Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: New Testament Words for Today

New Testament Words for Today. Warren Wiersbe. 2013. 207 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence from preface: If you know how to select them, five words can express unforgettable, life-changing thoughts.

Premise/plot: New Testament Words for Today is a devotional by Warren W. Wiersbe. It contains one hundred devotions for believers. Each devotion is based on a New Testament scripture. (He goes through the New Testament books in order.) Within each scripture, he italicizes five words for emphasis. The devotional itself is based on the whole verse. 

Here are some of the five words:
  • And he called His name Jesus.
  • This is My beloved Son
  • Therefore you shall be perfect
  • do not sound a trumpet
  • O you of little faith?
  • Enter by the narrow gate;
  • seek, and you will find;
  • Lord, I am not worthy
  • He was moved with compassion
  • I will build My church,
  • I will go before you
  • “I am willing; be cleansed.”
  • My soul is exceedingly sorrowful,
  • your sins are forgiven you.
  • Bless those who curse you
  • but the laborers are few
  • Do not fear, little flock
  • Bring out the best robe
  • and the Word was God.
  • you shall be free indeed.
  • I am the good shepherd.
  • your joy may be full.
My thoughts: This would be a great devotional for those reading through the New Testament--whether for the first time or the tenth time. And it's not such a bad goal to read the New Testament itself in 100 days or less. The devotionals are definitely Christ-centered and thoughtful. There is plenty of information and insight to be found. 

Favorite quotes:

  • Once he gets us to doubt God’s love, Satan has an easy time destroying our faith, hope, and love.
  • Whenever you are tempted, never once question the Father’s love.
  • The cross is the greatest proof of God’s love. We know God loves us, not because we are healthy, wealthy, and enjoying an easy life, but because he told us so in the Scriptures. In fact, the Father loves us just as he loves his own Son.
  • When you doubt God’s love, visit the cross.
  • The lost world will never believe John 3:16 if Christians don’t obey 1 John 3:16—“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” And 1 John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Christians are to be channels, not reservoirs; we share God’s love with others as the Holy Spirit works in and through
  • If our faith does not operate in the affairs of daily life, it will never operate in the great challenges of ministry or spiritual warfare.
  • The more we feed on God’s truth, the stronger our faith will become. 
  • Prayer is not simply a conversation with God in which we tell him all our needs. Prayer is also a journey with God during which he shows us himself and his resources.
  • If we don’t know what we are seeking, our journey will be a waste of time.
  • We are never more like Jesus than when we are compassionate.
  • Everybody you meet is wearing some kind of yoke, some responsibility that burdens them, and most of them are trying to do it alone. Those who know Jesus as Master know that he is the burden-bearer, not carrying the burdens instead of us but carrying them with us.
  • When we are intimate with Jesus in his Word, we grow in our knowledge of God and his will for us. We cannot control the world around us, but with God’s help, we can control the world within us and experience the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
  • When we find ourselves troubled about things that are beyond us, let’s obey the voice of Jesus: “Bring them here to Me.” We are not manufacturers; we are distributors.
  • You and I have enough to do handling our own lives without meddling with the lives of others.
  • We don’t live on explanations or contracts; we live on the promises of God.
  • Let’s take time for individuals, no matter how full the schedule or how weary the body. This makes us more like our Master. 
  • To carry a cross means to be headed for crucifixion. Each day we must willingly take up our cross and die to the old life.
  • Don’t fear the cross, for it leads to the crown. What seems to be loss will turn out to be glorious gain, both in this life and in the life to come.
  • Our lives, our prayers, our worship, and our service can reach around the world and bear fruit for eternity, but we won’t know about it until we see Jesus.
  • Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the Christian life. It reveals our “spiritual temperature” and also helps to regulate it. If we are neglecting prayer or if we are praying listlessly, then we are “cold” (Matt. 24:12). If we are “up and down” in an undisciplined prayer life, we are “lukewarm,” neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:15–16). If we are walking with the Lord, meditating on the Word and yielded to him, our hearts will “burn within us” and energize us (Luke 24:32). Being honest in answering these questions in a brief inventory can help us improve our prayer ministry.
  • Physical freedom is useless if we don’t have spiritual freedom, for it is only in spiritual freedom that we have divine life, truth, and love.
  • Unless we allow Jesus to minister to us, we are not prepared to minister for him to others.
  • The world’s greatest sin is unbelief: sinners have not trusted Jesus Christ, and this is why they are lost. Conscience may convict a person of sins, but only the Spirit can convict them of the greatest sin—rejecting Jesus Christ. A person may abandon both the sins of the flesh and of the spirit (2 Cor. 7:1) and still be lost, for it is only faith in Christ that gives new birth into the family of God.
  • God’s people are witnesses, not prosecuting attorneys, so let’s leave the convicting to the Holy Spirit.
  • We live before a watching world and the way we respond to disappointment, trials, and conflicts gives us opportunities to bear witness to the lost people who know us. When we rejoice instead of complain and worship instead of whine, the unsaved take notice and wonder how it can happen. 
  • God’s method for reaching lost people is not imitation but incarnation. He sent his Son in the likeness of flesh so that he could be seen and heard and eventually be crucified. “Christ lives in me,” Paul wrote (Gal. 2:20). That’s incarnation! The Holy Spirit enables us to reveal Christ to the world around us and make a difference where we live.
  • Jesus befriended sinners but never imitated their way of life, and yet they were attracted to him and listened to his teaching.
  • The church that imitates the world with hopes of attracting the world will be disappointed. Lost people can tell the difference.
  • Holy men of God paid a price to write the Bible, and the Bible cost Jesus his life. Down through the centuries, dedicated servants of God were persecuted, imprisoned, and even slain because they translated the Bible, distributed copies of it, or preached from Scripture. Are pastors showing love for God’s truth when they fail to study the Bible and instead borrow other preachers’ sermons? If we plan fun and games for Sunday school but ignore Scripture, what does that say to the next generation? Do we use worship music that is based on Scripture? I fear that technology and entertainment are more important today in many churches than are the Word of God and prayer. Christians are imitating the culture instead of living countercultural lives.

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