May 31, 2012

Handle with Prayer

Have you ever read a book and thought this is exactly what I needed to read at this exact time in my life? That's how I felt about this book. I really needed and appreciated it. Five or ten years ago I would have skimmed through it.

There's so much good stuff here, but I'm just going to share a bit. Well maybe a little more than a bit.  :)

In his book 'Handle with Prayer' Charles Stanley shares the Biblical views on prayer with great wisdom.

He says here:

"God promises He will not only hear our prayers, but He will answer them."

'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'    Jeremiah 33:3

He goes on to say:

"This brings up two interesting questions: Does God always answer our prayers? Or does He respond to certain kinds of prayer? Think about the requests you have made of God recently. Are they being answered? Do you really believe they will be? You see, the question is not Does God answer prayer? The real question is How does God answer prayer? Sometimes He answers yes. This is usually the only answer we hear. If God says, "Yes," then we believe He answered. If He says, "No," we think He ignored our request."

"When God answers our prayers, He either answers with yes, no, or wait.

..not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that God will say yes to all of our prayers just because we're living right.  

God is sovereign. 

He has the right to say no according to His infinite wisdom, regardless of our goodness. 

We try to manipulate God by our humanistic 'if then' philosophy. If we live good, clean lives, then God must (we believe) grant our hearts' desires. But such attempts to manipulate God defeats the whole purpose of Christianity, which is to glorify Him through our submissive obedience to His desires. Besides, if our goodness was the only factor God considered, where would His grace fit in? Many times His grace is what motives Him to say no."

Charles Stanley explains that God's answer will be 'No'...

-If we have unconfessed sin in our lives...

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear" Isaiah 59:1-2

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19

-If we are indifferent to His Word...

 "One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." Proverbs 28:9

 "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You." Psalms 119:11 

-If we are selfish; have a hoarding or an ungiving spirit...

 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." James 4: 3

"Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard." Proverbs 21:13

"If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother." Deu. 15:7

-If we have a lack of faith... 

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5


He says here:


"God wants us to seek Him more than anything else, even more than we seek answers to prayer."

He wants us to seek a right relationship with Him and if answering 'no' accomplishes that, that is what our answer will be.

He goes on to say:

"If we are not careful, God becomes a means to an end. But God desires to be the end; it is His desire that we seek Him and Him alone."

One thing I've struggled with in the past, and I've written this before, is who I am in Christ. Charles Stanley says here:

"The Bible clearly teaches that in Christ we are righteous. To think of ourselves as anything less is to go into battle (prayer) without the most important part of our armor - the breastplate of righteousness.

Our wrong thinking in this area allows Satan to make us feel unworthy in God's presence."

We are being lied to when we feel unworthy. We are worthy in Christ and we should come to battle in confidence. We should trust God's Word.

He also says:

"When our doctrine is Biblically correct, we'll think of ourselves from God's perspective."

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cr. 5:21

I thought I'd share the 6 points Charles Stanley lays out in this book for affective prayer:

1. Begin with a right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ

2. Make specific requests

3. Pray according to His will for us

4. Pray in Jesus' name and in keeping with His character

5. Ask in faith that is based on God's Word, not on feelings or on others opinions

6. Pray with the right motives. All we do, say and pray must be to the glory of God

He goes into more details on these points in the book, so I hope you get a chance to read it!  :)



We often forget that the Lord is King above all, the King who throughout history has appointed all earthly kings and leaders (Romans 13:1)  and we should come before His throne humbly and with praise for who He is.

Charles Stanley says here of what kind of spirit we should come to God in prayer:

"Lord, thank You that You are omnipotent. Thank You that You are omniscient and know everything I am about to tell You. Thank You that You are omnipresent, and You are not separated from me. As I come into Your presence, I humble myself before Your throne to thank You for Your holiness, Your forgiveness, and Your mercy. I acknowledge You as the great Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of mankind. Father, I am coming to You, recognizing Your greatness and Your holiness. I bow before You as Your child, knowing that You are more than sufficient to meet my needs."

Daniel was a great example of someone who humbled himself before God with this attitude of prayer and we all know God did great things through him.

"Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words." Daniel 10:12

I learnt a lot from this book and also was reminded of some things I'd forgotten. Praying is so much more then just talking to God. It's communing with Him, becoming conformed to His image and achieving His will for us.

One of my favorite quotes has so much more meaning after reading this book:

"Prayer does not equip us for greater works--prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers

Buy it HERE on Amazon





May 29, 2012

Quote of the Week

"Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

   The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647)


May 24, 2012

The Discovery


Looking for a great summer read? Look no further than 'The Discovery' by Dan Walsh.  :)

I really loved this story. It had a little bit of everything you want in a good novel...romance, history, suspense, intrigue and God's love for us.

I loved the locations the author used, both Charleston, North Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida. One in present day and the other during the 1940's World War II era. I've never been to either place but felt the author brought both to life and I'd love to visit them someday.

He also did a wonderful job intertwining historical fact and fiction. I kept asking my husband, who is a bit of a World War II buff, did you know this happened? Did you know what this guy did?

I found these beautiful postcards from the 1940's of Daytona Beach

They drove right on the beach back then!

The story starts out when Michael Warner's grandfather passes away and the family gathers for the reading of his will.  Michael, who had a close relationship with his grandfather, inherits his grand Charleston home. Here he discovers a manuscript written by his grandfather, who was a famous author, that no one else knows about. It takes him back to the 1940's where he discovers another side of his grandfather.


I imagined the house Michael and his wife Jenn inherit looking something like this

Dr. Gary Smalley says of the book here:

"I was immediately drawn in by the compelling characters he creates and the relationally driven storylines. His books grab your heart and don't let go until the last page."

I totally agree. And make sure you have some Kleenex if you decide to read this one. I definitely needed it in a few parts of this touching story. 

I've said this before, I love when a story takes you back and forth from present day to the past and this one did exactly that. I really had a hard time putting it down. It was so good. I can't wait to read his other books now!





May 22, 2012

It Happened in Italy


This was a very different kind of book then most you may read about the Holocaust.

It's a memoir of a woman who decided to look into the past of World War II after seeing pictures of concentration camps in Italy. Pictures very different then the ones we see from German camps. Here she discovered facts about these concentration camps that held Jews during World War II in villages throughout Italy. She was shocked to find out no Jews were ever killed in these camps and were treated well due to the care of the Italians. Shocking because... "Italy and Mussolini were allied with Hitler for most of the war" Also many Jews were hidden by villagers or within  law enforcement. Many Italians risked their own lives to hide and change the identity of many Jews.

A friend said to her, "Tell this story. It is a story of goodness amidst evil. You must tell this story. If you don't, who will?"

An Italian concentration camp. Notice the mattresses and blankets, things you would not likely find in German Nazi camps.

Elizabeth Bettina takes a journey into this time period and finds and meets many Jews who survived because of these courageous men and women of Italy. Many who went on to have children and grandchildren who would not be here without their efforts. She says here of those she was able to meet and tell their story, "There are 52 survivors in this book who had 54 children, 78 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren - 194 people total." These were the survivors she met personally, there were so many more.


Because there is no record of any Jews being killed in Italian camps, these survivors stories may never have been told without the research and dedication of Elizabeth Bettina. One particular story stood out to me. It was of a young girl who's mother passed away and after the war had started, her father decided to go to France to find safety for him and his daughter. While in France he was caught by the Nazi's and taken and killed at Auschwitz. This little girl would have been let alone or taken by the Germans if it weren't for an Italian family who took her in as their own.

If you are looking for a book on the horrors of the Holocaust you won't find it here. This is a book filled with people we defied Hitler and his final solution and lent a helping hand to their fellow man.

Throughout the book, Elizabeth Bettina talks a lot of the Roman church, the Vatican and the Pope. I personally couldn't relate to her excitement on these matters because I'm not Catholic, but I really did enjoy her memoir, and appreciated all her research and work she put into telling these stories. I would highly recommend it.





May 17, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The strength of our faith is in direct proportion to our level of belief that God will do exactly what He has promised. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, impressions, outward appearances, nor the probability or improbability of an event. If we try to couple these things with faith, we are no longer resting on the Word of God, because faith is not dependent on them. Faith rests on the pure Word of God alone. And when we take Him at His word, our hearts are at peace."     George Mueller                                           
 

May 14, 2012

Heiress

'Love is a hunger, a famine in your soul...' This is a line from a song called "I'm with You"  from the album "The Story" and it reminded me of the theme of this book.

We all want to be loved. We desire it with our whole being because we were created to love God and be loved by Him. No other love is enough, no other love will do.

This is a story of two sisters, born into wealth and prestige during the Gilded Age, who take two different paths in life on a search to be loved.

Neither knows the Lord.

One seeks love through things and notoriety making some horrific mistakes, the other runs away looking to find love somewhere away from all the glitz and glamor.

The author says of the wealthy during the Gilded Age:

"...But under all the glitter and gold simmered stories of adultery, murder, embezzlement, and unrest. People who weren't satisfied. People who thirsted for more out of a life that had already given them 'everything.' I believe it's because they-like all of us-were searching for love. They simply didn't realize they couldn't buy it."


This is where Susan May Warren sets her story.


The writing in this novel was superb. I could not put it down. The words were almost lyrical, so beautifully written.

I loved the way Susan gently wove this story. The spiritual theme was subtle, yet powerful.

There were times though, when I did feel uncomfortable reading, as one sister has an affair. This sisters emotional struggles, within her loveless abusive marriage, were expressed deeply and honestly, yet I never felt the author condoned or glorified the affair. It was essential for the reader to feel what the character was feeling, in order to see her deep desire to be loved. So many women seek love in relationships that can not give them the unconditional love God can.

It is a natural reaction to feel anger, disgust and judgmental towards someone who has had an affair, but I kept thinking of Jesus and how he treated the adulterer in John chapter 8.

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 

and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 

In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?'

They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'

Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 

Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'

'No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin."

Jesus did not condemn her, she was already condemned in her sin. He gave her a way out. He forgave her and told her to sin no more.

I will say I am so curious as to what Jesus wrote on the ground that day! Some say he wrote the sins of those around Him, but we may never know.

*If you are sensitive to the subject of adultery, this may not be the book for you. But if you'd like to read a book with exquisite writing and a redemptive story I would recommend this one.





May 10, 2012

Encouragement from my Devotional for Moms

My kids are at that age where they are trying to decide what to do with the rest of their lives. It's a hard stage. I worry and I struggle to let them go. I read this story recently in my devotional (Streams in the Desert) and it really helped and encouraged me to not only pray for them, but to leave them with the Lord when I'm done.


"Dr. Payson, while still a young man, once wrote to an elderly mother who was extremely worried and burdened over the condition of her son. He wrote,

    You are worrying too much about him. Once you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, you should not continue to be anxious. God's command, 'Do not be anxious about anything' (Phil. 4:6), is unlimited, and so is the verse, 'Cast all your anxiety on him' (1Peter 5:7). 

If we truly have cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to pressure us? If we carry them with us from the throne of grace, it is obvious we have not left them there. In my own life I test my prayers in this way, like Hannah did, with no more sadness, pain, or anxiety in my heart, I see it as proof that I have prayed the prayer of faith. But if I pray and then still carry my burden, I conclude my faith was not exercised."
                                                             From the April 24th entry

May 7, 2012

The Winners Are...

The winner of  'Grace for the Good Girl'  is...



                       KATHY !!
The winner of  'Garden of Madness'  is...



                       FAYE !!






Congratulations ladies! Hope you enjoy these wonderful books! 

I'll be e-mailing you both shortly. Happy reading!  :)


May 5, 2012

Blogoversary Giveaway!

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day to enter my blogoversary giveaway!


I just received the books (Grace for the good girl and Garden of Madness) in the mail and I'm excited to give them away on Monday!

So feel free to check out the details here...Blogoversary Giveaway!  


May 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
                                      Oswald Chambers



May 2, 2012

Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions

This is a short booklet which answer some common questions about heaven.

Randy Alcorn says in the introduction:

"Maybe you feel as if you've passed your peak, physically or emotionally, an that your best opportunities are behind you. Perhaps you're burdened, discouraged, depressed, or even traumatized. Perhaps your dreams - your marriage, career, or ambitions - have crumbled. Perhaps you've become cynical or have lost hope.

An understanding of the true christian teaching about Heaven (not the popular caricatures of Heaven) can change all that. That's why I wrote Heaven, a full-length treatment of the subject that deals with all the questions people ask about this great subject. The purpose of this little booklet is to give you just a taste of the glorious truth about Heaven."

This booklet got me excited about Heaven. Not the Heaven of boring monotony, (we won't be sitting on clouds playing harps all day ) but an exciting place where God is. A place where we will really live the life God intended us to live, full of love and peace, contentment and joy. No suffering, no betrayals, no depression, no exhaustion, no temptations, no murder, no death.

The booklet answers questions like:

What will Heaven be like? 
Won't Heaven be boring? 
Will Heaven (the new earth) be an actual place?
What will we do for all eternity?

But the most important question, I feel is How can we know for sure that we'll go to Heaven? I thought I'd try to condense this chapter to share the answer:

Randy Alcorn starts off the chapter reminding us of hell.

I think believers do a disservice to non-believers when they don't talk of hell, and talk only of Heaven. Hell is a real place. Randy reminds us, Jesus talks about it more than anyone else in scripture. (Matthew 10:28; 13:40-42; Mark 9:43-44)

I trust Jesus.

So how do we know if we will go to heaven, not hell? Well, we have this problem, it's called sin and it separates us from God, and it condemns us to hell.

All of us.

But God made a way to be saved, through His son Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 

But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."                                                                                 John 3:16-21

I love this verse.

It tells me I was already condemned in my sin and how Jesus didn't come to condemn me, but to save me.

Because of Him, I am no longer condemned.

He loved me so much He came to die for me and when I believe in His name I am saved.

Randy Alcorn says here:

On the cross, He took upon himself the Hell we deserve, in order to purchase for us the Heaven we don't deserve."

So how do we know for sure we are going to heaven after believing in Christ? The apostle Paul says here:

 "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
                                                                 1John 5:13

So we can know.

Studying my Bible, the one thing that has really stood out to me is how many times God say...Come.

He asks us over and over and over again in Scripture to come to Him, to take His free gift of true life.

"Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."   Revelation 22:17

Don't wait to believe on him.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on Him while he is near."  Isaiah 55:6

I believe we don't fully comprehend this free gift God has given us through his son Jesus Christ. We are loved by God, so much more than our minds can conceive.

I thought I'd share this song with you. It's a beautiful song from the point of view of Adam and Eve, from the album "The Story" It's a song of longing to get back to the way it was before sin entered the world. It's a longing for Heaven.


Note: As I was writing this post I began to worry readers would think I was pushing my views of heaven and hell on them. I've often heard loved ones say, 'those are your beliefs, not mine.' So I pray that God's words will speak for themselves and pierce your soul as He asks you to come to Him. He loves you so much.





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