Tag Archives: Bible studies

Book Spotlight And Author Interview — Bound to Be Free by Marta E. Greenman

16 Oct

About The Book

Book: Bound To Be Free

Author: Marta E. Greenman

Genre: Non-Fiction, spiritual growth, Christian studies

Release Date: June 12, 2015

Dr. Minirth, President of Minirth Clinic says, “Bound To Be Free is an exceptional book – Theologically correct, psychologically warm, physiologically health producing. I recommend it with enthusiasm. Christians around the globe need this book. Read it and be healed. This book is riveting, but more important, it is life transforming!”

Learn to live in FREEDOM. Free of the consequences of pain inflicted upon us, and pain inflicted by ourselves. God’s Word tells us true freedom is found in HIS word and presence. Christ’s desire is for believers to be transformed, not just saved.

Bound To Be Free leads believers step-by-step through God’s healing process and transformation. The study focuses heavily on scripture, as the only path to lasting restoration, and leads believers through the process of identifying and overcoming hindrances. This enables believers to achieve power in their daily Christian walk and show the transforming power of Christ in the church.

Our Father knows each person’s story. He knows how each one of us can overcome the pain and disappointment in our lives. While some numb the pain others walk through the fire, allowing The Refiner to mold us into the precious treasure He created us to be. Take a step in your journey to victory today

Click here to get your copy!

About The Author

For over twenty years, Marta has traveled extensively as a missionary, evangelist and Bible teacher sharing God’s message of truth and redemption. She is a teacher of teachers. She is host of Under God Radio Show and Co-host of Refining Friends. She is the author of three Bible studies, Bound to Be Free, Leaders, Nations, and God, and ACTs420NOW. Marta founded Words of Grace & Truth in 2011 whose mission is to teach God’s Word to the nations and teach others to do the same. She has been married for over twenty-five years to Marshall and they reside in the Dallas, Texas area.

 

Q&A with Marta

BTB: Tell us a little about your research methods. 

Marta: The Bible is always my primary source and from that, I also research the original meanings of the Greek or Hebrew from the English text. My last two Bible studies incorporated the foundation of American history and the genesis of English Christian history, so I utilized biographies and other secular materials in my research of those topics. 

BTB: What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule? 

Marta: Writing is not a daily habit for me. I have a full schedule as the founder of a ministry and a Christian radio host. When God places a topic on my heart, I make time to write until the project is completed. 

BTB: How long does it usually take to write your books — from first outlines/drafts to final edits. 

Marta: I am fond of saying, “It takes a lifetime,” since every Bible study has come from the deep examination of His Word for twenty-six years. Each has taken a different amount of time. While writing, the process, not time, is most important. My studies are organized by weeks and days. Each completed day is reread and rewritten. At weekly editing meetings my team works through each of those days. I then work on any rewrites. After this daunting process, I teach the study to a small group as a test for fine-tuning. Finally, it goes to the publisher. It can take twelve to eighteen months to finish a study. But this investment produces the best product available. 

BTB: Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share? 

Marta: Time permitting, I have an endless number of books to write! Currently, I am involved with two projects. One is a collaborative devotional with hosts from my internet radio station. The second is an end-times Bible study focused on the events leading to the rapture of the church, the tribulation and second coming of Christ. 

BTB: Please share with my readers a little bit about your life leading up to the present. 

Marta: My first mission trip took me to Romania in 1997 and it changed my life forever. The next year I left corporate America for a church planting organization. I traveled with American churches to churches in foreign lands to establish churches and for discipleship. Marshall, my husband of twenty-six years, and I moved to Romania in 2002 to help start a church and work with street children. After seven years God called me to write Bible studies and to teach and train others to study the Word. GraceAndTruthRadio.World was launched in 2018 to provide a platform for people with biblical messages to reach others for Christ. 

Thanks for sharing with us today, Marta!

More from Marta

Are you tired of hurting? Do you want long term answers…not a band aid fix? Bound To Be Free will take you on a journey of understanding, self-contemplation, and questions to ask the Almighty! At the end of your journey you will realize how much God has healed your soul and how to handle hurts and disappointments in the future.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 14

Creating Relationship, October 15

Mary Hake, October 16

By The Book, October 16 (Author Interview)

Just the Write Escape, October 17

Through the Fire Blogs, October 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 22

Texas Book-aholic, October 23

A Baker’s Perspective, October 24 (Author Interview)

janicesbookreviews, October 25

A Reader’s Brain, October 26

Inklings and notions , October 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marta is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click HERE to enter.

Book Spotlight: Soul Anchors

15 Oct

My friend, Chrissie Tomlinson, has written a terrific book. Please check out Soul Anchors! Chrissie is a committed Christian woman who loves Jesus. I am excited for her as she travels on this journey with her book.

 

518xiqb-tyl-_sx355_bo1204203200_With in-depth instruction and personal application guides this Bible study will guide you through an examination of four soul anchors that we have through our relationship with Jesus Christ. These anchors — love, truth, peace, and freedom — are unchangeable despite the circumstances, despite our feelings, and in spite of all the obstacles that are thrown into our paths.

 

 

 

 

chrissie-tomlinson-edited-243x300-copyChrissie Tomlinson in her own words — My education includes degrees in Christian Education, Biblical Counseling, and Organizational Leadership. But most of my real schooling has come from being on the front lines of ministry. I have served in the ministry as Christian school educator, administrator, counselor, and most recently served as Director of Education and Preschool at a Southern Baptist church in Middle Georgia. Currently, I am employed by the USAF, and work as a contract specialist.

In my spare time, I am actively serving at my church, First Baptist Perry, Georgia, and stay busy with friends and family. I enjoy reading, knitting, and cooking, and, of course, writing.

Book Spotlight: Refraction Bible Studies

2 Jun

Thomas Nelson has added two new Bible studies to their Refraction series — Transcending Mysteries by Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens and Divided: When The Head And Heart Don’t Agree by Bill Delvaux. Check them out below.

 

1401680402.jpg“We fell in love with Jesus. Then we had to decide what to do with God.” In Transcending Mysteries: Who Is God, and What Does He Want from Us? Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens take readers on a journey to answer the question: is the God of the Old Testament the same God we relate to and worship today?

As the most definitive written revelation of who God is, Scripture has always been vital to the stories of the Christian faith. The Old Testament has proved especially tough for those who have been persuaded by the gracious gospel of Jesus but also desire to surrender to a God they don’t fully comprehend. We adore the Son of God, but what about God the Father?

Using Old Testament stories Andrew and Ginny help Christ-followers reconcile a New Testament Redeemer with an Old Testament God and understand what God really wants from His people. They dialog back and forth as they share their own stories of struggle and surrender. Their comments are separated by speaker identifiers that are used throughout.

Features include:

Old Testament stories that are completed in Jesus’ message
Dialog between Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens
Music lyrics from Andrew and Ginny that illustrate biblical truths
Thought-provoking questions for reflection or study

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

0529121263.jpgThe longest distance in the universe is between the head and heart. For Christ-followers, it is the chasm between what we say we believe in our minds and what we truly believe in our hearts: a split between our statements about God and our experience of Him. This divide is everywhere around us, causing untold devastation. It is found in the double lives of believers and in the hypocrisy of church leaders, but mainly we see it in ourselves. It is the default position of every human heart.

In Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree, Bill Delvaux exposes this divide and offers strategies to tackle it. The actual journey to cross the divide is sketched out, an epic journey that will take us into our deepest fear and shame and on into the wonder of God’s presence. For becoming undivided is not just another task. It’s the pathway into the very heart of the Father.

Features include:

Strategies for closing the divide between head and heart
Specific prayers for each stage of the spiritual journey
Thought-provoking questions for spiritual conversation or reflection

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Bozeman Media for review copies.)

Series Spotlight: Inscribed Bible Studies

30 Jan

Thomas Nelson has just released a new Bible study series targeted for women. The Inscribed  series is written by women for women. Here are a few of the titles available:

680237Inseparable by Ashley Linne. What word would you use to describe yourself? Now think of a word God would use to describe you. Us it the same word? Based on the book of Romans, Inseparable gives an overview of our identity in Christ. Throughout the book, guided Bible study sections will lead you to discover truths in Scripture for yourself and challenge you to apply those truths to your everyday thought processes and choices. You’ll be encouraged to look to Christ for approval, identity, and significance rather than yourself or the world around you. Each chapter concludes with a “Come Together” section with questions to discuss with a small group, friend, or online group.

680152Just Rise Up! by Sarah Francis Martin. It is common to look at our faith as something that just “is”. It’s not strong, nor is it weak; it’s simply a part of us. But faith is something we desire to strengthen. It is a vital relationship with our Lord that should be nurtured, celebrated, and shouted from the rooftops as the most incredible gift we will ever receive.

Just Rise Up! is a call to do just that. This invigorating study motivates women to do life differently by making Jesus famous in all aspects of life. Many have the itch to make a difference with their lives but don’t know how. By living a life of praise, with a humble posture and a Kingdom perspective, women will step into their life purpose. With Just Rise Up! readers will evaluate their present stance before the Lord and become excited to Rise Up! and take their place in the Kingdom to make the name of Jesus renowned.

679750Barren Among The Fruitful by Amanda Hope Haley. Using Amanda’s personal stories, and the stories of other women who have struggled to have children, Barren Among the Fruitful surrounds those women struggling with infertility or miscarriage with a sense of community while providing honest facts. It leads women from confusion to understanding. Each chapter is titled with a well-meaning, but sometimes thoughtless comment Amanda was offered during her seven-year struggle with infertility. At the end of each chapter are questions for reflection.

 

 

 

Great for use in a small group setting, these studies will meet women right where they are in their faith journey. Whether your group wants to focus on a book of the Bible or a specific issue, all 12 books in the series will be a great resource.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for review copies. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Book Review: The Simplified Guide: Paul’s Letters to The Churches

12 Dec

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Deep River Books (September 5, 2013)
***Special thanks to Emily Woodworth for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Like Paul, David Hazelton’s professional background is in the law and business. He is a senior partner in a law firm in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s five largest firms. Dave’s passion is teaching Sunday School and leading Bible studies in his home, church, and workplace. He serves as an elder at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Paul wrote to “all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:2). Far from works of abstract theology, his letters provide practical instruction to people without any special theological training or educational credentials––regular people like you and me. In The Simplified Guide, David Hazelton collects Paul’s instructions on specific issues as faithfully and completely as possible. Rather than promoting a particular interpretation, Hazelton guides readers to make their own observations about applying Paul’s instructions to their lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 216 pages

Publisher: Deep River Books (September 5, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 193775684X

ISBN-13: 978-1937756840

My Impressions:

Divided into three parts — Right Beliefs, Right Conduct and Right Relationships, The Simplified Guide: Paul’s Letters to The Churches examines the teachings of Paul. Hazelton’s topical guide is suitable for individual or group study and includes commentary, scripture references and discussion questions. The introduction lays out the framework and the background of Paul’s writings.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

 PART I: RIGHT BELIEFS
Paul explains the essentials of the gospel message of salvation
in simple and straightforward terms. Rather than focusing on a rigid set of
rules, or a detailed set of rituals, or a complex system of theology, Paul
focuses on the person of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and his
resurrection from the dead. If we understand the gospel correctly, everything
else will follow. Before we worry about any other issue, Paul wants us to under­stand
the gospel in all of its clarity, beauty and majesty.
We therefore begin in chapter 1 with
Paul’s explanation of this pure and simple gospel. Due to its central
importance, Paul issues strong warnings against any additions to or
subtractions from this gospel as discussed chapter 2. While insisting on strict
faithfulness to the essentials of the gospel, chapter 3 discusses Paul’s
declaration of our freedom in practices and personal convictions on secondary
matters. Chapter 4 next explains that Paul relies on Scripture as the
foundation for understanding the gospel and, more generally, what we believe as
Christians. In chapter 5, we conclude Part I of our study by discussing how
Paul takes a practical approach to “theological” issues, which brings us back,
again and again, to the gospel.
CHAPTER 1
The Pure and Simple Gospel
This is the most important chapter in this book. As Paul makes
clear, the gospel is the basis for our salvation. It is the foundation on which
all of his other instructions are built. If we build on any other foundation,
everything else that we believe or do will crumble in the end.
The gospel
message as declared by Paul is easy to understand but often hard to accept.
Almost everyone can readily grasp the essential elements of the gospel at a
basic level. But many want to make it more complex than it is, perhaps because
it is difficult to accept that something so important can be so simple. Paul is
very clear, however, that the gospel message of salvation is simple,
straightforward, and available to all who come in faith. Let’s examine the
foundation for Paul’s teaching—and our faith—and what it means for us today.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS OF THE GOSPEL
MESSAGE OF SALVATION
?
In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul states
plainly the gospel by which we are saved:
I want to remind you of the gospel I
preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By
this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.
Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you
as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures.
Paul provides quite a
buildup before identifying the essentials of the gospel message. “By this
gospel you are saved” (1 Cor. 15:2). It is the “gospel I preached to you,” the
gospel “you received and on which you have taken your stand,” the gospel to
which you must “hold firmly,” and it is a matter of “first importance” (1 Cor.
15:3). Having emphasized its importance, Paul states the essential elements of
the gospel in a few simple words: “Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures” (2 Cor. 15:3–4). Clearly, nothing is more important to Paul
than the person of Jesus Christ, his death, and his resurrection.
The book of
Acts documents that Paul preached this very gospel message to the churches when
he was with them in person. When arriving in a city, it was the “custom” of
Paul to go to the synagogue where “he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.
‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said” (Acts 17:2–3). Thus,
in his sermon recorded in Acts 13:13–41, Paul presented the “message of
salvation” (v. 26) and “the good news” (v. 32) by focusing on the historic
events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Specifically, he pro­claimed:
The people of Jerusalem and their rulers
did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the
prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a
death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried
out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid
him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen
by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:27–31)
Similarly, when put on trial for
preaching the gospel, Paul explained: “I am saying nothing beyond what the
prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and, as the
first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people
and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22–23). We are often tempted to complicate the
gospel, but when his back was to the wall, Paul stood firm on a simple
statement about Jesus Christ, his death, and his resurrection.
Paul’s insistence on this
pure and simple gospel wasn’t limited to his preaching. In his letters to the
churches, Paul repeats again and again the simple gospel that he had preached.
In 1 Corinthians 2:1–2, he explains: “When I came to you, I did not come with
eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I
resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him cru­cified.”
Similarly, Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that “we preach Christ
crucified.” He identifies “the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If
you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that
God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:8–9).
When
describing the message that he preached to the Galatians, Paul declared:
“Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Gal.
3:1). Again, in 2 Timothy 2:8, Paul instructs: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised
from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.”
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
CRUCIFIXION OF
JESUS CHRIST?
Jesus was crucified by the Romans, a regional empire that
occupied and controlled Palestine at the time. It seemed like a matter of local
politics in a backwater province, where the local Roman governor—a man named
Pilate—sought to placate Jewish religious leaders who had a vendetta against
Jesus. Yet there was a much deeper meaning to the crucifixion of Jesus—a God­ordained
plan to restore the relationship between humans and their Creator, a
relationship that was fractured when sin entered the world. It was this deeper,
divine plan that compelled Paul.
In his death on the cross, Jesus
Christ—who lived a life without sin—took our sin upon himself and accepted the
punishment that we deserved. As Paul explains in Romans 5:6–11:
You see, at just the right time, when we
were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die
for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to
die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his
blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if,
while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his
Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Paul addresses
this spiritual reality again and again in Romans, which contains his most in­depth
discussion of the gospel and its implications for our lives. After explaining
in Romans 1:18 to 3:20 that every person is a sinner who is without excuse
before God and under God’s wrath, Paul declares that we have access to
forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross:
For all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the
redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of
atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. (Rom.
3:23–25)
To ensure that his readers understood
the eternal significance of the crucifixion, Paul returns to it again and
again. Romans 4:25 states: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was
raised to life for our justification.” In Romans 6:6–7, we read: “For we know
that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be
done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who
has died has been set free from sin.”
The life­changing power of Christ’s atoning death is emphasized
in Paul’s other letters as well. Ephesians 1:7 explains: “In him we have
redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the
riches of God’s grace.” In Colossians 2:13–14, Paul declares again that “you
were dead in your sins” but:
God made you alive with Christ. He
forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to
the cross.
Thus, as Paul
states emphatically, the fact that “Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures” is a matter of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3) because his death
provides the basis for God’s forgiveness of our sins.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS CHRISTS
RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
?
We humans are afraid of countless things. We fear spiders,
clowns, heights, public spaces, public speaking, and a thousand other terrors.
From the silly to the serious, fear is an unavoidable part of what it means to
be human.
Yet there is one fear that rises like a
specter above all others, that sounds a sinister echo in the background of our
daily lives: the fear of death. Nothing is so terrifying as the realization
that we will, sooner or later, die and confront the uncertainty about what will
happen to us on the other side of this life. The inevitability of death makes
it no easier to accept; its permanence forces us to come to grips with
fundamental issues.
It is in this profoundly human context
that Christ died as a man, just as every man, woman and child will eventually
die. Yet Christ conquered death through his resurrection. As sons and daughters
of God, we share in Christ’s victory over death and his promise of eternal
life.
Paul’s most extensive discussion of the significance of Christ’s
resurrection is in 1 Corinthians 15:12–57. In that passage, he begins by
correcting those who deny the resurrection, explaining that “if Christ has not
been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (v. 14) and “if
Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”
(v. 17). He then declares in verses 20–22:
But Christ has indeed been raised from
the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came
through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in
Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
On the day of
our resurrection to eternal life, our decaying material bodies will be
exchanged for glorified and imperishable bodies. Christ “will transform our
lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21). Much as
a seed is planted or sown in one form but then emerges from the earth as
something new and better, Paul explains:
So will it be with the resurrection of
the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is
sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised
in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is
a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42–44)
He compares our current mortal bodies to
“jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7) and an “earthly tent” which we will exchange for
“an eternal house in heaven” (2 Cor. 5:1). The glory of what God has in store
for us is beyond our comprehension. “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has
heard, and what no human mind has conceived’—the things God has prepared for
those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
This
resurrection power not only has eternal significance, it also has the power to
transform our lives today. Emphasizing the connection between the resurrection
and the power to live a holy life today, Paul explains in Romans 6:4–10 that:
We were therefore buried with him
through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the
dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we
have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united
with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified
with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should
no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from
sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again;
death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once
for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Again, Paul explains in Romans 8:11
that: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he
who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
Jesus Christ took our sins upon himself
when he was crucified on the cross, but it was his glorious resurrection that
conquered death and prepared the way for our resurrection and eternal life. The
great human fear of death is conquered in the triumphant resurrection of
Christ. His victory over death changed everything.
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST THAT HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION
COULD HAVE THIS SIGNIFICANCE
?
Paul emphasizes the primary importance of the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ in all his teaching. Yet crucifixions were all too
common during that period of human history. And while resurrections were
exceedingly rare, the Bible records others such as Lazarus who were raised from
the dead. What was it about Jesus Christ that, above anyone else who ever
lived, his crucifixion and resurrection could have such eternal and
earthshaking significance?
Paul states
the answer plainly in Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the
Deity lives in bodily form.” While Jesus “as to his earthly life was a
descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3), he is also “in very nature God” (Phil. 2:6).
He “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Detailing several of the
fundamental characteristics that distinguish Jesus Christ from the rest of
humanity, Paul continues in Colossians 1:15–20:
The Son is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the
head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among
the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was
pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to
himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making
peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
In Ephesians 1:19–21, Paul explains how
God’s “incomparably great power” was demonstrated when God raised Christ from
the dead and “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above
all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not
only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Paul continues in verses
22 and 23: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be
head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who
fills everything in every way.”
As declared by Paul, Jesus Christ’s unique nature as sinless God
who became man is the reason why his death could pay the price for our sins and
thus provide the basis for our salvation. Outside of Jesus, there has never
been a death that could provide forgiveness for our sins, and there has never
been a resurrection that could conquer death and pave the way for our
resurrection.
HOW DO WE RECEIVE THE GIFTS OF
FORGIVENESS AND ETERNAL LIFE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE GOSPEL
?
Christ paid the price for our
forgiveness and conquered death so we could have eternal life. We are helpless
without him. Salvation is therefore a gift received freely in faith, not
something we earn through good works. Paul’s letter to the Romans again
contains his most systematic discussion of the role of faith in receiving
salvation through the gospel. Emphasizing this important distinction between
faith and works, he declares in Romans 4:4–5 that:
Now to the one who works, wages are not
credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work
but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as
righteousness.
Paul emphasizes the important role of
faith for salvation again and again in Romans. “For in the gospel the
righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from
first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’”
(Rom. 1:17). “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe” (Rom. 3:22). Explaining that we “are justified freely by
his [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus,” Paul
declares that “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the
shedding of his blood— to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:24–25). “For we
maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the
law” (Rom. 3:28). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained
access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:1–2).
Driving the point home
that faith has always been the basis by which people are justified before God,
Paul points in Romans 4 to Abraham, the forefather of the Jews who lived more
than 2,000 years before Christ’s crucifixion, as a model of someone justified
by faith. “‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’”
(Rom. 4:3). “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” in God’s promise that
he would be the father of many nations (Rom. 4:18). “Without weakening in his
faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a
hundred years old” (Rom. 4:19). “Yet he did not waver through unbelief
regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory
to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Rom. 4:20–22).
Paul is emphatic that salvation in
Christ must be received in faith. Indeed, in Romans and his other letters to
the churches, he refers to “faith” more than 100 times. For example: “We live
by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “The life I now live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”
(Gal. 2:20). “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God,
because ‘the righteous will live by faith’” (Gal. 3:11). “He redeemed us
in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through
Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the
Spirit” (Gal. 3:14). “In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may
approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12).
In his personal testimony, Paul declares
that he is found “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes
from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9). This small sampling of
Paul’s references to “faith” reflects his conviction that Christ has done it
all, that we cannot save ourselves, and that we only can accept salvation in
Christ through faith.
Perhaps the best
definition of “faith” is found in the New Testament book of Hebrews. “Now faith
is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb.
11:1). “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who
comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly
seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Unless received in faith, the gospel message has little
meaning for the one who hears it. “For we also have had the good news
proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value
to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed” (Heb. 4:2).
Faith does not
require that we understand the mystery of the gospel in its fullness to accept
it. When explaining “the message concerning faith that we proclaim,” Paul
states the simplicity of the expression of faith required for salvation:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus
is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will
be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it
is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Rom. 10:8–10)
When we genuinely believe in our hearts
and confess with our mouths, it is the Spirit of God at work in us. For “no one
can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
WHAT DO PAULS
INSTRUCTIONS MEAN FOR US TODAY
?
How does this gospel—the unbelievable, life­transforming,
history­shaping good news declared by Paul—affect our lives today? As we close
this first chapter, we pause to reflect on the practical implications of Paul’s
instructions. This opportunity for reflection is not intended to prescribe
specifically what we need to do or how we need to change in light of the truths
declared by Paul. Instead, these few questions can encourage us to come before
God and seek his guidance on how to respond to the truths taught by Paul.
1. Why should God let us into heaven?
2. What would be our eternal destiny if God gave us what we
deserved rather than the forgiveness we can have through Christ?
3. Can we be saved by following rules and performing rituals?
Why not?
4. What is the significance of the fact that salvation is a gift
to be received in faith rather than something to be earned through good works?
What is the significance of this fact to our daily walk as Christians?
5. What is the significance of the fact that the gospel is
centered on Christ and what he did, rather than on us and our efforts? How
should this reality affect our daily walk as Christians?
6. What does it mean to accept the gospel in faith? At an intellectual
level, how do we accept the gospel? How does receiving the gospel in faith go
beyond intellectual acceptance?
7. Can we fully understand the mystery and miracle of the
gospel? Why not?
8. If we cannot be saved by our own good works, what is the role
of good works in a Christian’s life (which will be discussed at length in Part
II of our study)?
9. What is your relationship with Christ? Is he both your Lord
and Savior?
10. How should we live differently in light of the gospel? 

Book Review: The God Puzzle

4 Dec

TGP-e1381450207779The God Puzzle is a colorful, easy to use tool to help you communicate to your child the rich truths about God, His ways, His will and His love.The God Puzzle will help you address doctrinal themes of the Christian faith in a kid friendly way, present Bible lessons in an interactive way that will hold the child’s attention and deliver quality teaching with no preparation needed. 75% of children leave the church when they leave home. Something isn’t working. Sunday School isn’t doing it all. Kids need answers, good ones. And they need them from you, the parent. This book enables you to give them simple, clear answers.

What makes The God Puzzle unique?

– ready made discussion questions for parent to ask their child in each lesson

– can be done at any pace that works with your family…every night, once a week, 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there…it fits into realistic family life

– puts the pieces together for a child to understand God, the Bible, and the Christian faith

– in each lesson the responds to the truth so they understand their relationship to God is personal and life transforming

– any parent, whether they know nothing, or a lot about God can start teaching their child today with no prep

– deep theology put into language a child can understand

– deeply Biblical, each lesson points to Christ

– put in an order that starts with creation, and teaches the Bible as one story that all points to Christ

– child stays engaged by filling in blanks, crosswords, drawing, matching and using their Bibles as they learn

VAckermann-190Valerie Ackermann has a BA in Theology and has been a full time Children’s Ministry Director at Parkwood Community Church in California for over 10 years. She is also a weekly Sunday school teacher, wife, and busy mom of two boys ages 9 and 11. She has hands-on experience as a children’s ministry professional, teaching and leading children of all ages. Growing up in a Christian family in the small town of Saskatchewan Canada, she has wonderful memories of knowing God from an early age. She has a passion for kids to know the deep truths of God. Find out more at LeadMeToGod.com.

My Impressions:

What a great way to teach your child about God! The God Puzzle is a comprehensive look at who God is and our place in His story. Divided into 36 lessons, each chapter addresses theology in a kid friendly way. Written for children ages 7-12, it is easily understandable and engaging. The lessons include scripture to look up, questions to ponder, and word games to challenge. I love that it is set up like an adult Bible study — a great grown-up way for kids to get into God’s word. The God Puzzle is perfect for homeschoolers, Sunday Schools, small group children’s activities or for anyone who wants to go deeper with their children. I think it would actually be a great family Bible study for the whole family.

Recommended. 

To read other reviews, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: The Women of Christmas

19 Nov

425416God Reached Down from Heaven with the Best Gift of All

A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God.
Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way. Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

12930_higgs_liz_curtisLiz Curtis Higgs has been telling tales since she attempted her first novel – handwritten in a marble notebook – at the tender age of ten. Successful careers in broadcasting, public speaking, nonfiction writing, and children’s books honed Liz’s storytelling talents, bringing her back to her first love – writing fiction – at the turn of the 21st century.

A gifted speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs has presented more than 1,500 inspirational programs for audiences in all 50 United States as well as Germany, England, Canada, Ecuador, France, and Scotland. In 1995, Liz received the highest award in professional speaking, the “Council of Peers Award for Excellence,” becoming one of only forty women in the world named to the CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association.

On the personal side, Liz is married to Bill Higgs, Ph.D., who serves as Director of Operations for her speaking and writing office. Liz and Bill share their 19th-century farmhouse in Kentucky with their two teenagers, Matt and Lilly, and too many cats. For more about Liz, visit her Web site: www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.

My Impressions:

Looking for a way to inject a new spirit into the Christmas season? Consider adding The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs to your reading list this year. Liz returns with her unique and insightful voice in bringing the story of Christ’s birth to light through thorough Biblical research and a writing style that touches a woman’s heart. The story of the wonder of the Messiah’s birth is told through the eyes of three women and their touch from God. Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna all lived God’s promise. Their experiences bring a personal reality to the wonderful miracle of Christmas.

I used The Women of Christmas as a daily devotional, reading a chapter a day. There is a study guide in the back of the book to enhance your quiet time and bring more depth to your study. Good for personal study, this book is also ideal for a small group study – a great way to welcome the Christmas season with friends, co-workers, or neighbors.

Recommended.

Great For Group Study.

(Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. All opinions are mine alone.)

To purchase your own copy, click on the image below.

Book Review: A Woman’s Guide to Reading The Bible in A Year

30 Mar

9780764210730You CAN Read the Bible in a Year

When Diane Stortz was invited to join a study to read the whole Bible in a year, she went for it. It changed her life, even though she’d been a Christian a long time. Now, more than ten years later, she still reads through the Bible every year with a group of friends.

“I didn’t start to really know God until I made knowing him my goal as I read the Bible. Getting to know God changed me. It changed how I think and what I do. It changes me still.”

God put the Bible together for you. Reading it through in a year helps create a rich experience and a focused understanding of what God wants to reveal about himself. And with week-by-week reading plans, easy-to-use reference material, and stories of encouragement from women like you, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year is the perfect companion for this life-changing practice.

Gather your Bible and some good friends to join you in your journey, or go for it on your own. Either way, God will change you.

 

15902Diane Stortz is the bestselling author of several children’s books and has over twenty years of Christian publishing experience, both writing and editing. She and her husband, Ed, live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Learn more at dianestortz.com.

Twitter — DianeStortz

Website — http://www.dianestortz.com/

 

My Impressions:

There are a lot of Bible reading plans out there. Plans to help you tackle the daunting task of reading the Bible through in a year. But Diane Stortz’s A Woman’s Guide to Reading The Bible in A Year is the first one I have seen that is especially for women and for use in a group! The book begins with personal stories of how reading the Bible in a year impacted lives. Then it moves on to practical tips for use in a group setting. It also includes an overview of just where our present Bible came from. And then the adventure begins! Each week presents an overview of the week’s scripture passages, a seven day plan and a few questions to facilitate group discussion. I think this book would be great for mentoring, lunch groups, weekly Bible study or anytime that women want to get together to discover God’s Truth. It can definitely be used for solo reading, but the design for group study brings a richer experience. The back of the book presents Biblical timelines, a complete reading plan and helpful resources. This book is definitely the whole package. So if you want to embark on a life-changing journey along with your friends or co-workers, pick up A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in A Year.

Highly Recommended.

 

(I received this book compliments of Bethany House Publishers. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Series Spotlight: Women’s Bible Studies by Rita Platt

14 Mar

The women’s Bible study I lead on Wednesday evenings is currently using Rita Platt’s 8 week study, An Undivided Heart:  Experiencing The Intimacy of Jesus’ Touch.   I have also taught from the other two books in the series:  I Am His (God the Father) and Step into The Waters (the Holy Spirit).  Each study is 8 weeks and includes scripture study, creative exercises and discussion questions to journal and is perfect for small groups.  If you are looking for a Bible study with a fresh look into the nature of God, I highly recommend you try one or all of these books.

 

I Am His:  Experiencing The Comfort of Abba’s Love.  Women, discover what it means to the be the daughter of a loving Abba Father! Inviting you to open up your heart, Platt’s 8-week study will encourage you to experience the comfort of dwelling in God’s tender, wise, and powerful embrace.

 

 

 

An Undivided Heart:  Experiencing The Intimacy of Jesus’ Touch.  Did you know that Jesus wants to know you intimately? With solid biblical insight, Platt explores how Jesus freely sacrificed his life to invite you into his embrace; and helps you become more fully and passionately wed to him. 

 

 

 

Step into The Waters:  Experiencing The Abundance of The Spirit.  Experience the abundant flow of Living Water! Offering opportunities for transforming and thirst-quenching encounters with the Holy Spirit, Platt invites you to immerse yourself in life-giving intimacy and deeper connection to God.