Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Gospel Assurance & Warnings

In Gospel Assurance & Warnings, Paul Washer 'shines the light of gospel hope as he cautions against the dangers of making an empty profession of faith and carefully explains from Scripture the basis for establishing and maintaining a sound assurance of faith.'

Having read Paul Washer's second book in his Recovering the Gospel series, I looked with anticipation at being able to read the third part.  I was not disappointed.  The making of a well written book is one that takes you to the Scriptures and not man's opinion.  Washer does just that.  Each page is saturated with Scripture references.  

The book is divided into two sections.  The first part is titled Biblical Assurance and the second part is titled Gospel Warnings, or Warnings to Empty Confessors.  In this book, Washer takes us through 1 John to demonstrate how the believer can be assured of his salvation and how the unbeliever should be convicted of his lost state.  The distinctions Washer makes are relevant.  Preaching a watered-down gospel produces false converts.  The consequences are catastrophic--leading multitudes to hell.

Washer is not condemning nor condescending.  He sticks to the Word of God as the ultimate authority. The severity of the subject matter and the love Washer has for the souls is evident.  After each chapter, there are personal reflections, warnings, and encouragement.  

His exposition of Scripture will give you plenty to contemplate.  One of my favorite parts is his clarification of eternal life on page 148:

The first, most common error is to regard eternal life as merely a quantity of time rather than a quality of life and ignore the nature of it.  

This book serves not only as a warning to the false convert, but as an admonishment to the believer.  Let us not grow weary.  

I highly recommend this book for every believer so that through reading it, he may be reassured concerning his salvation and encouraged to remain in Jesus.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Be Vigilant

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

How many times have we fallen prey to the enemy's plans and then thought why?  I knew he was coming and what he was up to, so why did I fall into his trap?  Sometimes, we simply have failed to exercise self-control and have lacked alertness.

We live in a time of excess.  Rarely do we have one of anything.  How can you when the 2 for 1 deals abound?  This excess culture has also given birth to an entitlement mentality.  I work hard all week so I deserve this or that, right?  WRONG!

but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:14,15

It is easy to cast off restraint and indulge in things we know not to because we believe the mood/circumstance dictates it, but we are called to be self-controlled.

self-control-the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, esp. in difficult situations.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3:4-5

Some time ago, I had done a study by Elizabeth George regarding putting on a quiet and gentle spirit.  It went something like:

A gentle spirit does not create disturbances and a quiet spirit does not react to the disturbances caused by others. 

I really loved that.  I don't create disturbances and I don't react to anyone else's disturbances.  I can exercise self-control.  My emotions don't have to guide and control me.  I control them.  Or better put, the Holy Spirit in me controls them.  I am not controlled by anyone else.  I am free to exercise self-control.  It is beautiful.  

The second command is to be alert.  

alert-quick to notice any unusual and potentially dangerous or difficult circumstances; vigilant.

Because our enemy is not standing in physical face to face combat against us, it can be easy to forget he's around.  But he is and he is prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour.  He doesn't forget his target, his enemy--YOU and ME!  We would be wise not to forget our enemy whose sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 5:12).  We would do well to remember he is unseen, does not take vacations, is ruthless. and relentless.  

Therefore, let us be vigilant.  Too often, the enemy gains footholds because we have grown careless, distracted, or entertained.  We see the danger approaching and fail to sound the trumpet and will be held accountable (Ezekiel 33:6).  Maybe you see something in your husband or your children and even in yourself but fail to pray about it and submit to the Spirit's guidance.  You think, "It's not that bad.  I don't want to make a big deal about it.  I am sure God will deal with it."  Woman of God, you are called to watch over the affairs of your household and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).  Remember it is the little foxes that ruin the vineyards that are in bloom (Song of Songs 2:15).

If you know there is a particular vulnerability in your life, seek help.  The enemy usually works in cycles.  He is not creative at all and will keep each of us in captivity if we don't allow Jesus to set us free.  Perhaps, you have struggled with a particular sin or your mind has not been renewed in a particular area.  The enemy knows this area of weakness and you know the triggers as well.  The enemy will whisper a lie that if left undetected will slowly begin to wreak havoc on your thoughts.  Now you no longer see the Holy Spirit's work in your life but the big failure the enemy makes you out to be.   Bring that thought captive.  Speak to your husband about it or a mature sister in Christ.  Stop the enemy in his tracks before he gets going on his plan of destruction for you.  Be alert!

God is so good.  When we are living self-controlled lives we have born fruit of the Spirit.  We belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).  Therefore, we can be alert.  We can be vigilant.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

Monday, April 14, 2014

Be Realistic

Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:7 (KJV)  

In a culture where all we see is what a person posts on their Instagram/Facebook feed, we can be deceived.  What we post in our feeds can deceive others too.  Why?  Because those are moments captured and not our actual lives. 

Our lives are complex, filled with emotions, and unpredictable.  It is what makes it beautiful.  We don't know the details, but He does.  

What He lets us know in His Word is-DO NOT BE DECEIVED!

Do not look at what someone else is doing and think they have the most wonderful life and yours, well isn't.

Do not portray your life as a movie always filled with adventure, intrigue, suspense, etc, well because it's not.  There's the mundane too and that's normal.  That's actually reality.  

So now that we have a grasp on not being deceived and not deceiving, let us look at the why.  

God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God wants us to be realistic about our lives.  What are we sowing?  

Are we sowing complaining and nagging seeds into our husbands that are driving them right to the roof (Proverbs 21:9)?  Are we belittling our children and thus, discouraging their little hearts (Colossians 3:21)?  Are we gossiping about our family in Christ and thus separating close friends (Proverbs 16;28)?  Our we wasting time sowing seeds into how we look outwardly knowing that beauty is fading (Proverbs 31:30) and not concerned whether we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27)?

If we have been planting these seeds or anything similar, we need to repent.

"'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you:  I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.  you will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.  
Leviticus 26:16

Let us take heed to God's instructions.  His Word is complete.  It provides ABSOLUTELY every direction, guidance, and instruction for our lives.  God's Word gives us counsel on everything we will ever go through.  

Let us not be deceived into thinking that we can ignore God's Word and we are going to live victoriously on earth much less make it to heaven.  Remember His true disciples remain in His Word (John 8:31).  

Each us needs to make an assessment of what we have been sowing.  Are you dissatisfied with your spiritual growth?  How much seeds have you been sowing in that field through prayer, fasting, and the studying of God's Word?  Are you experiencing familial conflicts?  Do you plant with love and hope or strife and discouragement?  Are you in financial dilemma? Have you been spending your seeds at the sales, hoarding it in savings, or giving generously?  

Only the Lord can open our eyes that we can see ourselves through His Word.  Let us not only pray to be delivered from the devil's deceptions but those that come from our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: 101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation

101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation illustrated by Dan Andreasen is a great compilation of stories throughout the Old and New Testament.  The stories are targeted for 6-10 year-olds.   The amount of stories proportioned to the Old and New Testament seems to be equal.  The stories are condensed to one page with an illustration on the opposite side.  Instead of including eight stories about Creation, I would have preferred for some other non-traditional stories from the Old Testament to have been included.  The illustrations are simply beautiful.  However, I could have done without the curvy Eve or the bare-chested Samson.  The New Testament stories are a good balance of Jesus' life and teachings.  There are only a few stories dealing with the Church and Jesus' return.  

Overall, this book is a very good resource for children.  The illustrations are sweet and gentle (with the exception of the two aforementioned).  The amount of reading would be better suited for the younger of this age category and can be used with even younger ones in a Sunday school setting. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Knowing God by Name

In Knowing God by Name; Names of God that Bring Hope and Healing, David Wilkerson seeks to "help you know your heavenly Father on a heart-to-heart level, revealing His protection, care, discipline and loving guidance in your life."

David Wilkerson presents a study of eleven names, or attributes, of God in order that the reader may learn more about God's role in our lives.  He does a phenomenal job in presenting the material in a clear manner.  While authoritative in his use of the Scriptures, Wilkerson humbly approaches the subject with  delicacy.  Not wanting his words to serve as the foundation of his writing, Wilkerson constantly uses the Bible to provide example after example of our loving God.  He does not limit the revelation of the characteristics of God to the Old Testament, but accurately demonstrates how all these characteristics are manifested in the Name of God--Jesus.  Wilkerson goes back and forth between the Old and New Testaments painting a clear picture for the reader.  He also interweaves personal testimonies to further illustrate his points.  My favorite chapters were Jehovah Tsebaioth, His Name if Forgiveness, and His Name is Intercessor.  

This book is a must read.  It will provide truth and encouragement for the believer wanting to know Jesus in a deeper level.

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review.  This a Chosen book.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Be Prayerful

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

Throughout our day, many things strive to produce anxiety in us but God counsels us in His Word not be to anxious for anything, absolutely NOTHING.  God knows that anxiety is fear and if we fear we are not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

First, let us begin by identifying any anxiety symptoms in our lives?

Do you second guess your decisions?
Are you constantly replaying events that already happened?
Do you make up potential scenarios of what might happen if you do/say so or so?

Some of the time, fear occurs solely in the mind, but it can have physical symptoms.

Do you feel your stomach in knots at the thought of x, y, and z?
Does your heart beat a bit faster at the thought of confrontation?
Do you sense the heat turned up when you encounter John Doe?

Whether it is mental or physical or both, God wants us to fear nothing but in everything make it known to Him in prayer.  

Let us look at His instructions:

1.  Pray-talk to God
Talk to Him about the situation whatever it is and get to the root of the fear.  Maybe it is a fear of rejection or failure?  Expect to hear from Him as He ministers you, revealing the roots and filling you with His love and peace.

2. Supplication-ask God
The Bible tells us if we lack wisdom ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to us (James 1:5).  The Bible also guides us to ask others for counsel (Proverbs 15:22).  Ak God to give you wisdom and lead you to those counselors.

3.  Thanksgiving-thank God
Remember that fear wants us to look at it and not at God.  So let us keep our focus on God giving Him our wholehearted worship and praise for Who He is and what He has already done.  

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  We must remember to draw near to Him constantly in prayer pouring our hearts out to Him, knowing that His perfect love drives out fear.  When we sense anxiety trying to creep its way into our thoughts, let us be quick to turn to Jesus in prayer.  Look at the result of praying instead of worrying.  

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (emphasis mine)

When we pray, His peace is guarding our hearts and minds!

Can we change ourselves?
No, but He can!

Can we change others?
No, but He can!

Can we control situations?
No, but He does!

So let us not wallow in worry but rather be persistent in prayer.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Be Careful

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26 (KJV)

Anger is a controversial topic that need not produce anger in discussing it, although we may not take the same stance on it:)  I will attempt to illustrate my points as clearly as possible.  

Let's look at a basic definition of anger.

anger-a strong feeling of displeasure aroused by a wrong

Now while I strongly agree that God allows us to feel anger towards injustice (John 2:12-25), I do not succumb to the idea that we anger is a normal part of everyone's life.  Let me explain.  

The anger towards injustice is when our compassion is aroused at the mistreatment of another person.  For example, if we see a husband berating his wife or vice versa or a child hitting a parent.  Since these are things that are a definite NO in God's Word, we may feel anger toward the situation.  Since we serve a holy God, our desire to see justice served may be aroused.

However, this is completely different than when we get angry because we have been wronged.  In the above example, God's Word, His Love, His Justice are the focus.  When we are wronged and become angry, the focus shifts to "me."  

Why did he/she do that to me?
I can't believe their audacity?
I would never do that!

The list goes on and on but God is not the center.  And this is when we have to be careful because our emotions can lead us to sin.  They can cloud us to viewing things one way (our way) and not the Lord's way.  

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 
Colossians 3:8

Anger gives the enemy such a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) that we must rid ourselves of it.  Look at the above succession of what anger produces:

I am angry-I don't like what happened
I have rage-I have a violent desire
I have malice-I have a desire to inflict injury
I slander-I make false statements
I have filthy language-I use vile and vulgar words

I am completely convinced that we are to get rid of anger through an active resistance to it because  man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:20).  

Anger is an option, but not the only one.  We can choose humility.  

Let us be peacemakers and peace seekers always making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).  Let us not fester in anger but resolve the matter-today.  Do not go to sleep with those thoughts/emotions. 

When they hurled their insults at him he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made not threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23

In light of what we've learned today, we have decisions to make. Let us be careful with allowing anger becoming a part of our lives because it will control us.  We are to be led by the Spirit and not by our emotions.  As we become less focused on "me" we will be able to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  He sees and knows it all.  It is better to make room for God to handle situations (Romans 12:19) and not take matters into our own hands.  Let us learn from Jesus and make no provision for our flesh (Romans 13:14).  Let us strive for peace today and always, not giving the devil any footholds.