is just one more thing," Andrew rushed out, fidgeting with his fingers. "I was wondering if the creditors could go through old Parker instead of you. That way it won't become common knowledge that my brother had to pay off my debts. It's a matter of pride you see." He raised his brows and gave Edward a shrug of his shoulders.

"Of course. There's no need for our business to become something for the gossip mills."

Andrew stood up, gave his brother a quick, firm hug, and hurried from the room.
Edward gazed at the closed door, sadness and bewilderment weighing down his shoulders like a heavy blanket. He had not seen his brother for years, and then when he finally did come home, it was only because he was in trouble and needed money. Would they ever be close?

Dear God, help me reach him.

He let his thoughts drift back to their childhood, a good and proper upbringing he had always thought, but not without its animosities. Animosities that led all the way back to their birth.

They had heard the tale countless times. Edward had been the first-born twin, the heir to the earldom, but it had come about by a strange quirk of fate. His mother, who now lived on her own estate miles from Arundel, had pushed for hours with no sign of the babies coming.

The midwife, in an effort to feel the baby's position, placed one hand on the extended abdomen and the other inside the womb. She pulled back in surprise. "Your ladyship, I do believe you are having twins. There's a head and feet near the opening."

His mother gasped and her face whitened. "Twins! I shan't be able to do it."

The contractions continued though, strengthened instead of daunted by the thought of two.

Hours dragged by as they all wondered if Lady Lenora would be able to deliver the babies. In a wondrous moment, a hushed moment between pushes, a tiny foot poked out of the womb. The midwife didn't say anything but knew the importance of the firstborn's place so she tied a scarlet thread around the tiny ankle. Gently slipping the foot back up, she concentrated on delivering the baby in the head-down position. The child seemed ready to cooperate and after several more minutes emerged from the womb.

"A boy, my lady." One of the servants rushed to take the child to clean him before he was presented to his mother. After another hour, Lady Lenora held two healthy sons. She noticed the thread and looked up at the midwife. "But what's this, Ida?"

The midwife told the story of how that child had poked his little foot out first and thought to tie the yarn around his foot in the event that Lord Townsend would regard him the first born.

And he had. Lord Albert Townsend named the babe with the string around his ankle Edward Alexander Townsend, and proclaimed him the rightful heir. Lenora named his twin brother, Andrew Richard Townsend and thought that son cheated.

Edward's knuckles whitened with the memory as he clinched his hands into fists. They'd been so close when they were boys! Inseparable until the day Andrew heard the story of his birth bluntly put by a stable hand. Andrew had changed then, pulling away and becoming distant and ever more brooding. After awhile it seemed they had little in common and less to like about each other. And that wasn't even the worst of it. The resentment his mother held destroyed their marriage. Lenora devoted herself to spoiling her younger son which forced the earl to take Edward's causes.

Edward sighed, his head dropping forward, sadness pulling at his heart. They were so different in every way. Andrew was strikingly handsome with his fair hair and pale blue eyes, so much like their mother. Edward supposed he was the epitome of an Englishman with his dark brown hair, aristocratic nose, and hazel eyes. And that was only their outward differences. Inwardly they couldn't be more distant. He a long-grieving widower and Andrew a financially destitute dandy in dire straits. But he was back.

His brother had come home.

Maybe if he loved him enough, if he showed it and gave him all the attention and praise and . . . well, whatever it was that Andrew needed, maybe he could, uptight Englishman that he was, humble himself and shower his brother with love.

Father, help me love him the way he needs it. Help me show him You.

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Jamie Carie and her publisher for sending me an electronic copy of "Pirate of my Heart" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity.

“Pirate of my Heart” by Jamie Carie is an enjoyable romantic adventure. Lady Kendra Townsend is in quite a predicament. Her uncle has ruined her family financially with his gambling. Now Kendra finds herself answering to him because of her father’s untimely death. Choosing to travel to America to live with relatives she has never met rather than agree to a marriage she doesn’t want, Kendra finds herself aboard the Angelina with the handsome American Captain, Dorian Colburn.

Dorian is furious at the prospect of a passenger. But first mate, John, has seen to all of the arrangements so Captain Colburn moves into his best friend’s quarters. But Lady Kendra isn’t a typical woman. She is beautiful, intelligent and unselfish. As Dorian’s heart betrays him by letting the Lady enter, this confirmed bachelor fears admitting his feelings.

The sparks begin to fly when Kendra and Dorian meet. The intrigue continues as Lady Kendra becomes acquainted with her Aunt and Uncle in America and she is introduced to American society. Further plots surface as an unsavory friend of Kendra’s uncle pursues courtship. Perhaps Dorian will take a risk on love when Kendra’s life is at stake?

This is an enjoyable summer read with well-written romance, substantial characters and an intricately woven plot. I will recommend this emotionally provocative novel to my reading group friends.

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Misinformed - 2 Thessalonians - Chapter 2


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. At the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


2 – see Joel 1:15; 2:1-3, 11, 30-32; Acts 2:14-21; Malachi 4:5-6.

2:1-3 – We must reject false teaching. How do we recognize false teaching? We must know the truth! Test everything against the Word of God! The preaching you hear on Sunday, that speaker on the radio, everything that claims to represent what the Word of God says, check its validity against the Word!

2:1-12 – vv. 2-3 says not to be deceived into believing reports that the Day of the Lord has already come because “…that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” Vv. 6-8 says that the man of lawlessness is being held back so that he may be revealed at the proper time. When the restrainer is taken out of the way, the man of lawlessness will be revealed. This is completely possible since the Day of the Lord refers to judgment, not the rapture.

2:2 – These people heard prophesies and reports and received letters supposedly from Paul saying that the Day of the Lord (judgment day) had already come. Did they think that they weren’t going to heaven? The point is that these reports were false. In 3:17, Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter to assure the people that they are now hearing the truth.

See 2 Timothy 2:16-18, a warning against godless chatter that leads to the destruction of faith and belief in false teachings.

2:3-7 – The Day of the Lord (judgment day) won’t come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. Man of lawlessness is not revealed until the one who restrains is taken out of the way. If the one who restrains is the Holy Spirit, he remains while the faithful are on the earth. For the Holy Spirit to be gone, all believers will have to be gone – rapture!!!

2:3 – see Daniel 9:27 for more information about what the man of lawlessness will do.

The rebellion – see Matthew 24:10-11 – people will turn from the faith, betray each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will appear.

2:4 – The man of lawlessness will oppose God, exalt himself over God, set himself up in God’s temple and proclaim himself to be God!

2:6 – Remind yourself. Who is holding back the man of lawlessness? What will have to happen for Him to be taken out of the way? Does this encourage you?

2:7 – What evidence do you see of the power of lawlessness at work? Remember that this power is now restrained because of the Holy Spirit. Things WILL get much worse! I wonder if we see lawlessness increase as more believers are ushered into eternity when they pass away. What do you think?

2:8 – The man of lawlessness will be revealed once the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way.

Jesus will defeat the man of lawlessness with a breath. After all, He spoke the universe into existence!

2:9 – The man of lawlessness will be revealed by his counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. That word “counterfeit” is powerful. I will never forget what I learned while studying “Experiencing God” about the Canadian police and how they train to spot counterfeit currency. THEY DON’T STUDY THE COUNTERFEIT!!! Read that sentence again – until you really grasp it. Instead, they study the genuine article until they know it so well that they WILL NOT BE FOOLED BY ANY IMPOSTER! This is how we should know Jesus Christ – so well, so intimately, in such deep relationship that no false Christ will even get our attention!

Performing signs and miracles doesn’t make someone God. See Exodus 7:11, 22 and 8:7. This time will be like the days of Israelite slavery in Egypt when Moses came to liberate God’s people and Pharaoh’s magicians performed similar feats. These future signs will be performed by demonic power. DON’T BE FOOLED!!!!!

2:10 – The message of the cross is the truth that will save you. Jesus died for your sins. He rose on the third day, conquering death. Accept Christ as your Savior, now. See John 3:16-19.

2:11 – Those who do not actively seek God are allowing themselves to be deceived because they’re not pursuing the truth. God will permit this. He wants us to choose Him, but the choice is ours!

2:12 – Those who choose evil will be condemned. Don’t gloss over that statement. Read it again. This is your eternal future we’re talking about. If you don’t choose the truth (Jesus Christ), you choose evil by default. What have you chosen?

2:13 – Are you thankful for your brothers and sisters in Christ? Tell them so. Remember that each of us was chosen by God to be saved, serve Him and spend eternity with Him.

2:14 – This is the purpose to which God called us and promises in Romans 8:28 to work all things for good. Bringing glory to Jesus Christ is our purpose!

2:15 – We are to remain obedient to God’s Word.

2:16 – How much does God love you? Read John 3:16 and let it really soak in.

2:17 – How does the Lord encourage and strengthen you?



Each chapter of these letters to the Thessalonians teaches much about how to pray for yourself and others. How have you learned to pray today?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon


A stalker with deadly intent . . .
A woman who protects children . . .
An ex-Navy SEAL turned police detective.

Social worker Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children. But now it seems she needs protecting. When her tormentor's attentions take a violent turn, she calls in reinforcements--her police-detective brother, Cole, and his new partner, ex-Navy SEAL Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat and the danger intensifies, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Because protecting Alison has become more than a job; his future depends on keeping her safe.

Filled with nail-biting suspense and heart-melting romance, Deadly Pursuit is Irene Hannon's storytelling at its very best.
Reviews
Praise for the books of Irene Hannon

"Hannon captures your attention at page one and doesn't let it go until long after you've finished the book!"--Suspense Magazine

"Fast-paced crime drama with an aside of romance . . . [and] an ever-climactic mystery."--Publishers Weekly

"Hannon is a master at character development."--Library Journal

"Extraordinary writing . . . a not-to-be-missed reading experience."--RT Book Reviews

"There is no rest for the weary when it comes to [Hannon's] ever-accelerating storyline."--TitleTrakk.com



Here is my review of this amazing novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Irene Hannon and Baker Publishing for sending me a copy of "Deadly Pursuit" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Irene Hannon’s incredible novel, “Deadly Pursuit”, is book 2 in the Guardians of Justice series. Alison Taylor and Mitch Morgan are not looking for romance. After being jilted by her fiancĂ© following a near fatal automobile accident, Alison is less trusting of love. Mitch has had his share of meaningless relationships. So when his partner, Cole, suggests that Mitch take his sister Alison to the family wedding he must attend, Mitch agrees to the “pity date” with the recluse. Alison accepts Cole’s date setup to save Mitch from being hit on by single women and fixed up by family. They never expected to fall in love. They also never expected to be using every detective skill they possess to identify a stalker who is harassing Alison with obscene telephone calls and morbid gifts.

This incredible novel is the perfect weekend read! Full of romance, crime drama and suspense, “Deadly Pursuit” is an absolute triumph. And being the second book in the Guardians of Justice series, the reader is reunited with characters that we’ve come to love in “Fatal Judgment”.

Friday, September 02, 2011

FREE Copy of A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Just found out that A Hope Undaunted, book 1 in the Winds of Change series is FREE for download almost everywhere, and you do NOT need a Kindle, Nook or e-reader to download it — you can download e-books on ANYTHING, including PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Cloud Readers, Androids, Blackberrys and Windows Phone 7, you name it!


So if you will PLEASE pass the word via tweet, FB, blogs, family and friends, etc. — I will be eternally grateful!! Just tell them to go to any of the online bookseller sights and look for A Hope Undaunted in e-book. Or here are the links:
CBD.com:

http://www.christianbook.com/hope-undaunted-a-novel-ebook/julie-lessman/9781441213105/pd/4389EB?item_code=WW&netp_id=840937&event=ESRCN&view=details

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Undaunted-Winds-Change-ebook/dp/B004A9063S/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1281558222&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hope-undaunted-julie-lessman/1020663421?ean=9780800734152&itm=1&usri=a%2Bhope%2Bundaunted%2Ba%2Bnovel#CustomerReviews

Sony e-Reader:

http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/julie-lessman/a-hope-undaunted/_/R-400000000000000279440

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Misinformed - 2 Thessalonians - Chapter 1


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. At the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


Written during Paul’s 2nd missionary journey, 49-51 AD.

This second letter to the Thessalonians was a response to the fearful statements made by the people when Timothy delivered the first letter to the Thessalonians. This letter sought to refute the false teaching that they heard indicating that the Day of the Lord had already come. When you think of the Day of the Lord, what do you think of? The rapture? Think again. Let’s learn something new in our study.

1:1 – Paul and Silas were partnered by the Jerusalem Council. See Acts 15:22. Timothy joined them in Acts 16:1 in Derbe. See Acts 7:1-9 for an illustration of the trouble encountered in Thessalonica.

1:3 – How do you express love and thanks for the people in your life?

1:4 – Do you boast about the strengths of others under your care? See 1 Thessalonians 1:3 for a list of the Thessalonians’ strengths. One of their greatest strengths was perseverance in the face of suffering.

Between November 2007 and December 2008, I was unemployed. I would share weekly with my Sunday school class my struggles and leaps of faith, my prayer requests for good interviews and positive response to applications. Several times, one lady in that class told me that watching me go through this trial was encouraging and inspiring to her. I had no idea that my reaction to suffering was having such a beneficial impact on someone else!

1:5-10 – This is a call to prayer! We must pray for those who persecute us. We must witness to them. Verses 8-10 describe a horrifying fate. As Christians called to love others in the name of Christ, we should have a burning desire to save every person from this fate!

1:5 – the evidence of worthiness is endurance, perseverance, going through trials with God!

1:6 – DO NOT exact revenge for offenses against you! Romans 12:19 says we should "leave room for God’s wrath”. Allow your Father to defend you!

1:7 – Luke 17:28-30 says that the day of judgment will be similar to the day Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Check out Genesis 19:1-29 for the full story of Lot’s escape.

Blazing fire, powerful angels: the day of judgment will not be quiet! The blazing fire is even one of God’s attributes. According to Hebrews 12:29, God is a consuming fire.

1:8 – Judgment day will be a pouring out of God’s wrath on unbelievers. See Psalm 79:6. Isaiah says that His anger will come down with flames. Romans 2:8 says that those who are self-seeking, reject truth and follow evil will incur God’s wrath.



Each chapter of these letters to the Thessalonians teaches much about how to pray for yourself and others. How have you learned to pray today?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Unveiling Ancient Biblical Secrets by Larry Huch

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:





and the book:



Unveiling Ancient Biblical Secrets

Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling, Whitaker House Press/Publicity for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Bestselling author Larry Huch is pastor of DFW New Beginnings, a growing multi-cultural congregation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He and his wife, Tiz, host the daily worldwide TV broadcast, New Beginnings. Pastor Larry’s previous books include Free At Last, in which he shares his dramatic conversion to Christ and deliverance from addiction, anger, and depression; 10 Curses That Block the Blessing, on breaking destructive habits, and The Torah Blessing, an examination of Scripture “through the Jewish eyes Jesus.”





Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




In his latest book, Pastor Larry brings to life ancient blessings such as the hundredfold breakthrough in the parable of the seed, keys to effective prayer revealed in Jacob’s ladder, Purim’s miracle for turning one’s life around, and how the power of God is multiplied through the four cups of Communion. Challenging the commonly-held stereotype that God is angry, Pastor Larry digs into Old Testament texts to reveal a loving and generous Creator. By understanding and tapping into the power these timeless truths hold, modern Christians will discover the destiny God intends for them, a destiny full of power and favor.



Product Details:



List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603742581

ISBN-13: 978-1603742580



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





You Are Created for Greatness



Whoever runs after greatness, greatness will elude him; whoever flees from greatness, greatness will pursue him.



—Hebrew Proverb



To some, God is great because He makes the wind blow. For others, His greatness has more to do with the fact that He created the entire universe—time and space, matter and energy—out of a void. But God is far beyond any of this. God is so great that He stoops down to listen to the prayers of a small child. He knits together fields and forests but also paints the petals of each flower. What a great God we serve! And you, my friend, are created in His image. (See Genesis 1:26–27.) Therefore, you are created for greatness!



When Tiz and I started our first church, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we were full of passion, zeal, and excitement. We were seeing hundreds of teenagers come out of the gangs, give their lives to the Lord, and be set free from drugs, violence, and crime. In fact, in our three years of ministry in Santa Fe, we saw more than six thousand kids give their lives to the Lord! You may find it hard to believe that, only a few months after we started, something happened to me that nearly defeated me and drove me out of the ministry.



One Sunday morning, as I was preaching, a man walked into the church and stood in the back, staring at me. Then, he shook his head, turned around, and walked out. Over the next few weeks, the same thing happened during each service. Finally, I scheduled a guest speaker for one of our Wednesday night services. After I opened the service and turned it over to the speaker, I went to the back and stood by the door. Sure enough, a few minutes later, that same man walked into the service, stood there for a few minutes, and then walked out. I followed him into the parking lot and said, “Sir, excuse me, is there something I can help you with?”



He spun around and shouted, “You have no right! You have no right! You have no right to preach the gospel!” Then, he began to name things that I had done in my past—things that no one else knew. His words went straight to my heart. I stood there speechless as he stormed away. All the terrible things I had done in my past, before I met the Lord, began to flood my mind. A cloud of condemnation settled over my thoughts and emotions. I thought, He’s correct. I have no right to preach the gospel. I have done such horrible things; I have no right to stand in God’s holy pulpit and preach His Word.



In that moment, God spoke to me, saying, Don’t you ever let anyone bring up the sins of your past! Don’t you ever let anyone condemn you about what I have washed clean! Don’t you ever let anyone drive you out of what I have called you to do!



With those words, God snapped me out of what the enemy was trying to do. From that moment, I have never looked back.



Listen. Satan is always going to bring up your past and throw condemnation on your life. That’s why the Bible calls him “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Those accusations are the most powerful and effective weapons he will use to try to defeat and destroy us. But, they will work only if we allow them to affect us. The Lord set me free from my past more than thirty years ago, and He will do the same for you today. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).



When the enemy accuses you of your past, you just remind him about his future!



As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)



He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.



(Micah 7:19)



When God cleanses us from the sins of our past, He throws them into the deepest part of the sea. Then, He puts up a sign that says, “No Fishing!”



Renewing Your Mind



In order to fully overcome the sins of your past, however, you need to change the way you think. The Bible says, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Later, I will discuss the power of thought, but for now, let me begin with “the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).



Deuteronomy 28 makes it clear that if we serve God and keep His commandments, we will be blessed beyond our wildest dreams.



And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:2–6)



But if we forsake God and reject His commandments, we open up our lives to all kinds of destruction.



But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:15–19)



There is no need to fear this, however, because I have found that God makes it easy to be blessed. It’s not a big mystery. He has laid out an easy-to-follow guide to all His blessings: His law. In fact, contrary to what many of you have probably heard, God’s law is not about rules and regulations and legalism; it is about revealing a pathway to all of His blessings and goodness!



My purpose in revealing these truths to you is not so that we might all become biblical scholars. Rather, I want to unveil these ancient hidden truths so that God can release all of His miraculous power and blessings into your life! I know that each one of us wants to experience a happy, blessed, and prosperous life. What might surprise you is that, even more than you want that, God, our Father, wants it for us!



In Acts 8, we read an account of a discussion between the apostle Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch who was struggling with the book of Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (verse 30). The eunuch replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (verse 31). Later, in Luke, it is written that God “opened [the disciples’] understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).



Let me say it once more: the purpose of this book is for me to come alongside you, as a friend and a teacher, guiding you and revealing the secrets of the covenant between you and God. I pray that God will open your mind and heart—as He has for me—that you will begin to understand the Scriptures, as well as His amazing love.



When I started serving God, I was told that He didn’t care about our earthly lives as much as He cared about our future lives in heaven. He didn’t care if I had a home or a car. The people who told me such things even went so far as to suggest that, in this life, God would “put you to the test” through various sicknesses, hardships, and calamities.



Then, when Tiz and I were pastoring a church in Australia, something happened that changed my life. I had a vision from God in which I saw a tremendous outpouring of His power and anointing. I saw God flooding His people with favor and blessings. This came as a shock to me because I had an image in my head of Him being an “angry God.”



As I was having this vision, I was overwhelmed by God’s love and goodness. I told Him, “I want to be a part of this. What do I have to do to be used by You to touch people this way?” I thought that God’s response would be that I must suffer before I could see such things. But instead, this is what God said: Tell My people that I’m a good God. What a revelation! God is a good God. He’s not a hard taskmaster. He’s not mad or mean or angry.



Then, God brought Scriptures to my heart:



For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)



It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.



(Luke 12:32)



Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)



The rabbis teach us that God has created us for greatness. He didn’t create us to fail. He didn’t create us to be sick, poor, defeated, and suffering. As a matter of fact, God is so determined for us to walk in greatness that He’s signed a contract with us in the blood of His own Son, Jesus. It’s called a covenant.



Your Covenant with God



In our modern world, the word covenant doesn’t have much meaning. A generation ago, you could do business with a handshake agreement. A person’s word meant something. A person of honor was one who kept his word. Today, it is rare to take someone at his word. The modern business axiom is, “Get it on paper with a signature—in triplicate!”



The principle Tiz and I base our lives on is this: If God says it, He means it, and that settles it!



Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.…It is impossible for God to lie….We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:16–19 niv)



When God gives His word on something, you and I can count on it! It is impossible for Him to lie.



The Covenant Between You and God



Most Christians don’t fully understand the word covenant. In fact, there’s a secret that I want to show you.



Jesus taught about biblical covenants when He said,



This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:12–16)



It’s important to realize that Jesus said He was speaking what He had heard from the Father. Here, Jesus gave us five powerful points that characterize a covenant between two people—in this case, you and God. First, this covenant is made because Jesus loves you. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Second, Jesus loves you so much, He was willing to die for you. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Third, He doesn’t look down on you as someone who is unworthy. “No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends.” Fourth, because of this covenant of love, Jesus will hold nothing back from you. “All things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Fifth, because of this covenant, you will reap a harvest of blessing, joy, peace, prosperity, health, and happiness. “That you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”



The Covenant Between David and Jonathan



One of the greatest examples of covenant in the Bible is the one that was made between David and Jonathan. Let’s see how that pattern of covenant mirrors God’s covenant with us. It is a covenant between David, a no-name shepherd boy, and Jonathan, the son of a king.



The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt. So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.



(1 Samuel 18:1–5)



The first, and most important, thing we see is that Jonathan made a covenant with David for one reason: he loved him. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Jonathan loved David as he did his own soul.



David was a poor shepherd boy. When the prophet Samuel came to see Jesse, David’s father, to anoint one of his sons to be the next king, Jesse never even considered David as a candidate.



And the Lord said, “…Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”



(1 Samuel 16:2–10)



God did not pick any of the seven sons Jesse had brought before Samuel. Then, Samuel said,



“Are all the young men here?” Then [Jesse] said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” (verse 11)



We may never understand why Jesse didn’t think to bring David in. For some reason, he never considered that God could possibly use somebody like David. I’d like to give Jesse the benefit of the doubt by assuming that David was far away, up in the mountains, tending his father’s sheep. But, sadly, that wasn’t the case. Jesse said, “There he is, keeping the sheep.” David was within sight, and yet his father didn’t consider him to be a possibility. That’s what the devil says to many of you. “God would never use you, bless you, or anoint you. You are not the tallest, fastest, or strongest. Why would God ever choose you?”



You need to understand something: you and I are not qualified in God’s eyes because of who we are but because of who He is!



To be in covenant means being permanently identified with another party, maintaining total loyalty to a relationship that is more sacred than life itself, and counting the cost of how this agreement will affect your life.



Permanently Identified

Look again at 1 Samuel 18:3: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant.” In Hebrew, this verse is somewhat different. In Hebrew tradition, you don’t sign a covenant; you cut a covenant. When David and Jonathan cut covenant, they each physically cut the palms of their hands with a knife. After the slices had been made, they would have rubbed ash from a fire into the wounds. As the scars healed, their darkened tissue made the men permanently identified with each other. No matter what happened in the future, those scars were evidence that these two men were permanently identified with and bonded to each other.



Similarly, the nail scars in Jesus’ hands are a reminder that He is in permanent covenant with us. As we receive Jesus, we are reminded that we are permanently identified with Him. God told us that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). In John 3:16, Jesus told us of the lengths God would go to be in covenant with us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” If our God and Savior sacrificed so much to make a deep covenant with us, it’s only right that we should keep our part of the covenant. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherever we go, let’s tell people that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Let’s share and demonstrate God’s incredible love, wherever we go, to whomever we meet!



2. Total Loyalty



Even at the risk of going against his own father, Jonathan was loyal to David. Likewise, God is completely loyal to us.



The Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)



For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”



(Hebrews 13:5)



In return, we are to be totally loyal to Jesus. I will serve the Lord with all my heart, with all my might, and with all my soul.



3. More Sacred Than Life Itself



In making a covenant with David, Jonathan was willing to risk his own life to save David’s. Jesus sacrificed everything for us. His life was not taken from Him; He laid it down for us. “By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).



4. Counting the Cost



Jonathan knew that in being loyal to David, it would cost him his kingdom. Jesus, while remaining loyal to the cause, counted the cost, when He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Being God, Jesus knew what it was going to cost Him to establish a covenant with us. He knew of the beatings and floggings and torture that lay ahead, yet, He said, in effect, “I’m willing to count the cost. Not My will but God’s will be done.” For us to count the cost, we need to be willing to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).



Why would almighty God enter into covenant with you? For the same reason that Jonathan went into covenant with David: he loved him. Jonathan was rich and powerful; David was a shepherd boy. David had no money or power and knew no important people. David had nothing to offer the son of a king. Why, then, would Jonathan make a covenant with a “nobody”? He loved him. Listen to what Jesus calls you and me.



Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.…No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends. (John 15:13, 15)



When we have someone we like to be with, we consider them a friend. We spend time with them, going out to dinner, a movie, or a ball game together. But in the time of Jesus, as well as in the time of David and Jonathan, a friend was something more than that. In Hebrew tradition, a friend is someone I am committed to, someone for whom I will do everything in my power to protect. It is a person whom I will make sure is successful in everything they do.



This is what Jesus was saying to you. You are not a “nobody.” You are not out there on your own. Don’t listen to what the devil tells you. Why did Jesus come? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Jesus came because God loves you. Then Jesus reminds us, “No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends.” Through Jesus, you are no longer just a shepherd boy, herding sheep in the desert. Now, you are a friend and covenant partner with God. Now God is committed to you. He is dedicated to seeing you successful in every area of your life—in your home, marriage, family, finances, and health.



Just as David didn’t have much to offer Jonathan, you and I have even less to offer Jesus, the Son of God. So, why would God make this covenant of success with you and me? For the same reason that Jonathan did: He loves us!



Covenant Success



Let’s take a closer look at the covenant made between David and Jonathan.



Clothed with Authority



One of the first things that happened was that “Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David” (1 Samuel 18:4). Imagine the clothes that David, a shepherd boy, must a have been wearing. They were most likely dirty and smelly from his living outside and working every day with sheep, worn and tattered from use. And since David had just killed Goliath, they would have been soiled with sweat and the blood of the unclean Philistine. In one moment of time, David’s filthy, defiled clothing was exchanged for the robe of royalty. Then, according to verse 5, “wherever Saul sent him,…[David] was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” When Jonathan put the robe of royalty on David’s shoulders, it wasn’t just for show; it was a sign of authority. David may have been just a shepherd boy, someone who even his own father had overlooked, but the moment Jonathan made covenant with him and put the robe of royalty on him, everything changed. Jonathan was saying to the world, in effect, “Listen to whatever David says. From now on, when he speaks, he speaks for my kingdom!”



This is what Jesus has done for you and me. One of the greatest tricks the devil will use is to cause you not to understand who you are. Like David, you and I came to God in rags but, also like David, those filthy rags have been replaced. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The apostle Paul wrote, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).



Let me ask you a question: Are you a child of God? If your answer is yes, then the rest of what Paul says is true. You are an heir, a joint heir, with Christ Jesus. This is exactly what took place between David and Jonathan. This is what Jesus is saying to you: “You are no longer a servant, but a friend. My power is your power; My authority is your authority.” David received this and all the people of the kingdom recognized David’s new authority. Even the officers in Saul’s kingdom saw the authority David now had. It’s important that you see the authority you have through the covenant with Jesus.



How do you pray? Here is how most people pray: “Lord Jesus, I ask You to get me a job.” “Lord Jesus, I ask You to heal my body.” “Lord Jesus, I ask You to get my child off drugs.” If you pray this way, it is the number one reason you don’t see your prayers answered. If we are asking Jesus for healing or blessing or deliverance, we are asking Him to do something He has already done. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, for all the world to hear, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He has already done it for you. Now, He wants you to take off your servant rags and replace them with the robe of authority.



You Have the Keys!



Look at what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew:



And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)



Jesus was talking about keys. Keys are a symbol of authority. When someone has the keys, he has the power, or authority, to open doors, start engines, or unlock gates. Whoever has the keys has the power and the authority.



Before time began, only God had the authority. But in the book of Genesis, God created mankind and gave them—us—the keys, or the authority. After Adam and Eve sinned, those keys were passed on to the devil. Mankind, through disobedience to God, lost his authority—and the devil has been pulling mankind’s strings ever since.



Then came Jesus. Jesus obeyed God in the garden of Gethsemane, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The journey to Calvary had begun. Jesus didn’t merely die for our sins, but He also reconnected us to every promise of God by the shedding of His blood. After Jesus died, and while His physical body was sealed in the tomb, His spirit went to the gates of Hades where He defeated the devil and retrieved the keys of authority. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18).



Then, look at Jesus’ statement to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (emphasis added). Just as Jonathan, through a covenant, gave David authority, Jesus has given you and me authority. Because of their covenant, David had the authority of the king behind him. You and I have the authority, not of a king, but of the King of Kings.



You say, “Lord, my children are on drugs. Please remove drugs from their lives.” Jesus says, “Don’t you understand? I gave you the keys. Whatever you bind will be bound. Whatever you rebuke will be rebuked.”



Can you imagine what could happen if all believers understood the authority we have in Jesus’ name? David realized his authority through the covenant with Jonathan, and many others realized it, as well. Now is your time. Whatever you bind, the kingdom of God will back you up. Whatever you loose, God’s kingdom will back you up. It’s time to put on “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Take off the garment of poverty; put on the King’s robe of prosperity. Take off the garment of failure; put on the robe of success. From now on, when the devil says, “Who do you think you are?” tell him, “I am a friend, a covenant partner, and joint heir with Christ Jesus!”



Armed with Power



The second part of the covenant of success is also found in 1 Samuel 18:4: “And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” When Jonathan gave David his weapons, he was making a powerful statement. From that day forward, Jonathan’s army was David’s army; Jonathan’s strength was David’s strength. Whatever David said and did, was to be given the same weight as if it was said and done by the king, himself. Jonathan was telling David, “From now on, you’re not on your own.” Even with the authority and backing of the king, however, Jonathan knew that David would still face battles, and that he needed to be armed and ready.



Similarly, even though you have the power and authority of almighty God at your disposal, you will still face spiritual attacks by the evil one. Faith is not the ability to avoid ever having to fight a battle; it is knowing that, no matter what battles you face, you will emerge victorious.



The apostle Paul said that we have powerful, God-given, supernatural weapons at our disposal.



For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3–4)



David faced Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones, but God gave him a supernatural victory over his enemy. When Jonathan put his belt and sword on David, however, God was increasing David’s ability to win even greater victories.



In the chapters to come, I don’t want to take away from the victories you have already won, but to multiply them. God wants to add to your arsenal of supernatural weapons. Was there a secret weapon in use when the woman who suffered from bleeding touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and experienced healing? (See Matthew 9:20–22.) Was there a supernatural weapon in use when God told the children of Israel to take His Word and put it on the doorpost of their homes? (See Deuteronomy 6:9.) The truth you understand will set you free.



Cutting Covenant



Earlier, I explained how David and Johnathan “cut” a covenant together by physically cutting the palms of their hands. In the Old Testament, when two men came into covenant, a shedding of blood was required. This blood covenant would happen in two ways.



First, there had to be a living sacrifice between the two people making covenant. Of course we know Jesus was that living sacrifice between God and man. But there was a second way that blood was shed as a constant reminder to each man of his covenant agreement. As I explained earlier, when two men entered into a covenant with each other, they would take a knife or sword blade and cut the palms of their hands. Doing this resulted in dark scars that stood out from the rest of the skin on the hand.



When Jesus saw Thomas, He showed him the scars in the palms of His hands. (See John 20:25, 27.) In doing so, Jesus was saying, “I will never leave or forsake you.” (See Hebrews 13:5.) When David and Jonathan “cut” covenant, Jonathan was saying, “David, your enemy will be my enemy, my army will be your army, and my kingdom will be your kingdom.”



Just as Jonathan “cut covenant” with David, Jesus also cut covenant with you and me. When those Roman soldiers drove nails into the palms of Jesus’ hands, His blood was shed to form a covenant with us.



Why does God ask us to lift up our hands? I believe that one reason is because it reminds us of that covenant. God is saying, “It may feel like you’re alone, it may look like the enemy has you outnumbered, but you’re not alone. I am with you.”



Likewise, every time you lift up your hands, you are saying, “Devil, do you see my hands? These are covenant hands. I may look like I’m by myself, but I’m not. I have an army of angels behind me. The army of God is fighting for me.”



At the beginning of this chapter, I told you a story about the condemnation I experienced as a new pastor. I felt so unworthy and unqualified. I told you of the man who came to me and said, “Who do you think you are? You have no right to preach the gospel!”



For a moment, I let his words get inside and take hold of my heart. In that moment, feelings of unworthiness and condemnation nearly robbed me of my future, my destiny, and all that God had for me. But, in the next moment, the Lord freed from the guilt of my past and set me on an amazing course for my future! That’s exactly what He wants to do for you today!



The enemy will tell you the same thing that he told me. He will try to condemn you and convince you that you aren’t worthy of the blessings of God. He will ask, “Who do you think you are?”



Don’t let anyone hold your past against you! The blood of Jesus has set you free from the bondage and guilt of your past! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When you were born, God created you for a purpose! You were not born to be a loser; you were born to be a winner! You were not born to be average; you were born for greatness! God, your Father, made a covenant of greatness with Abram, soon to be Abraham, the father of our faith. That covenant was not only for Abraham thousands of years ago. Jesus, our Messiah, confirmed that it is for you and me, today. When God makes a covenant and gives His word, we can count on it!



Now listen to this! Isaiah 49:15–16 says,



Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.



This Scripture says that God is closer to us than a mother is to her child. Mother and child may eventually forget each other, but God says that He will never forget you, because the covenant He has made with you is inscribed on the palms of His hands. God the Father has your name inscribed on His hands! That’s how much He loves you, personally! Yes, He loves the whole world, but He also loves you, individually.



God will never forget the covenant He has made with you. How could He? Your name is written on the palms of His hands! And, in these last days, God is opening our eyes so that we can become the children of miracles.