May 2011 Archives

Acts 15:1-35

Disagreement, controversy and arguments are all part of relationships--whether that be in the context of a church or within our families. So how should we deal with and handle disagreements when they come up? Well, the specifics will depend on each of our unique situations, but we can learn a lot from what we see taking place in Acts 15:1-35.

One of the things that I noticed was that debate over the topic of disagreement was encouraged instead of avoided. So many times we try at all costs to side step any sort of confrontation. But the debate that took place here led to resolution and a good outcome for everyone involved.

So what did you learn from Acts 15:1-35? How might you draw on this passage the next time you're involved in some sort of disagreement or controversy? Tami W.

Acts 14:1-28

For a good reminder of what we can expect when we're serving the Lord, all we need to do is read Acts 14. Paul and Barnabas were definitely not accustomed to the term "easy street." Yet, they pressed on, even revisiting many of the places where they had been driven out because of opposition and persecution.

So what did you learn from Paul and Barnabas' examples and actions here in Acts 14? What do verses 21-23 show us about the importance of discipleship? Tami W.

Do Your Part

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Acts 13:16-52

Ever heard the saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink"? Well I was raised around horses, and that statement is so true. It also gives us a good picture of what's happening in Acts 13:16-52. Paul and Barnabas are teaching the Jews in Pisidia but the Jewish leaders stir up the crowds against them. Paul and Barnabas' response? They tell the Jews "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles" (vs. 46). They then left, shaking off the dust from their feet against them, went to Iconium, and were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (vs. 51).

You see, we can't make someone believe, but it's still our responsibility to tell others about Jesus and salvation, and Paul and Barnabas knew that.

So what did Acts 13:16-52 show you about the process of sharing and telling others about Christ? What can we do to make sure we're doing our part?
Tami W.

Acts 13:1-15

The church at Antioch, following the Holy Spirit's prompting, sent Saul (Paul) and Barnabas off to preach and spread the Gospel message. Now did you notice that as Saul and Barnabas leave, there is no mention of a detailed travel itinerary? They just went--to Selecia, Cyrus, Salamis, Paphos--and they proclaimed the word of God everywhere. So I'm thinking, we should be following their example. Now, you may not have the ability or the capacity to travel the globe. But that's not a problem at all, because there is plenty of opportunity, and certainly the need, right where we're at, in our own back yard if you will.

So where can you "go" to proclaim and tells others about the Lord? Think about it--your neighborhood, school, work, a restaurant, the gym, grocery store, Jazzercise®, a football, baseball or soccer game, the mall? Bottom line...how can we make sure we're representing and telling others about Christ wherever our day takes us? Tami W.

Covered

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Acts 12:1-25

Peter finds himself in a bad situation in Acts 12. Herod has killed James. He's arrested Peter and is planning on making a spectacle of killing him as well. But, God had a different plan for Peter which included a miraculous (and I do mean miraculous) escape from prison. Now I found myself wondering why God would allow this situation in the first place and why this elaborate escape. I don't know the answer to that, but it got me thinking about what Peter and the group that was praying for him learned from this, and how were they impacted going forward? And, really, those are questions for us as well.

So what did you learn from Acts 12:1-25 about God's power and control and His way of working? What does this situation show us about relying on and trusting God? Any other thoughts about this passage? Tami W.

New Ground

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Acts 11:1-30

Peter, by the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit, has broken new ground by his preaching and sharing the Gospel with people who weren't Jews (that would be Cornelius and company back in Acts 10). Now you know how people are. Somehow the word about Peter's actions gets out and back to the church in Jerusalem. So when Peter returns, he is confronted and criticized by certain members. But you know Peter, he takes it right in stride and turns a tense situation into an opportunity to show these Jewish church members that God's plan is for salvation to be available to everyone.

So what does Acts 11:1-30 show us about reaching out to others for Christ? How about what to expect when we try something different or a new approach as we work for the Lord? Tami W.

Acts 10:19-48

Peter, a Jew, mingles with and preaches to Gentiles in Acts 10:24-48. Up until this point, Jews did not associate with "unclean" non-Jews or Gentiles. Peter tells the group, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or visit anyone of another nation. . ." But then Peter continues with these incredibly important words. "But God has shown me that I should not call any person uncommon or unclean" (vs. 28). Peter then reinforces this statement when he preaches to Cornelius' group saying, "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality" (vs. 34).

If God shows no partiality, then I/we shouldn't either. But that's a tall order because you know as well as I do, that we all have prejudices and hang ups--things like the clothes people wear, what job a person holds, where someone lives, economic status, hairstyle, tattoos, piercings, speech accents and, of course, race and ethnicity.

So what do we need to do to put our prejudices aside? What's it going to take for you and me to respond like Peter? Tami W.

Roll with It!

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Acts 9:32-10:23

I find Peter an intriguing fellow. He's bold and typically outspoken, impulsive and full of energy and he does a pretty good job of harnessing and using all those attributes as he serves the Lord.

Nothing seems to shake Peter. Whatever the situation, he just takes it in stride, he rolls with it, he goes with the flow (you get my drift). In Acts 9:32-10:23 alone he heals Aenas, brings Dorcas back to life, has a vision that he doesn't totally understand and immediately on the heals of this, the men sent by Cornelius the centurion show up and Peter invites these strangers in as his guests and then goes with them to Cornelius' house (also a stranger) the next day.

So how can we be more like Peter here in Acts 9:32-10:23? What's it going to take for us to fully embrace and serve the Lord in whatever situation we find before us? Tami W.

Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-31

Who would have ever thought that Saul--the great persecutor of Christians, the man who watched and condoned the stoning of Stephen, the raving fanatic who drug Christian men and women off to prison--would (or could) ever be saved?

I love the account of Saul's conversion. It is truly a vivid reminder of God's unconditional love and forgiveness, and that even though we've sinned big time, we're not beyond God's saving grace. (Thank you, Lord! We love You!!)

So what's your conversion story? Drop us a quick note, maybe even a short novel (just kidding) and tell us about it. How you came to know Christ is IMPORTANT and it's also one of the best ways to let others know about Jesus and what having a personal relationship with the Lord means to you. Tami W.

To start off our conversion stories for the day, I've posted my own story below. Check it out...and leave your story in the comments!

My Salvation Story
My details of my salvation experience are nothing like Saul's. But like Saul, it was the most important day in my life. My mom led me to the Lord when I was 8 years old. My dad and mom always talked about Jesus openly with my siblings and me. And one night when my mom was tucking me into bed I asked her about going to heaven. She explained what it meant to be saved and receive Jesus into my heart and then asked me if I wanted to do that. Well, I sure did, so we knelt by my bed and prayed together. My life was changed forever. My mom is in heaven now, but I am forever grateful to her for the part she played in my salvation.

John 16:4-15

Yesterday Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to the disciples (and us) in John 14:15-31. We're now at John 16:4-15. Jesus is still talking with the disciples and he turns the discussion back to the Holy Spirit, but this time the discussion includes even more details about the role and work of the Holy Spirit.

So what additional information did you learn about the Holy Spirit from John 16:4-15? Why is it important for us to know about and understand the function/role of the Holy Spirit? How will you use and draw on this information? Tami W.

John 14:15-31

Today we turn to John 14. Jesus is with the disciples and it is just a few hours before he will be arrested. The conversation is heavy. Jesus has told the disciples about his betrayal, Peter's denial and his leaving them to go to the Father (crucifixion). He has also told them a number of different ways that he is the Son of God and the Savior. But then Jesus tells them something new and unexpected--that God would send the Holy Spirit as a Helper to them after He departed.

So as a modern day disciple, what did you learn about the Holy Spirit from Jesus' words in John 14? Tami W.

Tune In

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Acts 8:4-40

Philip was tuned in to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit and as a result we see him accomplishing much for the Lord. This was particularly evident to me in the account with the Ethiopian eunuch. The Spirit tells Philip to go over and talk with this man. Philip immediately responds and engages the man in conversation about Scripture which, in turn, results in the man receiving Christ. (You've gotta love that!)

So how tuned in to the Holy Spirit are you today? What can we do to make sure that, like Philip, we're wholeheartedly seeking and following the Holy Spirit's leading and direction? Tami W.

Acts 7:17-60

Extreme anger and incredible forgiveness are the two things that stood out to me from Acts 7:17-60. Stephen has been seized and brought before the Jewish council. For his defense, he tells the history of the Jewish people beginning with Abraham. Things go fine until Stephen gets to Jesus and boldly states "Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it" (vs. 52-53). These words absolutely infuriate the Jewish leaders and the end result is Stephen is killed. As he is being stoned his last words are "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (vs. 60).

So what did you learn from Stephen's example? What do the Jewish leaders show us about unchecked anger? Any other take aways from this passage? Tami W.

Rocky Roads

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Acts 6:1-7:16

When you're doing work for the Lord, one of the things you should expect is opposition. Now sometimes you know exactly where your opposition will come from, but other times it comes from somewhere you wouldn't necessarily expect. That's pretty much what we see as we begin reading about Stephen in Acts 6:1-7:16.

What did this passage show you about running into road blocks when you're serving the Lord? How can you draw on Stephen's story to help you be better prepared when opposition comes? Tami W.

Undeterred

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Acts 5:17-42

Focused, undeterred and committed--that's how I'd describe the apostles in Acts 5. They were arrested, thrown in public prison (we're not talking a clean, modern day jail cell by the way) and beaten because they were telling people about Christ. Yikes!

Imagine being in their place. Would you be tempted to throw in the towel? Be afraid to keep going? Maybe start questioning what you're doing and why? We don't see any of that with the apostles. They don't let what's happening pull them off course. They are committed to fully representing the Lord regardless of the cost. Now I've never gone through anything like the apostles--not even close. And, yet, I'm not nearly as bold as they were for Christ. So what's up with that?

So what is it that holds us back from being a bold witness (speech, actions, lifestyle)? What can we do to break out of our comfort zone when it comes to showing and telling more people about Christ? Tami W.

The Best Policy

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Acts 5:1-16

The people in the early church in Acts supported each other in a number of ways, and specifically, financially. Acts 4:32 tells us "those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common." It's in this context, then, that we arrive at the account of church members Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.

This husband and wife contrive together to lie about the amount of money they received from selling some property so that they could keep part of it for themselves. Not a wise decision. Peter confronts first Ananias and then Sapphira about their sinful behavior in lying to God and then their lives are taken from them.

What did you learn today about how important honesty is to God and why He didn't tolerate the deceit here? We all know that honesty is the best policy, so how do we do a better job of putting it into practice? Tami W.

Acts 4:23-37

Peter and John were arrested for healing a man and sharing the Gospel. They're released and the first thing they do is seek out their Christian friends. They tell them what has taken place and then the entire group prays out loud together asking the Lord to protect and allow them continue to speak and proclaim His word with boldness.

What does this passage show us about the importance of having Christian friends and/or being part of a church body? What does it show us about both supporting fellow believers and seeking help from others? Tami W.

Qualified

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Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John have just healed a man who'd been unable to walk for over 40 years. The crowd is marveling at this miracle and what they're hearing about Jesus, but not the Jewish leadership. They were irritated. They had Peter and John arrested and then demanded to know "By what power or by what name did you do this?" (vs. 7). Peter then launches boldly into a full blown explanation of Jesus and salvation. This surprises the Jewish leaders. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men (emphasis added), they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus" (vs. 13).

I was really drawn to verse 13 because it highlights that we don't have to be a scholar, or a church leader or a "whatever" to be able to take in God's Word and be bold for Christ. As believers, we're all qualified to serve.

So what does this passage show us about being a representative for Christ? How will you use Acts 4:1-31 to help you flourish for the Lord just as you are? Tami W.

Acts 3:1-26

Have you ever heard the phrase "Give credit where credit is due"? We see a great example of this in Acts 3 where Peter heals a lame man. As soon as the man realizes that he is healed, he begins walking and leaping and he enters the temple with Peter and John in this joyful manner. As you might expect, people were amazed and they turned their attention to Peter and John because they perceived them as powerful miracle workers. Now it would have been easy for Peter to use this situation to elevate himself and make it all about him. But he isn't even tempted to go there. Instead, Peter boldly tells the crowd that it was through faith in the name of Jesus that this man was healed and then he goes on to present the Gospel.

So what are some things we can do to help us resist giving in to the temptation to elevate ourselves instead of God? Next time you accomplish something, how will you give God the credit--privately and publically? Tami W.

Beyond Sunday

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Acts 2:22-47

Peter is quite the evangelist. As a result of his preaching on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 people receive Christ. Absolutely mind blowing especially when you consider the situation and that this didn't take place in a modern setting or environment like we have today. Now what we see happen next is also pretty awesome. All the people who received Christ immediately come together, as a group, pursuing the Christian life. We see them daily taking in teaching from the apostles, praying, fellowshipping, eating together, praising God and even sharing their money and things with each other.

So what do you see about this early group of believers that you, individually, or maybe your church, could put into practice or benefit from? What does Acts 2:43-47 show us about the importance of interaction with the Lord and other believers beyond just Sunday? Tami W.

Old in the New

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Acts 2:1-21

Yesterday Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles (Acts 1:9-26). In today's reading, Acts 2:1-21, the Holy Spirit comes and "always ready to respond" Peter makes the most of the situation preaching and sharing the Gospel. Now Acts 2:1-21 only gets us through the start of Peter's sermon, and what we see is Peter quoting the Old Testament prophet Joel. But even though it's just the start of Peter's message, there's plenty for us to consider and learn.

So what did you see/learn about salvation and the Holy Spirit from Peter (and Joel)? What does Acts 2:1-21 show us about the Old Testament? Tami W.

Acts 1:9-26

Being a close follower of Jesus was...an adventure. The apostles have been spending time with Jesus after his resurrection. But as we get to Acts 1:9-26, that time with Jesus on earth comes to an end. Jesus tells the apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit and then he ascends to heaven. Now as you can imagine, the apostles are stunned. And then adding to the situation, two angels tell them Jesus will come again in the same manner. So how do the apostles respond? Incredibly. They prayed as a group, they relied on scripture to determine a course of action and then prayed again for guidance regarding the action they were taking.

What does this passage show us about the importance of prayer and knowing God's Word? Did you find anything from Acts 1:9-26 that you could put into practice? Tami W.

Hello Acts!

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Acts 1:1-8

Acts Series

I'm excited today because we're starting a brand new extended Back to the Bible radio series on the Book of Acts (and let me just say, it's a really good series). So that means we'll be looking at Acts here on P4 as well. Basically we'll read through, consider and talk about the entire book of Acts over the next six weeks. So please plan on joining us for Back to the Bible and, of course, P4.

Luke, the author of Acts, starts the book off with a reminder that Jesus was alive and with the apostles for 40 days after his death and resurrection. Then he goes on to talk about God sending the Holy Spirit.

So what do Jesus' words in Acts 1:1-8 show us about the Holy Spirit? How about our actions now that we have the Holy Spirit residing in us? Tami W.

Pay Attention

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Psalm 107:23-43

The key verse for me from Psalm 107 was verse 43. It's here we're told that the wise will pay attention to the things set out previously in this psalm and thus see and consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Sometimes it's easy just to read and not really consider all that's right there before us. Maybe we're distracted when we read or we're rushing or we're approaching our reading like a task rather than an opportunity to connect with God. Whatever the case, verse 43 is a good reminder that Psalm 107 (actually all Scripture) is rich with information and we need to take it in, consider it and then do something with it in our day-to-day life.

As I went back and re-read these verses, there were a number of things that caught my attention beyond just the recalling of historical facts. I learned some things about God, about us and about the two-way interaction between God and us and us and God.

So what did you see, learn and/or take away from Psalm 107? Tami W.

Psalm 107:1-22

Psalm 107:1 gives us a clear directive to "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." And it's not just found in verse 1. This theme is repeated and carried throughout the remainder of the psalm. That tells me then, that I need to take note of this charge to give thanks and make sure I'm complying with it. So I took a couple of minutes and just thought about the how, why, what and when of my giving thanks. I asked myself things like: How am I doing in the "giving thanks" category? Do I fully embrace God's goodness and that His steadfast love endures forever? Does my daily life reflect a thankful attitude toward the Lord? What does me giving the Lord all the thanks He's due look like?

So take a couple of minutes to consider your "giving thanks" today. What does it look like? How might it be even stronger? Tami W.

Personal Talk

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Matthew 6:7-14; 1 John 5:12-15

So many times when we come to Matthew 6:5-14 we jump right to the Lord's Prayer. Now there's nothing wrong with doing that, but there's quite a bit for us to consider and draw on before we even get to Jesus' example prayer. Here's what caught my attention today. God isn't looking for us to fulfill a certain word count when we pray. He's also not looking for us to say a particular phrase over and over. He already knows everything about us--our needs, our situation, our desires--so when we pray we can talk with Him in a very personal way.

So how can we use Matthew 6:5-14 to help us be more "up close and personal" with God when we pray? Tami W.

No Hesitation

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Hebrews 4:14-16; James 4:13-17

The writer of Hebrews lets us know plainly that through Jesus we can come freely, boldly and with confidence before the throne of God in prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16). How awesome is that?!? Yet, I don't always do this and I'm guessing you don't either?

So what is it that holds you back from taking full advantage of this incredible privilege? How can you draw on Hebrews 4:14-16 to help? Tami W.

Philippians 1:19-21; 1 Peter 1:22-23

Only one verse specifically mentions prayer in our reading today, Philippians 1:19. So what can we learn about prayer from one little verse? More than you might think. Now I ended up reading Philippians 1:19 a number of times being deliberate to focus on prayer. After each read I paused and considered not only what Paul said, but things like why he said what he did and the attitude he had regarding prayer and where that came from. I was pleasantly surprised how much I ended up seeing and taking away from this verse.

So what about you? What did you see in Phil. 1:19 about the power of prayer, how it functions (in both our own lives and the lives of others), the benefits of prayer, how we can use prayer? Tami W.

Jeremiah 33:3; Ephesians 2:11-21; Luke 18:9-14

What an example we're given by a "sinner" in Luke 18:9-14. This is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and their different approaches to praying. The Pharisee is...well what we'd expect to see from a Pharisee. Suffice it to say, he doesn't provide us with a good example. But then we get to the tax collector. Now we're talking! This is most certainly an example I want to follow.

So what did this parable show you about how to pray? What about the attitude you bring to pray? Was there anything from the tax collector's example that you want to put into practice? Tami W.

Prayer & Love

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Matthew 5:43-45; Matthew 6:5-6; Luke 18:1-8

Three different nuggets for us on prayer from Matthew and Luke. Since I just talked about being persistent in our prayers last Friday, I'm going to consider loving our enemies and praying for them today (Matthew 5:43-45). I find this command to be a tall order. But it is a command nonetheless, so I need to do it. Now every time I've been deliberate in praying for someone that I don't care for or who's making my life difficult, it's been a good thing because it really drives home that God loves that person, in spite of the fact that I may not be feeling too loving. It's hard to hold onto bitter feelings, grudges or anger toward someone when I'm lifting them up in prayer.

So what's your experience been when it comes to praying for an "enemy"? What do you find is your biggest challenge? What are some things we can do to be more consistent in praying this way going forward? Tami W.

Psalm 106:29-48

As we reach the end of Psalm 106, we get a little clearer picture of the circumstances in which this Psalm was written. In verse 47 the Psalmist makes the request of "Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations." So from the sounds of it, Israel is not together as a nation but has been scattered and is in exile. It's a tough and sad situation. But even so, the Psalmist begins and ends with a call to praise and give thanks to the Lord.

So what does Psalm 106 show us about the how, when, why and where of praising the Lord? How can you use this Psalm to help you continue to praise whatever your circumstances? 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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This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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