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Author Archives: Bobbie Keith

About Bobbie Keith

Bobbie grew up in the inner-city of Chicago. She has fond memories of hopping on the back of trucks, exploring condemned buildings, and collecting pop bottles for penny candy. Raised by a remarkable deaf mother who kept her and her sister well in tow, she encountered a dramatic life change while in her mid teens. Like C. S. Lewis, she experienced a deep-seated longing which was often mistaken for something else, only to find the “something else” to be an empty shell or echo of what can truly satisfy. “If God is Creator and we are made in His image,” says she, “than all of life finds its reference point in Him. Including me!” This set her on a course through tumultuous years, bringing her perspective and stability. Not to mention a few laughs and crazy stories. While in college a certain young man continually annoyed her. He hid her books, stole her first kiss, and embarrassed her by yelling down the school corridors, “Have you decided to marry me yet?” After months of ignoring him and a year of refusal, she finally relented. Over thirty years and three children, later, he still has her heart. Today, she loves a good conversation, a Chai Tea Latte, and visits with friends. She is quickly becoming the g’ma with the most grandkids under age five. She has a passion for history, Christian education, and apologetics. She is currently working with the women of her church and loves to reflect on life and find meaning in the day-to-day stuff by linking it to eternity. Of course, this can’t be done without a cup of hot tea in hand! Whatever you do, do not to mention anything about her children, her short stint at Oxford, or a recent trip she took to Israel for an archaeological dig. She just might talk your ear off. Welcome to the conversation!

Chapter 24: Discovering God’s Purposes While You Wait

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Main Idea

That we can experience God’s blessings in the midst of waiting on God in prayer.

Chapter Summary

There is more to prayer than putting in a request and getting what we want. The author cites three examples of people who asked God for a variety of things that He did not see fit to give. One was for the healing of a loved one, another for a touchdown in a football game, and the last for a relationship that went sour. All three where disappointed when God “did not come through.”

Thrasher reminds us that we come to God as His servant, not as His master. Prayer is not telling God what to do. For how can the servant know better than the Master or one who is finite better than the Infinite?

When we come to God, we come to Him on His terms recognizing who He is… understanding that “our desires are based upon our knowledge and perception, which are always limited – but our trust is in the omniscient God who loves us.” (p. 171)

When we pray, we seek for His will to be done on earth. We don’t always understand what that is. So, we take the burdens of our hearts and lay them before Him, trusting Him to do as He sees fit.

There are times when we pray, that we end up waiting for God to work. During this time, we can experience God’s purposes which are far beyond the mere getting of what we want. These purposes include a wrestling with God that places us under His authority and a gaining of perspective, as the Word of God sheds light on our situation and our own hearts.

My Story

This past year, I have wrestled with God over a loved one moving to another country to minister in the Middle East. To make matters worse, a mutual friend was diagnosed with cancer. Why the Middle East in the midst of political instability, confusion, and hatred for the West? Why cancer and why the timing of all this?

My need has brought me to my knees. This place has become holy ground as I have poured out my heart to God. I was reminded that He knows what I do not. The Word of God shed light on my own heart revealing hidden thoughts of selfishness and lack of commitment. I began to gain a perspective on this life that gave me hope and understanding as I viewed the eternal.

As I prayed and I waited on God to work, I experienced the blessings of God…as did my loved ones, and so did my friend.

She is still waiting on God to heal her cancer, if He sees fit. In the meantime, she has experienced the blessings of God. He has helped her deal with her fears and worries, and has given her amazing strength and peace. He has given her good health in the midst of her chemo treatments, so that she is able to live a “normal” life. He has also supplied her with wonderful friends who have strengthened her and loved her during this journey.

Yes, I am still waiting to see how all of this works out, but in the meantime, I have experienced the blessings of God while I wait. I am learning, though much more slowly than I’d like…that waiting on God can be a good thing.

Discussion

How can we learn to trust God more fully when He does not answer our prayers the way we think He should? Do you think we can be so fixed on what we think God should do, that we cannot see God working in any other way? Can this lead to missed blessings? What are some things we can do while we wait for God?

Challenge

I cannot say this more beautifully than my friend, Laurie. So, I will conclude with her challenge from the previous post. Thanks, Laurie.

Where in your life are you being demanding of God and His timing in the activities and situations of your life? Do you feel like you are waiting? Rejoice! This is a good place! God is teaching and loving you! Lean heavily on Him, spend time hearing and listening to His Word and know the JOY that only He can bring in the waiting!

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Chapter Twenty-One: Experiencing the Benefits of Fasting

“When I heard  these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

Main Idea

In this chapter, the author relates a story of a church that experienced major spiritual oppression. They had a history of short pastorates. There seemed to be a spiritual smog that hung over the church.

Several people, independent of one another had commented on how they felt despair and depression when they drove up the long church driveway. When a new pastor arrived, he sensed the same phenomena. Driving to church one morning, he literally saw a darkness hovering over the building. The sense of despair was so powerful that he literally had to hold on to the edge of his desk to keep from getting up and walking out.

He began to pray.

He began to preach a series on prayer and fasting. At the end of one of his sermons, he asked others in the congregation to join him to fast and pray in a spirit of repentance, asking God to lead them to restoration. Not long afterwards, the spiritual smog began to lift. People testified to conquering long-term habits and visitors once again attended the church.

The spiritual battle was so intense that it left the new pastor feeling unloved and unappreciated. He described it like a fifteen-round boxing match, in which he felt he had reached his limits and had no strength to get up off the mat.

He began to weep and cried out to the Lord to forgive him for his lack of love for the church. He asked God to give him a new heart for his people, the heart of a shepherd. Just then the sun broke through the clouds. He looked at the beauty of the sun rays and said, “Lord, do the same thing in my heart.”

Gradually the work that was done in his heart began to spread throughout the congregation.

We see in the Scriptures that when Jerusalem was destroyed, a remnant was left in Jerusalem for 70 years. Though, they had survived the captivity, they were distressed and mocked by others around them. The city was destroyed and the walls were broken down.

An air of hopelessness loomed over the people.

When Nehemiah heard the words, he wept and mourned for days and began to fast and pray. God moved in response to his prayers and gave him success in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Fasting has both physical benefits and spiritual benefits.

Physically, it gives the body a rest aiding in the cleansing of the body and in the elimination of toxins. This helps us to focus. In the same way, fasting helps us to eliminate distractions and concentrate on God. It strengthens and intensifies our prayer life and helps to purify us spiritually. During times of fasting and prayer God may reveal areas of our lives that we need to give over to God. Areas such as…fear, anxiety, greed, jealousy, pride and/or anger, etc. It is during times of prayer that God may show us what is hindering us and give us a renewed sense of His power that is at work in our lives.

It is important to note that nowhere in the Scriptures are we told that fasting is meritorious. We don’t fast to earn brownie points with God. We fast and pray to eliminate distractions and to focus on God.

My Story

It is so easy to be distracted. I have found that even a simple fast…such as denying myself a Starbucks during the day or a couple of meals enables me to be more aware of God and my need for Him throughout the day. When I am prompted by hunger or a hankering for a Starbucks, I am reminded to pray.

Being more conscious of God during the day makes me more tender to the needs of those around me and more in tune, if I might say, to the things that please God. I also find it easier to share my faith with a clerk or a person standing in the grocery line.

It is also during these times that God ministers to my spirit…He comforts me, gives wisdom and understanding  when I’m going through difficult times, and gently reveals areas of weakness or sin that hurts me and others.

Though, the way to joy is often through pain…it is at that place that I often receive my greatest blessings.

Challenge

Prayer and fasting is a life-time journey. What small step can you take in this direction? If possible, journal your experience. It will be an encouragement to you for years to come.

 

 

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Chapter Eighteen: Realizing God’s Desire to Bless You

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him…and to keep the LORD’s commands and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Main Idea

God’s ways and His commands are for our good!

Like a loving father who holds the hands of his small children while navigating a mine field…his instructions are not meant to bring them harm. His intent is to protect them and to bless them. Though his children may not understand the limits on their freedom, nor why he says to walk this way and not that way. They learn to trust his heart.

In the same way,God loves HIs children and wants to bless us!!

Prayer is a means of reaching into the storehouse of God’s treasures and receiving His blessings.

Thrasher reminds us that when we pray it is important to remember who God is…that He is a loving Creator and our Redeemer. We must remember to view God through the glasses of His Son whose blood washed us from our sins, rather than through the glasses of our guilty conscience. When the glasses get dirty, and they will…we come to HIm for cleansing! Then we can approach His throne boldly, because we come in the name of His Son who pleases Him. (Hebrews 4:14-16; Luke 3:32)

Think about it. God is kind to men who are ungrateful, and even gives good gifts to evil men. (Luke 6:35) When it rains, He doesn’t just rain on the fields of the righteous, nor does the sun only shine for the just. God loves His creation.(Matthew 5:43-44) He is good and desires to bless all men, how much more so His children!

My Story

When I first came to Christ I was very aware of my sin and my unworthiness, and so grateful that He had forgiven me. I was clean, my guilt was lifted and I was full of joy…I walked on air!

Somehow over the years, I began to expect more of myself and less of Him. My unworthiness began to overwhelm me. How can I say I’m a Christian and do this or do that? It is as though my focus began to shift from looking upward, to looking inward.

All the while, God’s wonderful treasure box lay dormant.

I was too proud to admit that I had failed again. I forgot that He still stands ready to forgive and to bless. How wonderful to be reminded that our LORD has done the work and that He encourages me to come boldly before Him in the name of His Son who intercedes for me.

As I have learned to reach into the treasure box through prayer, I am often giddy with joy. Just this past week, I brought to Him a burden on my heart. He brought Scripture to my mind so I that I could walk in truth, and trust Him to deliver. Later, I called a friend to share how God had encouraged me, then found out that very day that God had already prepared an answer to my prayer. By the time I got off the phone, both my friend and I were rejoicing in the goodness of God!

What a difference it makes to know that God delights in our prayers and wants to do whatever He can to encourage our faith. For the Scriptures say, that His eyes move to and fro all over the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Discussion

Do you see God as good? If not, this might be a good place to begin. Ask God to open your eyes to see Him as He is. This cannot be done without spending time in His Book. It is there that the curtains of heaven are drawn back and He gives us a glimpse of who He is.

For “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Then start praying. I have found that that the very thing that weighs me down is a good place to start. There is a knowledge of God that comes through prayer and actually seeing God work!

Challenge

Ready to visit God’s storehouse? Let’s pray…one of the gifts in the treasure box is peace.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by PRAYER and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

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Chapter 13: Learning How to Pray for Christlike Growth

Luke 2:40 “And the Child continued to grow and became strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

Main Idea

So, far we have seen how our weaknesses, the power of the Holy Spirit and the companionship of others can help us in our prayers. In this next section, the author discusses the help of the word of God.

The Scriptures help us to grow in our faith, expanding our capacity to pray and providing powerful motivation. When we read the word of God we can also learn from the example of others.

Thrasher calls upon our Supreme example given in the above passage. Here we see that Luke describes the young Jesus as becoming strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God. It is also probable that this passage can be better understood by comparing it Luke 2:52 which describes Jesus as growing in wisdom and stature in favor with God and man.

Jesus grew in strength and was physically strong most likely because of His profession as a “tekton” which is often translated “carpenter” but could also mean a stone-cutter or mason. Thrasher makes a case for Him growing in strong in spirit which is no doubt also true. I found it particularly interesting to ponder what it means to be “strengthened in our spirit or in the inner man” as it states in Ephesians 3:16. Though there is much more here than meets the eye and much more than I can attempt to explain or understand. There does seem to be a sense in which the believer can be strengthened in his spirit through the exercise of faith as the body can be strong through physical exercise.

The young Jesus also increased in wisdom which carries the idea of skillful living and discernment that is rooted in seeing life from God’s perspective.

Lastly, “the grace of God was upon Him.” We see from other passages of Scripture that it is possible to get “more” grace.

Peter says that we can “grow” in grace. (2 Peter 3:18) The writer of Hebrews says that God gives grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Paul writes that gave him grace in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and James says that God has a “greater grace” that He gives to the humble. (James 5:6)

There is a grace that leads to salvation, but that is a mere introduction to the grace in which we stand. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-2) Like Paul in his exhortation to Timothy, Thrasher encourages us to grow and be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

My Story

At this point, I am pondering the meaning of what I just wrote. Sometimes, I find it easier to be content with where I am at and not push for the “greater grace.” This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis that states “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and lust and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to keep making mud-pies in the slums…because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the beach.”

Discussion

1. Have you already experienced the grace that God offers that brings you into a right relationship with HIm? If so, are you ready to take the next step and “grow” in the grace that He offers?

2. If not, what’s hindering you? Ask God to search your heart and help you to be willing to take that next step whatever that might be.

“Dear Lord, I ask you to give me a whole-heart. Don’t let me be content with making mud-pies when there is infinite joy waiting for me.”

 
 

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Chapter 8: Receiving Help When You Don’t Know How to Pray

Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…”

Main Idea

In our weakness and human limitations, we don’t always know how to pray.

We often struggle with knowing what is best in a given situation. The Spirit of God helps us to pray. He who knows our hearts and the very mind of God, pleads the deep desires of our heart and helps us to pray according to the will of God.

In this chapter, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is our helper and brings the longings of our hearts before the throne of God.

The author gives a story of a personal friend who visited a bitter old woman. She wanted nothing to do with the church. So, he offered to pray. His heart was so broken for her situation, that tears rolled down his cheeks and no words could come from his lips. He felt like an utter failure. However, in his weakness “he leaned upon the Spirit of God who poured out tears of compassion.”  It was his tears that began to turn the heart of this bitter old woman.

Often, it is in our weakness that we pray our best prayers.

My Story

I remember a time when one of my daughters was dating. She had two young men pursuing her for marriage. I did not know how to pray.

I specifically remember being in a food court at a local mall and crying out to God from the depths of my heart. “You know all things. You know all hearts, what do I pray?”

Then, as clear as day the thought came to me. Pray that she seeks Me and loves Me with her whole heart. If she loves Me, she will love what I love… and the right decision will be made clear. When I came home, I found her on the sofa in tears. She had her Bible opened and was holding a missionary biography that she was reading. She asked if she could get a hotel room for the night, so she could spend some time alone in prayer.

It been over five years, since she and her hubby have said “I do.” Each passing year gives testimony of what we did not know, but He did. She chose well. One of the greatest joys outside of bringing our children into the world is watching them continue in what they’ve been taught and delighting in the spouses God has seen fit to give them.

Discussion

Are you in a situation where you do not know how to pray? Ask God to help you pray and listen.

Challenge

Sometimes what appears to be right at the moment, is not always the best. We need God’s help when we pray.

Is there a longing in your heart that is not being answered? Could it be that God is desiring to grant you an even deeper longing and desire of your heart?

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 3: Sharing Your True Desires with God

Hebrews 4:16 “Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to find help in the time of need.” (NET Bible)

Main Idea

God longs to answer our prayers, but sometimes the prayers on our lips are not a true reflection of what is truly in our hearts. We say the right words, but our hearts are far from it!

The author tells the story of a man who cried out to God for deliverance from a bad habit. After much prayer, nothing happened. A wise and loving friend graciously asked him if he truly wanted deliverance. “Maybe,” he said, “you love this bad habit and don’t really want God to deliver you at all.”

This breakthrough began the process of him actually beginning to break his habit with the God’s help.

God already knows what we think. It is important to the process that we understand what is going on in our own hearts and that we are honest with God about the struggle. He is more than willing to come to our aid when we come to Him humbly and honestly.

For God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

My Story

For me, identifying my real problem is often my biggest struggle. Sometimes I fail to see the forest, and only see the trees. But I have found that when I am honest with my struggles, the very place where I wrestle with God becomes holy ground.

Discussion

How are you hurt? What tempts you? What do you find that helps you take these things to God’s throne and ask for mercy and grace? Ask God to help you be honest with your struggle and to give you strength and courage to do what is right.

Don’t forget to journal what God teaches you. We would love to hear from you.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Welcome to the Discussion!

We learn better in community—where we can sharpen our thinking on the wits of others and soften others’ challenges with a supporting smile. But with our modern society pulling us in more directions than we have body parts, how do we make community happen?

The North Highlands Bible Church Women’s Ministry would like to invite you to join us online each week as we walk through the process of growing more like Christ. You may follow this blog by email and receive new posts in your inbox or just come visit when you can. We hope you will find the weekly summaries helpful, and that you will add your comments and questions to the mix.

The theme of our ministry this year is “Purses, Pearls, & Prayer: Discovering the Beauty of Friendship and the Wisdom of God’s Ways.” Together we want to learn to seek God through prayer. We will begin next week by reading the first chapter of A Journey to Victorious Praying: Finding Discipline and Delight in Your Prayer Life by Bill Thrasher.

Welcome to the discussion.

Buy the book online
or from any bookstore near you.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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