Tuesday, June 26, 2018

If You Need a Refresh on Devotions

cover photo via Goodreads 
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson have a fun mother/daughter presence on Twitter. Sometimes interacting with each other with a humorous repartee, but also maintaining their own ministries, their main focus is to bring Christians back to the heart of our faith: the Gospel. In doing that, they remind readers again and again that Christ loves us all, not for what we have done, but for what he has done. Their reminders always feel full of comfort and grace.

I met both of them at the National Bible Bee a few years ago, for a mother/daughter breakfast. I had just read the book they co-authored together, Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions, which offers age-appropriate answers for hard things to talk about. I think it was Elyse that day who mentioned her granddaughter's name was Eowyn (We got onto that because I was telling her about my name origin: an actress on Anne of Green Gables.)

A few months ago I noticed a new book of hers on Amazon, and I was excited that it might be one of my options in the Bethany House review program. Sure enough, it was. Finding the Love of Jesus From Genesis to Revelation is well worth adding to your TBR. It will help you rediscover the Scripture with a whole new appreciation.

Elyse starts with a Biblical framework, exploring some faulty reasons Christians have for reading their Bibles, (morality studies, daily fire insurance from problems, etc.) Instead, she points out that the Bible is about Christ. Using the example of Jesus walking on the Emmaus road in Luke 24, she says that since he found himself in all the Scriptures, we should look for him in the Old Testament too.

As a side note, something she said blew my mind: Jesus read the Scriptures growing up knowing he was the central figure. They were all about him. That left me in awe because any normal human facing that would collapse under the pride, but Jesus was able to read something that was entirely about himself while maintaining his sinlessness.

Elyse spends the majority of the rest of the book demonstrating how to take on a Christ-centered mindset in reading the Old Testament. Because she's writing to women, she explores some biblical accounts about women, including Esther and Deborah. But she also goes into men, including Job and Moses. At the end of each chapter, she offers questions which encourage readers to respond to the chapter and to dig into Scripture for themselves. While I couldn't do them in the initial read-through, I'd really like to come back to them. This book is a great choice to jumpstart morning devotions, to study with a group, or even to gift someone who likes studying the Scriptures. Its primary focus is to point us all to what Christ did and how he loves his people.

I'm still working through a couple of points in the book that my heart isn't quite with yet. I understand the point about the Bible not being about us (and Elyse does a really good job explaining what is still about us, especially in the chapter about the law) but there's something about my understanding of that perspective that still bothers me, and I haven't worked through it yet. That's not the fault of the book. It's just where I'm at in my spiritual maturing. Also, another point she made about the law was frustrating at first, but let to a really neat lightbulb moment this morning. She said, "What this third use [of the law] should not do, however, is cause us to think that our grateful obedience earns God's love for us. So, should we strive to love in response to his love? Yes, of course. But whatever we accomplish in our striving, none of it merits God's love or care for us. We can't be good enough, but he loves us anyway." Initially, I felt frustrated since I was hearing, "Nothing you can do earns God's favor, but still do good anyway." I didn't really see the point of doing that just in itself. But I had more to learn. 

A missing piece of my understanding fell into place listening to Michael Card this weekend. He's talking about hesed: God's extravagant favors to us, and how he wants his children to ask for favors even though we know we don't deserve them. The extravagant love of hesed, he said, hopes for and wants a response from us in like kind. An example of that would be the sinful woman, whom Jesus has forgiven much, and who washes his feet with her tears, anointing them with oil. That's extravagant hesed in return for extravagant hesed. It's not about earning grace. It's about responding to grace with extravagant love. Obedience is Jesus' love language--and so it's an extravagant and heartfelt response to what he's done for us.

That's what Elyse was saying as well. I just couldn't hear her saying it until this morning. "Remember that the primary law is to love, and love is always responsive in nature. He loves us, therefore we love him and want to please him. Only as you remember how much he has loved you will you be motivated to love and obey in return" (Finding the Love of Jesus, pg. 128-129).

I obey so much out of obligation and fear and anxiety. These teachings are good truths for me to hear.

I read the Bible once a year for a while using a couple of different plans for daily devotions. Two years ago I felt in the need of breaking the routine, and have spent the time since in various study methods, study books, and BSF. But I'm starting to feel the hunger to return again, and reading Elyse's book gave me something fresh to hunt for when I start up a plan again. I want to look for Jesus and his love as I read through it. I'm so glad I read Finding the Love of Jesus From Genesis to Revelation, and I would definitely recommend it to love and know Jesus more.

Find it on Amazon or Goodreads.

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

6 comments:

  1. This looks fantastic! Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to read it! :)

      Delete
  2. This sounds like a good book, especially the part about falty reasons why we read our Bibles. Maybe I could borrow it sometime. 😉

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to hear what you think of it. It really seems like your cup of tea. ;)

      Delete
  3. Thank you for this review! It sounds like a wonderful book. I appreciate your personal story about law/love...that's a lesson God has to teach me repeatedly, but it always leaves me humbled and in awe of his grace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's like a fresh new, wonderful discovery of God's love. I wish I could get it stuck in my head! But I'm so glad God doesn't mind telling me over again. ;) I'm always so blessed when you share what God is teaching you. <3

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...