< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reckless Devotion by Heidi and Rolland Baker

This book of 365 devotions is beautifully written. The messages both sooth your soul and fire you up.

Each week is divided into a theme, but all are meant to help us see that God wants all of us. He wants our passion for Him and our compassion for everyone else. And He will finish in us what He has started – to fill us completely with the Holy Spirit for the Glory of God. Once this happens we will look at the world through His eyes and love like He loves.

Heidi also wrote that she doesn’t see the point in prosperity and well-being in life if all it does is distract us from Jesus

She says that the King of Glory is looking for servant-lovers who will bring the poor, the crippled, the blind and lame to fill up His house. We are to love God and love the person in front of us.

I could share quotes from this book all day, like: “What matters most is love. Jesus living inside us is happy to use our hands to heal the sick, our arms to hug the lost, our feet and our mouths to go and speak about the Kingdom to all who need to hear it. This is faith working in love.”

But I really suggest you read the book for yourself. There is so much in it to move and inspire and change you.
 
*I was given a book by the publisher for my honest review.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of the Book, "50 Things You Need To Know About Heaven"

I just finished reading Dr. John Hart's book 50 Things You Need To Know About Heaven

I've read a lot of books about Heaven, so many of these questions and answers I'm familiar with. The difference (and why I would recommend getting this book) is it makes a good reference book to keep in your library. The 50 questions cover most of the questions people often ask about Heaven, so you can pull out this book and skim through the table of contents and answer them a lot faster then trying to remember where you read about it in some other book. (Or even finding the answer in the Bible - the author gives you Bible references for each question also.)

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher to review.

Labels:

Monday, June 09, 2014

Review of the book Face to Face with Jesus

In a country where the worst thing that happens to a Christian is someone raising his or her eyebrow and making fun of them, reading what the author went through for her faith was indeed humbling.

I was struck by her maturity, even at the age of her conversion: 14. She was brave in constantly sharing the Gospel with everyone she came into contact with, even went it could easily have ended in her death. And often ended in beatings.

The miracles, healings, speaking in tongues she recounts reminds me of the early church in Acts. These kinds of things have to happen when the Gospel needs to go far and fast. The author seems to think we are close to Christ's return. And I do to. She feels the burden to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Her faith, her bravery, her forgiveness of those who persecuted her, her love for her fellow men, her hunger for the Word; (she had read through the Bible 30 times by the time she was 19 and memorized great portions of it) should inspire us!

You won't be able to put the book down when she's describing the church bombing she lived through, you will grit your teeth at the way she is treated by the Muslim doctors and nurses, you will be in awe of her description of meeting Jesus in Heaven when she "died".

This book is an eye opener to the Muslim community, a kick in the pants to start doing our duty as Christians and a great read. I totally recommend it.

* I received a copy to review from the publisher

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 05, 2014

Review of Out of the Depths. An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of The USS Indianapolis

This book changed forever what I will think of when I hear someone was shipwrecked. The author goes into graphic detail about what happens to your body when it's in salt water, being surrounded by water which you can't drink and how your throat closes up. The sharks circling, the baking sun and the men didn't have rafts, only life preservers. It was a gripping story.

But what the author wants his reader to get from this is to see God's presence through it all. Edgar Harrell was already a Christian and before he stepped off the sinking ship into the Pacific Ocean he felt that God told him he was going to survive. And he clung to that promise the whole five days as his ship mates died one by one.

One day God sent a little rain for their parched mouths, another a crate of rotten potatoes that a little of the insides were ok to eat. Scriptures came to mind for him to recite and pray. And the eventual rescue was nothing short of miraculous.

Our brave soldiers, airmen and sailors need people to know what they give up for our freedom. And Christians need to let people know how good and merciful our God is, no matter what we are going through.

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House to review.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Faith in Action

This is the end of my lesson based on Steve Berger's book "Between Heaven and Earth". The book is available on Amazon.

Jesus tells four parables in Matthew 24 and 25. This is at the end of His life. He knows he’s leaving soon, so you know what He’s telling His disciples at this point is extra important.

The first is Matthew 24:44-51. A parable showing a contrast between a faithful and an evil servant. The faithful servant worked in expectation of his master’s return. The evil servant was all about “now” and himself.

The second parable is the wise and foolish virgins. Matthew 25:1-13. The wise ones kept the oil burning waiting for the bridegroom. The foolish ones weren’t prepared. They didn’t know the truth of the Word and wasted time and energy on foolish things.

The third parable is the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-50. This one goes even further in explaining how important serving in the harvest is to Jesus. One day there will be a settling of accounts. The 5 and 2 talent workers were wise because they took what their lord gave them and worked hard. They doubled what they’d been given. And their lord rewarded them with more. This is where he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  The one talent worker was unthankful, bitter and rebellious. He was an excuse maker. And he was cast out into darkness. The last parable is the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:37- 46. The people represented as sheep served the last, the least and the lost.  Because of their faithfulness Jesus invited them in. They loved God, they loved people and their love for people manifested itself in serving others. By doing that they were actually seeing Jesus. The people representing goats were in trouble. They rejected serving other people and God and Jesus took their reward away. (Not truly saved!)

Remember the 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 passage mentioned earlier? Paul tells us that God is entrusting work to us. Then it is to be tested by Him. That work will either be something of eternal value or not. Enduring work will receive a reward. Work that is burned will be a loss. There will be a final accounting and how we serve will determine our rewards in Heaven. The very Christ we serve here is the One we will stand before in judgment. That shouldn’t distress us if we’ve been doing His work and look forward to His return. Every person we serve, everyone with whom we share Jesus, and every moment we spend praying with someone whose life is broken is a treasure stored up for us in heaven. It’s part of our reward.

Let me end with a couple promises about heaven.

In John 14:2 Jesus tells us that in His Father’s house there are many mansions. If you are a believer one of these is yours!

Jeremiah 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” This verse makes it clear that God wants to be among us. Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God shows the fulfillment of this promise. Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. shows God’s promise of happiness.

God gives us hope in Revelation 21:5-6 – hope because His promises are absolutely true and faithful. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

Colossians 1:4-5 God’s promises of heaven are reserved for you. They give you hope and that hope causes you to reach out in love for all God’s people. It’s a calling based on His promises.

James 2:17-18 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

Our faith makes a difference in what we do. Real faith is accompanied by works. Faith in action. Get in His Word, let the Holy Spirit guide and lead you into the harvest. See the need, have compassion and meet it. Live a profitable life for Jesus right now – it’s not too late. And you’ll discover the joy of heaven, the joy of serving others and the joy of seeing other people receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Labels:

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Two Power Sources for Christians

God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are the two most important power sources for Christians. The Bible gives us the power to know God, defend our faith and reap countless benefits. The Holy Spirit gives the power to share our faith with other people and meet their needs.

Again - Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The spirit was upon Him – it filled Him. And it came upon Him for a very specific reason – to share the gospel and do the harvest work. We need to be filled too. And for a specific reason. There are people with needs. People to serve. People to save.

Jesus in His human body needed the spirit.

In the book of Acts it was the Holy Spirit who gave the Apostles boldness. When we read Acts we can see what our life might be like as a Christian if we completely yield to, fully receive and totally obey the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave the disciples the great commission in Matthew 28:16 – 20, but in Acts 1:4-8 He told them to wait for the promise of the Father before they began His work. That they be baptized with the Holy Spirit first. He told them they would receive power to be His witnesses. 10 days later the Holy Spirit came and Peter preached and saved 3000 people. The same Peter who a month or so earlier had denied Christ three times.

Peter was a simple man, but he studied under Jesus and he knew his Bible and relied on the Holy Spirit to help him share what he knew. It’s the Word in us that the Spirit will enliven, embolden and enflame.

In Acts 2:37-38 it says when the people heard Peter they were cut to the heart. They asked, “What shall we do?” Peter told them “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It’s exactly what Peter had done, so people couldn’t refute it. People can argue all kinds of things. But not your personal experience. Your changed life.

Tell people how Jesus saved you, forgave you and how the Holy Spirit is daily renewing and making you more like Jesus. We’re not responsible for the outcome of our sharing, the Holy Spirit is, but we have to stand up and speak up to people who need to hear it.

But here’s a warning. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Grieving the Holy Spirit is doing what he says not to. It’s walking in disobedience. When we grieve him we diminish his power to transform us. An example of this is Samson. Several times it’s written that the Holy Spirit came mightily on him, but left him as he persisted in sin. King Saul was disobedient and the Holy Spirit departed from him. When the Holy Spirit leaves we are left on our own to try to work things out and that’s not the way Kingdom work is done.

Paul also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Quenching is putting out His fire. It’s not doing what he says to do. So we lose him when we do what he says not to and also when we don’t do what he says to do! In other words – obey him!

We need to constantly invite him into our lives and hearts. It’s not a one time event like being saved.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 02, 2014

Christians Must Guard Against Deception

We also need to guard against deception. There are people out there preaching a different Gospel! In Paul’s day it was a mixture of magic, Greek and Roman mythology and some Christianity.

1 Timothy 4:1 the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

The first deception by the devil took place in the Garden of Eden when he twisted God’s Word and he’s still doing it today.

Paul says there’s a solution to this deception.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

So preach the Word. Stay focused on it. Don’t get it from other people’s opinions. The author says don’t preach about your summer vacation. I thought about Billy Graham here. I remember thinking once that he never says anything different. He doesn’t write up a new sermon every time he speaks. Just the simple Gospel and our need for a Savior and how to get Him. Don’t compromise God’s Word or make an apology for it. Don’t hold back and never stop. God’s Word will do the work.

Paul warned Timothy that there would come a day when people turn from sound doctrine to find teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. We see this today. People just want to hear what makes them feel good. They don’t want to be challenged or convicted. They don’t want to hear about sacrificial living or responsibility. They fell into false teaching and away from God’s Word. Reading the Bible equips God’s people to do God’s Work!

Most of us just want to be saved from hell. But God wants us saved from hell so we can save others from hell. We can only know His love and kindness and mercy when we read the Word. There isn’t one thing we will face in our lives that isn’t covered in the Bible. It has all the answers we need for those we are helping.

One of Satan’s tactics is to attack the authority of scripture. But Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All of scripture from Genesis to Revelation is God-breathed. God inspired it. Why would He have anything else in the book He calls His Word? The Word is profitable for learning, for truth and for reproof (meaning conviction).

It’s profitable for correction (straightening us out) and for instruction in righteousness (guiding us in the right direction.) It’s profitable in making us complete and mature in the Lord. It can thoroughly equip us to live on this fallen earth and know how to reach out to people in the harvest.

The Word of God fills you, blesses you, and gives you wisdom, understanding, knowledge, hope and truth. It gives you power. It gives you something to share with people who are desperate and in need. To see Jesus through their hurt. It changes lives!

Jesus told His disciples to abide in His Word and they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. That means we should focus on it and meditate on it. This doesn’t just mean “keep God’s commandments”. Deception and opposition are defeated when we are immersed in the truth of God.

We have to approach the Bible with a teachable spirit; praying that God leads us to His truth. This doesn’t happen when the Bible is on your to-do list as “read 5 verses today”. The religious Jews in Jesus’ time knew the Old Testament inside out. They memorized huge portions of it, but it didn’t change them one bit.

Jesus told the Jews in John 5:39-40 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Jesus was saying that a spirit-led encounter with His truth would lead them to a personal relationship with Him. Not just a checked off list of memorized verses. We should all take 1 Peter 3:15 as a life verse: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Labels: