Friday, August 30, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 21

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 21 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…


21:5 – they didn’t lie about their catch.

21:6 – Why would the disciples obey a seemingly crazy suggestion?

21:11 – I wonder why they mentioned the exact number of fish. What are your thoughts?

21:15-19 – Peter had a private restoration with Jesus. Christ asked Peter three times if he loved Him – the same number of times Peter denied Him.

Isn’t it precious to know that we can be restored to serve Him after we’ve sinned?

21:20-23 – Jesus tells Peter that John’s relationship with Him is not Peter’s concern. So it is in our lives. Don’t be jealous of someone else’s relationship with God.

21:25 – I am blown away that Jesus did many other things that obviously John witnessed, but weren’t recorded. So many things that John believed the whole world wouldn’t have room for the books that would be written. Granted, John’s concept of the size of the world might have been a bit off-base, but that’s not the point. There’s also no real point in speculating what those things might have been that Jesus did that weren’t recorded. Instead, contemplate this:

What has Jesus done in your own life that could be added to the list of things the Lord has done?

• 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, August 28, 2013

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


Video session 6 showcased a friend of Kelly’s who prayed for over a year about what God wanted her to do in ministry.  Now, Linda Leathers is the CWO of The Next Door, a facility dedicated to transforming the lives of women who have recently been released from prison.  She believes that one life transformed can affect an entire generation.

Where am I?  Where do I need to be?  This can be a location, a discipline, a level of maturity.  Am I currently where God wants me?  Or am I set free but still living like a slave?  Several years ago I recognized that I was living like a slave.  I didn’t even realize I was living that way until Jesus rescued me from it.

We need to show up where God wants us.  He’s going to do all of the work.  We just need to be present.  I don’t want to compete for His glory.  It belongs to Him.  I don’t want any of it.  I just want to serve Him.  I want to be on the lookout for where He is at work.  I want my heart to break for what breaks His heart.  Praise Him, I am noticing that this is beginning to happen.

Thank you, Kelly Minter, for a thought-provoking and life- altering study.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 20

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 20 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…


20:1-8 – See Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10. 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?

20:1 – Jesus later shows that He can enter a locked room (20:19, 26). So, He didn’t require the stone to be removed. Why was the stone rolled away?

20:3-5 – Why do you think John hesitated to enter the tomb? What does the different reaction from Peter tell you about each of these disciples?

20:8 – What do you think John saw that made him believe?

20:12 – see Exodus 25:17-22. The angels in the tomb sat similar to the cherubim on the atonement cover of the ark. Perhaps that’s how they watched over His body as they waited for Him to rise?

this posture of the angels appears to mimic the atonement cover of the ark of the covenant.

20:13 – why would the angels ask why Mary is crying?

Why would anyone have stolen Jesus’ body?

20:15 – ironically, this Man Who Mary just accused of carrying Jesus away did exactly that – ON HIS OWN TWO FEET!

20:16-17 – she must have hugged Him. His “rebuke” was tender.

20:16 – Can you relate to Mary’s recognition of Jesus by the way He spoke her name? Take a moment to contemplate (and maybe even journal) this scene using your own experience.

20:17 – scripture doesn’t say it, but Jesus’ response to Mary would indicate that she grabbed a hold of Him. He told her to let go of Him and go tell His brothers that He is returning to the Father.

What did He mean by this? He stuck around the disciples for 40 (?) days before His ascension.

20:19 – Jesus appeared in a room where the doors were locked.

Jesus revealed Himself through the Old Testament scriptures the disciples didn’t originally see fulfilled.

20:22 – Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit onto the disciples.

20:26-29 – I wonder why it isn’t recorded that Jesus breathed the Spirit onto Thomas.

20:26-28 – Thomas never touched Jesus. He just declared Him to be his Lord and God.

20:28 – Thomas is the eighth witness for Christ.

20:29 – Those who believe without seeing refers to us! How do you think we are blessed because of this?

20:31 – Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?


• 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?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Hired, Last Fired by Anita Agers-Brooks

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:

Leafwood Publishers (August 13, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ryan Self for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anita Agers-Brooks is a business and inspirational coach, certified personality trainer, productivity specialist, certified team training facilitator, marketing specialist, and national speaker. She is a member of the Christian Writer’s Guild; graduate of Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers Seminars; co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio; and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. As a founding partner in The Zenith Zone, she’s dedicated to helping business owners, managers, and employees grow and thrive. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

First Hired, Last Fired shows readers how to use the valuable wisdom found in the ancient text of the Bible to avoid becoming disposable in this challenging marketplace. Through timeless wisdom, simple solutions, and easy-to-apply principles, readers will find meaning in their work lives, and deep satisfaction from committing to a job well done. Through practice, the reader will learn to look deeper into the Bible for relevant help with current issues.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (August 13, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891123202
ISBN-13: 978-0891123200


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Joseph Factor




“Anyone can be replaced.” Often quoted, but is this an irrefutable truth? Or can someone become so valuable at work it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing the job? I asked these questions in a two-year investigation to find out why some employees are favored and why others are easily discarded.


As part of my search, I considered my own experience as a manager. I’ve encountered a few rare employees who demonstrated integrity to such a degree they became irreplaceable to me as a supervisor. I’ve fought to keep these people in my workforce, and, when they left, things weren’t the same. Whether they knew it or not, these savvy folks set themselves apart by following centuries-old patterns.


There are formulas for success proven through millennia of practice.
Irreplaceable employees dare to be different in a systematic way.


My examination of facts took me deep into the heart of the Bible. Whether you believe in this ancient text or not, it’s hard to argue against its time-proven wisdoms. In my research, I discovered more than eight hundred passages related to work or labor. I believe if we studied and applied them today, a powerful and united workforce could result.


Where debt buries us, untold riches await our unearthing. Instead of giving jobs away, nations would rise to a place of leadership in the world’s commerce. Pride would fall prey to humility rooted in a commitment of integrity. But it starts with the individual.


Let’s face it, many people believe they work smarter, harder, and better than their peers. But do their ethics, their productivity, and their attitudes support this belief? In today’s cynical world, can individuals still impact their job, family, community, nation, and the globe for a greater good? Can you become irreplaceable? I’ve seen the difference when people work God’s way and when they don’t. You get what you give.


Gary’s story is a prime example. For this book, I interviewed more than one hundred employees in various fields. The following fictionalized account portrays a compilation of a sad reality played out in businesses around the world. Let’s peek inside the mind of a man who believes he’s underappreciated and justifies his weak behavior.


--


The powerful scent of imitation leather and sandalwood caused Gary to sneeze. First Capital Mortgage Company’s board members were meeting tomorrow, which meant someone overdid the commercial air fresheners. Gary didn’t need cologne today. His clothes would smell of the earthy concoction by lunch.


He tried to smooth his rumpled shirt while he clocked in. The sound of male laughter caught his ear, so Gary made his way to the small group of huddled coworkers. He circled the group with a few friendly back-slapping and how-are-you greetings. Each man rewarded him with a varying degree of smile.


“Hey, are you putting money in the football pool or not? Everyone else is in, and the big game’s tonight,” Tom said.


“Yeah, I’ll stop by your desk before I leave today, I promise,” Gary said.


“As usual, a man of many words, I’ll believe it when I see it.”


Gary’s hazel eyes sparkled and he cocked his right eyebrow, “Hey, I keep my promises.”


Tom opened his mouth to respond but shut it just as quickly. Their chief financial officer, Mark, stormed up the hall wearing a focused frown. The huddled mass broke, and most of the men scurried to their posts, hoping Mark wouldn’t note the inactivity. Gary wasn’t fast enough and stood frozen in position, waiting for the assault.


When Mark caught you doing anything but work, punishment followed. It might not be formal, and Mark might not address the situation directly, but his reactions said you were on his blacklist.


Sensing danger, Gary offered Mark a verbal to do list.


Red-faced, Mark said, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, just do it. I’ve been waiting on that report for three days now, and it had better be on my desk by 3 p.m. No excuses this time.” He barely broke stride as he marched off to find his next victim.


After Mark left, Gary shrugged his shoulders. He muttered while he walked, “If Mark would just listen and treat me like a human being I might be able to finish that report. Every time I try to tell him my plans he gets annoyed. He should appreciate me. I try a lot harder than some of the people who work here. He doesn’t have to be such a jerk. If I were running this company, I’d listen to people.”


For months, Gary had tried. Small talk about the family, flattering comments, and even gifts hadn’t worked with Mark. Every attempt met a terse, “Don’t you have work to do?”


“No matter what I say, he just doesn’t like me.” Disappointed but determined not to give up, Gary stopped muttering and whistled as he headed to his desk.


Once there, he grabbed his coffee cup and fell in step with Christy. They chatted briefly on the way to and from the office lounge. Fifteen minutes later, Christy headed to her own desk as Gary sat down to work. His mind wandered while he popped his earplugs in. He scrolled to the new album he’d downloaded last night. He needed to focus; Mark would have his head if he missed another deadline.


Gary started his daily routine. He checked e-mail, updated his Facebook status, checked the activities of his friends, and tweeted. Then he added charges to the expense voucher from his recent business trip, before preparing to get into the report Mark needed.


Gary typed two sentences when his iPhone vibrated. His wife, Denise, said, “Hi, honey, I just spoke with the plumber and he’ll be at the house tomorrow, can you take off?”


“I’m not sure. Mark’s really on me today. Can’t you do it?”


Denise sighed, “I’ll see, but if I’m gone tomorrow, I can’t leave in time to pick Emma up from practice tonight. Can you get her at five?”


“Yeah, I’m sure I can sneak out a few minutes early. Do you want me to get something for supper?”


A heavy breath signaled Denise’s relief, “That would be great. Oh, I’ve gotta go, here comes my manager. Love you.” The line went dead.


Gary put his phone back in his shirt pocket, clicked on Mark’s report, and then stopped. He realized he needed to check his bank balance. He pulled up the online information and got his checkbook out. He hoped there was enough to pay the plumber. A few minutes later, an assistant manager walked by, so Gary clicked on the overdue report until the coast was clear. He pulled his account back up and after a quick reconciliation was relieved to find there was enough money for the house repairs.


He looked at his watch and gasped. It was almost time for lunch, and he hadn’t even started that report. Beating back a twinge of guilt, Gary pushed hard for the next hour and twenty minutes. He even worked ten minutes into lunch to make up for the time he’d wasted in the morning.


The afternoon passed uneventfully. Gary finally put the last touches on his report just before two thirty. He sent a text to share the good news with his wife, and breathed deep with satisfaction. He wondered aloud, “Why do I put things off? It’s not so bad once I get started.”


Gary smiled sheepishly as Tonya walked by his cubicle and gave him a puzzled look. His outspoken musing must have been louder than he thought.


He celebrated the report completion by walking across the office to see Tom. They bantered about the upcoming play-offs. Tom challenged Gary with, “Put your money where your mouth is buddy, and give me five bucks for the pool.”


Gary chuckled as he dug the money out of his wallet. They were still laughing when Mark walked up behind Gary. The cloud on his face promised bad news.


“Th-tha-a-at report’s on m-my desk and ready to go.”


“Grab it and bring it to my office, I need to talk to you.”


Gary felt queasy as he walked the hall toward Mark’s office. He knocked on the door and entered at Mark’s terse invitation. As Gary sat down, he saw Connie, the human resource manager. Gary flinched when Mark shut the door behind them.


“Gary, we have to make cuts. There’s no way around it. The banking industry is suffering along with the rest of the nation in this recession. Positions must be eliminated, and yours is the first to go. Connie will help you clean out your desk. The necessary paperwork is done.
You will get two weeks of severance pay, and we certainly wish you the best of luck. I’m sorry.” Mark’s tone of voice wasn’t as soft as his final words.


With that Gary was dismissed, shocked into speechlessness. The report lay untouched on Mark’s desk.


Connie escorted Gary to his desk. He numbly filled a box with all his personal items. When he was done he took a last look at a piece of furniture he no longer recognized. Now empty of possessions and personality, it looked as bare as his soul felt.


Security came and walked beside Gary as he shuffled out the employee entrance for the last time. Head down, tears dangerously close to spilling, he noticed the door that had become invisible to him. Not since his early days of employment had his enthusiasm prompted him to push hard and prove himself. As his comfort in the company grew, his ambition waned. Soon, his routine mirrored that of fellow employees.


Now, however, he realized he would never cross this threshold again. Like many other people, he joined the ranks of the unemployed. Nausea punched him in the stomach as he stepped into the sunlight, and Gary wondered how any of this happened.


--


Whether your job is hidden behind the scenes or you stand in front of the public saying, “May I help you?” meaningful work makes life worth living. Some are tasked with juggling the people and work processes as a manager, knowing full well they won’t please everyone. Some try to keep up with ever-changing demands of bosses, who can’t seem to make up their minds.


Many employees simply don’t realize they have the power of choice in determining their outcomes. Without realizing it, they often give their own jobs away. It’s as if an invisible thief sneaks around the corner and picks their pockets, plucking all but the lint. They never see it coming.


Most workers don’t consider lost time theft. However, there is no difference between stealing time and stealing cash. Managers often meet people who wouldn’t steal twenty dollars from their employer but take hundreds in time wasted.


Often, employees avoid personal responsibility by casting blame on each other. Factories, offices, construction sites, restaurants, service industries, and more are susceptible to attack. When employees engage in personal e-mails, Internet play, text messages, phone calls, inappropriate personal conversations, or other non-work-related activity, the risk is significant. Consider the following equation as an example:


• 2 employees paid $10.00 per hour × 6 inappropriate 15-minute distractions = $30.00 the thief has stolen
• 3 hours per day × 5 days = $150.00 per week stolen
• 3 hours per day × 20 work days = $600.00 stolen monthly
• Multiply this figure by 260 work days per year and the annual cost = $7,800.00


But the employer is not the only one to suffer. As procrastination rises and motivation decreases, individual employees lose inner satisfaction and peace. Employee raises, benefits, and sometimes the job itself are forfeited when a business struggles to make ends meet. The bottom line: everyone suffers.


I’ve employed people with college degrees whose behavior made them an employee I could do without. By the same token, I’ve hired folks with no credentials but who were teachable and acted on their desire to do more. It isn’t a matter of intelligence—people can learn—it’s a matter of what you do with what you learn. The difference is simple: study God’s word and do something positive with the information inside.


In the book of Genesis, a man named Joseph put his heart into his work. His actions caused him to receive favor. He treated other people’s property like his own. He worked as if he owned the business.
If today’s employee invested like Joseph, I believe the world we live in might look different. The change could start with you.


You have more power than you think. With intent, you can influence the world around you for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.


In its simplest form, integrity is doing the same thing whether you think someone can see you or not. At a deeper level, the power of extraordinary integrity shocks others to pay closer attention. Try it.


The next time you’re sitting with other employees and gossip ensues, especially if you take part in any way, go back and apologize for your participation. Even if you simply listened but didn’t speak.


Listening alone gives the impression that you condone the words of complaint and back stabbing.


Later, when you walk up and say, “I need to apologize,” most people will automatically ask, “What for?” This is your opportunity to say something like this, “I shouldn’t have talked about Nancy behind her back. I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Leave it at that—period.


Excuses, blame, or qualifiers, like the word but, can negate anything else you say. It also shifts blame to someone else. For example, “I shouldn’t have talked about Nancy behind her back, but when I heard all of you, it slipped out.”


You must confess in purity and honesty with genuine remorse for this to work. Don’t say anything about others—stick to what you did.


Take courage and become a hero in the workplace. The world needs more heroes. Since many of us spend more time with people at work than we do with our own families, what greater place to witness by our actions the life of Jesus Christ? Can you imagine him gossiping?


Don’t worry about what others think, whether they laugh at you, or even turn on you. What’s the worst thing someone might say behind your back, “I don’t really like her, but I have to admit, she gets the job done.”


Or do you prefer, “I thought he was supposed to be a Christian, but he spends more time talking than working”? The results depend on the pattern of your work habits. The choice is yours.


The model of Joseph shows us a secret to success in the workplace. Applying his wisdom can make you different. Joseph stands out as a man who not only impacted his immediate surroundings, but, because of his consistency, he saved individuals, families, commerce, and nations from destruction. His life made a huge difference. I can’t imagine anyone else doing what Joseph did. He was irreplaceable.


Several factors point to the reason why.


• Joseph believed in his God-given dreams. Though he was hated and others were jealous, he accepted his circumstances. Even when he was mocked and his brothers plotted to destroy him, Joseph submitted while he waited for his dreams to become reality (Gen. 37:5–20).


• Joseph endured torment at the hands of those with evil intent. He required mercy so he could be rescued from the clutches of disaster (Gen. 37:21–22).


• Joseph knew his limitations and went willingly when his brothers sold him out for their own personal gain (Gen. 37:26–28).


• Joseph needed blind faith. He didn’t realize a rescue attempt was made after he was gone (Gen. 37:29).


• Joseph’s dreams took him to foreign places, and he was put in relationship with strange people. Because he believed God and followed with his whole heart, Joseph was favored by the Lord. God blessed those Joseph served, and he influenced many others (Gen. 39:1–5).


• Joseph proved himself trustworthy by his common patterns of integrity. He conducted himself the same way whether anyone else could see or not. Even when there was an appearance of impropriety, Joseph did not make excuses or blame others. He waited in the darkest place for God’s favor to shine (Gen. 39:6–23).


• Joseph helped those in need. He cared enough to ask why they were sad and interpreted their God-given dreams for them. Then he clearly communicated the request on his own heart (Gen. 40:1–15).


• Joseph spoke the truth, even when it wasn’t what the other person wanted to hear. Even though it must have been painful (Gen. 40:16–22).


• Joseph held on when hope seemed to be lost to the selfishness of others. Over the passing of years, he fulfilled his duties and took care of everyday business (Gen. 40:23, 41:1–8).


• Joseph was ready for the task when he was finally called back to service. Prepared by practice and pattern, he did not, however, take credit when it wasn’t his due (Gen. 41:40).


• Joseph didn’t slouch, play, or waste time when times were easy. Instead, like the ant, he took advantage of the opportunity. He worked hard and saved from the bounty. He prospered both professionally and personally because he was a wise steward over the blessings he and his master received. He trained others to do the same (Gen. 41:41–54).


• Joseph didn’t hoard his abundance. He shared with those in need. Even those who had hurt him in the past. He remembered his dreams and trusted that the hardship was part of the plan to make him better (Gen. 41:55–57; 42:1–6).


• As a man of integrity, Joseph wasn’t afraid to be bold in making his point. He demonstrated his authority and showed strength as the man in charge (Gen. 42:7–38; 43; 44).


• Joseph showered mercy on those who mistreated him, and the truth finally came out. He accepted the larger plan at work and blessed those who had cursed him. He shared his wealth with his former enemies (Gen. 45).


• Joseph didn’t steal from his employer. He turned everything he collected over to the one who owned it. Joseph was content with what he had been given. He didn’t resent not having more (Gen. 47:13–26).


If it hadn’t been for Joseph’s practice of integrity, many would have suffered and died.


Every company you work for, or with, affords you the honor of being a Joseph to them. Ask God to bless the work of your hands and that the overflow of those blessings would spill onto those around you.
Treat the business as if you owned it.


Ask that your company would affect the county, state, and federal, and global governments in positive ways. And keep your eyes open for opportunities to take action in accordance with the examples of those who obeyed God’s formula for successful living.


I wonder how Gary’s life might look had he chosen to practice integrity like Joseph.


--


Music filtered into Gary’s fuzzy mind. Praise music, energetic and uplifting. He twisted onto his side, tempted to hit the snooze, until the aroma of Maxwell House Breakfast Blend rousted him from the last vestige of sleep. He palmed the off button on the clock, leaned over, kissed his wife lightly, and got up. He scuffed to the kitchen.


“Thank goodness for automatic timers,” Gary said to himself while he poured a steaming cup of dark brew and settled at the table with his Bible. He bowed his head and prayed for wisdom, then dug into his study of Joseph.


A page of notes, two cups of coffee, and thirty minutes later, Gary closed his Bible and put everything away. He headed to the bedroom to wake his wife and get ready for work.


Gary listened to a message on the radio as he drove to the office. The speaker hit many of the same points he’d found in his personal study earlier. He chuckled and shook his head, “I hear you. Thanks for setting me straight.”


When he walked inside the building whistling, John, one of his coworkers said, “What are you so happy about?”


“I’m just rejoicing in this day the Lord has made,” Gary said.


“You’re nuts, you know that? Didn’t you hear about Mike? He’s the fourth one in two days they’ve let go. Who knows, we might be next.”


“I heard, but I’m not going to let it keep me from doing my job.
This is where my faith meets the road. I trust God more than my fears.”


“Like I said, you’re nuts.” John shook his head and skulked down the hall.


Gary clocked in and walked toward the growing pitch of men’s laughter. As he approached, Tom said, “Hey buddy, do you want in on the football pool?”


“I appreciate it, but no thanks. I’d better stick with earning my money.”


“Is a measly five bucks going to break you?” Tom elbowed the guy standing next to him.


Gary chuckled, “It isn’t that. My convictions simply won’t let me waste it. Five dollars could go into my children’s college fund, or even better, could help feed someone who’s starving. I appreciate the invite, but I need to get to work. I already clocked in.”


“Suit yourself. Always gotta be the do-gooder.” Tom turned his back to Gary, signaling disdain.


As Gary continued toward his office, he heard snickers and a few loud guffaws echo from the group of men. He prayed silently as he walked, “Lord, give me strength to do what will honor you and help others.”


Christy fell in step beside him as he finished the prayer. “Do you want to grab a cup of coffee with me?”


“Thanks, but I drank some at home.”


They arrived at the desk, but Christy hesitated while Gary settled
in. “I’ve been meaning to ask if you want to have lunch sometime?”


Gary’s fingers froze on the keyboard where he’d entered his password.
His thoughts jumped into hyperdrive. “Stay calm. It’s an innocent request. Lunch won’t hurt anyone; it’s harmless. But be honest, you do think she’s cute. Besides, what would Denise think? How would you feel if your wife had lunch with a guy she thought was cute? And remember Joseph. Look at the trouble Potiphar’s wife caused him.”


“I appreciate the offer Christy, but my wife and I have an agreement.
Thanks for asking though.”


Christy’s face turned red, and she flounced away.


Gary pulled up the report he needed to finish and wiped unhealthy guilt from his mind. Though he didn’t want to embarrass her, Christy’s heart wasn’t the one he vowed to protect. Denise held that honor.


Forty minutes later, Gary e-mailed the finished report to Mark, the CFO of First Capital Mortgage. Two days early. He helped one of the guys finish up a big project, then started the research for a presentation Mark wanted him to work on next. Engrossed, Gary worked five minutes into his break. The vibration of his iPhone alerted him Denise was calling.


Gary pulled the phone from his pocket, “Hi honey, what’s up?”


“I got a hold of the plumber, and he can be at the house tomorrow. Can you take off?”


“I don’t think it will be a problem. I’ll talk to Mark and make sure. I’ve got a presentation to prepare, but I can work on it from the house. I’ll call you at lunch and let you know.”


“How much do you think it will cost?”


“Probably not more than a couple of hundred, but don’t worry, we can always pull from our emergency fund if necessary.”


“Good. Don’t forget, Emma’s got practice until five, so I’ll be home shortly after. I’d appreciate it if you could start supper. There’s a casserole and the makings of a salad in the fridge.”


“No worries. I’ll see you at home. Love you.”


“Me too. Bye.” The line went dead.


Gary stretched his legs, stepped out to breathe some fresh air, then went back and jumped into the research again. He hardly noticed when Mark walked up to his desk.


“Can I see you in my office?”


Adrenalin coursed through Gary’s veins, “Sure. Do I need to bring anything?”


“No. I’ll meet you there in five.”


Mark walked away and dread caused Gary’s racing heart to skip a couple of beats. He rattled a mental list of projects to himself and found everything either finished or well on its way. He double checked the planner on his phone to make sure he didn’t miss anything, but again, all seemed in order. But Gary knew deep cuts were in the making. Their business suffered from the financial barrage of
a nation in distress.


Like a man walking death row, Gary made his way to Mark’s office. Outside the door, he tapped.


“Come in,” Mark said in his matter-of-fact manner.


Gary entered and sucked air when he saw Connie, the human resource manager, sitting next to an empty chair. Without uttering a sound, he walked into the room, noting a lack of oxygen around him.
Connie nodded toward him in silence while he held the armrests and eased into the seat.


“Gary, we have to make cuts. There’s no way around it. Positions must be eliminated.”


Gary squirmed, and the chair squeaked beneath him.


“I understand.”


“I’m not sure you do. I asked Connie to bring your personnel file.” Mark patted a manila folder lying on his desk. “Your record is spotless. From my own observation, you keep your head down and do whatever I ask. I can count on you to get any job done well and on time. You take initiative, but don’t step beyond your authority level. Most notably, I don’t see evidence of money or time wasted, especially with office gossip. Even your travel expenses come in thirty percent lower than others. This company could use more employees like you.”


Instant heat caused Gary’s face to flush. “Thank you, sir.”


Mark continued, “In the last three years, we’ve only had two complaints about you.”


“You did? What for?” The words slipped from Gary’s mouth of their own accord.


“Nothing to worry about. Trivial and unfounded claims. It turns out both were driven by the same individual. He was misguided enough to think the way to get ahead was by making you look bad. It backfired. He’s no longer with us.


“For a time, the accusations made me question you, but your actions proved you’re a man I can count on.”


Gary’s thoughts flew to the man Mark referred to. He was a game player. As a result, Mark rode Gary hard for several months, but when Gary thought he’d reached breaking point, it stopped. The other man ended up losing his job. Suddenly, Gary realized Mark was talking again.


“. . . sorry about that. But it taught me a lesson. There’s something different about you, and we’d like to tap into that potential. We can’t know what the future holds, but if someone of your caliber would teach your secrets to our other employees, we might flip this downturn up. You’ve proven yourself trustworthy. We need help. And I think you’re the right man for the job. What do you say?”


Gary wrestled with how to answer. He wasn’t sure of the question.
He decided on straightforward. “Pardon me, but I don’t understand
what you’re asking.”


Mark chuckled and leaned forward, his fingers interlocked over Gary’s employment file. “That’s one of the things I like, you’re not afraid to clarify. I’m offering you a promotion of sorts. I can’t give you a raise at this time, but where others are let go, you still have your job. I’d like you to work with human resources to retrain those we keep and start new hires off on the right track. Are you interested?”


Gary’s shoulders softened and he expelled air he didn’t realize he’d held. “Yes sir, I am interested. You can count on me.”


“Great. Connie, can you get things rolling?”


“Yes sir.”


Mark stood, signaling dismissal of the meeting. He extended his hand across the desk. “I expect good things. Don’t let me down. And one of these days, I’d like to find out what makes you different.”


Gary kept his eyes on Mark’s while he lowered his head slightly, pursed his lips, and shrugged his shoulders. “I try to be a Joseph. I ask God to bless our company through the work of my hands.”


“Hmm, interesting. Maybe we can schedule lunch and you can tell me more.”


Gary pumped his boss’s hand, “It would be my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity,” then walked out behind Connie. Gary couldn’t wait to tell his wife. He missed Connie’s small talk as he followed her to her office, distracted in a silent prayer of thanks.


--


Today’s job market is tough. With heroic effort, employees who choose God’s way refuse to justify inappropriate behavior. Heroes don’t offer excuses, and they’re not blinded by entitlement. Heroes remember they were hired to earn a paycheck, not simply collect one. Heroes don’t waste their employer’s money; instead, with integrity, they work the same whether someone can see them or not.


As you read on, I urge you to conduct your own fact-finding missions. At the end of each chapter, you will answer three investigative questions designed to help you decide whether you are taking every precaution to protect your job, your family, your employer, and our economy. Can the Joseph Factor improve your life?


Follow your dreams and leave justification behind. Answer the investigative questions and dare to be different. Become irreplaceable. Become a leader. But remember, great men and women first learn to follow in humility.




Investigative Questions


1. Do you labor for profit or does mere talk lead you to poverty?
(Prov. 14:23).


2. Do you work as working for the Lord, not for men, since
you know that you will receive an inheritance from the
Lord as a reward? (Col. 3:23–24).


3. Is your behavior excellent among your coworkers so that
because of your good deeds, as they observe them, you glorify
God? (1 Pet. 2:12).


Here's my review of this terrific read:


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Anita Agers-Brooks and her publisher for sending me a copy of "First Hired Last Fired" 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.

Anita Agers-Brooks book “First Hired Last Fired” teaches ancient principles that make a person a desirable employee.  Her timeless advice has far-reaching influence, molding the character of the reader using the best source on the planet concerning character development:  the Word of God.  Using the stories of Joseph, Ruth, Deborah, David, Jethro, Paul, Zacchaeus, Matthew, Jacob, Esther, Moses and Jesus, the author points to the truth of the Scriptures to showcase behaviors and attitudes that are highly sought and prized in both life and the workplace.

I am thankful to have this as a resource I can look back on when I want to challenge my own growth professionally and personally.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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


God rescues us.  He loves us as we are and changes us to be more like His Precious Son.  He gave us His Word to give us life!  His Word washes truth over us.  Recently, I was reading in Revelation and came across the verse that says Jesus’ name is the Word of God.  Jesus is God’s Word.  God gave us Jesus to give us life!  Jesus washes truth over us!  Hallelujah.

This week, my idea of confession has changed a bit.  For years I have only thought of confession in the context of admitting my sin to God (or another person).  Now, my view has expanded to include the idea of confessing God’s character in worship of Him and in testifying to others.  I need to praise Him to break patterns of bad behavior.

Kelly also reminded me that the older I get, the more history I have with God so I have that much more evidence of His faithfulness to me which can be used as ammunition against the devil’s schemes!  Hallelujah!  She presented a couple of other thought-provoking thoughts.  First, it’s crazy for us to believe what we haven’t been promised and it’s equally crazy not to believe what we have been promised.  This makes me realize that I’ve said again and again that I need to know what God has promised me, and I still don’t.  How about you?

Second, the Word of God is a mirror for me.  Am I gazing into it?  What needs to change?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson

Here's my review of this wonderful novel:


First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Janice Thompson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Icing on the Cake" 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.

I didn’t think she could do it, but she did!  Janice Thompson actually made me like Armando Rossi!  In Thompson’s  latest novel, “The Icing on the Cake”, Scarlet, baker extraordinaire and business neighbor to the Rossis’ Parma John Pizzeria, is our delightful focus.  Armando Rossi is our leading man, which didn’t appeal to me much since I thought he was a flake in the earlier Rossi-inhabited novels.  But it turns out that Armando is not as shallow as he appeared previously.  Bravo, Ms. Thompson!

I loved how the author made a plump lady the focal point of this romantic-comedy.  I wasn’t so enthusiastic when our heroine went on a crash diet, but loved how the author handled the situation. 

As with all of Ms. Thompson’s novels, there are lots of fun surprises.  Her books are uber-entertaining and have deep life-changing messages.  She effortlessly weaves spirituality into her books and frequently teaches this reader about the sort of person she would like to be.  Even before I digest the final pages of each book, I am ready to devour the next story…

Friday, August 16, 2013

This Means Love


This Means Love:  Service Projects for Women Who Want to Make a Difference is a. Bible study and service project kit for small groups from Group Publishing.  The Bible study of 1 Corinthians 13 is a good beginner study.  However, the setup can be problematic.  I didn't have access to all of the DVDs for viewing and was unable to find the appropriate clips online.  Because everyone uses the same workbook, and the videos aren't mentioned in a leader guide, but in the study itself, some of the participants became disappointed and didn't engage in the discussion.

We modified the service project that we did to collect personal items for family members of hospice patients and delivered them to the facility.  We also collected magazines, Bible study materials and small gifts for shut-ins and delivered the items while we visited with them.

My group plans to continue meeting weekly and engaging in service projects several times a year.  Overall, this Bible study and service project kit is a good resource.

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 19

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 19 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…


19:1-16 –see Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:18-25.

The sixth illegal trial before Pilate – without proof of guilt, Pilate allowed an innocent man to be condemned.

See Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20. 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?

19:1 – It appears that Pilate had Jesus flogged to placate the crowd. Notice in v. 4, he tries again to release Jesus, saying he can find no basis for a charge against Him.

19:6 – Notice it is no longer the Jews, but the Chief Priests and their officials who are shouting for crucifixion. Is Christ’s appearance so ghastly that the people felt enough was enough? So, now they need to be incited by others?

19:7-8 – When Pilate heard the Jews say Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he was even more afraid. What do you think Pilate already feared? Why would this claim make him more afraid?

19:7 – The Jews jump right back on the crucifixion bandwagon.

19:9 – Why did Pilate ask where Jesus came from?

19:11 – Pilate’s power over Jesus actually came from Jesus, Himself.

19:14 – sixth hour – noon.

19:15 – The Jews say, “we have no king but Caesar.” What about Herod? Why do you think they said this?

19:16 – Scripture says Pilate finally handed Jesus over to be crucified. He tried very hard not to sentence Jesus. Go back over Pilate’s interaction with Christ. How many times – and in how many ways – did he try to get out of this responsibility?

19:17-24 – See Matthew 27:33-44; Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23:33-43. 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?

19:20 – Pilate wrote the sign in three languages. He wanted to make sure this was understood. Why do you think he did this? To mock Jesus? To mock the Jews because they “forced” him to crucify a man who wasn’t guilty of a crime?

19:23 – prophesied in Psalm 22:18.

There were 4 soldiers.

19:25 – Who is Mary, the wife of Clopas?

19:29-30 – See Matthew 27:48-50; Mark 15:36-37; Luke 23:36. 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?

19:30 – it is finished – at this moment, God’s plan for eternity was completed through Jesus’ obedience. WOW!

Christ’s death is a miracle! Jesus had to give up His Spirit. There is nothing that can kill Our God! He had to lay down His life, because there is nothing more powerful than Him that could take the life from Him! Hallelujah!

19:31-34 – Even in death, God’s plan is perfect! Every last detail is accounted for. See 19:36-37; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20; Zechariah 12:10.

19:31 – see 39-40. Jesus’ body was prepared on the day of Preparation.

19:33-37 – prophesied in Psalm 34:20; 22:14, 17; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Zechariah 12:10.

19:38-42 – See Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56. 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?

19:34 – flow of blood and water – in the OT tabernacle, first you passed the altar of burnt offering (blood), then the basin for washing (water) to approach God.

Find other verses on the flow of blood and water. What do these elements represent?

19:38-42 – What were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus risking by doing this? Can you provide scripture references to support your answer?

19:38 – Seek out scriptures on Joseph of Arimathea. Develop a profile on him.

I wonder if Pilate saw Joseph of Arimathea approaching and wondered: “What more can the Council want?”

19:39 – Seek out other scriptures on Nicodemus. Develop a profile on him.


• 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?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.
Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.
 
Here's my review of this wonderful novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sarah Sundin and her publisher for sending me a copy of "On Distant Shores" 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.

Sarah Sundin’s latest Wings of the Nightingale novel, “On Distant Shores” is a beautiful story that challenged me to grow and educated me about the plight of the Army pharmacist during World War II. Georgie is a nervous nurse with a fiancé back home in Virginia. Hutch is a pharmacist, and therefore an enlisted man. He is frustrated with his own fiancée in New York and the Army’s attitude toward pharmacists. Their attraction is deniable until they find themselves without significant others. But can their love survive other seemingly insurmountable problems?

One thing I adored about this novel is how Ms. Sundin overlapped the action of this book with her previous novel, “With Every Letter”. At first I was confused by the references to situations that I thought already occurred. Then I discovered the author’s brilliance! She also brings an authenticity to her stories through the use of factual historical happenings. Her scenes with a particular Tuskegee Airman brought tears to my eyes.

There was even a bit of Bible study included if you look up the verses that the characters reference. I also gained insight and understanding into Abraham and Isaac claiming that their wives were their sisters! Thank you, Ms. Sundin for putting this concept into perspective by illustrating the Army’s policies against fraternization.

This is a wonderful weekend read that will have you contemplating long after the last page has turned!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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


What is the difference between giving to the poor and identifying with them?  Would it be accurate to say that this is the same as throwing money at a problem versus rolling up your sleeves and diving into the mess to help fix it?  Kelly’s video message takes things a step further.  It’s about becoming one of them.  It’s about owning the “mess” we’re trying to fix.  There’s a difference in investment.  How invested are you in those to whom you minister?

Imagine what it would have been like to return to a broken Jerusalem after being in captivity for 70 years.  If you’re one of the 41% of the population (according to 2010 statistics) who has moved away from their state of birth, you may know how these Israelites felt.  If you return to the neighborhood you grew up in after being away for a significant time, the changes can be significant.  For the Israelites, it was devastating because of the disrepair, broken walls, broken homes, looted businesses and the temple.  If you’ve ever visited a run-down ghost town during a vacation, you may have some idea of how they felt as they took their first steps into the city.

The city was a mess.  And these people were about to roll up their sleeves and get messy to fix it.  They were investing in their hometown and each other as they worked together to repair the wall and restore security.  The wall also created a separation between Jew and Gentile.  God allowed this so that the Jews could be a beacon to the Gentiles and bring salvation to the world.  Jesus would be the one to break down that wall of separation.

God’s Word takes center stage in this week’s study as the Scriptures are read and explained to the people.  God’s Word is truth.  It never consults, bargains or compromises.  It sets us free.  It is knowable.  It brings us joy.  And that joy of the Lord is my refuge and protection.  Hallelujah!

What remembrances do you have of where God’s Word has brought you?  When did He rescue you?  How has He provided for you?  How has He shown you His great love  today?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 18

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 18 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…


18 – Portrait of peace.

18:1 – Kidron Valley – Jesus walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

18:2 – Judas had lived with Jesus and knew his habits. Perhaps they had done the same thing last year after sharing the Passover meal?

18:3-11 – See Matthew 27:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53. 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?

18:3 – approximately 600 men.

With this many men, why did they need weapons? Even if Jesus and the disciples resisted arrest, they could have overpowered them. Still, an angry mob carries weapons.

18:4 – Jesus knew what was going to happen. I can’t get beyond this phrase without choking up. Notice that He forced them to say Who they wanted.

18:5-8 – NIV says “I am he” but the actual translation is “I AM” – Jesus is claiming to be God again, which is why they drew back and fell to the ground in verse 6!

18:5 – What is the possible significance of scripture saying that Judas was with them when they answered that they wanted Jesus of Nazareth?

18:6 – What a picture! These men hit the dirt when Jesus identified Himself by the name God called Himself: IAM.

18:7 – Why might Jesus have asked again who this mob wanted? And why might they answer again when they already knew it was Him?

18:8 – Jesus was protecting His disciples by asking the mob to let them go since they came for Him.

18:9 – This verse leads me to believe that the Father never gave Judas to Jesus.

That protection fulfilled what was said in John 6:39.

18:10 – Peter drew a sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, one of the high priest’s servants. Why is it significant to mention it was the right ear? Why do we need to know that his name was Malchus?

18:11 – Jesus commanded Peter to put the sword away, stating that He would drink the Father’s cup/do the Father’s will. It’s rather miraculous that this ended as amicably as it did. If you recall, this mob had lanterns and torches and weapons. Someone could have taken Peter out for assaulting one of them. But Jesus would not lose one of those given to Him by the Father. Remember verse 9?

18:12-14 – First illegal trial takes place before Annas – Held at night, no specific charges, prejudice, violence.

18:12-13 - See Matthew 26:57. What similarities exist in these parallel accounts? What additional information do you glean from this passage? What does this tell you about the perspective of the writer, John? How does this knowledge enhance your understanding of the event?

18:12 – The soldiers arrested Jesus.

18:13 – Annas was High Priest before being deposed by the Romans. Some still regarded him as the true High Priest. This explains why he is referred to as such in verses 19 and 22. It also may explain some issues in the relationship with his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who held the title of High Priest at this time.

18:15 – another disciple – John.

18:16-18 – See Matthew 26:69-70; Mark 14:66-68; Luke 22:53-57. 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?

18:16-18, 25-27 – After Peter’s denial, it must have been a very long three days before Peter was able to apologize. Guilt would have eaten away at him. Praise God, Peter’s faith was a bit stronger than Judas’ or there may have been two pairs of sandals hanging from that tree. But Peter persevered, and was able to be restored by Christ (see John 21:15-25). Maybe Peter’s realization of Christ’s prediction of his own denial brought forth everything Christ said about how he would die, and this wasn’t a period of guilt for Peter at all, but anticipation of Christ’s resurrection.

18:19-24 – we have this account recorded because John was an eye witness. See 18:15.

This is a continuation of the first illegal trial (see 18:12-14) – held at night, false witnesses, prejudice, violence.

See Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65; Luke 22:63-71. 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?

18:19 – The high priest spoken of in this verse is Annas.

18:24 – Jesus was sent to Caiaphas for His second illegal trial. This trial evolved into the third illegal inquest before the Sanhedrin.

18:25-27 – See Matthew 26:71-75; Mark 14:69-72; Luke 22:58-62. 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?

18:28-40 – see Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-7.

The fourth illegal trial is held before Pilate – Christ kept under arrest after being found innocent, no defense attorney, violence. This took place early in the morning.

18:29-40 – See Matthew 27:11-18, 20-23; Mark 15:2-15; Luke 23:2-3, 18-25. 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?

18:30 – What charges were brought against Jesus? Read Luke 23:1-2.

18:33-37 – If Pilate were really listening, what would he have learned about Jesus during this interview? What could that knowledge have done for him?

18:38-40 – Somewhere in here, the fifth illegal trial before Herod took place. See Luke 23:1-25.

18:38 – Even though Jesus claims to be a king, Pilate finds no basis for a charge against Him. So, he sends Jesus to Herod in the hopes that Herod will take responsibility for putting Jesus to death out of a threat to his own throne.


• 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, August 07, 2013

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


The first two weeks of this study have been life changing for me.  I pray that you’re having the same experience.  Week three promises more of the same.  The chapter opens with a challenge to the student by asking the question:  “Do you know the name of a poor person?”  People are valuable.  People are treasured by God and should be treasured by His people.  Our investment in people is the work that will survive God’s test of fire at the end of time.  How are you investing?

I may be getting ahead of myself, but this was an incredible week of study.  Kelly’s video teaching puts a significant emphasis on the term “disgrace” and what it means to live in disgrace.  Who do you know that lives in disgrace?  The point is that the poor matter.  How do I treat the poor?

The study for the week was almost like an in-depth interview with each day’s considerations bringing me to my knees.  Here are the questions I asked myself this week as a result of my study time.  Use them to interview yourself.  What distracts me from doing what God put in my heart to do?  Do I even have a really good grasp of what He put in my heart to do?  Am I properly (prayerfully) discerning what opportunities I should say “yes” to and which ones I should say “no” to?  What lies do I believe about God?  What lies do I believe about myself?  As I learn what they are, I need to confess these things because they are destructive.

In what areas am I close to completion and in danger of faltering under temptation?  May God fill me with faith, strength and courage to finish well.  Have I been dreaming too small?  Chasing too little?  Am I content to settle for what I can accomplish with my own two hands rather than letting God’s power do through me?  What would it look like for me to fear God more than “most people”?

How did you fare with my “interview”?  What questions would you add to the interview from this week’s study?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Bible Study: Meet Jesus, Son of God/Son of Man - John - Chapter 17

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 17 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…


17:2,6,9,24 – “those You have given Me” – If you’ve come to faith in Christ, this is no accident. God gave you to Jesus!

17:1 – Jesus prayed that God would be glorified and that He would glorify the Father.

17:2 – Jesus acknowledged the authority that God gave to Him. What authority did Christ have?

17:3 – eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ. Does this change your view on eternal life? In what way?

17:4 – Jesus says that He has glorified the Father by completing the work He gave Him to do. How can this be? According to the previous verses in this chapter, God gave Jesus the authority to make the Father and Himself known to those the Father gave Him. Jesus most definitely completed that task. So, where does the cross fit into all of this? Isn’t the cross part of the work God gave Jesus? If it is, how can Jesus say that the work the Father gave Him is already complete?

17:5 – Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him in the Father’s presence with the glory They shared before the world began. What does this mean?

17:6 – Jesus declares that He gave the gift of eternal life to those the Father gave Jesus out of the world. Christ revealed the Father and Himself to the disciples.

17:7 – The disciples know that everything Jesus has came from the Father because Jesus told them so. Do you glorify God in this way? Do you credit Him with your talents and gifts and abilities? What about your resources and opportunities?

17:8 – The disciples received and accepted the words that the Father gave to Christ. They believed that Christ came from the Father.

17:9 – Jesus specifies that He is praying for those the Father gave Him, not the world. Since this is the portion of the prayer dedicated to the disciples, I believe that Jesus is specifying that this prayer is not for Judas and other disciples who have walked away from Him. I also believe that this includes disciples other than just the twelve who were closest to Him – like Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

This implies that there will be some people who will not believe in Him.

17:10 – How has Jesus received glory through “them”? Who is “them”? Does “them” refer to what Jesus has that belongs to the Father and vice versa?

17:13 – How does Christ saying these things while He is still in the world give the disciples a full measure of Jesus’ joy? He was praying this right in front of them. How would hearing Jesus pray for you like this give you a full measure of His joy?

17:14 – Jesus states that He has given the disciples the Father’s word. He also states that the world has hated them because they don’t belong to the world.

17:17 – sanctify – hagiazo – set apart for sacred use, make holy. (The Student Bible)

How are we sanctified by the truth?

17:18 – Jesus sent the disciples into the world as the Father sent Jesus into the world. What do you think this means according to the rest of this chapter? (Take a look at verse 20 if you need to.)

17:19 – sanctify – hagiazo – set apart for sacred use, make holy. (The Student Bible)

What did Jesus mean by “sanctify Himself”?

17:20-26 – Jesus’ prayer for me!

17:20 – Jesus prays for those who will believe because of the disciples’ teaching. Watch for what He has prayed for us. Are you living it?

17:21 – He prays for our unity with other believers and with the Father and Christ. This apparently testifies to the world that the Father sent Jesus.

17:22-23 – How can giving us the glory that the Father gave to Jesus unify us? With Jesus in us and the Father in Jesus, we are unified. And this unity will let the world know that the Father sent Jesus and loves them as He loved Jesus.

17:24 – Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to see His glory. Can we see His glory now? Or must we wait until we are with Him?

17:25 – The world doesn’t know the Father. But Jesus does and they know that the Father sent Jesus. Who is “they”? Us? Certainly not the world. Right?

17:26 – How has Jesus made the Father known to you?


• 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?