Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nehemiah: a heart that can break by Kelly Minter – Week Two


Week One was incredibly challenging, wasn’t it?  I pray that you confronted many of your own issues and that you are working with the Lord to turn those issues into blessing and that you look more like Jesus today than you did yesterday.  Week Two appears to be equally challenging.

In the video, Kelly interviews her younger sister, who was changed by a mission trip.  She says she “saw her sin in the jungle”.  When confronted with people who have nothing in the way of possessions but they have a passion for Christ that is unrivaled, it’s hard not to be disgusted by the comforts of home that we routinely enjoy.

Nehemiah learned of the broken condition of the walls of Jerusalem while he was living in a Persian palace as the king’s cupbearer.  He obtained permission from the king to go and assess the damage.  He kept his mission to himself until he could examine the brokenness and discern what resources and materials would be needed to repair the damage.  That is how a wise caretaker treats such a circumstance:  assess and examine.  And there is another lesson for me in this: the shame and disgrace of brokenness doesn’t mean that we are unprotected by the Lord.

In the homework, we are encountering a variety of people who have come together to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  Perfumers, priests, goldsmiths, rulers, guards and women work side-by-side to repair the destruction to the wall near a place of importance:  either a strategic part of the city or near their home.  Some go somewhere else to serve.  Some serve right in their neighborhoods.  It’s the same with us.  We don’t all have to travel around the globe to be useful to God.  Sometimes our neighbor is the one who needs us.  I’m discovering that this is the case in my own situation.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a Psychologist.  I never did get my doctorate or a private practice in counseling, but I realized after doing this week’s study that I can still be a Christian counselor every time someone asks for my advice at home, church or work.  It was truly eye-opening to learn that God can use me how He wired me even without credentials that the world recognizes.  Praise Jesus!

How – and where – Is the Lord using you?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 16

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, 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 16 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


16:1 – What had Jesus told the disciples to keep them from going astray? Has anything He told them kept you from going astray?

16:2 – Because of their testimony, they will be put out of the synagogue. (Does this story sound familiar?) Those who kill Jesus’ disciples will believe they are doing a service to God. Do you see this happening in the world today? Where? In what circumstances?

16:3 – This evil will be done by those who don’t know Jesus or the Father.

16:4 – I did not tell you this at first – Jesus is warning them now because He is preparing them for the persecution that will come after His departure.

How does Jesus do the same for us today? Keep in mind that the content of the Bible never changes. What does?

16:5-16 – people won’t understand how we live.

16:7 – How can it be a good thing that Jesus goes away?

16:8-11 – It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world. Not ours. How can you put this into practice in your life, today?

16:9 – Explain what it means that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin.

16:10 – Explain what it means that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to righteousness.

16:11 – Explain what it means that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to judgment.

16:12-15 – The Holy Spirit shares what He learns from the Father and Jesus with us. This knowledge belongs to the Father (and Jesus), and is what Jesus referred to in verse 12 as “much more to say to you.”

16:12-13 – The Holy Spirit guides us in the other truths that Jesus wanted to share with His disciples on that day. What truths has He shared with you?

16:14 – The Holy Spirit makes Christ known. Not Himself. Personally, I think He is absolutely brilliant at this. The Holy Spirit is the most mysterious member of the Trinity.

16:16 – What does Jesus mean when He says, “you will see me no more” and “after a little while you will see me”?

We will be with Him soon.

16:17-18 – The disciples ask each other the question I just asked you. Can you identify with their confusion?

16:20 – Explain this verse. Why will the disciples grieve while the world rejoices? How will their grief turn to joy? How does this relate to verse 16?

16:21 – Childbirth is a great illustration of how grief turns to joy.

16:22 – When will Jesus see the disciples again? When will He see us?

16:23 – “That day” represents restoration of relationship with the Father. The disciples will be able to go straight to God.

16:24 – They will receive what they ask in Jesus’ name.

16:25 – Jesus has been speaking figuratively, but promises to speak plainly about the Father. Have you experienced this?

16:26-27 – They will go straight to the Father, themselves rather than asking Jesus to go to the Father for them. To what is Jesus referring? What does this teach you about praying to saints?

16:28 – Jesus came from the Father and is now going back.

16:29 – Does this comment from the disciples mean that what Jesus said in verses 25-26 has come to pass?

16:30-31 – The disciples believe! What was the final thing to insure your belief in Christ?

16:32 – Explain how and why the disciples would scatter. How would this verse play out in a matter of hours?

Why did Jesus mention that He would not be alone – that the Father would be with Him?

16:33 – we are to expect trials!

How would the things Jesus said in the last few verses bring the disciples peace?

How can knowing that we will have trouble in the world bring us peace?

How can knowing the Jesus has overcome the world bring us peace?

How can we share this peace with others?


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, July 24, 2013

Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough

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:

Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of twenty-six books and novellas. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she served as treasurer of the organization for three years and also was treasurer for her local chapter. Vickie lives with her husband, Robert, in Oklahoma. They have four grown sons and one daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to a precocious seven-year-old girl. When she isn’t writing, Vickie enjoys reading, shopping for antiques, watching movies, and traveling. Pioneer Promises Book Two, Call of the Prairie, is set for release in January 2014.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The last thing Sarah Marshall wanted was to leave Chicago and travel the dusty Santa Fe Trail, but when her uncle demands she help her feeble aunt, she can’t refuse. Her aunt had taken Sarah in after her parents died. She becomes stranded at the Harper Stage Stop in Kansas, one of the first stops on Santa Fe Trail, and her presence causes a stir. Ethan Harper’s well-ordered life is thrown into turmoil with his two brothers and every unmarried male in the county lining up to woo Miss Sarah whom Ethan views as an uppity city girl. Is it because she’s the wrong woman for his brother—or the right one for himself?


Product Details:
List Price: $8.76
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603748415
ISBN-13: 978-1603748414


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

March 1870
Chicago
The toddler’s whimpers rose to an ear-splitting scream as the little girl pushed against the chest of the woman holding her captive.
“Here, let me have her, Abigail.” Sarah Marshall reached for Mary, and her friend handed over the fussy child. The girl persisted in her cries, so Sarah crooned to her, swaying in time to a waltz playing in her mind as she rubbed circles on the toddler’s back.
“I don’t see how you can have such patience with her. That obstinate child cries more than all the others in this orphanage combined.” Abigail bent down and reached for a handsome three-year-old boy, who came rushing toward her with a big smile that showed his dimples. “Personally,” Abigail raised her voice over Mary’s ruckus, “I prefer the quiet ones.”
Sarah smiled. “I prefer the needy ones.” She leaned her cheek against Mary’s head. “All is well, little one. All is well.”
After a few more minutes, the wails finally subsided, and the girl began to relax. She sniffled, her whole body shaking as she finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
“Poor little one.” Sarah’s heart nearly broke for the child, recently orphaned by the death of her mother. At least, at such a young age, she stood a chance to adapt more easily than Sarah had when her parents died. Though the accident that claimed their lives had happened over a decade ago, she still missed her father’s big smile and her mother’s comforting arms.
“You’ll make a good mother one day.” Mrs. Rayburn leaned against the door frame, looking tired. “Are you sure you don’t want to move in here?”
Sarah smiled. “If my aunt was in better health, you know I would take you up on your offer. And I do hope to be a mother someday. If I’m good, as you say, it will be only because I learned from the best.”
Mrs. Rayburn swiped her hand in the air, but Sarah could tell the comment pleased her. If not for the generous care of the well-to-do widow, the six orphaned children who resided under her roof would most likely still be out on the cold Chicago streets, begging for scraps to eat, working for some cruel taskmaster—or worse.
Abigail glided to the center of the bedroom that had been converted into a nursery, holding Tommy on her hip, and pretended to dance with him. “Sarah may take a giant step in the direction of motherhood this very night.”
“Abigail!” Heat marched across Sarah’s cheeks as she thought of Walt and how he’d hinted at proposing—again—at her birthday dinner tonight. “I don’t want that news getting out.”
“Why not?” Abigail spun the boy in a circle, eliciting a giggle. “You aren’t going to turn the poor fellow down again, are you?”
Sarah glared at her best friend, wishing she would learn when to hush. She hoisted Mary higher on her chest and carried her to the adjoining bedroom. Stopping beside Mary’s bed, she rocked the girl from side to side to make sure she was asleep. Though she would never admit it to Abigail, the toddler’s wails did grate on her nerves from time to time, especially when she hadn’t slept well the night before. Holding her breath, she lowered Mary into her bed and then pulled the small quilt over her.
Sarah kept her hand ready to pat Mary’s back, should she stir. Thankfully, she didn’t. Straightening, Sarah checked on the two napping babies. She then tiptoed across the big room to adjust the blanket covering Ian, the six-month-old whose father had deposited him on Mrs. Rayburn’s doorstep last fall. The poor man had lost his wife and couldn’t care for an infant. Sarah’s heart ached for each one of the youngsters. She knew how hard life could be without parents. Still, she counted herself among the lucky ones—she’d been taken in by family, though she hadn’t lived in a house as fine as Mrs. Rayburn’s mansion.
Bending, Sarah filled her apron skirt with rag dolls, balls, and other toys, then deposited them in the toy basket as the mantel clock in the parlor chimed two o’clock. She tiptoed out of the nursery and back into the playroom.
“Time for you girls to head home.” Mrs. Rayburn crossed the room and clapped her hands. “Tommy, would you like to hear a story?”
The three-year-old lunged into the older woman’s arms. She hugged him and then set him down. “My, but you’re getting heavy.”
“Too much porridge, I imagine.” Grinning, Sarah turned to Abigail. “Are you leaving now, too?”
“Yes, Papa is sending his driver for me. See you tomorrow, Mrs. Rayburn.” Abigail waved good-bye as she walked from the room. She stopped in the doorway and faced Sarah. “Do you want a ride to your uncle’s shop?”
“Thank you, but I’ll walk.”
Tommy ran out of the nursery, lifted his little hand, and waved. Mrs. Rayburn followed him into the upstairs parlor and took hold of his hand. “I don’t know how I’d manage without you girls and your friends who volunteer in the evenings. I fear I’m getting too old to manage so many young children.”
Mrs. Rayburn had said the same thing for the past two years, and yet she hadn’t turned Mary away when a neighbor had brought her last week. Still, Sarah couldn’t help wondering if the day would come when the kind woman would feel it necessary to close her door to the orphans. What would happen to them then?
She and Abigail donned their cloaks and left the warmth of the cozy home behind as they stepped out into the blustery chill of March. The gusty wind off Lake Michigan whipped at Sarah’s skirts, and the gloomy sky released a light drizzle. Abigail’s driver stepped out from under the shelter of a nearby tree and opened the door of her carriage.
“Are you sure you won’t let us give you a ride? It’s a miserable day to be out.”
“Thank you, but I’ll be fine. I’m headed home, anyway, and that’s the opposite direction for you.”
“So, you’re not clerking for your uncle this afternoon?” Abigail accepted her driver’s hand and climbed into the buggy. “How did you get out of doing that?” She sat, leaning toward Sarah, her eyebrows lifted.
“I’m going home to help Aunt Emma get things ready for my birthday dinner.” Sarah turned so the wind was at her back and wrapped her fist around the edges of her cloak to hold it closed. “You’re still coming tonight?”
Abigail nodded, grinning. “I wouldn’t miss seeing Walt propose again. I don’t know why you don’t just accept. Your uncle will probably throw you out one of these days, and then where will you be?” She motioned to her driver, who closed the door and scurried up to his seat.
Sarah walked quickly toward State Street. She hadn’t missed how Abigail had poked her with her barbed comment about her uncle casting her out. That very possibility had been in the back of her mind. Uncle Harvey had barely tolerated her presence all these years. He’d never wanted children and wasn’t happy when his wife’s only sister died, leaving behind a daughter. It was a miracle the stingy man had agreed to let her live with them in the first place.
She blew out a sigh of relief at the sight of the horse-drawn trolley, just a block away. Hurrying to the middle of the street, she waited until it drew near, then grabbed the rail and stepped aboard. The sides of the carriage blocked the wind, to a degree, but the chilly air still seeped inside, bringing with it the aromas of baking bread and roasting meat.
The rain picked up, and she was glad she’d decided not to walk home. She stared out the window at the Chicago city streets, teeming with horses and buggies, fancy carriages, freight wagons, and even a man pulling a handcart. Busy people bustled up and down the boardwalks. She loved this town and hoped never to have to leave it.
If she married Walt, most likely she wouldn’t. Yet she struggled with the notion of being his wife. He was a good friend, yes, and she’d hate to disappoint him. Still, shouldn’t a woman have stronger feelings than friendship for the man she married?
Her uncle would be beside himself if she turned Walt down again. Maybe she should just say yes this time. At least then she’d be assured of having a home of her own—and of freeing herself from the heavy sense of owing her uncle. One would think the hours she’d spent doing chores in his home and clerking at his watch repair shop would be sufficient to cover any debt she owed, but she could never do enough to please Uncle Harvey. Still, she was grateful to have lived in his home these last twelve years. She should be satisfied and not wish for more.
And yet she did. She longed to marry a man who made her laugh like her papa had, one whose broad shoulders were strong enough to protect her. But she hadn’t yet met that man. Maybe she never would. Maybe she needed to give up on wishing and just be satisfied with Walt.
*****
Sarah sat back and rested her hands in her lap, smiling in satisfaction with the meal. She stole a glance at the sideboard loaded with food she’d helped her aunt and the cook prepare—roast leg of mutton and currant jelly, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, fried parsnips, and glazed carrots. Just the thought of it all made her stomach ache, and they had not even served dessert yet.
Walt wagged a finger at the servant standing at attention.
The servant hurried to the table from his post in the corner of the room. “Sir?”
“Bring me some more of those parsnips.”
Sarah winced at his commanding tone, then looked to the head of the table. Uncle Harvey was seated next to a stranger—Mr. Gibbons—who’d appeared at the door just before they’d sat down to dinner. The two were having a private discussion, but Sarah had overheard enough to know it was about the benefits of living on the western frontier. She couldn’t imagine what anyone found interesting about the untamed prairie, with its wild Indians and abundance of dust.
At the other end of the table, Lizzie Monahan and Betty Phillips engaged her aunt in a lively chat about the latest styles in fashion, while Abigail sat infatuated with Howard Shibley, Walt’s best friend, who babbled on about a recent report that the population of Chicago had reached 300,000. Sarah nearly rolled her eyes.
“What was that look for?” Walt dabbed his lips with his napkin.
Sarah leaned closer to him, so not to be heard. “If Howard has any hope of winning Abigail’s heart, he should find a more interesting topic of conversation.”
“I doubt romance has even entered his mind.”
“Obviously.” Sarah shook her head.
Walt rested his chin in his palm and caught her gaze, his hazel eyes gleaming. His ash-blond hair had been slicked down and combed back from his forehead. “Speaking of romance, are you ever going to agree to marry me?”
She sucked in a sharp breath and glanced around the table once more. Nobody cast an odd look her way, so she assumed that no one had overheard the oh-so-unromantic proposal. She had pretty much made up her mind to say yes, but his casual manner of asking made her want to shake her head. Schooling her features and straightening her posture, she replied. “I don’t know.”
Walt blinked, obviously taken aback. Seconds later, he scowled, then glanced across the room and motioned to the servant again. The man rushed to his side. “I seem to be out of parsnips again.”
Why couldn’t Walt have just kept quiet? She liked him well enough, but his frequent proposals were producing the opposite of their intended effect; they made her more inclined to avoid him than marry him. She snuck a glance at Abigail, still trying so hard to get Howard to notice her, while the man, clearly oblivious, just kept spouting his knowledge.
Sarah peeked at Walt again. He wasn’t particularly handsome, but he wasn’t ugly, either. He would be a good provider, being the sole heir to his father’s shoe factory, but she had a feeling that life with him would be just as boring as their evenings together. She wanted to marry—to finally be free from her uncle’s overpowering presence and stern glare—but she wanted a man who thought she was the only woman in the world for him. Yes, Walt seemed to feel that way, but something held her back. Was there something wrong with her?
An hour later, she stood at the door to see Walt on his way. Everyone else had already gone.
Walt hung his head and twisted his hat in his hands. “I…uh, won’t ask you again.” He lifted his gaze to hers, pain evident in his eyes.
She’d hurt him, and that was the last thing she’d wanted to do.
“I’m twenty-nine, Sarah. I’m ready to marry and start a family. I need to know if there’s any hope that you’ll say yes one day.”
“And I just turned nineteen—today.”
He closed his eyes and exhaled a heavy sigh. “All right. I’ll give you a few more months to make up your mind.”
Sarah bristled. What if she still didn’t have an answer? “And then?”
He stared at her with a serious, no-nonsense expression she’d never seen before. “And then I’ll be forced to look elsewhere. I mean to be married before I turn thirty.” He slapped his hat on his head and stepped out into the blustery evening wind.
She watched him jog down the steps with more purpose than usual. He wanted to get away from her, and that was just fine, as far as she was concerned. She shut the door. Some birthday party that had been.
The sound of raised voices drew her to the parlor. Her aunt and uncle rarely argued, mainly because Aunt Emma’s chronic illness made her too weary to fuss over trifles.
“Harvey, please. You can’t be serious about this.”
Sarah held her breath, all manner of ideas racing through her mind.
“You might as well come in here, Sarah. I know you’re out there.”
She jumped at her uncle’s stern command and was tempted to slither away, but her curiosity forced her to do as bidden. “I was just saying good night to Walt,” she explained as she entered the room.
“Sit down. I have something to tell you.”
Aunt Emma didn’t look up from the sofa but anxiously wrung her hands.
Sarah sat next to her and laid a steadying hand over her aunt’s.
Her uncle paced in front of the fireplace, where a cozy blaze heated the front half of the room. Still, a shiver clawed its way down Sarah’s spine. Whatever news she was about to hear, it wouldn’t be good, from the looks of it.
Uncle Harvey stopped in front of the hearth, rested one hand atop the mantel, and stared into the flames. “You met Gibbons tonight.” He straightened and stared at her, an unreadable expression in his brown eyes. “He’s a wagon master. Been leading wagon trains down the Santa Fe Trail for the past twenty years.”
Sarah’s thoughts whirled. Again she wondered about her uncle’s interest in such a rugged man as Mr. Gibbons. He hadn’t even worn proper attire for a dinner party.
“Oh, dear. Oh, dear.” Aunt Emma fanned her face. “I fear I’m not feeling well.”
Sarah’s uncle narrowed his gaze at his wife. “You may be dismissed as soon as I’m done.”
Aunt Emma gave him a meek nod, keeping her head down.
Uncle Harvey cleared his throat, drawing Sarah’s gaze again. “The truth of the matter is that my brother has written me from Kansas City to inform me that he’s moving his family to the New Mexico Territory, by way of the Santa Fe Trail.”
“New Mexico?” Sarah pressed her lips closed, knowing her uncle wouldn’t appreciate her outburst. She sidled a glance at her aunt. Why was she so distraught? Turning her attention back to her uncle, she voiced the question that wouldn’t go away. “Why would your brother want to move to such an uncivilized place?”
Uncle Harvey’s nostrils flared, and Aunt Emma uttered a pitiful moan.
“Because there is great opportunity there,” her uncle insisted. “Bob says that one day, the New Mexico Territory will become a state. He has been to Santa Fe and plans to return to open a mercantile there.”
Sarah blinked as she absorbed the information. The truth finally dawned, and she gasped, staring wide-eyed at her uncle. “Surely, you don’t mean to go there, too.”
He lifted his chin, revealing his wrinkled, white neck from its hiding place beneath his beard. “I most certainly do. Chicago has dozens of watchmakers. According to Bob, Santa Fe doesn’t have a single one. I plan to set up shop next to his store. We’ll build a door between the two, so that we can assist each other when things get busy.”
Sarah could see her well-ordered life spiraling out of control. She’d already lost her parents. How could she stand to lose Aunt Emma, too? Sarah stood and started pacing the room. “You already have as much business as you can handle. And how could you expect Aunt Emma to endure such a difficult trip?”
“I’ve talked to the doctor, and he says the warmer climate will be much better for her. Lydia will be there to take care of her if she falls ill.”
Falls ill? Didn’t he realize his wife was nearly always unwell? She’d been sickly ever since she’d survived a bout of scarlet fever a year before Sarah had come to live with them. The sickness had left her frail and had robbed her of her hearing in her right ear.
Sarah doubted Aunt Emma could survive such a rugged journey. “Won’t you reconsider, Uncle?”
He shook his head. “My mind is made up.”
“And what about me?” Could she stay in this big house alone? He’d always expected her to pay her own way, and she could hardly afford a place as nice as this two-story brownstone.
He shrugged. “I expect you to marry Walt, and then you’ll be his responsibility. I’ve already sold the house, so you can’t stay here.”
Her aunt gasped and stood. “How could you do such a thing without consulting me?”
Sarah’s heart ached for her aunt. How could Uncle Harvey be so insensitive?
“Now, Emma. It’s my place to make such decisions. You’ll see once we arrive in Santa Fe that this move was for the best.”
Emma screeched a heart-wrenching sob and ran from the room, her dark green silk dress swishing loudly.
Sarah had never once stood up to her intimidating uncle before. This time, concern for her aunt stiffened her spine, and she turned on him. “How could you be so selfish? Such a trip will probably kill Aunt Emma! Is that what you want?”
His nostrils flared. “She is no concern of yours.” He walked to the dark window and stared out through the panes. “I never wanted you to come here, you know. I never wanted children. They’re nothing but a nuisance. I will concede that you’ve been good for Emma, but she needs to learn to get along without you.” He turned back to her, his eyes narrowed. “Marry Walt. He’s a decent fellow.”
She’d always known her uncle hadn’t wanted her, but hearing the words spoken out loud pained her as badly as if she’d been stabbed in the heart. Out of respect for her aunt, she didn’t lash out at him as she wanted to. “I’m not ready to marry yet.” Uncle Harvey may have housed her all these years, but that didn’t give him the right to force her to wed a man she didn’t love. “I…I can find a boardinghouse to stay in.”
He smirked. “And how do you intend to pay for it?”
A wave of panic washed over her. She had a few coins her aunt had given her—nowhere near enough to live on, even for a short time. “I’ll find another job. Since I’ve worked for you for so long, I’ve honed my office skills and have plenty of experience.”
“Hmpf. What employer would hire a female clerk when he can so easily find a man to do the task?”
Sarah dropped back onto the sofa, realizing the truth of his statement. What would she do? Where would she live? How could she manage without her aunt’s loving guidance? The last time she’d felt as empty and confused as she did now was when she’d learned that her parents had died.
Quick footsteps sounded outside the room, and Sarah and her uncle both looked to the door. Her aunt had returned, her eyes damp, her face red and splotchy. With a trembling hand, she held a handkerchief below her nose. Sarah longed to embrace her aunt, but she would wait until her uncle left them alone.
“I see it’s too late to change your mind,” she said, her voice quavering. “You’ve wounded me deeply, Harvey. I hope you know that.”
He started toward her, his expression softening, and took her hands. “Haven’t I always taken care of you, darling? Have you ever lacked for anything?”
Her aunt didn’t respond, but Sarah could tell by her expression that she didn’t share her husband’s perspective. Steeling her gaze, Emma stared up at him with rare determination in her eyes. “I won’t go without Sarah.”
“What?” Sarah and her uncle exclaimed at once.
“I won’t go unless she goes, too.” Emma hiked her chin.
Sarah didn’t know what to say. This was the first time she had seen Aunt Emma stand up to her husband, and she couldn’t bear to tell her that her efforts were wasted. But the last thing Sarah cared to do was leave Chicago and travel on a wagon train to Santa Fe.
Even marriage to Walt would be preferable to that.


Here's my review of this incredible read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank you" to Vickie McDonough and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Whispers on the Prairie" 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.

"Whispers on the Prairie" by Vickie McDonough is an engaging work of Christian Historical Fiction. Sarah never wanted to leave Chicago, but she had to go to care for her ailing Aunt Emma when her Uncle Harvey sold their home uprooting them to open a business in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When misfortune strikes, the ladies find themselves back at the stage stop in Kansas with the Hunter family. Any of the three Hunter sons could be a match for Sarah. Aaron is a widower with two young children who need a mother. Josh is a bit sweet on Sarah. Ethan, the youngest, is struggling with his feelings for the woman who is planning to return to Chicago. And Sarah's intense reactions whenever Ethan is around confuse her as well, since she believes he hates her.

This was a beautifully written novel with an engaging plot, likable characters and a thick Christian flavor. All aspects of the story were woven together so well that any alteration to romance, conflict or faith would have diminished the novel. I will absolutely be on the lookout for Vickie McDonough's future projects. I have another favorite author and a new book for my keeper shelf.

Nehemiah: a heart that can break by Kelly Minter – Week One


I recently received this study and didn’t know much about it, so I did some research…and now I’m psyched!  This is more than just a study of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.  This is more than a look at the cupbearer to the Persian king who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.  This is a study that will change you and the way you pray and your being and doing.

Each video is preceded by a short introduction in the workbook.  The video segment isn’t that long – around 20 minutes – but Kelly Minter whets your appetite for what’s to come.  Her excitement is contagious.  Her story of how she came to study this book is touching.  Her friendship with Gloria, a Brazilian missionary in the Amazon, is reminiscent of what we all long for.  I am hopeful that, by the end of this seven-week journey my heart will be more like Jesus’ and that my life will reflect that heart change.  This is the end of “sit-on-your-tush-and-tell-yourself-that-you’re-okay-with-the-status-quo” Bible study!  Hallelujah!

This week’s teaching has led me to several revelations about myself, including the fact that I guard myself against becoming really involved with people.  Shallow relationships are more comfortable and leave me less vulnerable or disappointed.  But the big lesson I’m learning through the study this week is the importance of prayer.  I have struggled with this throughout my Christian life.  Why do I need to pray?  God already knows what’s in my heart and mind.  Is it His way of allowing me to participate in His plan?  He doesn’t require my prayer to act, right?  But I’ve learned this week that prayer is the work of the church!  It’s important, period!  And God wants me to do it.  What more reason than that do I need?

Now that a foundation has been laid with prayer, day three of study touches on one aspect of that activity:  confession.  I call this an aspect of prayer because I pray the ACTS prayer format:  Adoration – Confession – Thanksgiving – Supplication.  Confession and repentance is critical to our walk with God.  And I don’t spend near enough time in confession.  That is changing this week!

How about you?  How do you feel God wants to change up your prayer life?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 15

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, 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 15 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


15:1 – The seventh “I AM” Statement – Jesus is the true vine. We must stay connected to Him to be fruitful.

Are you connected to Him today?

Jesus is the vine, the Father is the gardener.

15:2 – If branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off, and we are the branches (see v.5), does this mean that we can have been attached to Jesus at one point but not produce fruit and be cut off? Provide Biblical support for your answer. See verse 4 for a hint.

Describe your experience with God’s pruning process.

15:3 – You are already clean because of the Word spoken to you. What does this mean? Are we washed in the Living Water of the Word by hearing it?

15:4 – if we remain in Christ, we will be fruitful.

Jesus won’t push us away. The only way He separates from us is if we detach from Him.

15:6 – What is this fire Jesus speaks of?

15:7 – If Jesus’ words remain in us, we will ask for what He wants us to have, and of course He will give it to us!

15:8 – What fruit are you bearing? How are you glorifying God?

15:9 – I am precious to God.

How had Jesus loved the disciples? This is how the Father loved Jesus.

15:10 – We remain in Jesus’ love by obeying Him. What steps are involved in obeying?

15:11 – Remaining in Jesus’ love includes experiencing perfect and complete joy!

15:12 – How had Jesus loved the disciples? Remember verse 9. This is how we are to love each other. Who is part of your “each other”?

15:13 – The ultimate expression of love is dying for one’s friends.

15:14 – Jesus is going to die for His friends. Who are His friends? Those who obey Him. That said, are you one of His friends?

15:15 – Apparently, the disciples were considered servants at one point. But they graduated to being friends because Jesus taught them all the Father told Him. Can you tell at what point this transition happened?

15:16 – Jesus chose and appointed the disciples to bear fruit. He chose us for the same purpose. So, what fruit are you bearing? When Jesus says that the Father will give them everything they ask for in His name, this is not a “carte blanche” yes answer to anything we want. If we are bearing lasting fruit, we are obviously attached to the vine and obeying His commands. When we do this, we become more like Him, so our prayers are aligned with what He wants for us instead of being selfish wish lists.

15:17 – I think if we ask God to give us love for each other, He will absolutely do that since Jesus commands us to love each other.

15:19 – Because we belong to Jesus, the world will hate us.

15:20 – Because of that hate, we will be persecuted. Have you already experienced persecution because of your faith?

15:22 – The world hates Jesus because He convicts them of their sin.

15:24 – How could witnessing Jesus’ miracles make the world guilty of sin?

15:26 – The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus.

15:27 – We must testify about Jesus, too.


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, July 17, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 24 – Genesis-Revelation


This epic Bible study has come full-circle.  I am surprised at how quickly 24 weeks have passed.  This final hour was an overview of the entire study and showcased a handful of concepts that were introduced throughout the 24 hours.  Of particular interest to me was the reiteration of the “History of the English Bible”.  My curiosity was ignited to do more research in this area after a co-worker (seemingly out of the blue) asked me about the best translation of the Bible and the chart from the study notes popped into my head, but I realized that I couldn’t explain it.  I suppose that means I didn’t really learn the material.

I took it as a hint from the Lord that He had something to teach me on this subject, so I did my research and felt sad that the NIV that I’ve loved since I first became a Christian over 30 years ago was derived from corrupted sources.  Then Jesus turned the light on.  He’s been teaching me from that text for over 30 years IN SPITE OF ITS CORRUPTED SOURCE!  Hallelujah!  God truly is powerful.

Dr. Missler concludes this hour with a beautiful view of our Savior, Jesus, inspired by Pastor S.D. Lockridge.  I am so glad that the text of this reading was included in the supplemental notes for the study.  Whenever I get too cocky and forget how majestic my Lord is, all I have to do is read these words and true perspective will be restored.

Our study group plans to take a short (two week) break and jump right back in with Dr. Missler’s 24-Hour study on the book of Revelation.  I cannot wait!  I’m planning to use the KJV during this study just to see if it will improve my vocabulary and how God will speak through it.

No more homework.  We’ve completed another study!  Hallelujah!  Next week, we will begin discussing Kelly Minter’s study on Nehemiah.  It is a life-changer.  Don’t miss it!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 14

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, 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 14 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


14:1-4 – If you were one of the disciples, how would these verses comfort you? What did Jesus mean in light of the events of chapter 13?

14:5-14 – we need Jesus – ALL OF US!

14:5 – Did Thomas understand?

14:6 – see Acts 4:12.

The sixth “I AM” Statement – Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is no other way to heaven! This is critical to understand. This is the choice that all men WILL make!

Is He your way, your truth and your life? If so, praise Him! If not, why not?

Do you know someone who will be shocked to hear this news when the time comes for every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? If you do, TELL THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Jesus calls Himself the way, the truth and the life. What do you think He meant by each title?

14:7 – If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father.

What do you think Jesus meant by saying, “From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him”?

14:8 – Why do you think Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father since Jesus has already said the disciples have seem Him?

14:10 – The secret to Jesus’ life is that He didn’t live it! The Father living in Him is Who did all of the work. That’s why God received all of the glory.

14:11 – What sort of evidence did the miracles present that supports Jesus’ claim that He and the Father are one?

14:12 – What has Jesus been doing? He plainly says that we will do what He has been doing if we have faith in Him! Are you doing it?

14:13-14 – What can we ask for in Jesus’ name that will glorify the Father?

14:16 – “Another Counselor” refers to the Holy Spirit. What does this name tell us about Him?

14:17 – Is the reason the world can’t accept the Holy Spirit because He is the Spirit of truth, and WE CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH?

Here, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth. What does this name tell you about Him?

14:18 – Jesus comes to us through the Holy Spirit because They are One!

14:20 – We are one with Jesus and the Father because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in us.

What did Jesus mean by “that day”?

14:24 – Further proof that Jesus and the Father are One: How else could Jesus speak the Father’s words? How does this apply to us? Can we speak the Father’s words? What does this say about our relationship with Him?

14:26 – The Holy Spirit is the more common name for this Person of the Trinity. What additional information does this name tell you about Him?

14:27 – to help us overcome!

Does the world give any sort of peace? How does Jesus’ peace differ?

14:28 – How is Jesus coming back? Provide Biblical support for your answer.

14:30 – Who is the prince of this world? Why does Jesus call him that?

14:31 – How will the world learn that Jesus loves the Father and that He obeys (in light of verse 30)?


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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?

A Bride for All Seasons

It All Started with an Ad in a Mail Order Bride Catalogue... Melvin Hitchcock of the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalog isn't dishonest---not exactly. If he tweaks his clients' applications a bit, it's
because he's looking out for their best interests. This charming bouquet of novellas introduces four Hitching Post prospects in the year 1870, each one eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they'll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.

And Then Came Spring by Margaret Brownley Mary-Jo has been unlucky all her life. But who would guess she'd travel halfway across the country to meet her match . . . only to find him dead!

An Ever-After Summer by Debra Clopton Ellie had no idea she's not what Matthew ordered. And what's wrong with being a "Bible thumper" anyway? She's determined to show him she's tougher than she looks---and just the girl he needs.

Autumn's Angel by Robin Lee Hatcher Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn't come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. The trouble is, there's no money to send them back. . .

Winter Wedding Bells by Mary Connealy David's convinced he's not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he's gone---nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?

Here's my review of this amazing anthology:


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Robin Lee Hatcher and Mary Connealy and their publisher for sending me a copy of "A Bride For All Seasons" 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 Bride for All Seasons” is a lovely anthology by four very gifted storytellers.  Each tale is set during a different season of the year 1870, but all are about mail-order brides in search of a second chance who have used the Hitching Post catalogue to find a groom.  What each of these couples don’t know is that Melvin Hitchcock edits the advertisements and letters in his catalogue to make them more “marketable”.  This makes for some intriguing twists in these entertaining tails.

****In Margaret Brownley’s “And Then Came Spring”, Mary Jo Parker leaves the red Georgia soil to become the wife of Colton, Kansas attorney, Daniel Garrett.  Angered that her groom didn’t show up at the train station to pick her up, she arrives in town just in time for his funeral.  Mary Jo discovers a son that Daniel never mentioned in his letters and a bogus stack of letters from the marriage broker to her intended, increasing her frustrations.  But the offer from her would-have-been brother-in-law who happens to be the sheriff is what throws her for a loop and has the potential to change her life.

*****“An Ever-After Summer” by Debra Clopton captured me from the very first line!  Ellie Smith snatches the opportunity to escape her tormenting home life to wed “lonely widowed rancher,” Mathew McConnell.  There are a few problems with this love story, as well.  Ellie isn’t the “practical” woman he envisioned in her frills and petticoats.  And sourpuss Mathew doesn’t appear to be “looking for love”.  But one thing is certain:  Mathew’s daughter, Sophie needs a mother and Ellie certainly fits the bill!  This was an absolutely entertaining and inspiring story.

***Robin Lee Hatcher’s contribution, “Autumn’s Angel”, finds Luvena traveling from Boston to Grand Coeur, Idaho to help her future husband run an opera house.  But the offer of marriage is about to be revoked when her nieces and nephew are unexpected and unwelcomed by her fiancĂ©.  Clay is smitten by Luvena’s beauty, but Grand Coeur is no place for children.  Too bad he can’t afford to send them back where they came from.  The romantic relationship development was a bit abrupt in this novella.

*****David is a dying man who needs to marry so his young sons will be cared for and his ranch will continue on in “Winter Wedding Bells” by Mary Connealy.  Megan agrees to the marriage after receiving the “doctored” letter that omitted the news of David’s impending death.  But even after learning the truth, the Irish woman dives into her charge with gusto and refuses to live like her new husband is dying while offering him the opportunity to heal.  Connealy’s signature wit and humor peppers this wonderfully enjoyable tale.  I found myself laughing out loud while reading this story that ended way too quickly.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 23 – Revelation 4-22


Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, Triumph

Alright, we’ve studied what John saw and the things that are.  Now we’ve arrived to study the things that come after.  Dr. Missler explains the throne room and who the 24 elders are.  He explains the seven scrolls and the seven trumpets.  He explains the symbolism of the woman and the dragon, the strategies of Satan and the attacks on the line of David in attempt to destroy the Messianic line.  He explains the seven bowls and the Battle of Armageddon.

The Millennium and the New Jerusalem are also presented briefly.  But Christ’s triumph is assured and already secured.  This lesson has left me completely ready to begin an in-depth study of the book of Revelation.  I’m incredibly excited.

There is no homework for next time.  We’ll be doing an overview of all we’ve learned over the last 24 weeks.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there's a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island. . .

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine's father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can't help being drawn to Hope Beach's new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.
mourn her brother, Ben. She's even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It's always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben's disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.
 
Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other . . . and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?


Here is my review of this enjoyable novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Colleen Coble and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Rosemary Cottage" 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.

Colleen Coble’s “Rosemary Cottage” is a suspenseful trip to Hope Island.  Amy Lang has returned to the summer home she loved to solve her brother’s murder.  She doesn’t expect to find a niece she didn’t know she had.  She also didn’t expect to find love with Curtis, who also happens to be her niece’s uncle.  Curtis, raising his niece after his sister’s murder, fears that Amy’s wealthy parents will try to take Raine from his custody.  But that becomes the least of their worries when the killer now appears to be after them.

This second book in the series is enjoyable whether you’ve read “Tidewater Inn” or not.  Colleen Coble is an exceptional suspense writer.  She crafts fleshy characters and smart, sticky situations.  She leaves enough clues throughout the narrative to allow us armchair detectives the thrill of figuring out the mystery.  I am looking forward to the next offering from one of my favorite authors.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Small Town Girl by Ann H. Gabhart

How long can two people stand on the brink of love without plunging in headfirst? In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates with apprehension, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh.

As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking.

And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can't draw her interest. Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything and Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways.

Could she truly be in love with him? And if he enlists, will she ever see him again? In her gentle and textured style, Ann H. Gabhart tells a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and longing that will grip your heart and stir your spirit. Fans of Gabhart's Angel Sister will love seeing Kate Merritt all grown-up, as well as other characters they have come to love.

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Ann H. Gabhart and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Small Town Girl" 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.

Kate Merritt watches her sister marry the man she’s loved since she was 15 in “Small Town Girl” by Ann H. Gabhart.  But what Kate feels is a tragic circumstance turns into a blessing in disguise.  Best man, Jay Tanner, appears to be a womanizer and is very attentive to Kate.  Whether Jay and Kate can take a chance on love is shadowed by the looming entrance of the United States into WWII, the interference of other people and damage from the past.

“Small Town Girl” looks at the importance of love and family and the fact that family love doesn’t necessarily mean there is a link by blood and birth.  Threads of spirituality and patriotism and forgiveness create a strong backbone on which Ms. Gabhart hangs fleshy characters and a naturally flowing plotline.

This novel is thoroughly enjoyable and surprising.  I must admit that I’ve read several novels lately that have been predictable and frustrating.  I knew the characters were going to do something stupid to create drama and conflict, but I wanted to enjoy the book so badly that I bought it.  “Small Town Girl” wasn’t like that at all.  While reading this beautiful book, I had one of those moments where I just “knew” that one of the characters was going to do something stupid to create conflict in the plot.  Surprisingly, I was wrong.  Hallelujah!  These characters have integrity.  This appears to be the mark of a truly gifted author.  Thank you, Ann Gabhart, for showing me that really good stories with legitimate conflict are out there!  Although the end was a bit abrupt, this was a wonderful book that I am proud to add to my “keeper” shelf.  But I imagine fans of the first book will love this one also since I believe the first book probably ended in a similar fashion.  I can’t wait for book three…  Please let there be a book three!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 13

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the Gospel of John, 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, fall 2009 through late spring 2010, 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 13 of the book of John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…


13:1-17 – Jesus is the laver of the tabernacle. (A Woman’s Heart – Moore)

13:1 – NIV says Jesus “now showed them the full extent of his love.” How does foot washing show the full extent of Jesus’ love? That’s what He did in this moment – wash their feet. His love was shown in His service to them. How do you show your love?

13:2 – They ate together. Eating is an intimate experience. What are your thoughts about sharing a meal with others?

13:3-5 – Jesus was secure in His identity, so He was able to give Himself fully to service. What is your identity with regard to God? Are you so secure in your relationship to Him that you can give yourself fully to serving the Lord and others?

13:5-6 – Whose feet did Jesus wash before getting to Peter? Did Peter’s refusal to be washed make the disciples who didn’t refuse feel as though they’d done something wrong? Or were they so humbled by the experience that Peter’s refusal made him look arrogant and prideful? Explain your thoughts.

13:7 – Jesus told Peter that he would understand what Jesus was doing later on. What was Jesus doing? When did Peter come to understand this?

13:8 – Unless Jesus washes us, we have no part of Him. How does Jesus wash us today? Can you give Biblical support for your answer?

Judas was still present at this point in the evening’s events. Jesus washed his feet along with the others. What are your thoughts about the Lord cleaning Judas’ feet? Was He anointing the feet of His betrayer to go to the Sanhedrin for the purpose of betraying Him?

13:10-11 – Judas was unclean because he was entertaining the thoughts of betraying Jesus. See 13:2.

13:13-17 – Jesus tells the disciples that humility and service is a blessing. See Philippians 2:1-18. Describe your experience in this area.

13:18 – prophesied in Psalm 41:9.

Didn’t Jesus choose all of the disciples? Explain your thoughts.

13:20 – Why would Jesus inject this phrase about accepting those He sent leading to acceptance of Him and the Father at this point?

13:21-25 – Jesus drops a bombshell that prompts the disciples to inquire which of them would betray Him. Why do you think they wanted to know who it was? Do you think that each needed the reassurance that it wasn’t him? Do you sometimes need that assurance?

13:24-25 – Did John have “special influence” with Jesus? Or was he the one Peter encouraged to question Jesus simply because he was sitting closest to the Lord?

13:27 – This is like the anti-Christian communion. In light of this, do you think that you should make a concerted effort to do an act of service for Him after observing the Lord’s Supper with your church family?

Why do you think Jesus told Judas to act quickly? To be within God’s perfect timing? To set things irreversibly into motion so Jesus would not have the option to change His mind about enduring what He knew was coming?

13:28-29 – How could the disciples not understand what Judas was going to do? Had sufficient time and conversation taken place to take their minds off of Christ’s prediction of betrayal?

13:31 – Jesus waited until Judas left to continue His teaching. He says that now the Son is glorified. The plan is in motion for Jesus to die.

13:33 – What does Jesus mean when He says, “Where I am going, you cannot come”? See v. 36.

13:34-35 – What is new about Jesus’ command to love each other?

13:36 – Jesus tells Peter that he will follow Him later. What does He mean? See John 21:18-19.

13:37-38 – See Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:33-34. What similarities exist in these parallel accounts? What additional information do you glean from these passages? What does this tell you about the perspective of the writer, John? How does this knowledge enhance your understanding of the event?

13:37 – Was Peter an impulsive blowhard? Or did he really mean it when he said he would die for Jesus? What Biblical support can you offer for your answer?

13:38 – If you were Peter, how would you feel about Christ saying that you were going to disown Him in the next few hours? Would you be relieved that He didn’t say you were His betrayer?


• The book of John is called the “Love Gospel”. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, July 03, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 22 – Revelation 1-3


The Once and Future Church

The book of Revelation is the consummation of all things.  It presents the climax of God’s plan for mankind.  It is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to the reader and hearer of its prophecy.  The first three chapters provide a description of Christ, an outline for the structure of the book and the seven letters to the seven churches.

Dr. Missler challenges the audience to make a list of all the “sevens” in the book of Revelation.  He begins that list for us as he teaches this material.  Since our small group is planning to take two weeks off, then begin his 24 Hours in Revelation study, I think I should start assembling my list, now.

So, the outline of the book of Revelation is as follows:  Jesus instructed John to write what he has seen (Christ’s description – chapter 1), the things that are (the seven churches – chapters 2, 3) and the things that will be (what follows after the churches – Chapters 4-22).

I cannot wait to go through Dr. Missler’s in-depth teaching on the book of Revelation.  I just finished a nine-week study on the churches and the New Jerusalem which added to the knowledge I’ve accumulated from previous studies and Dr. Missler’s teaching presented additional material that I don’t recall learning before.  He created a prophetic profile between the seven churches and the seven kingdom parables of Matthew 13 – FASCINATING!  He parallels these seven churches with seven churches to which Paul preached.

This is incredible stuff.  I would like to spend more time on each topic we touch on.  But I suppose that’s what Dr. Missler’s more concentrated studies are for.  This is also supposed to whet the student’s appetite to study certain topics on their own.

Have you gone through “Learn the Bible in 24 Hours”?  Has it prompted you to study anything on your own?  I’d love to hear about it!

Homework for next time:  Revelation 4-22