ARMS OPEN WIDE by Sherri Gragg, reviewed by Miriam Jacob

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Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ISBN-13: 978-1400323463

Date: May 13, 2014

Jesus redeems sinners to give us a Father’s wholehearted love and unconditional acceptance. Christ gives hope to the hurting. Arms Open Wide’s thirty-four day devotions invitingly calls us to come to Christ just as we are, broken and bleeding, crying to be healed and made whole. Here is a strong clarion call to us to linger in Christ’s presence, imbibe His grace and share His fragrance with the world.

As you share Christ’s life in these spiritually-enriching devotionals, you will be gloriously touched, healed and blessed by the Divine Healer of our souls. Jesus is alive! He is right here with you. Experience His power and taste His love. Your life will be totally transformed. You will know Him in a personal way like never before. You will be saved by grace!

The life and times of Jesus Christ are graphically portrayed in the fictional narrative form. It was a time in history unlike any other. Biblical history is interspersed with Scripture to create a dramatic setting that transports readers back in time, to place them in Christ’s presence. In Arms Open Wide, Biblical traditions and customs come to life to help us experience Jesus’ life and the miracles He performed. The Biblical fiction gets us into the first-century mindset. This is a creative work strongly rooted in research.

Walk with the Savior to witness miracle healings. Get fresh new insight into His power. See lives instantly transformed by His love and grace. Feel the compassion and kindness of Jesus. Taste the love, grace and forgiveness our Savior offers. Engage in a first-person experience to walk with Jesus face to face.

Terrified at the tender, impressionable age of four, when she heard a powerful sermon on the eternal damnation of the soul without Jesus, the fragile infancy of Sherri’s faith was wrongly founded on a false and flawed view of Christ as a harsh Judge. The deep-rooted fear and misunderstanding of God robbed her of her talents, making her feel unwanted and unworthy. Feeling unloved and unlovable, this bitter cloud overshadowed her next forty years.

Although Sherri started to write early, she doubted herself far too much to permit anyone else to read what she wrote. If God was angry with her, how could anyone else accept her? Such falsehoods about God drowned her in utter fear and despair. Even when she knew the truth in her head, she struggled to deal with the lies in her heart, grievously inflicted by the devil.

When Sherri was forty-one years old, on an eye-opening trip to Israel, she got the rare chance to interpret Scripture through its highly colorful, cultural lens. Suddenly a light shone in her soul and her shackled heart and mind cast off its cruel chains. She saw Christ through the eyes of a Middle Eastern peasant.

Scripture came alive for Sherri as she saw at the heart of humanity, a bleeding Savior, the only begotten Son of God, pouring out His life’s blood in costly love to save us all. And Sherri loved Him! She instantly gave her first love to Him who had given His all for her.

Sherri Gragg is amazingly candid about the gaping wounds of childhood and how God alone can heal us. Sherri ’s prayer for you is that “you’ll experience the same living and loving Savior as I have, and that you will truly know He stands with arms open wide to welcome you into His Father’s kingdom just as you are.”

With the passionate words of a gifted, talented storyteller and the kind, compassionate and understanding heart of a teacher, Sherri takes us on a soul-revealing journey through the heart of God to be transformed by Jesus.

Jesus Christ, Master of the Wind and the Waves, lifted His eyes to see the restless sea of suffering humanity surge towards Him, wave after wave, in a prolonged series of human tidal waves. And still they came, and nothing could arrest the flow of passionate humanity seeking the Master.

The Sea of Galilee appeared tinted in different hues, at first golden in the waning light of the setting sun and then silvery in the soft majestic glory of the rising moon. A gentle breeze blew softly. It was serene and peaceful on a clear evening when the sky was painted gold in technicolor.

Out on the open water, a boat rocked gently, lulled by the steady breeze and the gentle swishing of the waves. The moon rose high, painting the water silver with its light. Slowly, stars began to pierce the night sky.

A fierce gust of wind rose, rocking the boat violently. Dark clouds obscured the moon and the stars. Jagged lightning zigzagged to illuminate the clouds. The normally tranquil lake answered the violent call of the storm as it bowed to gale-force winds that threatened to blow everything apart.

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” – (Mark 4:38).

Soon, the waves were six feet high, spewing tall mountains of white ocean foam in its wake. The roar of the wind rose in all its turbulent fury. A flash of lightning illuminated the swirling sea, painting a morbid landscape.

“Quiet! Be Still!” – (Mark 4:39). Suddenly, the wind died down and the sea grew calm.

“Why are you so afraid? “Do you still have no faith?” – (Mark 4:40).

The clouds beat a steady retreat and a foamy blanket of stars, silhouetted by a pale moon, appeared in the clear sky. The surface of the lake now shone smooth as glass and silvery in the soft glow of the moon.

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41).

As ‘the Untouchable One,’ she waits like a lonely specter, invisible to life, alone and forgotten, the most hopeless of them all. Condemned for a crime she did not commit. Her haven had become her prison. Her precious life was ebbing away, as the lifeblood that should have sustained her, seeped away into oblivion. She breathes the air of death. Even heaven is silent on her sad plight. Has God forgotten her, His beloved child?

Suddenly she hears that a Healer, a Miracle Worker, is coming. His name is Jesus. He walks in a sea of humanity, the Son of man. Her pulse quickens as the most desperate plea of her heart pulsates with hope through every cell of her being.

Could Jesus heal her? She was the most hopeless of all sick people, whom no doctors on earth could ever heal.

Each devotional closes with a beautiful, heartfelt prayer, the simple soul-searching cry of Sherri’s own heart. Journey with Jesus in the most important time in history. Your heart will be deeply moved and your life instantly transformed by His love and grace as you walk with the Savior as never before. He stands with Arms Open Wide to welcome you home, just as you are!

Miriam Jacob


 

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