Rivers of Living Water

Music for Refreshing the Soul

I took Suzanne Lorente’s, Rivers of Living Water CD with me on my road trip to Oregon. It was great company. The music is straight-forward and uncomplicated with clearly understandable lyrics. On the open road it was great sing-along music, and with the volume turned low it provided a soothing background when navigating unknown roads.

All but one of the songs on the CD were new to me, which I found surprising because of my life-long immersion in Christian music — and that’s when I noticed that the words and music of almost every song are Suzanne Lorente originals.

Suzanne’s voice is clear and strong and full of praise for God. Her music is fresh and refreshing, just as the title implies. This CD quickly became one of my favorites.

~*~

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 artist is:

 

 

and the CD:

 

Rivers of Living Water

Lorente Publishing

***Special thanks to Suzanne Lorente for sending me a review cd.***

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Suzanne Perry Lorente has been a child of the Lord since age 7. Her gift of music began at age two and has carried her through her life. She is an accomplished long time song writer, singer, guitarist and performer from the age of 13. At a young age, Suzanne chose a career of a professional entertainer as a single singer/guitarist in well known night clubs, dinner houses and special events, with a repertoire of more than 400 songs. During this same time frame, she achieved an Associate of Arts degree in Mass Media from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from San Jose State University in California. As time marched along, she realized God’s calling on her life to turn her heart toward Him as she could hear that “still, small voice” asking her to leave the relentless work of night clubs and secular entertainment. “It was a vow that took place in a day, and His promise took place over my lifetime. I am so blessed and God has kept His promise that He would give me the songs to sing for His children and for His glory.” Suzanne has sung first of all for her family, then in choirs, started and sang in many small groups and trios, sang solo for so many audiences and congregations throughout the United States, and left behind a legacy of musical scenarios as she tells her stories of how each of her songs came about. She has recorded an ageless cassette that continues to be in demand, and a new CD, that has high-lighted the songs God has given to her. Suzanne has been teaching voice and guitar since she was 14 years old. She is presently singing in the little City of Dixon, CA for their Farmers Markets, weddings, and events, as well as with her trio, Suzanne Lorente and Friends, as they embark on recording a CD together. They are out doing concerts whenever possible and wherever the Lord leads. “It’s wonderful to see God change the lives and hearts of people as we just sing our songs and allow Him to work through us. I love that!”

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT CD DESCRIPTION:

This CD is a wonderful spiritual uplift and encouragement for any Christian who wants to grow, not only by hearing God’s Word, but by doing what He’s asking us to do. We have to take that first step and that’s what this CD motivates believers and non-believers to do. The songs are original Christian Gospel scenarios that anyone can relate to, and that’s what gives you the anointing strength to keep on going. You will love the beautiful orchestral and vocal backgrounds with each song as Suzanne Lorente and her trio envelope you with their angelic harmonies. God has put His Hand of blessing on Suzanne and given her songs throughout her lifetime of ministry. She and her gals are planning a tour and would love to include your church or event if it’s possible. May God bless every listener and urge them to follow the Lord by listening to His “Still, Small Voice!”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Music CD
Publisher: Lorente Publishing
Language: English

AND NOW..A SAMPLE OF A SONG FROM THE CD:

(To hear more samples, please visit Suzanne’s website)

Here is one of the songs, “Misunderstood.” This song is an original of mine written on January 1st of 2010. I am the voice for those who have been aborted, abused and misunderstood. This is quite sad, but it’s telling us that each one of these has identified with the misery, torture, and abuse that Jesus went through on the cross. Many 100’s of thousands have died a martyr’s death, and are with the Lord because He loves them. Please listen carefully! This could be such a blessing for the Christian pregnancy centers and homes of abused women and children.

Here are the lyrics:

Misunderstood – Matthew 18:1-7

Words and Music by Suzanne Lorente
Arranged by Jeannine O’Neal

How can it be they don’t hear them, they don’t see

What can I say? Jesus loves them, they are free.

No-one will take time to listen as they cry

Knowing that I have the answer, I know why.

They’ve been misunderstood time after time

Their tiny voices still ring in our minds

No-one to love them, no-one to care

What they have to say doesn’t matter…anyway.

There is a hard part to living, not to be heard

Hate takes the joy out of giving, their vision blurred

Where is the love that could give them wings to fly?

Knowing that I have the answer, I know why.

They’ve been misunderstood time after time

Their little voices still ring in our mind

No-one to hear them, no-one to care

What they have to say doesn’t matter…anyway.

Could you be one who can’t hear them, you can’t see?

Are you aware they are people like you and me?

What would have come of the children who were slain?

There’d be a world of compassion… no more pain!

We have misunderstood time after time

Their tiny voices still ring in our mind

Someone will love them, someone will care

What they have to say really matters…anyway.

He’s (Jesus) been misunderstood, but not for long

Each tiny baby to Him will belong.

He really loves them, He really cares

What He has to say is what matters…anyway!

What He has to say is what matters….anyway!

Matt. 18:1-7

Additional high vocals Suzanne Lorente, Cecelia Dettle
Copyright 2010 BMI-0777 All rights reserved

See my website for further information: www.suzannelorente.com

Refreshment in Refuge, by Gina Burgess

A Devotional

Refreshment in Refuge, by Gina Burgess is a devotional with meat on it’s bones. The book contains 40 readings, some with short stories followed by practical application, some the sharing of personal lessons learned. The theology is sound and the lessons are enlightening and uplifting. If you are interested in refreshing and strengthening your walk with God, this book can help.

The first story in the book gave me pause. It really isn’t very well written, however, the lesson it imparts is outstanding. Happily, the odd story structure is an anomaly and the book is quite easy to engage in. I happily recommend it as your next devotional.

~*~

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:

 

Refreshment in Refuge

WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)

***Special thanks to Gina Burgess for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gina studied journalism in college, took a detour to raise two beautiful daughters, then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Midwestern State University after twenty-five years. Gina’s first love is using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. She is committed to bringing God glory with her writing.

She’s been an editor for several publications, including Lifestyles Editor at her home town newspaper the Picayune Item; a weekly column for Studylight.org; and bi-weekly columns at www.EverydayChristian.com.
She’s a book reviewer for several publishers, and has taught Sunday School and Discipleship since 1970.

Visit the author’s blog.
Visit the author’s book review blog.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A little dog revived with rain, a desperate woman comforted by warm arms, an intimate look at Mary Magdalene’s thoughts the morning Christ arose, and a woman’s unselfish desire are a few of the stories in this volume about living the Christian life. They illustrate some extraordinary paradigm breaks and parallels in living as Christ would have His Bride live. Sometimes everyday living creates a fog over our spiritual enlightenment, dulling our understanding and even our relationship with God. Other times, we get entangled in the worries and cares of the world. Christ’s light will guide us to clear thinking, and He will burn off that fog, just like sunshine. Refreshment in Refuge is a collection of stories and studies of how to make Christ the ruler of our heart, allowing the Son to dissipate the fog of trials and troubles that invade our lives on a daily basis.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.95
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781449712129
ISBN-13: 978-1449712129
ASIN: 1449712126

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Refreshing

The man gave the bolt a final twist and stepped back from under the hood of the car. He wiped his grimy hands on a rag and then stuffed it in his back pocket. He gave a satisfied sigh as he headed to the office and the coffee pot. The coffee was strong and fresh, just like he liked it. Tossing a grin to Gertrude, his part time office help, he said, “Gertie, call Kent Boudreaux and let him know his car is ready and he can pick it up any time today.”

With only a little regret, he set his cup down and headed to back the repaired car from the bay and bring in another to work on. Thank goodness God was good to provide so much work when the economy was so bad. Just as the back wheels cleared the bay doors, one of them ran over something. He didn’t have a clue what it could have been, since it had only been a couple of hours since he’d driven the car in the bay. Then his heart constricted and he groaned in sudden agony.

Alfie’s job was to meet and greet all customers that came into the shop. His throne was the cushioned chair that was next to the desk. Sure it was grimy, but it was comfortable for a small, snowy white, very fluffy dog. Normally, Alfie rarely ventured into the bay area. He preferred the cool office and comfy cushion to the cool, but mucky shop floor. Alfie was the beloved owner of the man and his family. His other job was to give love and happiness to those he loved best.

The man climbed from the car, dreading what he must surely find.

His fear was confirmed when he saw Alfie lying still and flat under the car. Tears welled up, and his heart wrenched again. Suddenly, the bright day darkened to night. The dog must have scooted out the door when he got coffee. Even though he wasn’t allowed in the shop, the dog had obviously disobeyed the standing command.

He cradled the little dog in his arms, unsure of what to do. The lifeless form just lay there; head lolled back and tiny pink tongue slack instead of happily panting. The shop owner sat down in a grease-smudged chair with the dog across his lap. What should he do? How would he tell his sweet wife and those precious girls what had happened to their sweet, adoring Alfie? Finally, he decided to put the dog in the dog food bag, and place him in the dumpster because he couldn’t possibly bring Alfie home to bury; and in this concrete garden called New Orleans, there wasn’t anywhere to bury a pet. He just couldn’t possibly bring the little thing home to bury. His daughters would be inconsolable.

The rest of the day, he worried and fretted how to tell the family they had lost one of their own that day. There was no good way to do it, so he blurted out as soon as he made it home, “I ran over Alfie at the shop today.”

The family mourned, and rain began to patter against their home’s windows. God, it seemed, was sharing the family’s grief.

The next morning, the man found no joy in his morning routine. Alfie didn’t jump all over him, ready to do morning walk, no cheerful clink of food in his bowl. Going to work was a heavy chore. Sighing heavily, all the way to work, he opened the shop for daily work, sans his beloved, tiny, fluffy companion.

The coffee had just finished brewing when the owner of the neighboring body shop burst into the office. “Are you going to tell me why your dog is in the dumpster?”

“Well, Jeb, I know he’s in the dumpster. I didn’t have any place else to put him. I ran over him yesterday.

“No, you don’t understand. Your dog is barking and jumping and trying to get out of that dumpster!”

“What? Are you kidding me?” With joyful heart, the man ran to the dumpster and grabbed up that fluffy bundle of excitement. That little pink tongue was exploring every inch of his face. That little dog had only been knocked out, and the most refreshing rain, that gift from God, had refreshed and revived him. Alfie wasn’t dead after all, he just needed reviving.

a

Today, how many Christians look dead? How many are asleep at the wheel or get knocked silly by being someplace they are not supposed to be? Disobedience breaks fellowship with the LORD, and we can’t afford that when we are to be ready for that great and glorious day the Father looks at His only begotten Son and says, “Go get Your Bride, Son.” Glory!

Paul tells the Ephesians And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, 2 in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the lord of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; 3 among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 Bible in Basic English (1965)

Paul was talking about how they acted as unbelievers, but I have seen a lot of Believers act just like that recently. The Bride of Christ is sick these days, sick with the evil ways of the world and sick with disbelief. We can be like the Rich Young Ruler and say: These commands I have kept, I have not sinned. But, how many of us have watched a movie lately in which God’s name was blasphemed? How many of us worry and fret, harbor anger, bitterness, jealousy, seek vengeance, are critical of others, controlling, gossip, pray by rote, fudge the truth, go places we shouldn’t go, do things in secret that we’d die if it were printed on the front page of the newspaper? How many pirate music? How many think if it doesn’t hurt other people, it is okay? How many haven’t returned something that was borrowed? How many of us allow work, family, hobbies, playtime come first instead of the LORD?

How many of us have given up on a brother or sister in Christ because he looks dead? How often have we thrown a sibling in the dumpster without thought to the prayers of a righteous man and the resuscitation process laid out by Jesus in Matthew 18: 15-17? Refreshment in the refuge of Jesus is what this book is about. We cannot give up on our siblings because it isn’t God’s plan. He created us and saved us for a mighty purpose. We cannot give up on ourselves because God considered us worthy enough to send His precious Son to pay the ultimate Bride price for us.

Let me paraphrase Luke 8:17, not one thing happens in secret that won’t be found out, and not a single thing is done in the dark which will not be brought to light. But, why would we care more about what could be said of us in a front-page news story than what God thinks of us? How could it matter more than our precious relationship and that refreshing rain from above?

Revive us LORD Jesus, send your refreshing rain of blessings and awaken us from our dead sleep. Help us labor, watch and be ready. The Bride awaits her Groom. Come LORD Jesus and find Your Bride doing the mighty works prepared before the foundation of the world. Amen.

This column was inspired by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Preston Nix. He is an Associate Professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Preach it, Brother, preach it.

 

More Than a Devotional

Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God: Resting Securely in His Delight, by Ruth Myers is more than a daily devotional.  Through her own life experiences as a missionary, Myers invites us to see God at work in the world and in our on lives.  Using scripture, anecdotes, personal reflection and prayer, Myers teaches us just how intimate our relationship with God can be.  This is a 31 day reflective journey straight to the heart of God.

About The Book:

Draw near…

He’ll answer your deepest longings.

Do you enjoy the soul-satisfying intimacy with God you were created for? In this heartfelt devotional, beloved author Ruth Myers invites you to a personal, daily encounter with your first, last, and best love.

Each brief but deeply satisfying reading explores the riches of God’s passion for you and your true identity as one in whom He delights. As you engage your heart with His, you’ll discover anew the joy of hearing Him speak to you individually, tenderly, in life-changing ways that will root you firmly in relationship with Him.

Experience lavish love, astounding mercy—and an intimacy more satisfying than you’d ever imagined possible. Draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.

Read an Excerpt:

When I was ten, God (and my mother) used a famous verse about His love to give me my first conscious experience of it. Four years earlier I had gone forward in an evangelistic meeting. The pastor had talked with me about the gospel and I prayed. Soon I was baptized and became a church member. But later on, all I could remember was my baptism.I knew about the cross of Christ and about His resurrection, but I remembered no personal contact with God.

And I didn’t know where I would go if I died. This worried me. So whenever our pastor began preaching on hell, I’d slip out of the service, pretending I needed to go to the rest room.

One night my mother, sensing that something was troubling me, asked me about it. I didn’t really want to tell her about the struggle in my heart, for she thought I was a real Christian. But I admitted my fear concerning my eternal destiny.

In reply Mother did something so simple. She quoted a verse I’d known for as long as I could remember. But as she
spoke, the truth dawned in my heart and I believed: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That night I believed in Christ as my Savior,
and my fear and guilt rolled away. That night, for the first time I remember, I felt God’s love. All this happened in an
instant as Mother quoted John 3:16 (KJV). When she finished, I bowed my head and thanked the Lord that He had
given me eternal life.

“I’LL DO ANYTHING”

When I entered my teenage years, I didn’t know any Christian young people who, as far as I could tell, were really living the Christian life. I had one friend a few years older who loved the Lord, but she seemed rather old-maidish and I didn’t want to be like her. So I decided I wouldn’t follow the Lord closely.

Behind this decision were wrong ideas about God. I didn’t believe He wanted what was best for me. I was afraid that if I gave Him the controls, He would make me do things I didn’t want to do and I’d miss the best in life. In this time of rebellion I tried everything I dared, though sometimes the Holy Spirit blocked me. And I became more and more miserable.

Finally at age sixteen I agreed to attend a Christian conference. There I saw young people on fire for the Lord, and I received a lot of solid Bible teaching. One night I went outside under the trees and prayed, “Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to—even be a missionary,” which was the very worst thing I could think of.

During the next few years God began to deepen my appreciation for His love through “The Love of God,” a song made famous by George Beverly Shea. This song describes God’s love as “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” If the skies were a scroll and the oceans filled with ink, the song says, and if every stalk on earth were a writing quill, we still could never write in full this love God has for us. The skies could not contain it. The oceans of ink would run dry.

Singing those words I truly felt the love of God. I knew that He understands, that He cares, that He is compassionate. I needed this knowledge then, and I still need it every day. But I had not yet learned to let my roots go down deep into His love so that it was a constant influence in my life. I felt His love primarily when I was singing about it with others, but not when I was alone or when things went wrong.

As the Lord worked within me, my desires for the future gradually made a U-turn. I found I wanted to become a missionary after all, and I began preparing for this. A favorite verse became Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (NKJV). As I followed God, I was discovering He knew better than I did how to
satisfy me. Life was getting better, though not necessarily easier.

MAJOR PURSUIT

After I was graduated from high school, I set out for Northwestern Bible School and College in Minneapolis. There
the Lord did more new things in my heart. I’d been having daily devotions since I was sixteen. Often it was the last
thing I did at night, and I could hardly hold my eyes open. Nevertheless, I congratulated myself for being such a good
Christian.

Then the Lord began speaking: “Ruth, that’s not the point at all. I want you to come to My Word because you
want to know Me.” The lesson was reinforced for me by the hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” in the lines that say,
“Beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord; my spirit pants for thee, O Living Word.” I still wanted Him to teach me the principles I should know from the Bible, but I began going to Him more often with the prayer, “Lord, most of all I want to know You.” Since that request is in line with God’s will for His children, He answered it just as He promised in
1 John 5:14-15.

There was one fellow in school who, more than anyone else, seemed set upon knowing the Lord, and I greatly admired him. Stan had plenty of work and study responsibilities, and between those and his pursuit of the Lord, he didn’t have time for dating. Being a little beyond my reach made him all the more desirable. I learned that one of Stan’s favorite Scripture passages was from Philippians 3. I began to pray over it—and to cry over it, for I was learning that I had to get my heart needs met in my relationship with Jesus Christ and not anywhere else. The passage soon became a favorite of mine as well. Verses 8 and 10 in the Amplified Bible (condensed a bit) read,

I count everything as loss compared to the priceless
privilege—the surpassing worth and supreme advantage—
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.… For His
sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be
mere rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.…
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him—that I may progressively become more deeply
and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His
Person] more strongly and more clearly.

Nothing else meant anything to Paul compared to the priceless privilege of knowing this vastly wonderful Person he had met. Back then I didn’t have the Amplified version but I did have Philippians 3:10 in the King James: “That I
may know him.” I began to hear God say, “Ruth, this must be your major pursuit.” He used circumstances to drive me
to my knees and to begin praying along this line. And, as a young single woman, I discovered that the Lord could and
did meet my deepest longing if I let Him be my first love.

My younger sister Mary eventually joined me at Northwestern, and we found a poem, the source of which is unknown,
that we often reflected on and used in prayer:

Purge me, Lord, of my follies; an empty cup let me be,
Waiting only Thy blessing, hungry only for Thee.
Can even the Lord pour blessing into a cup that is full?
Put treasure into a locked hand, be He ever so bountiful?
Empty me, Lord, and make me hungry only for Thee.
Only Thy bread once tasted can ever satisfy me.

Excerpted from Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers. Copyright © 2011 by Ruth Myers. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Author:

RUTH MYERS and her husband, Warren, are on staff with the Navigators and have served as missionaries in Singapore for many years. In addition to her one-to-one ministry, Ruth is a popular conference speaker. She and Warren have co-authored numerous books, including 31 Days of Praise.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah.  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.”

Pause for Power: A 365 Day Journey in the Scriptures, by Warren Wiersbe

My Thoughts:
Pause for Power: A 365-Day Journey through the Scriptures is a well-designed, thought provoking devotional. Each devotion is one small page with a scripture verse and a thought. It takes no more than a few minutes to read so I began reading it at bedtime, just before lights out and prayers. The only thing was, often the readings, though very brief, were thought provoking and raised questions, so I would go poking through other translations, grab Bibles to check alternate translations and/or commentary notes, or even go to the computer for some research. That really isn’t very conductive to going to sleep. Rather than changing my devotion time, I have a notebook for recording my thoughts. If a passage warrants more reading I pick it up again in the morning.

Warren Wiersbe’s name is one I trust when it comes to Biblical teaching and resources. His book, With the Word, is one of my most cherished reference books. I also have and have reviewed several books from The Wiersbe Bible Study Series. If you are looking for Biblical theology and thought provoking studies of substance that are still written in a straight-forward, easy to understand style, I recommend this devotional and anything else by Warren Weirsbe that catches your eye.

~*~

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:

Pause for Power A 365 Day Journey in the Scriptures

David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140374X
ISBN-13: 978-0781403740

AND NOW…THE FIRST WEEK OF DEVOTIONS:

A Year in the Word

In the pages that follow, you’ll hear Isaiah’s invitation to wayward hearts, wrestle with Job’s dilemma, examine what Hebrews says about the breathtaking work of Christ, and listen in as Paul writes letters to infant churches. Such a task might seem daunting at first, but with the help of Pause for Power, it will take you only a few minutes a day. And here’s the best part: Over the course of a year, you’ll have read fifteen books of the Bible.

The devotions are undated, so you can start any day of the year. They’re also blended, so you can enjoy a variety of biblical voices and themes each week. One day you might contemplate Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and the next you might consider a wise saying from Ecclesiastes.

To get started, simply turn to Day 1, read the associated Bible passage in your favorite translation, spend time with the devotion, then ponder the question of the day. Repeat daily. In twelve months you’ll have studied Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John. But more importantly, you’ll have gained insight into God’s Word—insight that will bring you closer to the Author Himself.

Day 1

Consistent Actions

Read Romans 2:1—3:20

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 2:7–8

God had given Israel great material and spiritual riches: a wonderful land, a righteous law, a temple and priesthood, God’s providential care, and many more blessings. God had patiently endured Israel’s many sins and rebellions, and had even sent them His Son to be their Messiah. Even after Israel crucified Christ, God gave the nation nearly forty more years of grace and withheld His judgment. It is not the judgment of God that leads people to repentance, but the goodness of God; but Israel did not repent.

In Romans 2:6–11, Paul was explaining a basic principle of God’s judgment: God judges according to deeds, just as He judges according to truth. Paul was dealing here with the consistent actions of people’s lives, the total impact of their character and conduct.

True saving faith results in obedience and godly living, even though there may be occasional falls. When God measured the deeds of the Jews, He found them to be as wicked as those of the Gentiles.

Something to Ponder

Is it possible for people to grow to have consistently good (not perfect) character and conduct? If so, how? How does this fit with Paul’s claim that no one is righteous apart from Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 3:9–10)?

Day 2

Devoted to Devotions

Read Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth. Prayer is not telling God what to do or what to give. Prayer is asking God for that which He wants to do and give, according to His will (1 John 5:14–15). As we read the Word and fellowship with our Father, we discover His will and then boldly ask Him to do what He has planned. Richard Trench (1807–1886), archbishop of Dublin, said it perfectly: “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness.”

Of course, it is possible to pray in our hearts and never use the gift of speech (1 Sam. 1:13), but we are using words even if we don’t say them audibly. True prayer must first come from the heart, whether the words are spoken or not.

Something to Ponder

As you pray, in what ways are you “watchful”? In what ways are you “thankful”?

Day 3

The Mark of Maturity

Read Philippians 1:6–10

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

Philippians 1:9–10

Paul found joy in his memories of the friends at Philippi and in his growing love for them. He also found joy in remembering them before the throne of grace in prayer.

This is a prayer for maturity, and Paul began it with love. He prayed that they might experience abounding love and discerning love. Christian love is not blind! The heart and mind work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment.

The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity. When a baby learns to speak, he or she may call every four-legged animal a “bowwow.” But then the child discovers that there are cats, mice, cows, and other four-legged creatures.

One of the sure marks of maturity is discerning love and loving discernment.

Something to Ponder

With daily decisions, do you tend to seek what is good, or do you try to discern what is truly best?

Day 4

Avoiding Oblivion

Read 1 John 2:17

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:17

Every great nation in history has become decadent and has finally been conquered by another nation. Some nineteen world civilizations have slipped into oblivion. There is no reason why we should think that our present civilization will endure forever. “Change and decay in all around I see,” wrote Henry F. Lyte (1793–1847), and if our civilization is not eroded by change and decay, it will certainly be swept away and replaced by a new order of things at the coming of Christ.

Slowly but inevitably, and perhaps sooner than even we Christians think, the world is passing away, but those who do God’s will abide forever. Long after this world system—with its vaunted culture, its proud philosophies, its egocentric intellectualism, and its godless materialism—has been forgotten, and long after this planet has been replaced by the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1), God’s faithful servants will remain, sharing the glory of God for all eternity. And this prospect is not limited to Moody, Spurgeon, Luther, or Wesley and their likes—it is open to each and every humble believer. If you are trusting Christ, it is for you.

Something to Ponder

If you are expecting to share the glory of God for all eternity, what things are you doing now to prepare for such an encounter?

Day 5

Sovereignty and Responsibility

Read Romans 9:14–33

Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Romans 9:14–15

Moses was a Jew; Pharaoh was a Gentile, yet both were sinners. In fact, both were murderers! Both saw God’s wonders. Yet Moses was saved and Pharaoh was lost. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave, yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God—because God willed it that way. Nobody can condemn God for the way He extends His mercy, because God is righteous in His judgments (see Ps. 19:9 KJV).

Paul wrote of divine sovereignty and then human responsibility. Here is a paradox: The Jews sought for righteousness but did not find it, while the Gentiles, who were not searching for it, found it! The reason? Israel tried to be saved by works and not by faith. They rejected “grace righteousness” and tried to please God with “law righteousness.” The Jews thought that the Gentiles had to come up to Israel’s level to be saved, when actually the Jews had to go down to the level of the Gentiles to be saved.

Something to Ponder

When you can’t fully understand God’s working, what do you do to maintain your faith?

Day 6

Sins of the Saints

Read Hebrews 2:3–9

This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Hebrews 2:3

We have the idea that believers today “under grace” can escape the chastening hand of God that was so evident “under law.” But to whom much is given, much shall be required (Luke 12:48). Not only have we received the Word from the Son of God, but that Word has been confirmed by “signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:4). The phrase “signs and wonders” here refers to the miracles that witnessed to the Word and gave confirmation that it was true. Today we have the completed Word of God, so there is no need for these apostolic miracles. God now bears witness through His Spirit using the Word. The Spirit also gives spiritual gifts to God’s people so that they may minister in the church (1 Cor. 12:1–11).

I have often told the story about the pastor who preached a series of sermons on “the sins of the saints.” He was severely reprimanded by a church member. “After all,” said the member, “sin in the lives of Christians is different from sin in the lives of other people.”

“Yes,” replied the pastor, “it’s worse!”

Something to Ponder

Do you agree that sin in the lives of Christians is worse than sin in the lives of other people? Why?

Day 7

Heart Gifts

Read 2 Corinthians 8:10–24

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.

2 Corinthians 8:11

During my years of ministry, I have endured many offering appeals. I have listened to pathetic tales about unbelievable needs. I have forced myself to laugh at old jokes that were supposed to make it easier for me to part with my money. I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened, and I must confess that none of these approaches has ever stirred me to give more than I planned to give.

We must be careful here not to confuse willing with doing, because the two must go together. If the willing is sincere and in the will of God, then there must be a “completion of it” (2 Cor. 8:11; see Phil. 2:12–13). Paul did not say that willing was a substitute for doing, because it is not. But if our giving is motivated by grace, we will give more willingly.

God sees the “heart gift” and not the “hand gift.” If the heart wants to give more, but is unable to do so, God sees it and records it accordingly. But if the hand gives more than the heart wants to give, God records what is in the heart, no matter how big the offering in the hand may be.

Something to Ponder

Think about a time you gave willingly and a time you gave grudgingly. What made the difference?

365 Days of Wisdom & Encouragement

I love my daily devotion time. I almost always have at least one devotional, and often two, at hand. I love using a devotional to start my day and I generally keep a thematic devotional as well to start my study time.  When I remember to start my day by praying and focusing on God, time and my emotions rarely get away from me. Taking time for daily spiritual centering brings me back to who I am and what my life is about. It helps me live beyond myself.

For the past several weeks I have started my days with, The One Year Book of Encouragement. Each devotional consists of a few brief paragraphs, a prayer and a Bible verse. Though brief, they are powerful and thought provoking.

Like many devotionals, The One Year Book of Encouragement is a compilation of wisdom. Each devotion (365 of them) was taken from the works of such great Christian theologians and educators as Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael, Martin Lewis, C.S. Lewis, Billy Gram, Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, Joni Eareckson Tada, John Wesley, Philip Yancey, D.L. Moody, Thomas à Kempis and more.   I choose to start my day with a devotional that presents random lessons because it provides me with food for thought on topics I may not have chosen to explore on my own.

The Book:
The One Year Book of Encouragement is a collection of insights from assorted Christian authors, past and present—from Oswald Chambers and Philip Yancey to John Calvin and John Wesley. Draw encouragement every day from the wisdom of the ages with this One Year book—it’s bound to be a classic!

The Editor:
Harold Myra served as the CEO of Christianity Today International for 32 years. Under his leadership, the organization grew from one magazine to a communications company with a dozen magazines, copublished books, and a major Internet ministry.

Myra started his journalistic career with Youth for Christ magazine, which under his leadership became Campus Life magazine.

Author of five novels, numerous children’s and nonfiction books, and hundreds of magazine articles, Myra has taught writing and publishing at the Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois. He holds honorary doctorates from several colleges, including Biola University in California and Gordon College in Massachusetts.

Myra has received various awards, among them the prestigious Magazine Publisher’s Award and the James Deforest Murch Award from the National Association of Evangelicals. The Evangelical Press Association presented him with its highest honor, the Joseph T. Bayly Award, for his triple career as an editor, author, and publishing executive.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Press.  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.”