Friday, March 29, 2013

Bible Study: Partnered in Ministry - Philippians - Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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, winter 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


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


3 - Sudden change in tone from kind encouragement to warning.

3:1 – Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. Such rejoicing doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s an act of worship.

How could this be a safeguard for the one doing the rejoicing?

How could you become a better example of rejoicing in the Lord?

3:2 – Who are the dogs? The evil workers? Those who mutilate the flesh? Paul is referring to the Judaizers who dogged his ministry, added to what the Gentiles must do to be saved – forcing them to mutilate their bodies through circumcision, and stealing the joy of salvation overall.

3:3 – What is “the circumcision”? The true believer – circumcised or not in the physical body, the true believer’s heart is circumcised. Paul cites three characteristics of “the circumcision”: worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ, don’t rely on human credentials.

How do you worship by the Spirit of God?

Exult in Christ means to delight, glory, or revel in Jesus. This is the experience of triumphant joy.

Paul admonishes the Philippians not to rely on human credentials. What might he have been warning the people to watch for? What sort of “credentials” should we not put our full faith in today? Think about within the church and outside of it.

3:5-6 – A list of human credentials upon which we are not supposed to rely.

3:7 – Paul possessed these credentials, yet calls them liabilities rather than strengths. Does the fact that he was what he said add to his credibility in stating that these things are liabilities?

3:8 – All things are liabilities when compared to knowing Jesus. What is Jesus leading you to let go of in order for you to know Him more?

Dung/refuse – skubala – crap! Thoroughly useless and distasteful!

3:9 – Are you found in Jesus? Are you relying on your own righteousness? Or His righteousness that comes through His faithfulness?

3:10-11 – What is Paul’s goal from these two verses? Is this your goal also? Spend some time in prayer about it?

3:10 – What do you know about Jesus?

The power of His resurrection = life in Christ.

To share in His sufferings – How do you know Jesus more deeply as a result of suffering?

To be like Him in His death – What was Jesus like when faced with death? He was humble and submissive, willing, silent – He didn’t defend Himself, forgiving, loving and concerned for others, victorious.

3:12 – Do you strive to do and be what Christ has for you?

3:13 – We, as God’s workmanship, will never be finished this side of the grave.

Don’t live in the past. Don’t dwell on past regrets or successes. Move on and up!

3:14 – Strive, again. How can we do this and still allow God to be in control and do the actual work?

Upward call – move on and up. Allow God to take you higher.

3:15 – I don’t want God to have to correct my prideful self in this area. Better to just admit that I need work. This is a characteristic of maturity.

3:16 – Don’t revert back to bad habits.

As we practice the current standard, God raises the bar for us, leading us to higher levels of maturity. This is how He moves us on and up.

3:17 – Is your behavior like Paul’s? Something to be imitated? If not, have a long talk with God about changing that.

We may be the only glimpse of Jesus that people see. No, we are not perfect, and Jesus is the only One worthy of being imitated, but we need to realize that we are being watched. We need to strive to behave in a way that honors Jesus. Pray that God will remove from you any characteristics that don’t honor Him. Be specific. If you don’t notice any, ask Him to reveal them to you. Keep up this practice indefinitely.

3:18 – There are many enemies of Christ walking around. This is why Paul urged the Philippians to imitate him and watch the behavior of other Christians in the previous verse.

Do you weep for Christ’s enemies as Paul did?

3:19 – These are some characteristics of Christ’s enemies: they are doomed; their motive is self-gratification; they delight in their shameful behavior; they think earthly thoughts.

3:20 – We are citizens of heaven, and we await the return of Jesus to bring us home.

Are you waiting with anticipation? Apprehension? Why?

3:21 – Jesus will transform our earthly forms into glorified bodies through His awesome resurrection power!

Does this thrill you? What do you look most forward to when you contemplate this change?





• The book of Philippians emphasizes how we can partner with others doing ministry. What new ideas do you have about how you might do that in a creative way?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• 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?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 8 – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs


The Poetical Books

Some of the most powerfully life-changing Scripture I have encountered is found in these books.  There is a Psalm for every situation you could ever need to pray about.  The wisdom found in the book of Proverbs is timeless.  Song of Songs is a beautiful depiction of love.

I actually missed the class at church for this lesson, but I found the video online and played it on my television.  That is one thing I love about technology: you can find almost anything on YouTube!  This was an incredible lesson.

From the teaching on Job, I learned that I want to be like Elihu.  He was an intercessor and an encourager and a truth-teller, unlike Job’s “friends” who judged him.  I also learned that Satan has a dangerous arsenal of tools at his disposal to trip us up, but he can’t do anything without God’s permission.  That is such a comfort!  Also, did you know the book of Job talks about dinosaurs?  Check out Job 40 and 41.

Several specific Psalms are showcased in the teaching.  And the profile of the Messiah from the Psalms is revealed.  We also studied the breakdown of the Psalms by author and type.  This was a pretty good overview of this wonderful book of praise and prayer.

The teaching on Proverbs was too brief.  Dr. Missler did give some good teaching on Proverbs 31, though.  The teaching on Ecclesiastes was also very brief, but knowing that these weren’t the rantings of a pessimistic man, but rather a glimpse of what really matters, has whet my whistle to read this book again.

I have loved reading Song of Songs for many years.  I never dreamed that our female lead might be Abishag, the beautiful young woman who was chosen to lie beside David to keep him warm in his old age.  Fascinating!

Oh, and a final thought about reading all of these passages to prepare for class each week…  Having an audio Bible is wonderful!  I can listen to the passages multiple times throughout the week while I’m driving or working.

Homework for next time:  Daniel.  This might be my favorite book of Scripture.  I can’t wait!

Monday, March 25, 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy Higley

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:

Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)

***Special thanks to Tracy L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.

She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.

But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.

The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.

When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.

“Meticulously-researched, spellbindingly written with luscious prose and compelling and complex characters.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author of Havah: The Story of Eve



Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401686826
ISBN-13: 978-1401686826



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue



I am an old man, and I have seen too much.

Too much of this world to endure any more. Too much of the next to want to linger.

And though I have nearly drowned in the glorious visions of those last days, yet I know not when it shall come, nor how many years I must tread this barren earth before all is made new.

There is a Story, you see. And we are still in the midst of it, ever striving to play our roles, battling on for the freedom of hearts and souls and minds yet enslaved by darkness.

But I have seen a great light. Oh yes, I have seen it. Even now it is breaking through, as it did on that grassy hillside so many cool spring mornings ago, when Moses and Elijah walked among us and my Brother shone with the glory He had been given from the beginning and will rise up to claim again at the end.

You will wonder, perhaps, at my calling Him brother. And yet that is what He was to me. Brother and friend, before Savior, before Lord. In those days when we wandered the land, going up and down from the Holy City, we shared our hearts, our lives, our laughter. Oh, how we laughed, He and I! He had the irrepressible joy of one who sees beyond the brokenness, to the restoration of all.

I loved him. And He loved me.

But I speak of beginnings and of endings, and these are words that have no meaning, for the day of His birth was both the beginning of the Kingdom and the end of tyranny, and that magnificent Day yet to come—it is the end-which-is-a-beginning, and my eyes have seen such glory in that New Jerusalem, my very heart breaks to tell of it.

And yet they come, young and old, to this tiny home in Ephesus that is to be my last dwelling outside that New City, and they beg me to tell the Story again and again.

And I do.

I tell of seals and scrolls, of a dragon and a beast and a Lamb. Of music that makes you weep to hear it and streets that blind the mortal eye. Of a Rider on a White Horse with eyes of blazing fire, whose name is Faithful and True. It is a great Story, and greater still to hear the final consummation of it, for how often we forget that we are living it still.

But I have another tale to tell. A smaller story within the One True Story that began before the creation of this world and is echoed at its end, as all our stories are. It happens here, in this port city of Ephesus but many years ago, when the darkness lay even heavier than it now does upon the people, and their souls cried out for relief from anyone who could give it.

This smaller story does not begin here in Ephesus, however. It begins a day’s sail away, on the sun-kissed shores of the Isle of Rhodes, where the light first began to break upon one woman and one man, even as they walked in darkness . . .



Chapter 1



Rhodes, AD 57



In the glare of the island morning sun, the sea blazed diamond-bright and hard as crystal, erratic flashes spattering light across Daria’s swift departure from the house of her angry employer.

She carried all she owned in one oversized leather pouch, slung over her shoulder. The pouch was not heavy. A few worn tunics and robes, her precious copy of Thucydides. She clutched it to her side and put her other hand to the gold comb pinning the dark waves of her hair, her one remaining luxury.

The bitter and familiar taste of regret chased her from the whitewashed hillside estate, down into the squalid harbor district. Why had she not kept silent?

Along the docks hungry gulls shrieked over fishy finds and work-worn sailors traded shrill insults. The restless slap of the sea against the hulls of boats kept time with the anxious rhythm of her steps against the cracked gray stones of the quay.

She had run once, haunted and guilty to a fresh start in Rhodes. Could she do it again? Find a way to take care of herself, to survive?

“Mistress Daria!”

The voice at her back was young and demanding, the tenor of a girl accustomed to a world arranged to her liking. And yet still precious, still malleable.

“Mistress! Where are you going?”

Daria slowed, eyes closed against the pain, and inhaled. She turned on the sun-warmed dock with a heaviness that pulled at her limbs like a retreating tide.

Corinna’s breath came quick with exertion and the white linen of her morning robe clung to her body. The sweet girl must have run all the way.

“To the School of Adelphos, Corinna. I will seek a position there.”

Corinna closed the distance between them and caught Daria’s hand in her own. Her wide eyes and full lips bespoke innocence. “But you cannot! Surely, Father did not mean what he said—”

Daria squeezed the girl’s eager fingers. “It is time. Besides”—she tipped Corinna’s chin back—“you have learned your lessons so well, perhaps you no longer need the services of a tutor.”

Corinna pulled away, dark eyes flashing and voice raised. “You do not believe that, mistress. It is you who says there is always more to learn.”

They drew the attention of several young dockworkers hauling cargo from ship to shore. Daria stared them down until they turned away, then circled the girl’s shoulders, pulled her close, and put her lips to Corinna’s ear. “Yes, you must never stop learning, dear girl. But it must be someone else who teaches you—”

“But why? What did you say to anger Father so greatly?”

Only what she thought was right. What must be said. A few strong phrases meant to rescue Corinna from a future under the thumb of a husband who would surely abuse her.

Daria smiled, fighting the sadness welling in her chest, and continued her trudge along the dock toward the school. “I am afraid discretion is one of the things I have not yet learned, Corinna. Your father is a proud man. He will not brook a mere servant giving him direction in the running of his household.”

Corinna stopped abruptly at the water’s edge, her pretty face turned to a scowl. “You are no mere servant! You are the most learned tutor I have ever had!”

Daria laughed and looked over the sea as she walked, at the skiffs and sails tied to iron cleats along the stone, easy transportation to the massive barges that floated in the blue harbor, awaiting trade. Papyrus and wool from Egypt, green jade and aromatic spices from far eastern shores, nuts and fruits and oils from Arabia. Her eyes strayed beyond the ships, followed northward along the rocky Anatolian coast to cities unknown, riddles to be unraveled, secrets and knowledge to be unlocked. More to learn, always. And somewhere perhaps, the key to redeeming the past.

They approached and skirted the strange symbol of the isle of Rhodes, the toppled Helios that once stood so proud and aloof along the harbor and now lay humbled, its bronze shell speckled to an aged green, reflecting the impenetrable turquoise sky. The massive statue had lain at the quay for gulls to peck and children to climb for nearly three hundred years since the quake brought it down. Daria found it disturbing.

“May I still visit you at the school, Mistress Daria?”

She smiled. “One challenge at a time. First I must convince Adelphos that he should hire me.”

Corinna’s tiny sandals scurried to keep pace. “Why would he not?”

“It is not easy to be an educated woman in a man’s world of philosophy and rhetoric. There are few men who appreciate such a woman.”

“How could anyone not appreciate someone as good, as brave, as you?”

The child gave her too much credit. She was neither good, nor brave. She would not be here in Rhodes if she were. Though she was trying. The gods knew, she had been trying.

Corinna lifted her chin with a frown in the direction of the school. “I shall simply explain to Adelphos how very valuable you are.”

And how outspoken? Interfering? But perhaps the girl could help in some way.

“Will you demonstrate some of what I have taught you, Corinna?”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “Just wait, mistress. I shall amaze and delight that crusty old Adelphos.”

Daria studied the impetuous girl and bit her lip. But it was a chance she must take.

The School of Adelphos lay at the end of the docks, its modest door deceptive. Daria paused outside, her hand skimming the rough wood, and inhaled determination in the sharp tang of salt and fish on the breeze. Who would believe that such distinguished men as the poet Apollonius and Attalus the astronomer had studied and written and debated behind this door? Sea trade had kept Rhodes prosperous for centuries, but in the two hundred years under Roman control, the Greek island had grown only more beautiful, a stronghold of learning, of arts and sciences and philosophy.

Inside its most famous school, she blinked twice and waited for her sun-blind eyes to adjust.

“Daria!” Adelphos emerged from the shadows of the antechamber with a cool smile and tilt of his head. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was several years her senior, with the confident ease of an athlete, a man aware of his own attractiveness.

She returned the smile and straightened her back. “Adelphos. Looking well, I am pleased to see.”

He ran a gaze down the length of her, taking in her thin white tunic and the pale blue mantle that was the best of her lot. “As are you.”

“I have come to make you an offer.”

At this, his eyebrows and the corner of his mouth lifted in amusement and he gave a glance to Corinna, still at the door. “Shouldn’t we send your young charge home first?”

She ignored the innuendo. “My employ as Corinna’s tutor will soon come to an end, and I desire to find a place here, in your school. As a teacher.” She swallowed against the nervous clutch of her throat.

Again the lifted eyebrows, but Adelphos said nothing, only strolled into the lofty main hall of the school, a cavernous marble room already scattered with scholars and philosophers, hushed with the echoes of great minds.

She gritted her teeth against the condescension and beckoned Corinna to follow, with a warning glance to keep the girl quiet, but the child’s sudden intake of breath at the fluted columns and curvilinear architraves snapped unwanted attention in their direction, the frowns of men annoyed by disruptive women.

Adelphos disappeared into the alcove that housed the school’s precious stock of scrolls—scrolls Daria had often perused at her leisure and his generosity.

Daria spoke to his back. “Do you doubt my abilities—”

“What I doubt, my lady, is a rich man’s willingness to pay a woman to teach his sons.”

Daria waved a hand. “Bah! What difference does it make? I can do a man’s work just as well. And if they learn, they learn!” But a cold fear knotted in her belly.

Adelphos traced his fingertips over the countless nooks of scrolls, as if he could find the one he sought simply by touching its ragged edge. “And you, Daria? Do you want to live a man’s life as well as do a man’s work? What woman does not long for love and family and hearth?”

Her throat tightened at his words, too close to the secrets of her heart. Yes, she longed for those comforts. For a love that would accept her abilities, complement rather than suppress. But for now, for now she had no one and she must assure her own welfare.

She coughed to clear the dryness of her throat and stepped beside him, examined the great works of philosophy and literature, their tan Egyptian papyri wrapped in brown twine, sealed in waxy red.

Adelphos reached past her to a nook above her head, and his muscled arm brushed her shoulder.

The touch was intentional, clearly. Manipulative. Even so, his nearness left her breathless and her usual sharp-tongued wit failed. When she spoke, it was a harsh whisper, too raw with emotion, though the words emerged falsely casual. “And why should I not have both?”

At this, Adelphos huffed, a derisive little laugh, and turned to lean his back against the shelves and unroll the scroll he had retrieved.

“A woman of ambition. Does such a breed truly exist?” His gaze darted to hers. “But what am I saying? You have already wedded a husband, have you not?”

Daria pulled a scroll from its recess and pretended to study it.

“You are interested in the work of Pythagoras? That one is newly arrived from Samos.”

Daria shrugged. “I find his work repetitive. What new has he added to Euclid’s previous efforts?”

“Indeed.” Adelphos pulled the scroll from her hands and replaced it in its nook. “But you have not answered my question.”

“I am a widow, yes.”

“A widow with no sons. No dowry.” He glanced at Corinna, clutching the doorway. “And no employment. Is there anything more desperate?”

Daria lifted her chin and met his gaze. “It seems you are in an enviable position, then, Adelphos. You have found a skilled teacher, available for a bargain.”

Adelphos circled to Corinna, an appreciative gaze lingering on her youth and beauty. “And this is your prize specimen? The pupil of whom I have heard such wonders?”

The girl straightened and faced Adelphos with a confidence borne of knowledge. “Shall I demonstrate the superior skill Mistress Daria has given me with languages?”

Daria silently cheered and blessed the girl. “Corinna has been working hard to master the tongues of Rome’s far-flung empire.”

Adelphos’s brow creased and he opened his lips as if to speak, then sealed them and nodded once. No doubt he wanted to ask what use there might be for a girl who could speak anything but common Greek. As Daria herself was such a girl, the implicit question struck a nerve. She turned a shoulder to Adelphos and nodded encouragement to Corinna. “Let us hear Herodotus in the Classical first, then.”

The girl grinned, then gushed a passage of Herodotus in the proud language of her Greek forebears, the language of literature and poetry, before Alexander had rampaged the world and equalized them all with his common koine.

“And now in Latin, Corinna.”

The girl repeated the passage, this time in the tongue of the Romans, the new conquerors.

Adelphos tilted his head to study the girl, then spoke to her in Latin. “Anyone can memorize a famous passage in a foreign tongue. Few can converse in it.”

Corinna’s eyelashes fluttered and she glanced at her hands, twisted at her waist. When she answered, it was not in Latin, but in Persian. “Fewer still can converse in multiple languages at once, my lord.”

Adelphos chuckled, then glanced at Daria. “She does you proud, lady.”

A glow of pride, almost motherly, warmed Daria’s chest. “Indeed.”

Corinna reached out and gripped Adelphos’s arm, bare beneath his gleaming white tunic. “Oh, it is all Mistress Daria’s fine teaching, I assure you, my lord. I wish to be an independent woman such as she someday. There is nothing she cannot do.”

“Corinna.” Daria smiled at the girl but gave a tiny shake of her head.

Corinna withdrew her hand and lowered her eyes once more. “I have told my father this, but he does not understand—”

“Her father has been most pleased with her progress.” Daria tried to draw Adelphos’s attention. “He saw a superior mind there from an early age and was eager to see it developed.”

He waved a hand in the air. “I have seen enough. You may go.”

 
 
Here's my review of this incredible novel:  First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tracy Higley and her publisher for sending me a copy of "So Shines the Night" 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.

As a member of Tracy Higley’s Caravan, I am thrilled to review her latest novel:  “So Shines the Night”.  This latest effort in Tracy’s Wonders of the World series is a wonder in itself.  In 57 AD, Daria escapes the island of Rhodes, traveling to Ephesus as the tutor to wealthy merchant, Lucas.  But she soon feels that she hasn’t really escaped what she fears as sorcery seems to become even more prominent in her new home.

 
Tracy’s gift for dramatizing history gives life and breath to this story of the first century church in Ephesus.  With a gripping cast of characters that includes the apostle Paul and his son in the faith, Timothy, this story dramatically brings the Bible to life and draws the reader into an encounter with the Almighty God.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bible Study: Partnered in Ministry - Philippians - Chapter 2

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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, winter 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


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


2:1 – We should encourage (console each other’s souls through Christ – share the good news), comfort, fellowship (participate), show affection and mercy. Are you doing this? In what areas could you improve? Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help.

2:2 – Unity brings joy. It also brings strength and encouragement.

Are you united to other believers?

2:3 – We should treat others as better than ourselves. This will eliminate vanity, selfishness and conceit.

2:4 – We should concern ourselves with the interests of others.

2:5 – as a bondslave – one whose will is given over to his master.

Watch the next several verses closely. Paul is going to tell us about Jesus’ attitude that we are supposed to emulate.

2:6 – Jesus is humble. Even though He is God, He didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped.

What does this mean to you? When I meditate on this verse, I concentrate on the word “grasped”. When we grasp something, we reach out and take it. Jesus didn’t consider the He should grab and hold onto His equality with the Father. That is some serious humility!

2:7 – Jesus emptied Himself. He gave up His right to be God and became human.

Have you even contemplated what He gave up? Take a few minutes to do that. So, what do you think? What might it have been like to be limitless God in a limited suit of skin? Whenever I contemplate this, I think of the Genie from Aladdin: “Phenomenal cosmic power! Itty bitty living space.”

As God, Jesus didn’t need food or water or sleep. But His human self certainly needed these things. He probably skinned His knees as a child, so He felt pain. God is everywhere, but in human form, He could only be in one place at a time. How frustrating this must have been?

2:8 – Jesus is obedient. He came to earth knowing what He would endure to reconcile mankind to the Father. He saw our souls as such a treasure that it made the horrifying torture and death on a cross a price He was willing to pay. WOW! Just typing that brings tears to my eyes as I recall the brutality pictured in “The Passion Of The Christ”.

2:9 – Jesus didn’t exalt Himself. The Father exalted Him, and lifted Him above all things.

2:10 – I love this verse! The NAME of JESUS will make EVERY knee bow!!!! Every knee in heaven…every knee on earth…every knee under the earth! EVERY KNEE!

The name of Jesus is uber-powerful! Start paying attention: how often do you hear people refer to God, but not Jesus? I make a conscious effort to use His name, now, because I’ve caught myself doing just that. His name is mighty. Use it!

2:11 – Jesus’ name will also make every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is Lord! This confession glorifies the Father. Notice this verse says every tongue. Every language. Every animal. Incredible! What a sound this is going to be!

2:12 – What techniques could you use to work out your salvation with awe and reverence? Are you doing this?

2:13 – Who is actually doing the work in you to change you into the likeness of Christ? Does that affect your response to the previous question?

How difficult is it to let go of this responsibility? What will you do (or stop doing) to let go?

2:14-15 – the Word tells us not to complain or argue. Let’s train our kids not to do either. (Creative Correction – Lisa Whelchel)

2:14 – Are you a grumbler? An arguer? Do you realize that grumbling is what kept the Israelites walking around the desert in circles for 40 years? Take a few minutes to think about with whom you grumble or argue?

Re-read verse 13. Are you comforted by it? As a believer, you can pray that the Holy Spirit would take away your grumbling or arguing. Be creative in your prayer. Ask Him to remove this ability or make it completely distasteful or foreign to you.

2:15 – What makes us blameless and pure? Study Psalm 15 for an in-depth look at blamelessness.

Are you shining as a light in this crooked and perverse world? Believers are like lighthouses that guide lost ships safely home.

2:16 – This is how we shine as lights in the world: by holding onto the word of life. What or Who is the word of life? Are you holding on?

2:17 – Poured out like a drink offering. Read Genesis 35:14 for the first instance of a drink offering. What is the purpose of an offering? Is any part of your life an offering to God? If not, are you willing for it to be?

2:19 – Paul wanted to send Timothy to Philippi to gather the latest encouraging news and return to Paul to share that news.

2:20 – Paul and Timothy both love the Philippian church.

2:21 – There were people around Paul who didn’t prioritize Christ.

2:22 – Paul thought of Timothy as a son.

2:23 – Why would Paul want to wait to send Timothy until he knew more about his situation?

2:24 – What is Paul saying in this verse?

2:25 – What do you know about Epaphroditus from this verse?

2:26 – What more do you know about him from this verse?

2:27 – Since to die is to be in the presence of the Lord, how is it a showing of God’s mercy to let Epaphroditus live?

How is this also showing God’s grace to Paul?

How might this have been “grief on top of grief” for Paul?

2:28 – How would seeing Epaphroditus relieve the anxiety of the Philippians?

2:30 – What more do you learn about Epaphroditus?





• The book of Philippians emphasizes how we can partner with others doing ministry. What new ideas do you have about how you might do that in a creative way?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• 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?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 7 – Samuel, Kings, Chronicles


The Monarchy

More fascinating information that will change how I see and study Scripture from now on was presented this evening.  I used to think that the monarchy of Israel was God’s response to the people’s desire to have a king rule over them.  Not anymore.  What I learned tonight was that God always intended to install the monarchy…with David!  Israel was impatient, though, so the Lord gave them Saul.  WOW!!!

Did you ever wonder why David picked up five stones when he went to face Goliath?  According to Dr. Missler, Goliath had four other family members that David might have needed to face.  Cool, but I’m still checking this claim out.  Check it out for yourself:  2 Sam 21:18-21.

We are the temple of God.  Human architecture (heart, soul, mind, strength) corresponds with the architecture of the temple.  This is an incredible study that is not to be missed.  We also touch on the leadership of Solomon, Elijah and Elisha.  Another significant object lesson is found in the quote from Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel:  “The history of man teaches us that man learns nothing from history.”  Ouch!  How can we obliterate that downward spiral?

What have you learned from your study of the Bible that has impacted the way you live for the better?

Yes, there is homework for next time:  Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.  I can’t wait!

 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Love In The Balance by Regina Jennings


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Regina Jennings and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Love in the Balance" 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.
 
“Love in the Balance” by Regina Jennings is an emotionally charged romance.  Molly Lovelace is crazy about Bailey Garner.  Unfortunately, Bailey is not a rich man and Molly’s parents are influencing her to marry for money.  I wonder how many young women found themselves in a similar predicament as Molly – historically and in modern times.

Molly is railroaded into the arms of another man, but this relationship doesn’t work out exactly as she planned.  And now life for Molly and her parents and Bailey will never be the same.  This book casts a bright light on the ugliness of judgment and the beauty of grace and mercy.

Regina Jennings is a gifted storyteller and crafts characters with multiple dimensions.  One of the things I really enjoy about her books is they make me wonder about real people in real circumstances.  I don’t like all of her characters because they are multi-faceted and have flaws.  Miss Jennings brings life to art.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bible Study: Partnered in Ministry - Philippians - Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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, winter 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


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


Written during Paul’s 1st Roman imprisonment, 60-62 AD. For background on Paul’s first visit to Philippi, read Acts16. For background on why Paul was imprisoned, read Acts 21:17-23:35. He was about 60. Life expectancy at the time was 50-55.

1:1 – Paul was with Timothy. Timothy would become the Bishop of the Ephesian church in 65 AD. He would serve there 15 years.

Why call themselves “slaves”? Why call the Philippians “saints”? “Saints” means “set apart ones”. We are set apart to serve Jesus.

Overseers and deacons – there was a church hierarchy.

1:3 – For whom do you thank God every time you remember them?

1:4 – Who always prays for you? That is someone to be thankful for. For whom do you always pray? If you don’t have any, get some faithful prayer partners.

1:5 – The word for participation used here is “fellowship”. With whom have you partnered to spread the gospel?

1:6 – good work – the Philippians’ partnership with Paul in the spread of the gospel. They funded him, paying for food, housing, medical care and other necessities while he was in prison. Paul was able to minister because they fed him and kept him healthy.

Again, I ask, with whom have you partnered to advance the gospel message? What about your Pastor? Or a missionary you sponsor?

1:7 – Paul and the Philippians were dear to each other.

They were partnered in furthering the gospel.

1:9 – How can your own love abound even more? Are you praying for spiritual wisdom, knowledge and insight?

1:10 – On what do you base your decisions? Do you pray about everything?

For more on blameless living, study Psalm 15.

1:11 – Righteousness is a fruit, a byproduct of living with Christ. How is Jesus the source of our righteousness?

1:12 – How are your current circumstances serving to advance the gospel? They do. Take some time to contemplate.

1:13 – Paul told everybody about Jesus!

1:14 – He hoped that he would inspire others to speak the word fearlessly. Does he inspire you?

1:15-17 – What is your motive for preaching Christ? Do you think there is a wrong motive? Explain.

1:18 – Do you rejoice in the fact that the good news is spreading?

1:19 – How might Paul have hoped to be delivered?

1:20 – How bold are you in your witness? How could you escalate this?

1:21 – What does this verse mean to you?

Living means continued opportunity to preach Christ? Dying is gain because we will be with Jesus?

Christ – anointed?

1:22-24 – Paul struggled with life and death.

1:24 – Paul practices what he teaches by prioritizing others’ needs above his own. See 2:3.

1:27 – Paul wanted the Philippians to stand strong even if he never returned to them. How might his absence (or death) have harmed the church at this point?

Are you empowering those with whom you are partnered to continue on without you? How might you do this if you’re not doing it, now?

1:28 – Don’t allow opponents to intimidate you. Pray for this.

1:29 – Suffering for Christ is a privilege.





• The book of Philippians emphasizes how we can partner with others doing ministry. What new ideas do you have about how you might do that in a creative way?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• 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?

Swept Away by Mary Connealy


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Mary Connealy and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Swept Away" 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.

Mary Connealy’s latest novel, “Swept Away”, is the fabulous beginning of her brand new Trouble in Texas series of novels.  Luke Stone is on his way home to Broken Wheel, Texas to claim the ranch that was stolen from his murdered father.  On the way, he stumbles across Ruthy MacNeil, who was swept away from her “family” by a flood.  Now it seems that Luke is about to be swept away by Ruthy.
 
You can see the future books in the series being developed within the storyline that Mary Connealy has beautifully crafted.  I cannot wait to read Dare's story!

I love that this book has ties to the Kincaid Brides series!  It makes me want to read those novels again.  Mary Connealy has set the standard for Romantic Western Comedy writing!  Her novels are entertaining, educational and spiritually enlightening.  You absolutely cannot go wrong when you crack the cover on one of her books.  The only bad thing about them is they end way too soon!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 6 – Joshua, Judges, Ruth


In the Land

This week’s study was a rather eclectic mix of war, leadership and love.  I never really thought about the vested interest that Joshua had in that first Passover 40 years previous.  He was the eldest son of Nun.  I guess that means there was blood on the door of their home.  Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and Ai and Beth-Horon.  This book is for soldiers.  And isn’t that what we are?

One of the most fascinating discussion subjects concerned Jonathan Swift and his work “Gulliver’s Travels” where he detailed the size, revolutions and orbits of the two moons of Mars 151 years before they were even discovered by astronomers!  That can only be the work of the Holy Spirit!!!

The parallels between the books of Joshua and Ephesians were fascinating.  Both books are about entering and possessing an inheritance!  There are also parallels identified between Joshua and Revelation.  First the names Joshua and Jesus are variations of each other.  They both discuss a seven-year military campaign against seven (of originally 10) nations.  Two witnesses, seven trumpets, and much more.

The book of Judges chronicles a truly depraved time in Israel’s history.  Taking place around 450 years after the conquest of Canaan, Judges tells the stories of leaders who were raised up as deliverers during a time when “Everyone did right in their own eyes.”  One of the primary lessons I took away from this discussion was the pattern of sinning – suffering – repentance – deliverance that Judges lays out.  Sounds a lot like us, doesn’t it?

The book of Ruth has been one of my favorites, and after watching this hour’s video, it is even more so.  The events of this book take place during the days of the judges.  I never knew that the six measures of barley was a code for Naomi signifying the creation story.  Boaz was telling Naomi that he would not rest until the matter was settled just like the Lord worked for six days and rested on the seventh.  If we look at the story from a symbolic standpoint (using the following substitutions:  Boaz is the Kinsman-Redeemer, Naomi is Israel, Ruth is the Gentile Bride), how does this change your outlook on the book itself and the Christian life?  The observations concerning this book are incredible!

The homework for next time is Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Caravan Review: So Shines the Night by Tracy Higley


About Tracy:

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com

Interview with Tracy Higley:

1. You have gone on so many amazing travels. What was one of your favorite things about visiting Ephesus? I think it was the sense of being somewhere “where Paul walked.” Sitting in the theater, looking down over the Harbor Street where he was likely kept prisoner at times, I had this amazing moment of “I can’t believe I’m here” – the kind of moment that gives you chills and makes you feel connected to something larger than yourself.

2. What's one thing you learned about Ephesus and its importance to Christians that you found surprising/interesting/challenging? I had never realized or noticed until studying this time in Paul’s life, how much time he spent there (nearly three years). I always pictured him hopping around from place to place fairly quickly. I was challenged by the time that he invested in people’s lives, the relationships and bonds he formed. Later, when the Ephesian elders said goodbye to him, the book of Acts tells us that they were literally weeping. It’s easy for me to minister to people “from afar” but I was really challenged by Paul’s relational approach to sharing Christ.

3. What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received? Keep writing. If you haven’t finished anything, keep writing. If you’ve finished something and are trying to submit and sell it somewhere, don’t wait for an answer, keep writing. If you’ve gotten some interest and it’s moving through the process, keep writing. The publishing industry can move very slowly, and the best way to be ready for your “big break” is to keep improving through practice, practice, practice.

4. What's one thing on your bucket list (even if i you don't have an official "list")? I think I might like to skydive someday. I’ve never admitted that before! (And now I’m terrified.)

5. Can you share anything about your future projects? The best way to get a sense of what I’m working on now would be to visit this page: http://tracyhigley.com/books/work-in-progress/ Although, don’t hold me to all those thoughts about the book I haven’t started yet – who knows where that will go!

6. How has your writing, research, and travels affected your spiritual life? Great question. All of it has definitely given me a larger sense of the world and what God is doing in it, both now and through the past. It’s made me realize, as I’ve studied God’s work in the nations throughout history, that He has always been calling all people to Himself, and that He still is. It’s also given me a desire to see the kind of Christianity that was born in the fires of Roman persecution become part of our experience now – a living, breathing faith that radically transforms our lives.

7. What are your 5 favorite things, excluding your family? Dark chocolate, BBQ chicken pizza, a good book, foreign travel, a movie that makes me cry.

8. Who is your greatest inspiration - as a writer, mom, Christian?...any and all of those criteria. As a writer, I’m inspired by C.S. Lewis (of course), but also by Stephen Lawhead and Frederick Buechner, both of whom have the ability to pick the reader up and carry them somewhere else. As a mom, it is the awesome friends I have, whose daily interactions with their children I am privileged to witness, that inspire me most. And as a Christian? The lives of those who live big and adventurous for the kingdom – willing to love and risk because they are secure in Christ.

9. What is your favorite book you have written and why? I am absolutely in love with the Beauty and the Beast motif, and Guardian of the Flame was my homage to it. I really loved writing that book.

10. What touched you the most on your travels for this book? I think it was the sense of “realness” that being in the same city where Paul ministered brought to me. There’s a connection to faith and Scripture that happens, and it’s very powerful.

11. What do you hope people will take away from this story? There are a number of themes I explored here, so it will vary from person to person, depending on where they are on their journey. I hope people will get a sense of the reality of the first century church, of Paul as a man. I want people to see that the love God has for us makes us secure, and that from that foundation we can risk to love others. I want readers to long for a sense of community that is found in the church of Ephesus.

12. What is the condition of the Ephesian church today? Ephesus was eventually abandoned as a city because the harbor became clogged with silt, so there is no real city or church there today. The nearest city is Sel├žuk, which is a predominantly Muslim population. I did a quick Google search in answering your question, and came up with this page, which is really cool: http://www.worshipinephesus.com/

13. What influence of the Ephesian church do you see on the culture in that area? Well, the Temple of Artemis is in ruins, and certainly Christianity came to that part of the world during the medieval period. These days, the Christians are again the minority, but I am sure they are working hard to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.

14. In Revelation, Jesus commends the perseverance of the church of Ephesus, but He also says that they have left their first love and urges them to repent and do the things they did at first. What evidence do you see in Ephesus that the church received and did (or didn’t) act upon this letter? That’s a really tough question to answer. We don’t have any writings specifically about the Ephesian church after that time period, but it is traditionally believed that after John’s exile to Patmos he returned to live in Ephesus, and also that Timothy pastored the church there. With these two godly men in place, and such a specific revelation to challenge them, it seems to me that God would have been doing mighty work there, as He continues to do around the world today.

Here's my review of this incredible read:  First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tracy Higley and her publisher for sending me a copy of "So Shines the Night" 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.

As a member of Tracy Higley’s Caravan, I am thrilled to review her latest novel: “So Shines the Night”. This latest effort in Tracy’s Wonders of the World series is a wonder in itself. In 57 AD, Daria escapes the island of Rhodes, traveling to Ephesus as the tutor to wealthy merchant, Lucas. But she soon feels that she hasn’t really escaped what she fears as sorcery seems to become even more prominent in her new home.

Tracy’s gift for dramatizing history gives life and breath to this story of the first century church in Ephesus. With a gripping cast of characters that includes the apostle Paul and his son in the faith, Timothy, this story dramatically brings the Bible to life and draws the reader into an encounter with the Almighty God.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Bible Study: NT Proverbs - James - Chapter 5

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of James, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 5 of the book of James. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

5:1-6 – riches are worthless, so put your effort into accumulating “kingdom wealth”.

Can you think of examples? Leading people to Christ. Growing in love, deepening your character…

5:4 – The wicked weren’t paying their workers at the end of the day.

5:6 – see Matt 18:21-35 – the parable of the unforgiving debtor.

Why wouldn’t the innocent resist? Because they trusted those with power over them.

5:7-8 – be patient as you wait for Jesus to return.

How?

5:7 – patient – makrothumia.

Do you think James was a farmer?

5:10-11 – How did the prophets serve as an example of patience?

5:11 – perseverance – hupomone – hope.

How was Job an example of endurance?

5:12 – Don’t make oaths. See Matthew 5:33. How does this equate to swearing an oath in court? What does this relate to? Say “yes” or “no”. Don’t be extravagant in promising or trying to convince others you’re telling the truth.

5:13 – Pray, praise.

5:14-15 – Call others to pray and anoint us when we’re ill.

5:16 – Confess sin to each other.

Pray for each other.

5:17-18 – see 1 Kings 17:1; Revelation 11:3-12.



• The book of James is called the “Proverbs of the New Testament”. What pearl of wisdom have you harvested from today’s reading, and how will you apply it to your life?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• 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?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to MaryLu Tyndall and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Forsaken Dreams" 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.
 
MaryLu Tyndall’s latest adventure casts a group of Confederates onto the high seas in search of a place to call home where the South can rise again after the Civil War.  Eliza Crawford, a war widow and nurse, signed on to the ship bound for Brazil for a fresh start.  Because she is the widow of a Union Officer, her Southern family wants nothing to do with her but this Rebel doesn’t belong among the Yankees, either.  She’s just hoping she can keep her secret.  Colonel Blake Wallace is accused of fighting for the North.  But this Confederate officer bears the scars created by Yankee guns and swords.  He hates everything having to do with the North.

“Forsaken Dreams” is a breathtaking adventure!  MaryLu Tyndall crafts an exciting and thought-provoking tale that transports the reader aboard the ship New Hope sailing to Rio de Janeiro and encountering many thrilling and frightening events.  Even though I did become a bit frustrated with the rocky relationship road traveled by Blake and Eliza, the book was immensely enjoyable.  It was a difficult book to put down and kept me reading well past bedtime.  I am anxiously anticipating future books in this series.

This novel was not merely an entertaining read.  It opened my eyes to the climate of our country post Civil War.  It also enlightened me on flaws in my own character and Christian walk.  As I walked with Eliza through several trials, I realized that I would not be as peaceful or understanding or forgiving as she was.  This experience brought me face-to-face with areas of my life where I need to be more like my Savior:  slow to anger, abounding in love.  I was also convicted of my tendency to ask God to bless my plans rather than asking to desire and do His will.  Thanks, MaryLu, for bringing me to life-changing realization with your writing once again.  I pray that this book will touch the hearts of everyone who reads it in a similar way.

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 5 – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy


The Birth of the Nation

Hour 5 reminds me of my first year in BSF where we studied The Life of Moses.  And, as I am different today than I was when I last studied these books, I have learned a few more tidbits.  One of which is the Levitical symbolism of the burning bush:  the bush is an acacia thorn bush that is burning but isn’t consumed.  Thorns represent sin, the fire represents judgment and the translation of the visual is as follows:  God judges sin but doesn’t consume the repentant sinner.

Probably the most breath-stealing truth I learned this week was about Egypt.  As a “type” of the World, Egypt was rich in material wealth and power.  It was ruled by a despotic prince, a “type” of Satan.  Egypt was steeped in fleshly wisdom and false religion.  It was organized on force, ambition and pleasure.  Egypt’s people persecuted the people of God.  Egypt was overthrown by divine judgment.  Let this soak in for a moment.  Does this profile sound a bit like Rome before it fell?  Is it just my opinion or do you think the United States resembles this “type” as well?  Praise Jesus, we have the example of His Word and the stories of how God rescued His people out of the nation He was preparing to judge.  His faithfulness removes my fear of what my country is heading for.

Another couple of tidbits came from the Ten Commandments.  Chuck Missler taught that the command to not take the name of the Lord in vain is about ambassadorship, not vocabulary.  That’s different than what I’ve been taught my whole life.  Another thought regarding the command, “thou shalt not murder”:  John the Baptist began his ministry in the womb at 9 inches long and 1.5 pounds when he jumped for joy at Mary’s greeting of his mother, Elizabeth.

The law was given to expose our sin nature, to incite the sin nature to sin more, to drive us to despair of our own effort and to drive us to depend on the Holy Spirit alone.  Hallelujah!  The law’s purpose is to open our eyes to the necessity of grace and mercy.

There is much more treasure unearthed in this hour:  like the discovery of a land bridge that supports Mt. Sinai being located in Arabia; the symbolism of the precious metals used to craft the tabernacle was fascinating.

And yes, there is much more!  With regard to Christ’s second coming, I have been presented with a new possibility.  First, let me say that I fully believe that we cannot know when Christ is returning for His people.  We are to be prepared at any moment for His imminent return.  Up until this hour, I believed that the rapture of the church would correspond with the fall Feast of Trumpets, the next feast on the Jewish calendar to be fulfilled.  Today, that belief is challenged.  Based on the mystery of Enoch, the man who walked with God 300 years and then was no more because God took him away.  Will his rapture be a foreshadowing of ours?  Apparently, Enoch was born on Shavout and according to Jewish tradition, he was raptured on his birthday.  We know Shavout as Pentecost, aka the birthday of the church!  At Pentecost, the Jewish “clock” stopped.  Will it start up again on the same feast day?  This is something worth considering…

And there is even more treasure than what I’ve mentioned here.  If you’ve taken this study, what impacted you about it?  How did you apply what you learned to your life?

Homework for next time:  Joshua, Judges, Ruth.  I just finished studying Ruth over the summer while reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ book “The Girl’s Still Got It”.  It is one of my favorites and teaches me something every time I turn to it.  I can’t wait to learn what Chuck Missler has to say about it.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Bible Study: NT Proverbs - James - Chapter 4

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of James, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. 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, summer 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 4 of the book of James. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Our worth comes from God alone!

4:1-3 – battling with believers is bad.

4:1 – Think of the last argument you had. What caused it?

4:2,3 – common problems in prayer:
not asking
asking for the wrong things
asking for the wrong reasons

4:2 – When you pray, what do you ask for? Do you receive it?

4:3,4 – a pleasurable life…
it’s not bad to have it.
We shouldn’t sacrifice obedience to God for it.

4:3 – What is your motivation when you ask God for something? What do you ask for? Whom does it benefit?

4:4-6 – The cure for evil desires is humility.

4:4 – We are adulterous because we aren’t devoted to the Lord.

4:5 – we humans have a tendency to envy.

Inside Christians lives the Spirit of a jealous God, not envy.

4:6 – Seek to be humble.

4:7-10 – Commands:
submit to God.
resist the devil.
Draw near to God.
Cleanse your hands…purify your hearts.
Have sincere sorrow for your sins. (mourn, weep)
Be humble.

4:7 – God has already defeated Satan.

The devil will flee if we only resist him through the power of the Holy Spirit as we submit to God. Memorize this verse and obey it!

4:8 – God won’t force us into His arms. But He only waits for us to begin approaching Him before He runs to us and gathers us up!

Our hearts make us double-minded.

4:9 – We grieve when we are unclean and absent from God’s presence.

4:10 – humble – praotes.

God’s purpose in lifting us up is to glorify Himself.

4:11-12 – don’t judge a brother.

4:11 – James addresses his audience as brothers again. He warns us not to speak badly of one another. Slander is murder according to Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22.

4:12 – We have no right to judge. Only God does.

4:13-16 – plan ahead, but hold your plans loosely.

4:13 – Are you this succinct and rigid in your planning? Do you pray over your plans? You should.

4:14 – We are vapor…mist. Consider this when God seems to be taking a long time in answering your prayers.

4:15 – Pray to know God’s will.

4:16 – What does James mean by “boast and brag”?

4:17 – doing wrong is sin, but so is not doing right.

Do you know the good you ought to do? Do you do it?




• The book of James is called the “Proverbs of the New Testament”. What pearl of wisdom have you harvested from today’s reading, and how will you apply it to your life?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• 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?