In life, we all experience levels of successes and failures, gains and losses. It is easy to bask in the afterglow of our successes and celebrate triumphantly. However, failures and losses are challenging to endure. “Finding Hope in Jesus – Comfort for the Loss” is a Rose Publishing publication that addresses the heart of loss from a biblical perspective.
This pamphlet addresses the five stages of grief, myths about grief, and finding the meaning in loss. Psalm 34:19 (KJV) states, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Christians are not exempt from loss. In fact, Psalm 34:19 indicates that we are subject to several of them. However, we have the comfort in knowing that God will deliver us out of them all.
We experience loss in various ways from the tangible to the intangible. Regardless of the type of loss, the stages of grief are the same. In the Bible, there is a numerous accounts of loss experienced by people of God. When we examine the Scriptures, we can identify with the feelings of hopelessness and stages of grief through their responses. In the pamphlet, the lives of David, Job, Jeremiah, and Jesus are used to illustrate their times of loss.
We have a tendency to question God and His sovereignty during our times of grief. Why? Why do we have to experience the hardship? Why did my love one have to die? Why God did you allow this to happen? The reasons for our adversity may vary; however, there is comfort in the Scriptures that remind us that we do not fight for victory but from victory.
I would encourage all to add this pamphlet to your collection. During our times of loss, this pamphlet would be an encouragement. It can be used as an aid to help encourage someone else who is experience different stages of grief. It would definitely a valuable tool for a Bible Study, Small Group, or Sunday School lesson.
The greatest love story to me is the recount of how Jesus paid the ultimate price and sacrificing His life for all. “The Easter Story” provides a well-written account exploring the week leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. “The Easter Story” provides the well-known events such as the Last Supper, Jesus predictions of Peter’s denial and the disciples’ weakness, and Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
What I would love to see added to “The Easter Story” are the miracles associated with both the death and resurrection of Christ. For example, when Jesus died darkness covered the land, the veil in the temple was torn in two, and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Upon the resurrection of Christ the tombs of the sleep Saints were opened and those Saints were resurrected as well. Often the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrections fail to highlight the additional miracles that are associate with God’s great love. These additional miracles are significant yet often go unmentioned.
With the exception of not exploring the additional miracles, “The Easter Story” provides a beautiful overview of the greatest love story ever told. This pamphlet can be used in multiple ways. It is great to read for individuals before partaking in a Communion service, New Believers classes, and Sunday School teachings.
The “Pursuing Jesus” pamphlet is very similar to the “Following Jesus” pamphlet. “Pursing Jesus” is a revised, more contemporary version of “Following Jesus” geared towards appealing to the youth. The layout, format, and overall design is edgier and more colorful. The length is the same. While still scripturally based, there are less scriptures while maintaining scriptural references and has more of a questions and answers layout.
While I do appreciate that this has been designed with teens in mind, the graphic design and fonts used would not give you the impression of Christian pamphlet at first glance, but something that you would see to advertisement a secular Halloween flyer. The font used for headers appear as scratches in blood red color. The cover display a female face that is pale with wide horizontal stripe of red across the eyes and a wide vertical stripe that comes down the middle.
The same questions used in “Following Jesus” are used and sometimes re-worded in “Pursing Jesus.” As in the previous pamphlet, there are suggested scriptural references provided for memorization. As I have been seeking content for my Teen Sunday School class, I wanted to review both products. Initially, I believed “Pursing Jesus” was a continuous of “Following Jesus.” This is not the case they are virtually the same product. Overall, I prefer “Following Jesus” over the “Pursing Jesus” pamphlet because I like the layout, format, and overall design better for teaching. Both products are good for introducing New Believers to Christ. I would recommend it be used in small group settings to facilitate discussions about what it means to be a Christian.
Examining Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul addresses the Body of Christ regarding true and proper worship. He encourages the Believer to consider God’s compassion and blessings toward us. For this reason, we should offer God something very precious – ourselves. Being a living sacrifice means to present our daily lives as an offering to God. We must reverence God in all that we do. Actively seeking God by keeping our minds focused on Him and His Word allows us to be transformed. We are called not to conform to the traditions and ideologies of the world but to live according to God’s will and purpose. With God to guide us we are empowered and equipped as God’s perfect will for our lives unfolds.
The Apostle Paul states “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Loyal devotion is what we should desire to give for His mercy toward us. For our sacrifice to be pleasing to God we must present our offering according to God’s standards. Our attitude and the way we present ourselves before God is vital. This is perfectly illustrated in Genesis 4:3-5 as it recounts the offerings of Cain and Abel. This was the first act of worship after man’s fall. Abel presented before the Lord the “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Cain, on the other hand, offered yield from his farm. Abel’s sacrifice received God’s approval and was pleasing to God. However, Cain did not receive the favor of God. Why?
Hebrews 11:4 (NIV) says, “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Abel presented an offering of atonement acknowledging that he was a sinner deserving death but hoping for mercy through his sacrifice. Abel’s offering was through an act of faith and being a true worshipper. Cain presented an offering of acknowledgement and thanksgiving. Cain did not submit an offering as an act of faith but from the force of education or natural conscience. When we read further, we learn that although God rebuked Cain’s offering Cain was given another opportunity to present an offering.
There were two key causes to the rebuke and rejection of Cain’s offering. Cain was disconnected from God -lacking a true relationship. Cain did not have the right attitude in his worship. Proverbs 21:27 (NIV) says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable — how much more so when brought with evil intent!” Cain’s reaction to God’s rebuke would indicate that Cain’s attitude was wrong from the start. When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by God, Cain sulked and became angry. Cain’s sin was not in his sulking or anger. Cain had a choice to correct his attitude in presenting offerings to God. Yet, he chooses to take out his anger on Abel in murder. One of the most important lessons we can learned from Cain’s life is to present our offerings by faith, with the proper approach, and in reverence to God.
We are no longer bound to the old sacrificial system because Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross. Yet, the requirements for presenting our offerings have not changed. We must worship God according to what He commands in His Word. God alone is worthy of our worship; therefore, He should be our focus when we worship. Like Cain, God gives us the opportunity to reevaluate ourselves. Do we desire to worship God for the right reasons? Do we present our offerings by faith or out of tradition? Are we the true worshippers that God seeks?
I Peter chapter 2 verse 4-12 talks about The Living Stone and a Chosen People. Metaphorically, Jesus is referred to as The Living Stone. This reference denotes His attributes of invincible strength, everlasting duration, and our rock of offense for all our enemies. Jesus is our protection and security. He is our foundation of all our hopes and happiness. It is through Jesus that we have true knowledge of God. By Him we have access to the Father and are made partakers of spiritual blessings.
As God’s Chosen People we are like living stones being built-in the temple of the Holy Ghost. Our purpose is “to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 NIV) Because we put our trust in Jesus we will never be put to shame. (1 Peter 2:6 NIV) For those who did not believe, the rejected stone [Jesus] became the cornerstone. (1 Peter 2:7 NIV) Their disbelief will cause them to stumble because they disobeyed the message and forfeit their destiny. (1 Peter 2:8 NIV) It is because we are God’s special possession (a chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation) we are highly privileged. We have the honor to praise God. Before accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior we could not possess the privilege of mercy. We must remember who we are in Christ. We are the Elect. We should not remain as babes in Christ but continuously grow in our relationship and knowledge of Him.
Being a true worshipper is not about religion but relationship with God. For a moment, think of a person you consider being your best friend. Reflect on your relationship with them. Ask yourselves these questions. Why are they your best friend? When did you know that you could trust them? What do you know about them? Where are they when you need them? How did you become so close with that person? How did you learn about their likes or dislikes? You invested time with them. You observed their responses to various scenarios. You shared good and bad experiences with them. During rough times they have been a shoulder to cry on. You shared private and personal things with them and they did not spread it around town.
Do you have the same “best friend” perspective as it relates to your relationship with God? In order for us to know God, we need to invest our time with Him. We should seek to learn about what is pleasing and displeasing to Him. We should desire to communicate with Him frequently. We should rely on Him through times of calamity. We should celebrate victories with Him. We should show Him our appreciation, respect, and love daily.