Wednesday, May 27, 2015

God Helps Us Pray


In this final week of our study on prayer, we are going to look at how God helps us when we pray.  How does He do this?  Let’s look up some verses in His Word.  According to Romans 8:26-30, how does the Holy Spirit help us and how might that affect our prayer life?

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  Look up the following verses for a glimpse at His job description:  John 14:16-17, 26; John 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; Ephesians 3:14-16.  Which of these tasks performed by the Holy Spirit are you most grateful for at this moment?  Take a minute to thank Him.

Looking at the same verses from the previous paragraph, how might the Holy Spirit make a difference in your prayers?

How might we quench the Holy Spirit in our prayer lives?  It’s important to know these things so we don’t do them, so take a few minutes to contemplate this.

Read John 15:7.  What are the two conditions of answered prayer?

God’s Word is a valuable help to us in our prayer lives.  Read the following verses to discover why:  Romans 15:4; Ephesians 6:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21.

What are some more ways to get more out of God’s Word when we pray?

Start making a list of God’s promises to you or mark these verses in your Bible.  They will become a valuable help when tough times come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

A Love Like Ours 

by Becky Wade   

Contemporary Romance
Bethany House  

Becky Wade has written another heart warming love story in the third installment of the Porter Family series.*

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.
When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.
Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

*While this is the third book in a series, it is written as a standalone.
Praise for Becky Wade
"I wasn't ready for this story to end, but when it did, I sighed the happy/longing sort of sigh that romance readers know so well . . ."
USA Today on Undeniably Yours
"They are a couple you'll be rooting for to have their Texas fairy-tale ending."
Romantic Times on Undeniably Yours

 Meet the Author
Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She's the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

Find Author online: website, Facebook, Twitter, Newsletter Sign-up  


Here's my review of this wonderful novel:


First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Becky Wade and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Love Like Ours" 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 Love Like Ours” by Becky Wade is the third offering in the Porter Family Series.  Once again, Wade’s characters are thick and fleshy.  The focus on the horses in this book is quite a treat.  The topics of PTSD and Cerebral Palsy are handled gently and lovingly as they are woven through this beautiful love story.

Jake and Lyndie were inseparable as kids…until Lyndie’s parents moved the family to California.  Now they’re all grown up and Lyndie’s family has returned to Holley, Texas, but Jake and Lyndie have each lived through so much in their years apart.  Lyndie has developed her skills as a horsewoman and experienced lots of disappointment and Jake has been severely damaged in Iraq.  When they cross paths and Jake hires Lyndie to exercise his thoroughbreds, the attraction they had for each other when they were younger only seems to have grown stronger.

“A Love Like Ours” is a beautiful book.  It is full of tenderness and compassion.  I love how the story doesn’t completely let the reader down when things get rocky for the lovebirds (this is part of the contemporary Christian romance formula that I really dread when reading these books).  This is a great read!  I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more from Becky Wade.  She is one of those authors whose books automatically land on my keeper shelf.


Friday, May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot
 

She's lost her dream job--but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa's dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake's real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.


Praise for Amanda Cabot

"Amanda is a master at creating authentic characters with foibles and dreams."--Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Light in the Wilderness

"Uplifting and inspiring, the story speaks to the way nostalgia wisely finds a place in the modern world."--Publishers Weekly starred review of At Bluebonnet Lake


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses, and At Bluebonnet Lake. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com.


Here is my review of this enjoyable romance:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Amanda Cabot and her publisher for sending me a copy of "In Firefly Valley" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.
 
In Firefly Valley” by Amanda Cabot is the charming sequel to Cabot’s first novel in the Texas Crossroads series: “At Bluebonnet Lake”.  In this offering, Marisa, has hired on as the Manager at Rainbow’s End where her mother works as the chef.  As she arrives and is getting settled into the hometown she left with big dreams that have been dashed, Blake Kendall has arrived for a short stay to check on his friend Greg (Rainbow’s End’s owner) and maybe gain some creative inspiration.  In the meantime, widow and single mother, Lauren, is missing her Patrick and fielding repeated requests from her daughter for a new daddy.

This is a lovely romance novel that is a delightful long weekend read.  There is a thick thread of faith woven throughout the book.  And even though it is the second story in the series, it reads well as a standalone novel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Praying in Faith


On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you say is your current level of faith when you pray?

Read the following verses:  Matthew 6:7-8; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16.  What do these verses say about approaching God with confidence?

There is a relationship between faith and prayer.  Jesus frequently taught His disciples about that relationship.  What do you learn about faith and prayer from Mark 11:20-26; John 14:8-15; James 1:5-8; 1 John 5:13-15?

Read Romans 10:17; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:6-7.  According to these verses, what are some ways to build your faith?

Get a sheet of paper.  Write down three things you’re praying about this week.  Does your request match God’s revealed will?  If not, how would you change the request to better match God’s will?  How might you demonstrate faith in God for that request?  What Scripture could you link with each request and pray over that request?

A tiny bit about God’s will.  Jesus taught His disciples how to pray.  Read Matthew 6:9-13.  If you pray in alignment with the Lord’s prayer, you’ll be praying in alignment with His will.  What other Scriptures can you find that teach you how to pray within God’s will?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Prayer = Delighting in God!


This week, our Prayer of Preparation is Psalm 73:25-26.  Pray those verses before we begin.

How do you define “delight”?  If someone were to delight in you, what would they do?  Do you delight in the Lord?  How?

Now compare your methods of delighting in God with His definition of how to delight in Him:  read Nehemiah 1:11; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 40:8; Psalm 111:2; Jeremiah 15:16.  How will what you’ve read in these verses change the way you delight in God?

Here are a few verses of Scripture that reveal contrasts in what God delights in and what He doesn’t:  1 Samuel 15:20-22; Proverbs 11:20; Proverbs 15:8; Hosea 6:6.  What does He delight in?  What doesn’t delight Him?

The opposite of delight is discontent.  In Numbers 11:4-8 and Psalm 78:17-18, how did Israel show their discontent with God?  How do you show your lack of delight in God?

As we contemplate prayer, what are some qualities God delights in that lead to a more intimate prayer life?  What steps will you take to renew your delight in God?

In our Prayer of Preparation, the psalmist declared his first desire was whatever pleased God.  How may we make this our desire, too?  What action will you take to deliberately focus on what pleases God rather than what pleases you?

Friday, May 08, 2015

Homiletics - Romans 9


Contents (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture):  Where?                                                                Who?

1
1-2
I spk truth in Christ, conscience confirms thru HS, I have great sorrow/anguish in heart.
2
3-5
Could wish I cursed/cut off from Christ for sake of Israel; theirs=adoption, divine glory, covenants, law, temple worship, promises, patriarchs; from them=Messiah.
3
6-8
Not tho G’s word failed; not all descended from Is=Is; nor descendants all Abe’s children, “thru Isaac offspring reckoned”; not phys children=God’s, but children of promise.
4
9-13
Promise: I return, Sarah have son; Rebekah’s children conceived @ same time by Isaac; before twins born: “older will serve younger”; written: “Jacob loved, Esau hated”.
5
14-15
God unjust? No; to M: “I have mercy on who I have mercy, compassion on whom I have comp”.
6
16-17
Doesn’t depend on human desire or effort, but G’s mercy; Scripture to Phar: “I raised you for this purpose, I display my power in you & my name proclaimed.”
7
18
Tf G mercy on whom He wants, hardens whom He wants.
8
19-20
“Why God blame us?  Who able to resist?” Who are you to talk back to G?  “Shall formed say to one who formed: why you make me this?”
9
21
Does Potter have right make of same clay special and common?
10
22-24
What if G, choosing show wrath/make pwr known, bore w/patience obj of wrath to make riches of glory known to obj of mercy (prep in adv for glory), not only Jews also Gents?
11
25-26
In Hosea: “I call ‘my ppl’ who not, I call ‘my loved one’ who not; in place where said “you not my ppl’ they called ‘children of the living God’.”
12
27-28
Isaiah: “though Israelites like sand, only remnant saved; L carry out sentence w/speed & finality”.
13
29
Isaiah previously: “unless L left descendants, we like Sodom, Gomorrah”.
14
30-33
What we say?  Gentiles didn’t pursue righteousness, obtained by faith; Israel pursued law as righteousness not by faith, stumbled; as written: “I lay stone causes stumble, who believes in Him never put to shame.”

 


Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

1
1-13
Paul’s burden for the Jews
Principle:
Salvation is from the Jews but not only for the Jews.
2
14-21
God’s mercy
Principle:
God is merciful and compassionate toward His creation.
3
22-33
God’s relationship with people
Principle:
God’s choices benefit the objects of His mercy.

 

Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

Paul writes about God’s purpose in election and mercy.

 

Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMATK God is sovereign over all things and as Creator of the universe and everything in it (and beyond), He has the right to do what He wishes with that Creation and He uses what He created to benefit those on whom He chooses to have mercy – those He has drawn to Christ – the children of the promise.

 

Application:

1
What truth can you speak in Christ about your feelings for others?
For whom are you burdened spiritually?  How do you minister to these people?
How can you develop a Christ-like, self-sacrificial love for those to whom you minister?
According to 9:4-5, what belongs to Israel and what is the significance that these things belong to Israel and not the Gentiles?
How might God’s word have failed according to verses 1-6?
What does it mean that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel”?
Paraphrase verse 7 in your own words.
Who are the children of the promise?
Describe God’s purpose in election according to 11-13.
2
How is it just that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy?
What does 9:14-21 teach you about God?
What does 9:14-21 teach you about people?
How does 9:14-21 make you feel about your relationship with God?  How will you express your feelings to the Lord?
How does the illustration of the Potter and the clay in 9:20-21 help you understand your relationship with God?
3
What might it look like for God to bear with great patience the objects of His wrath (9:22)?
Why do you think He would do such a thing?  (See 9:23-24)
What does Hosea say about God’s people?  What does this mean to you?
What does Isaiah say about God’s people?  What does this mean to you?
What is the stumbling stone?  Who stumbled over it?
What is your relation to the stumbling stone?

 

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

 

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason
 

She'll defend her friend until the bitter end--but is she in over her head?

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.

Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road--one that may lead straight to destruction.


Praise for the series

"For any reader looking for 'edge-of-your-seat' thrills, this series is the perfect gift."--Suspense Magazine

"Fans of Eason's and readers of Christian suspense will definitely want to check out this new series. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment."--Fiction Addict

"An exciting new series with action and thrilling chase scenes."--RT Book Reviews


Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust and Nowhere to Turn. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College, and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.


Here is my review of this suspenseful romance:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Lynette Eason and her publisher for sending me a copy of "No Place to Hide" 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.

No Place to Hide” by Lynette Eason is a fast-paced suspense read with lots of twists and turns.  A lot has transpired since Jackie and Ian were childhood friends.  Ian is now a wanted man suspected of terrorism and he swears he’s being set up to cover up something big.  Jackie makes her living helping people disappear, making her the best person to assist her friend as they attempt to decipher the clues to clear Ian’s name.

This book brings home the concept that sometimes bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own, but because evil exists.  It also demonstrates that trusting God is the best decision we will ever make.  It’s also nice to have people we can trust in our lives, too.

I don’t want to spoil anything about the book, so I don’t want to go into detail regarding why this is not my favorite Lynette Eason novel.  I will say it has to do with the “whodunit” part of the story.  But the novel overall is enjoyable and I would still recommend it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Prayer = Intimacy with God!


Why don’t you pray?  Busyness, distance from God, inexperience with prayer, sin, pride, laziness, fear of answers?  What do you choose to do instead?  What lies do you believe that keep you from the throne?

When you DO pray, WHY do you pray?  Desperation, to have needs met, to give thanks, because of sadness or loneliness, to obtain peace or guidance, for fellowship, forgiveness, to intercede for others?

So begins our four-week study on prayer based on Cynthia Heald’s book “Becoming a Woman of Prayer”.  Don’t be dissuaded, gentlemen.  This is for you, too.

Prayer is an invitation to intimacy with God.  Read Jeremiah 29:11-14.  What does this invitation say to you?  Now read Romans 8:14-17.  What is God’s invitation in these verses?  Look at Revelation 3:14-22.  How does God want to meet with you in these verses?

Do you see prayer as being initiated by God or by you?  Believe it or not, God draws us to prayer.  We don’t initiate it.  How does knowing that affect your view of prayer?

It pleases God when we want to be with Him.  God receives our prayers like incense.  Read Psalm 141:1-2 and Revelation 8:3-4.  Have you ever burned incense?  It fills the space in which it burns with fragrance.  Our prayers rise to God like incense, permeating, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice.

Is it a priority for you to spend time with God?  What sorts of sacrifices do you make for special people in your life?  Time, sleep, money, preferences, goals?  Are you willing to make those sacrifices for God?  If your answer is yes, hallelujah!  If your answer is no, I am willing to argue that you don’t have a time management problem, but rather a love problem.  When we don’t sacrifice for God, we are demonstrating that we don’t love Him enough.  I am guilty of this, myself.

Daniel is a wonderful person to study.  God was a priority to him.  Read Daniel 6:5-16.  What did Daniel sacrifice to spend time with God in prayer?  What are some things you need to sacrifice to deepen your intimacy with God?

In closing, pray Psalm 27:7-8.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Homiletics - Deuteronomy 33-34


Contents (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture): 

Not included.

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

1
33:1-29
Moses blesses the tribes of Israel
Principle:
God uses the leaders over us to bless us.
2
34:1-12
Moses is blessed to see the Promised Land and be buried by the Lord
Principle:
The Lord cares for and blesses His people, even in death.

 

Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

Moses blesses Israel then dies after seeing the Promised Land.

 

Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMATK God pours blessings upon His people and we should recognize those blessings and be thankful.

 

Application:

1
How have you been blessed by those in authority over you?
Compare and contrast the blessings given by Moses in Deuteronomy 33 with those given by Jacob in Genesis 49.
What does Moses tell the tribes about God in Deuteronomy 33:2-5?
What do you learn about God from Deuteronomy 33?  How will this change your relationship with Jesus?
Which of the blessings in Deuteronomy 33 touches you most deeply?  Why?
How will you bless those under your authority?
2
Since Moses died before the end of Deuteronomy 34, how might this book have come to be finished?
What does it say about Moses that he climbed from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah (Mt. Nebo) at the age of 120?
What do you learn about the Lord in His allowing Moses to see the Promised Land, but not enter it?
If Moses saw the entire Promised Land, why do you think all of the tribes weren’t mentioned?
Why do you think the Lord buried Moses?  See Jude.
How was Joshua equipped to lead the people of Israel?
How have you been similarly equipped?
How is Moses described at the end of Deuteronomy 34?  What evidence do you find in Scripture that this is an accurate description?
How would you like to be described at the end of your life?  What will you do to help that become a reality?

 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Homiletics - Romans 8


Contents (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture):  Where?                                                                Who?

1
1-4
No condemnation for those in Christ bec law of S set you free from law of sin & death; what law powerless to do bec it weakened by flesh, God did by sending Son in likeness of sinful flesh to be sin offering; He condemned sin in flesh that righteous requirement of law be fully met in us who live according to S.
2
5-8
Those who live according to flesh have minds set on flesh desires, those who live according to Spirit have mind set on Spirit desires; mind governed by flesh=death, is hostile to G, doesn’t submit to G’s law & can’t; mind governed by Spirit=life & peace; those in realm of flesh cannot please G.
3
9-11
You not in realm of flesh, but in realm of Spirit if Spirit of G lives in you, if anyone not have Spirit of Christ, they not belong to Christ; if Christ in you, even though your body=subject to death bec of sin, Spirit gives life bec of righteousness; if Spirit of Him Who raised J is in you, He Who raised J will give life to your bodies bec of Spirit.
4
12-15
Therefore we have obligation, not to live according to flesh; if you live according to flesh you die; if by Spirit you put to death misdeeds of body, you live; those led by Spirit of G are children of G; Spirit does not make you slaves, rather Spirit brought your adoption, by Him we cry Abba Father.
5
16-17
S testifies w/our spirit we are G’s children; if we children, we heirs of G & co-heirs w/Christ if we share in His sufferings that we may share glory.
6
18-21
I consider our sufferings not worth comparing w/glory that will be revealed in us; for creation waits in eager expectation for children of G to be revealed, for creation subjected to frustration in hope that creation be liberated from bondage to decay & brought into freedom & glory of children of G.
7
22-27
We know whole creation groaning as in pains of childbirth up to present; we who have firstfruits of S groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption, redemption of our bodies; in this hope we’re saved, hope that’s seen is no hope at all, who hopes for what they have; if we hope for what not have, we wait patiently; in same way, S helps us in weakness, we don’t know what to pray for but S intercedes thru wordless groans & He Who searches our hearts knows mind of S bec S intercedes in acc w/will of G.
8
28-30
In all things G works for good of those who love Him/have been called acc to His purpose; those G foreknew He predestined be conformed to image of Son that He be 1stborn among many; those predestined, He called; those called, He justified; those justified, He glorified.
9
31
What shall we say in response: if G is for us who can be against us?
10
32
He who didn’t spare Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not graciously give us all things?
11
33-34
Who will bring charge vs. those G has chosen, G justifies; who condemns?  No one, J who died – more than that, was raised – is @ rt hand of G interceding for us.
12
35-39
Who shall separate us from love of Christ? Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword? As written: for your sake we face death all day, we considered as sheep to be slaughtered; No, we more than conquerors thru Him who loved us; I’m convinced neither death nor life, angels nor demons, present or future, nor any powers, height nor depth, nor anything else in creation able to separate us from love of G in Christ.

 

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture):

1
1-15
Life and peace in Christ
Principle:
The most important choice we will ever make is: life or death.
2
16-27
We are God’s children
Principle:
Each of us was planned and wanted by our Heavenly Father.
3
28-39
God works all things for good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose
Principle:
God is good and has good things planned for the lives of His people.

 

Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure):

God works all things for good for His children.

 

Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMATK that God loves His people and has wonderful plans for our lives.

 

Application:

1
Why is there no condemnation for those in Christ?
What was the law powerless to do and how did God accomplish it?
What is God’s attitude toward sin?
Compare and contrast those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit.
Would you prefer to live according to the flesh or the Spirit?  Why?
What might it look like to live according to the flesh?  The Spirit?
Where in Scripture do you see examples of people living in the flesh and living in the Spirit?
2
What does it mean to be a child of God?
How have you suffered?  And how will that suffering compare to the glory that will be revealed in you?  How does this encourage you to suffer well?
How might you suffer well?
How did Paul suffer well according to 2 Corinthians 12:7-11?
How does the Spirit help us in weakness?
3
What are the conditions of God working all things for good?
Describe the process of being glorified by God.
What does the question, “if God is for us who can be against us”, mean to you?
What has God graciously given you in the spirit of giving His only Son?
Where is Jesus now and what is He doing?  How does this comfort and encourage you?
What cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ?
What leads Paul to write that we are more than conquerors?
Where in Scripture do you see evidence that God’s people are more than conquerors in Christ?
What does it mean to you to be more than conquerors in Christ?