Wisdom, Reflection, and Grace has over 30 topics that will definitely point you in the direction of Christ. The author believes that we can learn a lot from sharing our Christian walk with others; whether its our triumphs, failures, loss, or pain we all have something valuable that can be used to bring others closer to Christ. This wonderful mini-book speaks to the heart of many believers and new believers alike seeking to build an intimate relationship with God.
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About the Author
Natasha L. Martin-Egwuonwu is a Bible teacher, educator, blogger, and first-time author. She is currently pursuing a PhD in education. She is grateful for the journey that God has blessed her with, and she and her husband live in Oklahoma, with their son.
Read an Excerpt
Baptism is a welcoming ceremony of God's children into the body of Christ Jesus. Baptism is a spiritual conversion from the old self to the new self founded through Christ Jesus. "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who died is freed from sin" (Rom. 6:6–7). Jesus paid our sin debt in full at the cross to be united in His likeness through His death and His resurrection (Rom. 6:4–11). Through His death on the cross, we are all members of Christ's body, His family, belonging to one body of one spirit. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). Through Jesus death on the cross, we have the gift of salvation.
You are a child of the Most High God. You have received the gift of salvation by God's grace and, saved by faith, no good works or deeds can earn you salvation (Eph. 2:8–9). As a believer, you are to live in obedience to His truth found in the word of God. You are to be both hearers and doers of the word of God (James 1:22–25). Love one another (John 13:34–35). Walk as children of light dedicated to the Lord; no longer living in darkness but freed from sin's enslavement (1 Thess. 5:4–8; Eph. 5:8–13). You are not alone in this journey; you have a helper through the Holy Spirit in times of weakness that you didn't have prior to being saved (John 14:16–17, 26). You have an eternal home with the Father in Heaven (John 14:2-3; Phil. 3:20-21). "Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it" (1 Cor. 12:27).
Seek God first. Pray regularly. Confess your sins regularly before God asking for forgiveness and repentance. Be passionate about building an intimate relationship with the Lord. Don't be satisfied with reading your Bible once a week during Sunday morning worship service. Reading your Bible once a week is not nearly enough time to nurture and develop a mature relationship with the Lord. Another importance in reading your Bible for yourself at home is to protect you from being deceived by false teachings (Matt. 24:24-25; Mark 13:22-23). Reading the Word for yourself keeps you on guard. Be aware (Matt. 7:15)! Remember, God deserves and wants time alone with you. I suggest mapping out a time each day to read and be motivated by the gospel. Consistently be working on building a stronger relationship with our heavenly Father. Ask God: Now that I am saved, show me Your will for my life? Be patient. God will reveal His will for your life (Jer. 29:11).
In closing, if you are a new member baptized into Christ, welcome to Christ's family! If you are not saved, getting saved should be priority in your life right now (1 Tim. 2:3-6). If you do not have a church home, start searching for a Bible-based church today. Believe Christ Jesus is the Son of God. Be baptized for the remission of your sins. Start a new journey in Christ, one that you will never forget. Trust that God can transform your life (Prov. 3:5–6). May God bless you as you choose to serve Him with your whole heart.
"Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16 NASB).
Is God first priority in your life? Before you start your day, do you thank Him? Did you thank Him for being employed? Did you thank Him for being able to pay the bills this month? Do you thank Him for protecting your going out and your coming home? Did you thank him for the gift of life? If you are reading this, you are breathing. Alive. That's a blessing in itself! If you answered no to any of the questions mentioned, it's time to make some godly adjustments. Who are you giving credit to, and who really is first place? We can all probably raise our hands high to leading busy lives. And if you are not busy, just wait a few minutes; it won't take long to find something that urgently needs your attention. Leading a busy life is not always a bad thing, it's when we get lost in our dedication to busy rather than our dedication to God that makes it dangerous. Even at our busiest, the Lord asks that we acknowledge that He is God (Ps. 46:10; Is. 43:15; Rev. 1:8). Our Lord and Savior is worthy of being first place in our lives. After all, don't you think we owe our heavenly Father that much? God sacrificed His one and only begotten son Jesus Christ for our sins (John 3:16). God is worthy of our thanksgiving each day.
Jesus expressed the need to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37). If we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we will want Him first place in our lives. In doing so, we will find hope and confidence in God's capabilities, not our own (2 Cor. 3:4–5). When we trust only what we can do ourselves, we tend to leave God out. The Lord slowly becomes a number last on the list. We don't want to place the Father last in anything. Praise God in the morning before you start your day (Ps. 59:16). God is our overseer, protector, and deliverer (Ps. 18:1-3). Start your day with God. End your night with God. Will you take action today and make God first place in your life? I pray that you put God first and watch His grace manifest in you.
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation" (Ps. 68:19 NASB).
LIVING IN THE WORLD, NOT OF THE WORLD
Is it possible to live in a corrupted world, and not partake of the things of the world? Yes! The only way to live a happy and fulfilled life in a fallen and depraved world is living a life according to the word of God (Prov. 29:18). Life is all about choices (Rom. 1:24–32). Decisions that we make daily no matter the simplicity. What should I wear to work today? What am I going to cook for dinner? These are simple decisions we make on a regular basis. We also make tough decisions that can impact us financially, such as buying a new car or first home. In addition, we can make immoral decisions that can impact us spiritually: immoral decisions that can hurt our communication with the Father (Is. 59:2), cause pain, frustration, destroy families, and even tragically cause eternal death. First John 2:17 states, "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." Living for the world's pleasure is allowing our sinful desires to overtake every aspect of our lives. Living for God is the only way to experience real living.
The world we live in loves to glamorize sin. They fail to show a true depiction of the end result of living a sinful life. In truth, a sinful life filled with indulgent behavior, no discretion, and no moral compass is disastrous (James 1:14–16). Taking part in this do whatever feels good to you culture we live in may bring you pleasure, but it's short-lived. The world wants you to believe that you can practice sin and risky behavior without any consequence. This is the devil's lie (John 8:44)! All sin has a consequence attached (Rom. 6:23). Pray daily (1 Thess. 5:17) that you don't fall victim to the sin promulgated around you.
Temptation is everywhere. It's on network television, at work, social media, and among friends who try to persuade you to do things you know are not godly or pressure you into believing that a lifestyle of worldly pleasure is okay (2 Peter 2:20–22). It's not okay! The good thing is that despite what goes on in this world, it's never too late to ask for Jesus's intervention (John 10:9–10). God shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11); if you want the Lord's help, call on Him. Read the Bible. You want to change your life around? Start by reading the word of God. If you are not saved, talk to someone who is. Get to know who Jesus is and the sacrifice He made for you. Even now, as you are, God loves you. You can be made whole, a new person in Christ Jesus (Ezekiel 18:31). It's not too late. You don't have too much baggage; you haven't been out in the world too long. God has not forgotten you. Give Jesus your life! Let God renew your mind and your body. Romans 12:2 states, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You can be transformed. You can enjoy life to its fullest extent making mindful decisions that reflect godliness, not sinfulness. Take ownership and take the first step toward making righteous decisions that can positively impact your life and the lives of others.
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15 NASB).
I remember when I was in my first year of college, I had not quite developed an effective study habit or a plan to tackle the course work for each class. I consistently abandoned one project for another, never fully devoting enough time to complete the current at my best. I found myself always playing catch-up. Needless to say, this system was not working at all. It does not work for our spiritual life either. Today, I try to plan ahead for each day and set a schedule to accomplish any goals (Prov. 21:5). I learned in academia that without a study schedule, I would have a long list of abandoned projects and unnecessary confusion.
Planning takes the guesswork out of my day. I wake up early a.m. and pray. Then I go to my prayer room to have some alone time with God (Matt. 6:6). Prayer allows me to exercise my faith by placing everything in God's hands and gives me the opportunity to hear His voice through scripture (John 10:27–28, Rom. 10:17). At night, I try to make it a habit to read the Word with my family and pray (Matt. 18:20). I am able to trust God to lead me through each day even if my days are not perfect; I expect God to answer (Matt. 21:22, John 14:13–15). I have made plenty of mistakes going ahead of God's plan and doing what I wanted first, only later to call on Him saying, "Please Lord, help me!" God wants us to call on him before we get started with our day or get into a messy bind. After all, any goal worthy of achieving is a goal worthy of planning with God first. Plan your day with God first!
"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar" (Ps. 139:1–2 NASB).
NEW DAY, NEW CHALLENGES
Frustrating new day challenges: losing your car keys, missing a deadline, or finding out a flight home is canceled. The more serious: finding out a loved one is terribly ill, getting laid off from work, or dealing with a messy divorce. Without question, these are far more serious challenges. Braving life's trials and challenges can be a battle in our own strength. But we don't have to brave our challenges alone. As children of God, we can call on the Lord to help fight life's trials with us (Phil. 4:6). No serious challenge is ever easy. Challenges test our patience. Challenges test our strength. They test our family. They even test our faith in God. Instead of braving challenges alone, take refuge in our Lord and Savior (2 Sam. 22:2-4, Ps. 91:1–4). God is our stronghold to keep us persevering throughout the day (Ps. 118:5-9). Keep your mind focused on God and His abilities to move you through this day (Matt. 6:33). God is greater than any challenge that comes our way (1 John 4:4). No multitude is too great for God. Keep having faith and praying in Jesus's name. God bless you!
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's" (2 Chron. 20:15 NASB).
BEING PRODUCTIVE FOR GOD
Being productive is not just being busy (Col. 1:10). Like many of us, you can make yourself a busy bee if you want to. The thing about busy and productivity is what you are busy doing. If most of your day is filled with busy work that has no contribution to the heavenly Father, then you need a more balanced schedule. You should never be too busy to make time for our Lord and Savior (Matt. 6:33). I have a challenge for you (preferably at bedtime); write out a list of everything you did today. Divide each day by morning, afternoon, and evening. If you are not a writer and feel more comfortable using an app to track your activities that works too! At the end of the day, review it. Is there any time of day that you can set aside to be alone with God? The answer, of course, should always be yes. If not, reevaluate your day. God should always be on your daily schedule.
Once that special time of day is incorporated into your daily calendar for (prayer, Bible study, worship, etc.), be consistent (Gal. 6:9). Each day keep making small changes to your routine until you reach your desired goal. You are well on your way to building a beautiful relationship with God. Our Lord and Savior is worthy of our praise and worship daily.
"For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies" (2 Thess. 3:11 NASB).
DENY YOURSELF AND FOLLOW CHRIST
As Christians, we know and understand that the decision to follow Christ is far from an easy one. Following Jesus is not always comfortable or even convenient ... it is, however, worth it! You are to trust His provision for your life (Prov. 3:5-6). God knows what's best for you. We choose to follow Him knowing that the rewards in heaven are far greater (Phil. 3:20-21; John 14:3) than any circumstance we may find ourselves in this life. Luke 9:23 reads, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Look at the lives of the disciples in the Bible. Choosing to follow Jesus takes a great deal of sacrifice (Matt. 16:24). You may lose popularity. You may lose wealth. You may lose friends. You may even lose the support of your family. The wonderful thing is that God will never forget you or your sacrifice to Him (Matt. 5:10, Isaiah 49:15, Rom. 8:28). Your reward is an abundant life with our Lord and Savior in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:12). Seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33). Your reward is great in heaven!
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11 NASB).
Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Or is there someone you know that needs to forgive you? We tend to hold onto the things that hurt us the most. God knows that it's this kind of pain that keeps us from forgiving. Having an unforgiving heart keeps us full of anger and steals the joy God intended for us to have (James 1:20). Matthew 6:14–15 states, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." God makes it clear what He will do to those who are unforgiving. If our heavenly Father graciously forgives you for the sins you commit daily (1 John 1:9), why not forgive your neighbor? (Luke 17:3–4).
Today, make a list of those who have hurt or offended you. In addition, add to that list anyone you may have hurt or offended. Writing it down helps to process the name and the event that led to unforgiveness. Be honest. Start praying. Ask God for forgiveness and repentance (Acts 3:19) to help you to deal with any unforgiveness you have been holding onto for a long time or to help identify pain that you have caused someone else. If forgiving others is particularly difficult, ask God to open your heart to forgive so that He can release that pain and hurt you are feeling (Eph. 4:31–32). Get your Bible out and start reading about forgiveness and the healing power of Jesus. Pray for people that hurt or offend you. God blesses peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). Keep praying and have faith that God can heal not some but all your pain. Forgiveness makes you stronger, not weaker. God hears and will answer your prayer (1 John 5:14).
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Rom. 12:14 NASB).
Excerpted from "Wisdom, Reflection, and Grace"
Copyright © 2017 Natasha L. Martin-Egwuonwu.
Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Baptism, 1,
Chapter 2 First Place, 4,
Chapter 3 Living in the World, Not of the World, 6,
Chapter 4 Planning Goals, 9,
Chapter 5 New Day, New Challenges, 11,
Chapter 6 Being Productive for God, 13,
Chapter 7 Deny Yourself and Follow Christ, 15,
Chapter 8 Forgiveness, 17,
Chapter 9 Honoring God Wholeheartedly, 19,
Chapter 10 Godly Living: The Word and Discipline, 21,
Chapter 11 The Godliness in Self-Control, 23,
Chapter 12 The God Who Loves Me, 25,
Chapter 13 God-Chosen People, 27,
Chapter 14 Do Your Part, 29,
Chapter 15 The Power in Wisdom, 31,
Chapter 16 Be the Great Encourager, 33,
Chapter 17 God Loves Us Anyway, 35,
Chapter 18 Failure, 37,
Chapter 19 Trust God, 39,
Chapter 20 The Body Is a Temple, 41,
Chapter 21 Be a God Pleaser, Not a People Pleaser, 43,
Chapter 22 Envy, 45,
Chapter 23 Spiritual Blindness, 47,
Chapter 24 Rejection, 49,
Chapter 25 Temptation, 52,
Chapter 26 The Call for Obedience, 54,
Chapter 27 The Healing Power of Jesus, 56,
Chapter 28 Serving the Lord, 58,
Chapter 29 Unity in Christ, 59,
Chapter 30 Finish the Race, 61,
Chapter 31 The Battle Is Not Yours Alone to Fight, 63,
Chapter 32 Maturity in Christ Jesus, 65,
Chapter 33 Spreading the Word, 68,
Chapter 34 Sin and Self-Pity, 70,
Chapter 35 God's Will, 72,
Chapter 36 No Weapon Formed against Me Shall Prosper, 76,
Chapter 37 The Power in Wisdom, 78,
Chapter 38 Being Spiritually Sick, 80,
Chapter 39 Your Future Is as Bright as the Stars, 82,
Chapter 40 Be Thankful, 84,
About the Author, 87,