Beyond Blessings contains a collection of winning stewardship essays as a result from a stewardship contest held in the North American Division. The authors are 12 people from backgrounds as diverse as a PhD candidate, church pastors, and conference stewardship and trust services directors. Each essay focuses on a specific passage of Scripture. Readers will notice sections of exegesis or a fleshing out of the Bible’s verses, application to today’s life, stories from current life, and references to contemporary authors.
The chapter titled “Where Your Heart Belongs” includes interesting explanations of moths and rust and thieves, but this chapter also draws distinctions between heaven and earth and an outline for a sermon on Matthew 6:19–21.
The chapter titled “Guaranteed Returns” looks at Malachi 3, James 1, Luke 6, and Mark 10. The description also contains a lengthy story from the author’s life, and includes a great illustration of God providing in difficult times.
In another chapter, Elijah’s story in Scripture is evaluated. “Trusting God” reviews 1 Kings 17, finding that Elijah’s early years as a prophet were spent building his trust in God’s providing for him at Kerith and Zarephath. This story encapsulates a fascinating study of how God leads and grows people of faith.
The collection fills a nice niche on the bookshelf of the pastor. You will find Beyond Blessings useful for sermon ideas. Each chapter could form the beginning of a sermon or provide great stories and quotes for a sermon but can also serve as a devotional book. The chapters are short, and the reading easy. The entire book could be read in an afternoon, but the lessons can be applied in many ways.
—Reviewed by Kermit Netteburg, senior pastor, Beltsville Seventhday Adventist Church, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.