Book Recommendation – Couples of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study

Couples of the Bible

Back Cover blurb:

In this scrapbook of your spiritual family tree, you have the faithful patriarchs and matriarchs who make you proud…and the scoundrels who you’d rather not talk about. But all of these ancestors, Couples of the Bible, will give you a snapshot of your biblical heritage. Some bring encouragement, others offer a stern warning.

Through this 52-week devotional experience, you will be reacquainted with the obstacles and outcomes of familiar couples like Abraham and Sarah…and meet some lesser-known couples like Othniel and Aksah. Each week focuses on one couple of the Bible, from Adam and Eve to Christ and His Bride. You will read their story, learn about their cultural setting and explore how their story can teach you important truths about your own marriage. Each week you will be guided with questions applying biblical truth to your relationship with your spouse. And you’ll finish the week with a time of reflection, thanksgiving and prayer.

Couples of the Bible will teach you how God guided couples in the past and will encourage you to trust in his faithfulness for your marriage.

Narelle: I really liked the concept underpinning Couples of the Bible. The devotional book is designed to help couples strengthen their marriage by studying the many examples of married couples in the Bible. Each couple lived a flawed marriage and they had unique challenges to overcome. Some couples walked closely with the Lord, for example Ruth and Boaz, while others turned away from the Lord, for example Ahab and Jezebel.

The following quote from the book sums up the essence of the devotions: The Bible is a living book, a love story. It is the inspired story of the great King in heaven who woos His people and commits Himself to perfectly love them forever. 

There are 5 devotions each week for 52 weeks. Day 1 looks at the narrative Biblical story of the couple. Day 2 provides the cultural background. Day 3 asks the reader to put themselves in the couple’s shoes and imagine living their lives. Day 4 explores the issues facing married couples by looking at application questions relating to the couple. Day 5 examines the couple’s legacy and includes a time of reflection and prayer.

The devotions are informative and will help you learn more about the Biblical characters in an easy to read format. I’m a fan of the traditional devotional structure that includes all the above elements on the one day. The five way split is great for couples who lead  busy lives and can only snatch a short time together to read the book. My preference, time permitting, would be to group the first three days together, and explore the last two days either separately or together. One reason being I like to know the cultural setting when I’m reading the narrative text of the Biblical story. I recommend this devotional book to couples wanting to gain a greater understanding of how God reveals himself through the lives of couples in the Bible.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Zondervan for providing a review copy.

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In Quick Succession

by Maree Long

“Long may she reign” are the words I would dearly love to hear my children and grandchildren cry out. If not in voice then surely from their heart.

For then I would know as a self proclamated matriach of the family I have done well. I guess it’s the kind of recognition that doesn’t show itself until your children grown, their children following suit.

If they find me favorable in their lives and I find myself most loved by them, I know that they will feel loved, valued, and they will know unequivocably my love for Jesus.

They would be successful of course in their marriages, relationships, they would find their purpose and gifting of God. Each of them would be the jewels in my reigning crown. They are the longing in my heart that prays for them daily for their salvation, for them to love the Lord, for them to take up their cross and each a leader in their own right.

Six kids all strong, accomplished, employable and hardworking raising their kids the same way. What I long for most is for each of my precious jewels to shine in their lives, fit and able to take up the reigns in their own family lives.

To be thoughtful and caring of each other, to be equipped to fill my shoes, to walk in the footsteps of my risen savior, their creator. Even now I long to be more of myself for that matter to be more like Jesus. Ever mindful of eternal things.

About the author:

Debe Thomas writes under the name MAREE LONG in memory of her Grandfathers line. Like families with threads that delicate connect us to each other so is her writing. Threads of thoughts and themes connecting always it seems to the Creator.

As facilitator & Convenor of Cafe Soiree that presents opportunities for amateur to professional poets, songwriters, and playwrites to artists and photographers, Debe creates events that bring the unexpected into peoples lives.

Debe, an avid writer of poetry, likes most often to let the keyboard take her mind on a journey. Writing, crafting, lunching, photography, painting and teaching along with dancing are all passions that have much in common and bring about the variety and enjoyment that is so typically Debe.

Debe loves to encourage other women through her guest speaker engagements and like her writing finds that the Lord can often change the direction of thought that guides her pen.

Why I write:

Like all of the activities I do – I write because I enjoy it and it brings me joy and fulfillment. I love the life the Lord has given me. I engage in all of my activities with a view to encourage those around me in the hope that they are drawn closer to the God I love.

I am blessed to have a husband who encourages and supports all of my creative endeavors and he has been the backbone and rock I am thankful and appreciative of.

I have always journalled and the echoes of my childhood ring loudly in my ear that one day I would write a book as I told one school friend one afternoon. I recall how excited she was for me. Writing is a great therapy, I write when inspired during a sermon, waiting at the Drs, in fact my girlfriends are accepting of me when lunching that I must have a pen and paper and if none available I will write on menus or serviettes…I have notebooks in my bag, in the car and still there is never enough paper and pens to satisfy.

I love the mystery of the pen and blank pages of what it will reveal in my heart and of my Creator Lord. What I hope and pray most is to write most successfuly by the end of my days is to write the love of God on all my childrens hearts and all their childrens hearts. I hope that as people read my life, they learn more about who I am in God and that they will see the threads connecting them to the Creator.

It’s Just You and Me Lord

by Marion Stroud

“ Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come in and we will share a meal together as friends.”
Rev. 3:20 NIV

One of my favourite ways of spending an evening is to share a meal with old friends. What we eat and drink is not particularly important – it’s the conversation that matters. We look back and laugh about our youthful escapades. We talk about the issues that confront us now and wrestle with questions of faith and family. Nothing is off-limits. We challenge each other’s pre-suppositions and get fresh glimpses of truth through the eyes of a trusted companion.

Prayer, at its best is like sharing a meal with a loved and trusted friend, but I’d never thought of writing a book of prayers. My Christian tradition uses extempore prayer, and so I don’t usually turn to a book when I want to talk to God. All the other books I’d written had been intended to fill a gap in the market – women who are ‘lone worshippers’, relatives of people with cancer, gift books for those on the fringe of faith. So when a publisher asked me to write a book of prayers for women I hesitated.

Then I remembered the so-called ‘apron pocket prayers’ that Marjorie Holmes wrote in the 1970’s, and the way in which a woman’s grounded and realistic conversations with God had helped me. Those were the kind of prayers I wanted to write: prayers that were totally honest and touched on topics and problems that might seem too ‘every day, or even too ‘unspiritual’’ to bother God with. I had found my approach to the subject ‘

Stroud It's Just You and Me, Lord Cover

Some of the topics I have written about in Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent and It’s Just you and Me Lord spring from my own experience, but many are rooted in the pain and challenges faced by others. But all these conversations with God spring from life as we experience it in the 21st C. My goal is that as we honestly and openly share our joys our pain and our perplexity with Him, we come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.


MARION STROUD lives in England, in the town where John Bunyan wrote his world-wide best seller, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ He did this during his 12 years in prison for preaching, at a time when non-conformity was outlawed. She is the author of 3 children’s fiction titles and 22 adult non-fiction titles, including the Lion ‘Gift of’s …’ which were printed in 14 different languages and remained in print for 30 years.

Her most recent book of prayers for women It’s Just You and me Lord was published in the USA by Discovery House in October 2012 and is a special Spring promotion in Sam’s Club [part of Walmart] for Mother’s Day. To win a prize in her ‘Sam’s Club contest’ go to her Author page.

For a limited time, It’s Just You and Me Lord and Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent – Prayers for Every Season of a Woman’s Life are available from Discovery House Publishers at a 25% discount. Please use promotion code AUTH029 at the checkout.–Lord__UN187.aspx–Its-Me-and-Its-Urgent-%e2%80%94-Prayers-for-Every-Season-of-a-Womans-Life__PA316.aspx

ACRBA Tour Strength Renewed by Shirley Corder

15 – 19 April
is introducing
(Revell/Baker Publishing Group, October 2012)
Shirley Corder

About the Author
Shirley in Summary: I am an author, registered nurse and cancer survivor (1997). I am also a pastor’s wife. I live in the beautiful Eastern Cape of South Africa with Rob, my husband of well over 40 years, a liely Jack Russell terrior who answers to the name of Zoё, and a hyperactive budgie named Sparkie. 
About the Book:
Comfort and hope to sustain you through the months ahead. Nothing saps your strength quite like a cancer diagnosis—unless it is the energy-stealing chemotherapy and surgeries you face in your fight against cancer. But you can find hope and strength in the pages of Scripture, and in the experience of someone who has been there. In Strength Renewed, breast cancer survivor and registered nurse Shirley Corder combines her encouraging personal stories with powerful passages from Scripture to help you along the road to recovery. These devotions can be read in sequential order to move you through a typical cancer journey from diagnosis through treatment. But each meditation also stands on its own, so you can go directly to the entry that speaks to your need—right now. You have a partner and a cheerleader in Shirley—and in God—on the rough road ahead. Let Strength Renewed lift you up as you travel.

South African Giveaway:

If you are from South Africa, Shirley has a copy of her book to give away to one reader. Just leave a message on any of the blogs that feature Shirley this week and you will go into the draw. Please mention you have a South African mailing address. 

Narelle: Please check out my Book Recommendation for Strength Renewed, posted November 8, 2012.

Goodness and Mercy

by Shirley Corder

When our daughter, son-in-law and two little grandchildren left for a missionary destination half way across the world, our prayer life went up by 200%.

One day our daughter wrote to ask us to pray for a little boy. He had fractured his leg, and it had been wrongly set. Doctors were battling to save his leg. How we prayed. Not just for the little boy. We prayed our little ones would never break a limb. That none of them would ever get ill. Or have an accident.

Within a matter of weeks, my daughter was teaching a group of small children their alphabet. “Let’s look for things that begin with ‘B’,” she suggested. Then she noticed a huge snake coiled near her two-year-old.

Her husband somehow managed to capture the snake in a bucket, using a broom. The snake turned out to be a Boa Constrictor. A boa constrictor in a bucket with a broom! After reading this, I looked at the dictionary with much trepidation to see what began with ‘C’! We praised the Lord. God’s goodness and mercy had saved the day.

It didn’t always work like that. Over the next years we prayed them through an iguana bite, Dengue fever, a lung infection, a split chin (repaired with super glue!), an almost-broken nose, and yes . . . a fractured leg.

What happened? Did God get tired of our prayers?

Today, my daughter will tell you it was worth the trauma. As they look back, they see the blessings God worked during that period.

At the same time, I struggled through a dreadful year of treatment for aggressive cancer. We prayed regularly for good health—so why didn’t God stop the tumour from growing?

One scripture that became very real to me was Isaiah 40:31. They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. As I waited on God, He gave me so many blessings. As a direct result of cancer, today I am a published author and a public speaker. I also have a website especially to encourage and inspire those in the cancer valley.

Last week, my husband and I set off for a town some hours away. I was scheduled to speak the next day on the topic, “Change of Life – From nursing sister to published author.” Fifteen minutes from town, we became vehicle #4 in a nine-car pile-up. Why? We only finished praying for protection about 30 seconds before it happened! (Makes you wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t prayed!)

My son drove through to fetch us, and I delivered my talk as scheduled (albeit with a new illustration.) I believe God spoke to many people. Already, as we look back, we see God’s goodness and mercy upon us.

Over the next few days, panel beaters and an assessor decided our car’s fate. Would they salvage it, or would it head for the scrap yard? It was a scary time. We needed that car. And yet, as we waited upon the Lord, He did renew our strength. He didn’t renew our car—sadly, it was written off. But He renewed our strength.

Yes, we need to pray for protection. But we also have to allow God to be God. He will allow things to happen that we don’t like. Yet as we look back, we will see His goodness and mercy at work in our lives. Most of all, as we learn to wait upon Him, He will renew our strength. (You can read the story of the accident with photos, here.)

Shirley Corder

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on the often unexpected things God used to help her through the rough times in the cancer valley. It is available globally in print or online, in print and e-versions.

Please visit Shirley through, where she encourages writers,, where she encourages those in the cancer valley, on Twitter or on FaceBook. Sign up for her writers’ newsletter.

A Life Worth Living

by Narelle Atkins

I recently attended a funeral for a beloved member of my extended family. The funeral home was packed full of people who were paying their respects and supporting my family. I remembered the old saying about how there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Some people try their best to avoid paying taxes. But, none of us can ignore or change the fact that one day our earthly bodies will die and we will leave this world.

Funerals are a celebration of the life of our loved ones and also a reminder that our time on this earth will end, date and time unknown. It was encouraging to listen to a number of people speak about the contribution my family member had made in the community. He had not wasted opportunities to help others and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the many people touched by his life.

Four days after Lazarus had died, his sister, Martha, went out to greet Jesus. Martha believed that her brother would not have died if Jesus had been with them.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (Luke 11:23-27)

Jesus wept with Martha and her sister, Mary. He went to the tomb and performed a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead.

Our loved ones may not be miraculously healed like Lazarus, but we have confidence in knowing that our physical death is not the end. The Bible tells us that faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour will bring us eternal life. Jesus has conquered death by paying the price for our sins through his death and resurrection. Death no longer has a hold on us and we can be comforted by the knowledge that we can be reunited with our loved ones in the life to come.

Book Recommendation: Where God Finds You by Anita Higman

Back cover blurb:

In forty devotional tales, Where God Finds You breathes new life into ancient Bible characters. Live with and learn about more than forty Bible men and women, including the wife of Pontius Pilate, Esther, John the Baptist, Delilah, Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene.

Through reflection on Scripture and prayer, you’ll discover a place in each of these lives of vulnerability, tenderness, truth, and love—a place where you can find God . . . and where God finds you.

Where God Finds You is unique among women’s devotional books in that it brings dozens of men and women of the Bible to life through dramatic short stories, connects biblical truths to today’s culture, and offers readers an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned. Each devotion features:

• A dramatic retelling of Scripture that allows the reader to crawl into the pages of the Bible.
• The Story from God’s Word: a quote or paraphrase of the applicable Bible passage in a reader-friendly version.
• The Story—From Then to Now: a personal reflection from the author to help link the passage to life today.
• The Story—Questions to Think About: prompts for personal reflection or group discussion that lead to practical application.

Narelle: I really enjoyed meditating and reflecting on the devotions in Where God Finds You. The forty devotions are based on Biblical people from the Old and New Testament. Some of the Biblical characters are well known, including Peter, Job, Elijah, Joseph (son of Jacob), and Mary (mother of Jesus). Others are less well known including Hosea, Hagar, Tabitha (aka Dorcas) and Manoah (father of Samson).

The retelling of the Biblical stories in first person provides a deeper understanding of the character’s unique situation and experiences. The narrative Biblical text is included followed by the author’s insightful thoughts on the Bible story. The questions at the end of each devotion are relevant and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a challenging and inspiring devotional that could also be used as a Bible study.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.

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ACRBA – Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby by Ray Hawkins

19 – 23 November
is introducing

Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby (31 Day Devotional)

(Even  Before Publishing November 2012)
About the Author:
Ray Hawkins

Ray Hawkins, retired after over 40 years as a Churches of Christ minister, enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and five grandchildren. Ray shares his insights in his first two books on Marriage and Children with more ideas to come about ministry and much more. Living in Beauty Point Tasmania Ray heads up a new Christian Fellowship as well as doing relief preaching, community work and writing.
Book Description:

Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby (31 Day Devotional)

Short Book Description: In 31 daily devotional meditations Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby takes you out of a sentimental nativity scene and into a contest with eternal significance.

It walks you through God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 of Someone coming and the clues to His identity in the old Testament. You become aware that in the
Christmas event that ‘Someone’ has come.

I believe Christmas is the culmination of Heaven’s countdown to reclaim men, women and creation from the tyranny of sin, death and Satan. The cost involved to God to achieve this should make the reader bow in awe and gratitude.
Narelle: I am a fan of Ray Hawkins’ devotion books and Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby lived up to my expectations. I really like how Ray is able to explain complex theological concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
The devotions look at how Jesus’ time on Earth fits into God’s plan of salvation for the world. We read verses in both the Old and New Testaments to help us understand why Christmas is truly a time of great celebration. Jesus’ birth is put into historical context. The prophesy and events recorded in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus’ arrival as our Lord and Saviour are explored in the devotions.
Each devotion starts with a Bible reading and concludes with a prayer. I highly recommend Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby to those looking to gain a fuller understanding of who Jesus is and the true  meaning of Christmas from a Biblical perspective. I also believe this devotion book would be useful for seekers and those wanting to learn more about Jesus and his role in God’s plan of salvation.   
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

The Sovereignty of God

by Carole Towriss

In my book, In the Shadow of Sinai, Bezalel has to learn to accept God’s will in his life after several shattering blows.

Submitting to God’s plan for our life can be painful, even agonizing. I know. When we got married, my husband and I both wanted a large family. We started trying to get pregnant after he came home from a six-week trip to Vietnam for CNN. At that point we’d been married almost two years. He traveled quite a bit, so we tried for two years instead of the standard one before we saw a doctor. We spent six more years swallowing pills and getting shots. I prayed and cried, and cried and prayed. I hated Mother’s Day. I was terrified of spending the rest of my life without a child. I’d see pregnant teenagers clearly not ready for motherhood, and abandoned babies, and abused children, and wonder why our prayers remained unanswered.

A few months ago a faithful Haitian man in our church died after a long battle with cancer. He’d dedicated his life to evangelizing the Haitian people in Washington, DC. He pastored the Creole-speaking church his father started, distributed Bibles, even resigned a lucrative job to drive a taxi to more actively share the Gospel. His widow is having a difficult time understanding why God would call home such a hard-working and effective servant. Last month she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Stories like these don’t seem fair.

Sometimes, in time, we can see a reason for God’s actions.

We eventually had one bio child, and adopted three more babies from Kazakhstan. We have a crazy, wacky set of four kids that share no DNA and very few traits, but make for a chaotic, fun, and love-filled house. Had we not brought them to our home, they most likely would never have heard the Name of Jesus. Perhaps one day one will take it back there, and be able to share it as only native-born people can. Maybe not. Only God knows.

Sometimes we never see His plan.

My mother-in-law died shortly after we were married. I adored her. She was forever buying Bibles and giving them away. A couple weeks after the funeral we received a call from the Christian bookstore saying a special order she had placed had arrived—Bibles. My children will never know her. I can’t see any good in her death. Why would God take her? I still don’t know. Only God knows.

Yes, submitting to the sovereignty of God will can be bitter. Matthew tells us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” I don’t have the desire or the theological training to discuss whether he wills or simply allows the sparrow to fall, or the faithful man or my mother-in-law to die, but I know He is sovereign.

Bezalel’s grandfather told him, “You can trust God, or you can be blown about like a leaf in the wind.” Without faith in our heavenly Father, life will knock you down, take you out, and eventually destroy you. Or you can cling to the Rock. Even when you just can’t understand, when you feel overwhelmed, God will hold you close. Say to Him, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” He will. In the midst of all the uncertainty and anguish, I promise He will.

CAROLE TOWRISS grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her first novel, In the Shadow of Sinai, released November 1. You can find her at

Live light in 25 words – update

by Narelle Atkins

During the month of October on our 30 Minute Bible Studies Facebook Page we have participated in Bible Society Australia’s ‘Live light in 25 words’ challenge. The goal is to read 25 words or more every day in October to establish a regular Bible reading habit. If you’ve been following our progress on our Facebook page, you’ll know we’re reading the whole Gospel of Matthew in October.

Today we are reading Matthew 24:29-51.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:29)

The first verse in this passage sets the scene for Jesus’ illustration of our need to be aware that He could return at any time, with no warning. This leads us to a challenging question: How we can live in a way that ensures we are prepared for Jesus’ return, which may or may not happen during our lifetime?