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Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith

Overview

For decades, President Jimmy Carter has been an avid student and teacher of the Bible. In recent years, the adult Sunday school classes he leads at his hometown Baptist church have become famous the world over. Now, this most admired American has selected fifty-two of his favorite Bible meditations from these Sunday gatherings to share with anyone who is searching for new faith ... or for fuller understanding of a lifelong creed. Based on passages from both the Old and New Testaments, these thoughtful, inspiring ...
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Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith

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Overview

For decades, President Jimmy Carter has been an avid student and teacher of the Bible. In recent years, the adult Sunday school classes he leads at his hometown Baptist church have become famous the world over. Now, this most admired American has selected fifty-two of his favorite Bible meditations from these Sunday gatherings to share with anyone who is searching for new faith ... or for fuller understanding of a lifelong creed. Based on passages from both the Old and New Testaments, these thoughtful, inspiring lessons reflect themes that touch every life: the blessings and challenges of family love; loss, grief, and healing; forgiveness and reconciliation; the meaning of the good life; and, above all, the transforming power of God's love in our lives.
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Editorial Reviews

Irwin Abrams
What Carter has done and is doing as an international peacemaker is without compare in the world today. What motivates him...are his deep spiritual convictions.
Wall Street Journal
Library Journal
This sequel to Living Faith (LJ 10/15/96) is a collection of 52 brief Bible lessonsone for each week of the yearwritten by former president Jimmy Carter. All were used in adult Sunday school classes he taught himself. Carter's lessons are open-minded and socially progressive while remaining unapologetically conservative and Christian theologically. Each three- to four-page lesson is based on a passage of Scripture. Carter is quite knowledgeable about biblical times and can bring together historical information and personal experience very effectively. The lessons are grouped in nine categories, such as "What We Believe" and "Christians in the World," but each lesson stands well on its own. A reasonable addition to inspirational literature as well as an interesting insight into this sincerely Christian former president; recommended for public libraries.C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
From the Publisher
"What Carter has done and is doing as an international peacemaker is without compare in the world today. What motivates him to take up this work, with all the personal sacrifices and risks it involves, are his deep spiritual convictions."
?From Irwin Abrams's speech nominating Jimmy Carter for the Nobel Peace Prize
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812932362
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 436,914
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth president of the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books, including the national bestseller Always a Reckoning and the acclaimed spiritual autobiography Living Faith. He and his wife Rosalyn live in Plains, Georgia and lead an active life of service in their community, their nation, and the world
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

What It Takes to Be a Christian



The jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you
will be saved—you and your household."—Acts 16:30-31

Many people have asked the question the jailer does here, and Paul's simple response is the answer that has been accepted by almost two billion Christians living around the world today. As a young man, I joined other members of our church in carrying this same message about Jesus Christ to the families in our rural community who were not Christians. This was very difficult for me, because I was always doubtful about the reception we would receive. I usually knew the families well, so I was somewhat embarrassed about implying that I was superior in some way, having knowledge or a privileged position that they didn't.

However, the company of another man always strengthened me. We were well versed in the rudimentary tenets of what we called "The Plan of Salvation," which was the basis for our brief presentation. Later, beginning in the mid-1960s, I traveled to more distant places for a week or so as a volunteer lay missionary, joining others in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and in the suburbs of Atlanta to visit homes and share our faith in Christ. We approached each family with sincere prayers, and learned to rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit to overcome our timidity and uncertainties. In other words, we just did our best and had faith enough to relax and leave the results to God.

The Plan of Salvation is still an integral part of my weekly Bible lessons. I often outline it briefly when I receive a question about the nature ofChristian faith from a visitor or when the lesson text has an evangelical meaning—as most of them do. In this first meditation, I want to share the Plan of Salvation with you, relying more on a few passages of Scripture than on my own words.

1. God loves all of us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "For God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).

2. All of us are sinners. Some of us may be satisfied with the way we are, feeling that we don't need God's mercy, but the Holy Scriptures are clear: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). "There is no one who is righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). And "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

3. Sin separates us from God. What are the consequences of our violating God's moral code? There is a clear and disturbing answer: "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

4. We cannot save ourselves. Only God can save us, through our faith. Even the Hebrew patriarch Abraham did not earn his righteousness before God; it came because of his belief, or faith: "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For the scripture says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'" (Romans 4:2-3 and Genesis 15:6).

"For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

5. Jesus came to remove the barrier of sin. "But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

6. It is through our faith in Christ that we receive these blessings. "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved" (Romans 10:9-10).

These are the premises that all Christians have accepted. Some people may think this path to salvation is too simple and easy—that something else must be required for us to receive God's mercy and everlasting life. After all, most of the achievements in life—education, a good family, a successful career—require hard work, persistence, and sacrifice. Yet God's forgiveness and blessings are given to us freely, by pure grace.

This mistaken attitude reminds me of the reaction of the Syrian general Naaman, who went to the prophet Elisha to be cured of leprosy. Without leaving his tent, Elisha sent word that Naaman needed only to bathe in the little Jordan River seven times to be cured. The powerful man stormed away, furious at the simplicity of the prescription. But his servants said, "If the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, 'Wash, and be clean'? So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:13-14).

The simple but profound fact is that our lives can be changed—beginning now—by professing our faith in Jesus Christ. The rest of this book will explore the fascinating, exciting, and remarkable ramifications of this basic, life-giving truth.



From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Why Should We Read the Bible?
1 What It Takes to Be a Christian 3
2 A Humble Servant 8
3 Full of Grace and Truth 12
4 The Laughing Jesus 16
5 The Special Message of Jesus 20
6 Jonah and the Big Fish 27
7 No More Hiding 31
8 She Forgot Her Bucket! 35
9 Where Are You, God? 39
10 The Cost of Grace 43
11 The Good Shepherd 46
12 I Will Be with You 53
13 Knowing and Being Known 57
14 The Jealousy Trap 61
15 The Art of Forgiving 66
16 The Least of These 70
17 Who Among Us Is Superior? 76
18 What Is Special About Christianity? 83
19 A Theology Primer 87
20 Joy in the Desert 91
21 Are the Ten Commandments Enough? 96
22 The New Message of Jesus 101
23 Christianity's Open Door 105
24 A House with Many Builders 110
25 The Christian Citizen 117
26 Do We Really Believe in Human Rights? 121
27 Woman and Man, Equal Before God 127
28 Leadership and Reformation 131
29 What Can One Person Do? 136
30 A Message in Creation 141
31 The Mystery of Resurrection 145
32 Ready to Worship 148
33 Pray Without Ceasing 151
34 Letting In the Lord 154
35 The Source of Courage 161
36 Remembering to Be Thankful 165
37 Unseen and Eternal 170
38 Facing Up to Sin 175
39 Forgiving Ourselves 180
40 Rejected Yet Loving 185
41 Facing the Future 189
42 We Underestimate Ourselves, and Others 193
43 Our Favorite Disciple 198
44 The Span of Life 201
45 Running the Race 209
46 Responding to God's Call 214
47 Riding Freely 218
48 The Unfaithful 222
49 The Lord Looks at the Heart 226
50 Real Wealth 230
51 If We Have Faith, Let's Show It! 234
52 Take a Chance 238
Index of Scriptural References 243
Index 246
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2000

    Was the Greatest Inspirational Book I Have Ever Read!

    I grew up in a loving Lutheran and Republican home. While I was only in the seventh grade when Jimmy Carter was elected as president, I followed his election and presidency with great interest. Part of the reason for this was that I was born and raised in Minnesota, which was where his vice president was from. Had I been old enough to vote in 1980, I would have probably voted for Ronald Reagan because of my upbringing. However, I remember admiring Jimmy Carter for his character and wondering what the history books would say about him after he lost the election. Over the years since then, I have followed his post-presidential career with great interest and admiration. I picked up this book, not really knowing what to expect. It knocked my socks off! I really needed his message at that particular time. Each topic spoke to issues I was dealing with and gave me strength and courage. You are without a doubt one of my heros. Thank you Jimmy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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