You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
"Cast all your cares on him." "Love the Lord with all your heart." "I can do all things . . . ." Most would be surprised at how often the word "all" appears in the Bible-literally thousands of times. And with each description of God's comprehensive promises, each reminder of our complete blessing in Christ, each appeal for our full and total surrender, His reputation grows larger before our eyes. We see again what He can do. We see again who we can be.
Based on the Bible's sizeable emphasis on this tiny yet powerful word "all," best-selling author and pastor Robert J. Morgan has created a remarkable 365-day spiritual growth experience in his new devotional, All to Jesus: A Year of Devotions (B&H Books, October 2012). A choice sampling of the Bible's most "all"-encompassing statements, All to Jesus will surround believers each day with inspiring stories, personal reflections and the encouraging assurance that they are cared for in ways they never imagined.
List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
AND NOW...THE FIRST WEEK:
He is all in all to me,
And my song of songs shall be, Hallelujah, O My Savior,
I am trusting only Thee.
One evening several years ago when troubled about a particular matter, I sat at the dining room table and picked up my Bible. I turned to a little book near the back and read through 1 Peter, thinking the old fisherman might have an encouraging word for me. When I got to the last chapter, I came across verse 7: “casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you.” It was a verse I knew well, indeed had memorized it; but now I saw something I’d never seen before. It said: “casting ALL your care upon Him.”
The Divine Author could easily have omitted the word all without hindering the flow or force of the text: casting your care upon Him. But the Lord deliberately dropped that little all into the sentence like a pearl in the pathway, and I had overlooked it for years.
But what a word! The “all” indicated this was an all- inclusive promise. Nothing is excluded from the invitation. No problem is too small for His notice, none too large for His power. He’s concerned about each and every problem I have or would ever have, public or personal, large or little. He can handle them, and I should give them all to Him in total trust.
Then a thought came to me. I wondered if there were other “alls” in the Bible that I’d missed. Continuing my reading, I noticed three verses later that God is “the God of all grace.” Four verses later: “Peace to all of you.” Three verses down the column, in 2 Peter 1:3, I read, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us” (NKJV).
Looking up the word in a concordance, I was amazed to find 5,675 “alls” in the Bible. This word shows up in a remarkable number of verses, and it amplifies many of our greatest truths, commands, and promises:
• “All things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).
• “You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isa. 38:17).
• “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted” (Matt. 10:30).
• “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37).
• “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov.3:5–6).
• “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened” (Matt. 11:28).
• “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6 NIV).
• “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
The Lord doesn’t waste words in His Book. In the verses above, the alls could easily have been left out; yet there they are. Seems it’s one of God’s favorite words. He used it thousands of times, often in passages that would have read nicely without it; yet the all maximizes the meaning to the absolute. It’s the largest little word in the world, taking already strong statements and broadening their applications to virtual infinity, which, after all, is what one would expect from an omnipotent Father.
The frequency of this word in Scripture speaks to the all-sufficient grace of our Almighty Savior. It highlights the infinite omniqualities of God, and the complete devotion we should afford Him. He is the Lord of All, our All-in-All, our Almighty God, our All-Sufficient Savior from whom All blessings flow; and He is All we need.
Looking up all these alls was the simplest Bible study I’ve ever done, but one of the most bolstering to the soul, because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—even the thousands of occurrences of this little monosyllabic term.
So for each day of the year, I’ve selected an “all” from Scripture—365 of them, all told.
The other 5,310 occurrences you’ll have to dig out for yourself.
Day 1 2 Corinthians 9:6–11
God is able to make all grace abound toward you;
that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound to every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)
Missionary Amy Carmichael attended a meeting featuring the renowned preacher Dr. Andrew Bonar. “He was very old and could not speak very plainly or strongly,” she recalled. “The hall was full, and I was near the back. I could not catch a single word he said, except this word all. He read 2 Corinthians 9:8 and he put every bit of strength he had into it, so that the one word rang out—all—always—all—all. I have forgotten thousands of great sermons, but that ‘all’ I have never forgotten, and it has helped me countless times.”
The context of this verse involves giving to the Lord’s work, yet the promise is larger than its context. The words God is able represent a recurring divine promise:
• He is able to establish us (Rom. 16:25).
• He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
• He is able to keep what we have committed to Him (2 Tim. 1:12).
• He is able to aid us in temptation (Heb. 2:18).
• He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24).
• He is able to deliver us (Dan. 3:17).
• And He is able to make all grace abound to us in all ways at all times for all things.
Our God is able! He isn’t going to impart some grace or some sufficiency in some things for some good works. It’s all—all—all—all!
Day 2 Proverbs 3:1–5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
Many times I’ve preached this verse to myself, repeating over and over: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . . Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . .” Recently I dug a little deeper into that word trust. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the original term here in Proverbs 3:5 is batucha, which literally means to “trust in, feel safe, be confident, careless.”
Careless—care-less, as in carefree.
The TWOT goes on to explain that this word expresses the sense of well-being and security that results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. The basic idea behind “trust” goes beyond intellectual belief; it emphasizes an attitude or emotion of feeling safe and secure, unconcerned—being confident to the point of being care-less or carefree.
That doesn’t preclude a healthy concern for things we’ve entrusted to the Lord. It does mean that the Proverbs 3:5 variety of trust liberates us from toxic anxiety, fear, worry, and crippling concern. The old French mystic, Jean Nicolas Grou, said, “Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.”
Don’t trust Him with some of your heart, which taps into some of His peace. Abide with total trust. That’s His desire and His command for you today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”
Day 3 Proverbs 3:5–10
Think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.
One time I spoke to students of Bryan College in Tennessee about God’s guidance over matters large and small in our lives. Afterward I was bombarded with questions. Another speaker had suggested that God establishes certain parameters for our lives but doesn’t involve Himself in specifics, that He doesn’t specifically know or ordain our steps. But I believe God’s guidance is detailed, daily, personal, unfailing, and preplanned, as Psalm 139:16 says: “All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”
If He has planned all my days, I should acknowledge Him in all my ways. That means developing the habit of deliberately pausing to ask God’s will before making a purchase, giving an answer, writing a letter, making a decision, or taking an action. Acknowledge Him as Lord of that matter.
This was Nehemiah’s habit, as we see in chapter 2 of his book: “Then the king asked me, ‘What is your request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.” In the royal palace in Susa that day, no one noticed the slight pause in the conversation. But during that strategic second of silence, Nehemiah shot an arrow of prayer heavenward and consulted God, quietly asking: “Lord, give me wisdom and grant me favor!”
Strategic pauses like that throughout the day would save us from many mistakes.
Day 4 John 21:15–19
Lord, You know all things.
John 21:17 (NKJV)
One day while perusing A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, I came across a peculiar idea. Tozer asserted that God has never learned anything. He cannot learn; it is impossible. Imagine the lifted eyebrows if a pastor started Sunday’s sermon with that declaration. But Tozer was right. Because God is omniscient, He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn. There isn’t a scrap of information, a byte of data, or a spark of genius that He hasn’t known from eternity past. He compasses and surpasses all facts; He comprehends and transcends all reality; and in Him are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
That means all truth is God’s truth, and true science will never contradict the realities of Scripture. It means He knows the future as well as the past, and He is guiding His creation toward pre-appointed ends. Yet it means more. As Peter acknowledged in John 21, Jesus also knows the world within us.
He knows my strengths, so He can use me for His purpose. He knows my weaknesses, so He can perfect what concerns me. He knows my anxieties, so He can reassure me with His promises. He knows my hurts, so He can apply His salve. He knows my sins, so He can cleanse my soul. He knows my failures, so He can work all things for my good. He knows my past, so He can lead me toward maturity. And He knows my future, so He can lead me all the way.
All wise, all good, almighty Lord,
Jesus, by highest Heav’n adored.
—Charles Wesley, 1745
Day 5 Psalm 5
Let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever.
During two periods of my life I’ve suffered bouts of depression, so I know something of its perils. According to the World Health Organization, major depression is the fourth- leading cause of disability in the world, and it’s on its way to becoming the second leading cause, just behind heart disease.
It’s a complex illness, and I don’t want to oversimplify it. Yet our depression, anxiety, anger, or fear is often the by- product of discounting the unfailing promises of God. Israel’s King David suffered periodic depression, as revealed in some of his psalms. He often brought his heavy heart to the Lord and replenished his emotions in the endless reservoirs of God’s grace. In so doing, he developed this formula in Psalm 5:11—
Relying on the Lord - Rejoicing in the Lord.
That’s simple enough for a wall plaque, yet it’s one of the most profound equations for emotional health ever discovered: “Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You” (NKJV). The word all signifies that this truth is applicable to everyone on earth. We can all learn to rely, and thereby to rejoice.
My daughter Grace once gave me a figurine of a lazy frog with his hands behind his head, resting on a rock, legs folded leisurely. Knowing my penchant for worry, she thought it a good reminder of the acronym FROG: Fully Rely On God. It’s hard to be depressed when there’s a frog on your desk; and it’s hard not to rejoice when you’re fully relying on Him.
Day 6 Matthew 6:25–34
After all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:32–33 (NKJV)
England’s Queen Elizabeth I once asked a British merchant to undertake a mission for the crown. “But your Highness,” said the man, “such a long absence will be fatal to my business.” To which the queen replied: “You take care of my business, and I will take care of yours.” When the man returned, he found that the queen’s patronage had enlarged his company immeasurably.
Alice Taylor was a missionary to China whose four children were captured by the Japanese and interned in a concentration camp during World War II. Alice suffered galloping anxiety. But she recalled her pastor once putting Matthew 6:33 like this: “If you take care of the things that are dear to God, He will take care of the things that are dear to you.” Alice forced herself to focus on the Lord’s work while trusting Him with her cares. In time her children came home safely to the glory of God.
What’s our greatest need today? Whatever it is—financial, relational, physical, or emotional—it’s included in that universal all. Jesus said, “All these things . . . all these things
. . . all these things.”
Day 7 Genesis 6:13–22
Thus Noah did; according to all
that God commanded him, so he did.
Genesis 6:22 (NKJV)
Total trust results in total obedience. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark.”
By faith Noah obeyed.
Some scholars believe no rain had fallen to Earth prior to that time. Genesis 1:7 speaks of the waters above the expanse of the sky, perhaps indicating that a vast thermal shield of vapor encased Earth and maintained a greenhouse effect. This blanket of moisture filtered the sun’s destructive rays and may have contributed to the long life spans listed in Genesis. When the vapor canopy collapsed, torrential rains lasted forty days and nights. So in an age in which people knew nothing of rain, God told Noah to build an enormous ship, and Noah obeyed completely, down to the last nail.
To measure your faith, pull out the dipstick of obedience. Does God tell us to build up others with our words? To be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another? To do the work of an evangelist? To avoid sexual immorality? To keep our eyes from vanity? To meditate on Scripture?
Scottish novelist George MacDonald said, “You can begin at once to be a disciple of the Living One—by obeying Him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying Him. We must learn to obey Him in everything, and so must begin somewhere. Let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience.”
My review...All to Jesus is a wonderful devotional that will truly bless anyone who chooses to walk with the Lord through its pages. Each day includes a short Bible reading, with a special verse highlighted from the passage, and it is accompanied by a quick story or illustration or thought on life. I find that the daily devotion is just perfect to get me thinking about a truth from God's word, a truth that can carry me through my day. The devotions are interesting and well-written, and contain a lot of wisdom. Often I hear people complain that it's just too difficult to find time to spend in God's word or time to spend in a devotional. All to Jesus provides an answer to just such thinking, as it will taking maybe a minute or two to read the day's offering. After spending the day thinking about you red, you just may find yourself opening God's word for more!
This devotional would make a wonderful gift for a loved one this Christmas, or perhaps you may just want to pick it up for yourself. I give it a solid recommendation and a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, B&H Books, along with B&B Media group & FIRST Wildcard for the purposes of this unbiased review.