April 2011 Archives

Use the Past

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Psalm 106:1-31

Experience is a good teacher. So a big part of growing in our walk with the Lord needs to include looking back and drawing on our past successes and stumbles just like the Psalmist does here in Psalm 106. But here's the thing. We have a big advantage over the Psalmist because we have the entire Bible--full of examples of people's successes, failures, mistakes and stumbles--to draw from as well. Think about it. We have the ultimate guide to Christian living and knowing God's heart and mind right at our fingertips! That's pretty cool.

So how have you used past experiences to help you grow in your walk with the Lord? Have you found this beneficial? How can you make better use of your past experiences and the examples and particularly the experiences of people in the Bible going forward? Tami W.

Undeterred

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Luke 11:1-13

Jesus uses a story about one friend going to another friend's house in the middle of the night to ask for bread as a teaching tool about prayer. The owner of the house initially rejects his friend's requests and tells him to go away. But undeterred, the friend continues to boldly ask, and as a result, the owner of the house gets up and gives him the bread he's been asking for.

So what did you learn from Jesus' story in Luke 11:1-13 about prayer? Do you have any persistent prayer stories that might encourage us? Come on, tell us your story. Tami W.

You Want What?

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Matthew 20:20-28

In Matthew 20:20-28 we see a mother asking Jesus to have her two sons sit at his right and left hand in heaven. My reaction to this was Wow, what was she thinking? This woman's actions seemed so self-centered and self-serving. And the way she approached Jesus hit me as out of line and kind of crass. Needless to say, it got me thinking about my approach to prayer and what motivates my requests.

So what about you? What is your approach to prayer and how do you determine what requests to put before the Lord? How can you make sure that your requests are properly motivated and God-centered? Tami W.

P.S. How are you liking the Back to the Bible studies this week on prayer?

Precious Words

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Proverbs 28:9; Psalm 119:33-40

I love reading Psalm 119 (yes, all 176 verses). It's truly one of my favorites because of how it focuses on God's Word (statutes, percepts, rules, instruction, decrees, commands, testimonies, regulations, truth, promises, law, commandments). Now we only read a short section today, verses 33-40, but they are powerful. What a precious prayer for us to pray and for God to hear. I was particularly drawn to verse 34. "Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart."

So how much do your prayers resemble Psalm 119:33-40? Was there a particular verse that spoke to you? What can you take from this passage and incorporate into your prayers? Tami W.

Heartfelt

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Jeremiah 7:1-4, 11-20

One message came across loud and clear from Jeremiah 7:1-4, 11-20--it's not about a particular place or building or keeping or fulfilling a checklist of religious requirements. God wants our hearts and devotion which then leads us to obedience to His Word.

Well nothing has changed. The message God sent through Jeremiah to the people of Judah way back when is still the message for us today.

So what does a heart fully devoted to living for God look like? How do we guard against slipping into a "checklist" or "going through the motions" mentality when it comes to living for the Lord? Tami W.

Ask and Receive?

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James 4:1-8

Today starts a week long series on prayer called Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayers? (join us if you can). The first passage we're looking at is James 4:1-8 where James touches on prayer and very plainly tells us that we don't have because we don't ask. But he's also quick to let us know that if we do ask and we don't receive, we need to be checking exactly what is motivating our ask. Ouch! Not necessarily what we like to hear, but good direction and advice.

So thinking about how we approach prayer (properly and improperly): What it is that keeps us (you) from asking, and why is that (vs. 2)? On the flip side, what is it that causes us (you) to ask wrongly (vs. 3) and how do we take care of that? Tami W.

He's Alive

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Matthew 27:45-28:10

I love reading about resurrection morning. It's so dramatic and literally awesome! An earthquake, an angel in lightning white clothing, guards paralyzed with fear, the faithful women coming to the tomb, and most importantly--no Jesus because He had risen! The angel's words to the women are my favorite part of this passage. "'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said'" (vs.5-6). No doubt about it, Jesus is alive!

Over this past week we've read about Jesus' death and now resurrection through the eyes of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So what did you take away from these passages? Did God reveal anything new to you or move your heart in some way? What will you do to keep the message of Jesus' death and resurrection going forward past Easter weekend? Tami W.

Cross

Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 2:11-22

We're all very familiar with Jesus and what He did for us. But how often do we really stop and consider it all--Jesus leaving, giving up heaven and God the Father to come to earth in the likeness of man to live with us and ultimately die for our sins? Paul's words in Philippians 2:5-11 were good for me to read on this Good Friday because they not only highlighted Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, but how He humbled himself and was obedient in getting to the cross. (Thank you so much, Jesus!)

So what will you do with this reminder of Jesus' humbleness, obedience and sacrifice this weekend? Tami W.

Report #3

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Mark 15:15-41

Luke... to John... and now on to Mark's perspective of the crucifixion (if you want to read Matthew's account, go to Matthew 27:11-44). Yesterday I talked about how Luke and John highlighted different aspects of the same events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. Well we have another writer today and, as you might expect, another perspective.

Mark's eyes seemed to focus more on the people that participated in and observed all that was happening to Jesus. And that close-up look really exposed the darkness of the human heart.

So what did you learn from Mark's account of the crucifixion? How can we use Mark 15:15-41 to help us prepare to tell the world about Jesus? Tami W.

P.S. Have you invited anyone to church this Sunday? There's still time...two days left until Easter!

Take Two

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John 19:16-37

Yesterday we read Luke's perspective on the crucifixion (Luke 23:26-49). Today we're looking at the same account but through the eyes of John. And what I noticed is while these two writers are describing the same event, each highlight different things. Luke seems to focus more on Jesus and the dialogue and interaction between Him, the crowd and criminals. John, on the other hand, gives us more information and details of what happened, concerning both Jesus and what was taking place around Him. So reading these accounts back to back was helpful because they enhanced and added to the other.

So what additional things about the crucifixion did you learn from John? Any "aha" thoughts about the crucifixion itself, Jesus or what he went through for you? Tami W.

Another Read

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Luke 23:26-49

If you're like me you've likely read this passage many times. So rather than rehashing the story, I'm simply asking you to read this passage once again with this perspective: What did Luke 23:26-49 show you about Jesus and his focus on this necessary day? What did you learn from Jesus' actions and responses? Tami W.

Big Picture

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John 19:1-16

I decided to take a big picture approach, a 20,000 foot view if you will, of John 19:1-16. So instead of focusing in on a specific verse or person, I looked at all the players in this passage--the soldiers, Pilate, Jesus and the Jewish leaders--and tried to put myself in their position. I then considered things like: what were they thinking and feeling? Why did they respond and react as they did? And, have I ever acted similarly?

This was a good exercise for me. My look at the soldiers, Pilate and the Jewish leaders highlighted a number of attitudes and sinful behaviors that I need to be aware of and avoid. Jesus, on the other hand, provided me with several pictures of living and responding with a proper heart.

So what did you learn from the people in this passage? And how can you use it in your daily life? Tami W.

Peace with God

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Romans 5:1-11

Well, this weekend is Easter so all this week on Back to the Bible Dr. Kroll will be leading us in daily studies about Understanding God through the Cross. I hope you can join us.

Today we're looking at Romans 5:1-11 (It's a great place to start Easter week, by the way). Paul very plainly lays out that we are all sinners and as such, enemies of God, but that Jesus died for our sins and because of his death and resurrection, we have been justified or made right before God through our faith in Jesus. The verse from Paul that I like the most is verse 1. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thank you, Jesus!

So what does Christ dying for your sins and us now having peace with God mean to you? Tami W.

P.S. Easter Sunday is a great way to let others hear about Jesus being their Savior. And, because it's Easter many people who wouldn't normally attend church are open to coming. So please invite someone to church this weekend!

Awesome God

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Psalm 105:26-44

If you haven't spent a lot of time in Exodus lately or you just want to brush up on the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, then Psalm 105:26-44 is a great read. These verses give us a quick, but comprehensive, look at the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of captivity to the promised land. Now this is truly an amazing story. And what captured my attention was God and how His greatness was evident and displayed in every detail.

So what did learn about God from Psalm 105:26-44? How can we use this passage to help strengthen our relationship with, and trust in, the Lord? Tami W.

Remember Then Tell

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Psalm 105:1-25

Recognize God for Who He is and then tell others--that's the message that hit me as I began reading Psalm 105. This chapter starts with thanks, but then instructs us, almost immediately, to "make known his deeds among the peoples" and to "tell of all his wondrous deeds" (vs.1-2).

Now before I can tell others about what God has done, I have to remember and recall them myself. What a good exercise to get our focus on God and to energize and encourage us on a personal level. And this remembering exercise will hopefully encourage us to tell others as well. (And here's the cool thing, when we share our experiences of how God has done wonderful things in our lives, we're witnessing!)

So take a few minutes and write down some of the wondrous deeds and works the Lord has done for you over the years. Read it over, maybe even read it out loud to yourself, and remember. Then, thank the Lord, and as you go about your day look for opportunities to tell others about God and His goodness to you. Tami W.

P.S. The P4 blog could be your first opportunity to tell others. I put a couple of things from my list below to get us started.

--Allowing me to lose a job which was unsettling and scary, but ultimately moved me to a better job and caused me to grow like crazy spiritually.
--Sustaining my husband (and me as his supporter) through some significant health problems the last 7 years.
--Guiding and strengthening us through a long period of trying to sell our house.

Pass the Baton

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2 Timothy 4:1-8

We get a good look at Christians ministering together and supporting one another with Paul and Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Paul is the mentor, teacher and friend of Timothy. Paul knows he is nearing the end of his life and ministry, and as a result, we see him instructing, advising, challenging and, most importantly, encouraging Timothy to carry on for Christ.

So what can you do to follow Paul's example with others at home? School? Church? Work? Or, if someone has come along side you as a Christian mentor and friend, what about returning the favor? What can you do to encourage and help them grow? Tami W.

World Warnings

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1 John 2:15-29

We get a number of warnings about the world from 1 John 2:15-29. John tells us straight up that we are not to love the world or the things in the world. He also warns us about being influenced and led astray by worldly people and thinking. Now right along with these warnings, John lets us know that we aren't fighting this battle alone. We have the means to deal with the world and its temptations because we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

So what did 1 John 2:15-29 show you about how the Holy Spirit lives and works in us? What did you take away from this passage about focusing on the Truth and staying in fellowship with the Son and the Father? Tami W.

By Faith

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1 Peter 1:3-9; Galatians 6:6-10

As Christians we have a living hope. But so often life is crazy and I get caught up in all that's going on and don't necessarily give a lot of thought to my living hope. So what Peter conveyed in 1 Peter 1:3-9 was a good reminder for me today. He tells us about living hope--the hope we have now "to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for [us]. . ." as a result of Jesus' death and resurrection (vs. 3-4). Placing our faith in Jesus is how we receive living hope. And going forward, our faith is our core and foundation as we live for Christ.

So what does 1 Peter 1: 3-9 show you about the importance of faith and how it benefits us and works in our lives? What about how God values our faith? Tami W.

P.S. Take a minute and thank the Lord for the living hope you have today. Ask Him to help you continue to grow and draw on your faith.

9.5

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Philippians 3:7-16

I love the Lord and I think I'm pretty passionate about having a relationship with Him. But after reading and considering how Paul talks about and describes his relationship with the Lord, and how he's continually working at knowing Him more...well, let's just say, there's room for improvement. Paul is absolutely sold out, on fire, passionate--you choose the word--about pursuing Christ, knowing Him better and becoming more like Him. (Paul...I want to be like you!)

So on a scale of 1-10 (Paul being a 9.5 because, remember, he told us he wasn't perfect) where are you when it comes to being passionate abut knowing Christ? How did you get there? And how can you improve your number? Tami W.

P.S. In case you're wondering where I landed on the scale... Well, I'm thinking a 6.5 to a 7. So I have plenty of opportunity to keep growing and moving forward--an opportunity I'm eager to work on!

Service Managers

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Luke 19:11-27

There were two phrases from the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:11-17 that got me thinking. The first is in verse 13. "Engage in business until I come." And the second is in verse 17. "Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities."

These two statements prompted me to consider my attitude about serving, how I go about serving, what exactly my service has looked and does look like and how much effort I'm putting into it right now. (It was a good exercise, by the way.)

So what does this passage show you about what God expects from you in the here and now, and how what you do now will matter in a life to come? Which one of these 3 servants do you most closely align with? How can you improve? Tami W.

Whatever is Due

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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ and a manager in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. Then he goes on and tells the Corinthians that in those roles what matters to him is not how the Corinthians evaluate or judge his service and work, but how the Lord will judge him.

When you think about it, Paul's words make a lot of sense. We all like to receive the praise and approval of other people. And we can do a pretty good job of hiding our motives for doing things. I think that's why Paul says specifically that the Lord "will bring to light the things now hidden in the darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart" (vs. 5).

Does knowing the Lord will examine and evaluate your service in the future factor into or motivate your daily living? How can you use this passage to help you prepare for this future evaluation? Tami W.

From the Heart

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Matthew 20:1-16

The picture that Jesus gives us of the master/landowner in Matthew 20:1-16 is an impressive one. This man is the owner of a vineyard and he needs workers. So he goes to town and negotiates and secures a number of different men to work for him. But while he's taking care of important and necessary business needs, he still takes note of and extends a helping hand to those in need. His kind and generous heart is evident.

So do you know anyone that reminds you of this landowner? How would you describe a generous heart? How do we develop one? Tami W.

Focused Progress

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Matthew 25:14-30

There are two things that stood out for me from the parable of the three servants and talents in Matthew 25:14-30. (I won't rehash the story here since we just read it.) First is that the master divided up the talents or bags of gold or silver based upon each servant's ability. And second is that the master expected the servants to use what had been given to them to make or do even more. As I considered these two points, it dawned on me how important it is for me to stay focused on whatever task God has set before me and that I need to give my full effort to it. It's not too difficult to get pulled off course when I start looking at and comparing myself to someone else and their skills, ability and progress.

So what skills and abilities has God gifted you with? And how are you using your unique talents to invest in and grow the kingdom of God? Tami W.

Living Stones

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1 Peter 2:4-10

Today we get a little mini sermon of sorts on being God's people. Peter starts with the foundation--Christ--who is the living cornerstone, and then tells us that those who follow and believe in Christ "like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house."

So what does 1 Peter 2:1-10 show us about our relationship with Christ? How do you see yourself as being like a "living stone"? Tami W.

No Doubt

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Galatians 2:15-21

No one is justified or made right by obeying the law. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can be justified. That message came through loud and clear in Galatians 2:15-21. And to emphasize this point even more, verse 21 says "for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."

So many people today think that they're on their way to heaven because in their eyes, they're a "good" person. They have a job, pay their taxes, they help their neighbor, give to charity, go to church...and the list goes on and on. But no matter how large that list of good things done is, it can never get them to heaven

So how will you use this passage to explain Jesus Christ and the importance of placing faith in Him to others? Tami W.

By Fire

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1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 1:4-8

As Christians, we're all workers for the Lord. But how much thought do we really give to what that work is and how we we're going about completing it? Hmm...

We see pretty clearly in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 that the Lord cares about our work for Him. In this short passage we're told that on judgment day the work we've done will be tested with fire and whatever work survives the fire--that work that is acceptable and of quality--will be rewarded.

So what encouragement can we draw from these verses? How will you use 1 Cor. 3:11-15 to help you as you work for the Lord going forward? Tami W.

P.S. We're now into week 2 of Dr. Kroll's 3 week series on the Judgment Seat of Christ and eternal rewards. This is an incredible series, full of information we need to know about this important day in our future and what we should expect there. I invite you join us if you're not already listening.

2 Corinthians 11:23-30; 4:16-18

I doubt any of us have endured the treatment Paul encountered for following Christ. Honestly, it's hard for me to imagine just what Paul describes he went through in 2 Cor. 11:23-30. So what impact does this all have on Paul? Maybe not what we'd think because Paul doesn't give up. He doesn't stop his bold proclamation of Christ. I love his words in 2 Cor. 4:16-17 that our troubles here in this world are small and temporary, but this present affliction is preparing for us an "eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. . . For the things that are unseen are eternal."

How can we draw on Paul's experiences and words here in 2 Corinthians to help us as we go through hardships? Tami W.

P.S. If you, like Paul, have looked to the unseen and eternal to help you get through tough times, we'd love to hear about it.

Common Ground

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1 Corinthians 9:15-27

Paul is talking about how sharing and spreading the Good News, the Gospel (that Jesus died for our sins and rose again), is the most important responsibility he's been entrusted with. He uses the example of running a race with a prize of eternal rewards to help us understand just how important this is. Now sharing the Gospel might seem challenging, maybe even a little scary for some of us. So thankfully Paul shows us what he did to reach many, many people--he used the common ground approach. In other words, when he was with the Jews, he became as the Jews, when with the Gentiles, he became as the Gentiles, when he was with the weak, he became weak. He approached people where they were at, but (and this is an important but) he made sure not to be outside the law of God, but obeying the law of Christ as he did this (vs. 21).

So do you have any stories about how you've used this "common ground approach" to share the Gospel? We'd love to hear them. Who might you use this approach with going forward? Tami W.

Matthew 6:1-4; 19-21

Everything we do is motivated by something. Now here's the thing, there are proper and improper motivations, and since we're not perfect, we act on and respond to both. Jesus knew this and He points it out very clearly in Matthew 6:1-4. He also lets us know that it is only those good deeds we do with proper motivation that will be rewardable when it comes to eternity--when we are standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

So what are you going to do to make sure you're doing good and helping others with the right motivation? How can we use and draw on Jesus' words here in Matthew 6 to help us? Tami W.

Extreme Desire

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Psalm 19:7-11; Ephesians 2:8-10

David gives us some things to consider about God's instructions, decrees and commands and how they impact and play out in our lives in Psalm 19:7-11. As I was reading I found myself saying "Yes" and nodding my head in agreement that God's instructions are perfect and trustworthy, right and clear, making us wise. But after I read verse 10 I paused. It's here that David tells us God's commands and instructions are more desirable than even the finest gold and His Words are sweeter than honey. I had to ask myself, Tami, do you truly believe this (because it's easy to say "yes" and not really mean it)? Do you desire God more than anything else? And does your life reflect this? Well I do really believe this, but if I'm honest, I don't always act like I do. I fall. I stumble, and I'm guessing you do too?

So I'm curious, does David's description of God's commands, instructions and decrees match up with how you approach and feel about God's Word? And if we're struggling in this area or just not quite there, how can we work on getting to that place where we desire God and His commands more than all the rich things of this world? Tami W.

About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

About My Blog

I'm passionate about engaging God's Word! And my blog is about just that--giving you opportunities to receive, reflect on and respond to Scripture. Each day you'll find a short passage as well as thoughts, challenges and application questions for you to think about and respond to. I look forward to interacting with you and learning together, so post comments as often as you'd like. You can even sign up to get the blogs delivered to your inbox each day!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2011 is the previous archive.

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