June 2011 Archives

Mark 8:34-38

Mark 8:34-38 is such a familiar passage with Jesus talking about taking up our cross and following Him, and losing our life to save it. And then verse 36 "'For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'"

It's so easy to read or hear this passage and nod our heads in agreement. But living out our belief in Jesus' words takes some work on our part and that can be difficult. The pull of the world is constant and strong, and its message isn't about God. Everywhere you look, both boldly and subtly, the world's message is: It's all about you. It's about what you want and what you have.

So how do we combat giving in to the messages of the world? How do we shake off, lose, ditch (you pick the word) our worldly life to fully and unashamedly live for Christ? Tami W.

You = Salt+Light

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Mark 9:42-50 and Matthew 5:13-16

In both of our passages today, Jesus is talking about and looking at being saved and living as a Christian in an ungodly world. In Matthew 5: 13 -14 he states "you are the salt of the earth. . ." and "you are the light of the world." And as he talks to the disciples in Mark 9:50, Jesus tells them to "have salt in yourselves."

So, what are the qualities of salt? What about light? How do we incorporate and live out those qualities as a Christian in today's world? Tami W.

Sow & Grow!

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Mark 4:1-8; 13-20

Jesus tells a large crowd the parable of the sower (farmer) in Mark 4:1-8. Now there are a number of things we can glean from this parable, but I landed really on two things today. First, is that our job is to sow or plant the Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere. As we do that, not everyone will believe but that isn't a determining factor for what we do. (Now this is hard for me because I feel like when I share Christ with others that something should always happen and, honestly, it just doesn't happen that way.)

And second, as believers we're part of that fourth category, the seed that fell on good and fertile soil. That being said, we need to continue to be open to the teaching and taking in of the Word so we can produce 30, 60 or 100 times over.

So what are you doing as part of the good soil category to thrive and produce? And, what does (or might) being a great sower or farmer look like for you? Tami W.

Peanut Butter

Mark 1:29-39

We get a look at Jesus going about life in Mark 1:29-39, and one of the things we see is Jesus getting up early to spend some alone time with God. This got me thinking about my time with God--the when, where and how.

I'm a pretty consistent morning engager and I have my own unique routine. I get up, take my shower, come downstairs and fix breakfast and then as I'm finishing up eating, I open up my Bible and start reading...But, not before getting some chunky peanut butter on a fork! I don't know what it is about that peanut butter, but I just crave it as I read my Bible. (I know, strange.) Now I haven't always been a morning reader but made the switch from evenings to mornings a few years ago because how I felt (tired) and how my day went were impacting the consistency of my reading. I still miss some days, but having a morning routine has really helped me.

So when and how do you open the Word and spend time with God? We're all different, so I'm curious to hear what works for you and why? Tami W.

Psalm 109:1-31

You know how we always hear how when we pray we should just talk to God? Well that's true, but if that's not how you were raised or you're not entirely comfortable or accustomed with that idea yet, then this is a great psalm to read because David is really talking to God. And once he starts talking, he lets go. He doesn't hold anything back. He tells God everything.

Talk about a picture of pouring out your heart to God. And did you notice how as David gives over his burdens, fears and concerns to God that his attitude and demeanor change? What began as a desperate crying out for help ends with a bold recognition of God's love, protection and sovereignty.

So what did you learn from Psalm 109? How can you draw on and use this passage in your relationship and communication with God? Tami W.

Confident Heart

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Psalm 108:1-13

As we begin Psalm 108, David is pumped up about God and His unfailing love and faithfulness. I found his energy and enthusiasm contagious as they radiated out from his words. But it was the very first verse of Psalm 108, where David tells God that his heart is steadfast and confident in Him, that really impacted me. It caused me to think about my history with God and also do a little self-examining of my heart.

So what gives you confidence in God? Can you proclaim (like David) that your heart is confident in Him? Tami W.

Cha-Ching!

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Mark 10:17-31

We've probably all heard and/or read the story of the rich young man from Mark 10:17-31. As the story goes, this rich man is excited about following Jesus... until Jesus tells him he needs to sell all his possessions which were "great." When he receives that news, he leaves disheartened and dejected. A discussion then follows between Jesus and the disciples about wealth and the difficulty it can cause when it comes to salvation and living for the Lord.

So what did this passage convey about wealth, riches and money? What struck me was the power and influence money and possessions can have over us. Having money or nice things isn't the problem. It's our attitude toward money that's the issue.

So how do we keep from letting money (or whatever it is that we greatly cherish) pull us away from living first and foremost for the Lord? How do you guard against that powerful pull and influence of money and possessions? Tami W.

All Important

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2 Timothy 3:12-4:5

You hear us say all the time on Back to the Bible and here on P4 that there's nothing more important than God's Word and, of course, engaging the Word (receiving scripture by reading or hearing, reflecting on or considering it, and then responding to it). Paul really confirms that in 2 Timothy 3:12-4:5, plus he gives us instruction on how to use God's Word not only in our individual life, but also with others.

This passage was just a great read for me today. I can never have too many reminders that God's Word is absolute and perfect and needs to be the center of my living.

So why is the Bible so important to you? Did you see anything new in 2 Timothy 3:12-4:5? What about good reminders from this passage? Tami W.

Small & Needy

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Ecclesiastes 1:1-14

I write/talk a lot about our need to share the Gospel, and that's ultimately where Matthew 9:27-38 ends, with Jesus telling the disciples that the harvest (people who don't yet know Christ as Savior) is plentiful, but the laborers (Christ-followers spreading the Gospel) are few. As much as I don't like it, it's still that way today.

So, fellow laborers, what does Matthew 9:27-38 (Jesus' miracles and his discussion with the disciples) show us about the world, how we treat others and our attitude about eternity? How can we use what we see in this passage to help us witness to others? Tami W.

Harvest Time

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Matthew 9:27-38

I write/talk a lot about our need to share the Gospel, and that's ultimately where Matthew 9:27-38 ends, with Jesus telling the disciples that the harvest (people who don't yet know Christ as Savior) is plentiful, but the laborers (Christ-followers spreading the Gospel) are few. As much as I don't like it, it's still that way today.

So, fellow laborers, what does Matthew 9:27-38 (Jesus' miracles and his discussion with the disciples) show us about the world, how we treat others and our attitude about eternity? How can we use what we see in this passage to help us witness to others? Tami W.

Matthew 10:16-25

Jesus tells his followers that they need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as they go about living the Christian life and spreading the gospel message. He tells them this to prepare them for the opposition and persecution they will undoubtedly encounter. Jesus' words also apply to us, modern day Christ-followers.

So what does being wise as serpents and innocent as doves mean to you? How will/can you accomplish this goal? Tami W.

For Us!

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Romans 8:18-39

Every time I read Romans 8:31-39 I get pumped up, recharged, energized, jazzed...you get my drift. Why? Well, there are just days when I operate based on what I'm experiencing or feeling, which is never a good thing. That happens because I've allowed my focus to be more on me than on God. :( I had one of those days just this week. So reading "If God is for us, who can be against us?" and then Paul's final and absolute proclamation that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! was exactly what I needed to hear.

I'm guessing I'm not alone in this area? So how can we do a better job of keeping the message that God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus at the forefront as we tackle each day? Tami W.

In The Spirit

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Romans 8:1-17

Romans 8 starts with this bold promise and declaration: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Then, Paul goes on and really explains the freedom that being a Christ-follower brings us by comparing and contrasting living in the flesh and living or walking in the Spirit.

So what did Acts 8:1-17 show you about living in the Spirit? What does being set free in Christ Jesus mean to you? Tami W.

Final Wrap

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Acts 28:1-31

Well we wind up Acts today with Paul's stay in Malta and then, finally, his arrival and his two years in Rome. As I finished reading this book, I thought to myself What was there in Acts that really caught my attention and will help me in my walk going forward? There were quite a few things that came to mind, but the biggie for me was how Paul was so grounded in the Word and in Christ. His solid relationship and foundation with the Lord enabled him to not only navigate well through every circumstance he encountered, but to be a bold and outstanding witness in the process. Oh, to be more like Paul.

So what were some of your takeaways from Acts or Paul specifically? Did you discover anything new as you read? Have you put anything into practice as a result of your time in Acts? Tami W.

P.S. If you'd like to use the Acts series at your church or in a small group, you can order the 6-week CD series in our store.

Acts 27:1-44

Paul is now on his way to Rome via ship, and as it turns out, the trip is not a short or a simple one. The weather almost immediately turns bad and the further the ship with its crew and passengers get into the journey, the worse the conditions get. Everyone on board is afraid and basically operating in crisis mode...except Paul. He clearly understands how dangerous the conditions and situation are, but he turns all his concerns over to the Lord and seeks His direction and guidance. The result? He remains calm and level headed.

So what did you learn about responding when it comes to dealing with or getting through a bad situation? What does Acts 27 show us about how our response can impact others? Tami W.

Acts 26:1-32

Paul is, once again, called on to present his "case." This time it's to King Agrippa, and what Paul does is simply tell his story of how Jesus met him and changed his life forever on the road to Damascus. And when I say "simply tell his story," I truly mean he just conveyed the experience--very personally and passionately--like he recalled it. It was clear and it was effective.

Life is full of experiences and no one knows or understands your experiences better than you. And usually when I talk about my experiences with someone I find that the conversation is warmer and more personal and relaxed because I'm comfortable telling about what I've seen, done or been through. And it doesn't have to be some "big" experience. Believe it or not, experiences like growing up on a farm, singing, struggling with anxiety, golfing, helping my husband battle through cancer, even owning dachshunds, has opened up dialogue where I then could let others know about working for Back to the Bible, my involvement with my church and my faith and love for the Lord.

So what are some of your life experiences that you can use (or you have used) to let others know you are a Christ-follower and then hopefully, the opportunity to share Christ? Tami W.

Never Ending???

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Acts 25:1-27

Here we go again. That's what I was thinking as I read Acts 25 today. In fact, the way Paul's life is going here in the latter chapters of Acts kind of reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. (Remember that one where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over?) Anyway, while Paul is in prison we can see that his passion for, and commitment to, the Lord remain strong. Pretty impressive given his less than desirable circumstances.

So how have you kept your fire and drive for the Lord when you've gone through extended tough times? Any scriptures that gave you encouragement or strength? And, what can we do now to prepare for serving the Lord through difficult circumstances when they arrive? Tami W.

Bold But Patient

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Acts 24:1-27

Paul has now been sent off to Caesarea to appear before Felix, the Governor. He has an initial trial before Felix where he is again accused by the Jewish leaders. But Felix doesn't buy it. However, instead of deciding the case, he sends the Jewish leaders away and keeps Paul in custody...for a long time. Two years pass, Felix leaves office and Paul? Well, he's left sitting in prison. Now we know from what we've read so far in Acts that Paul is an active guy. He is constantly on the go and constantly preaching. So sitting in the same place with limited access to people for two years had to have been hard for him. Even so, what we see from Paul is patience.

Being patient is hard for me. I really struggle with being patience, especially when it involves doing work for the Lord. So how are you doing in the patience area? How do you work on developing patience? How has the Lord helped you in this area? Tami W.

Take Courage

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Acts 22:30-23:35

Paul is under arrest and facing extreme opposition from his fellow Jews. You don't have to think about this too long to recognize that his situation is not a good one. But the Lord is with Paul through it all. "'Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome'" (vs. 11).

So how have you seen the Lord come along side and sustain you? How has the Lord helped you "take courage" in difficult times? Tami W.

Hold That Ground

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Acts 21:37-22:29

There's no doubt that Paul was an excellent preacher and teacher. But Paul was also a good encourager. He recognized that his brothers and sisters in Christ needed support and encouragement. In Acts 20:1-2 Paul calls the disciples together and gives them encouragement, and then we see that Paul traveled through the regions of Macedonia and gave the believers there "much encouragement." Bottom line...encouragement between Christ-followers is absolutely essential. We all need to give and to receive it.

So what opportunities can you think of where you can be an encourager to a fellow believer this week? And on the flip side, how can you use and draw on this passage when you're in need of encouragement? Tami W.

Ready & Willing

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Acts 21:1-36

As usual, Paul's on the go in Acts 21:1-36. I got tired just reading through all the places he traveled to share the gospel message. When Paul reaches Caesarea, a prophet named Agabus tells Paul and company that he will be bound and delivered over to the Gentiles. The people with Paul are alarmed and they try to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul would have none of it. "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (vs. 13).

So what are you willing to do "for the name of the Lord Jesus" today? Tami W.

Acts 20:1-38

There's no doubt that Paul was an excellent preacher and teacher. But Paul was also a good encourager. He recognized that his brothers and sisters in Christ needed support and encouragement. In Acts 20:1-2 Paul calls the disciples together and gives them encouragement, and then we see that Paul traveled through the regions of Macedonia and gave the believers there "much encouragement." Bottom line...encouragement between Christ-followers is absolutely essential. We all need to give and to receive it.

So what opportunities can you think of where you can be an encourager to a fellow believer this week? And on the flip side, how can you use and draw on this passage when you're in need of encouragement? Tami W.

Acts 19:1-41

The absolute power of God is evident in Acts 19, but the power of evil and Satan is also part of this passage and it shouldn't be taken lightly. In verses 11-20, seven Jewish sons are impressed with the power God has given to Paul. So, they attempt to cast out a demon by mimicking Paul and referencing him as they call upon the name of Jesus to cast out this demon. Bad idea . . . the evil spirit responds saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" Then, through the possessed man, the evil spirit proceeds to attack and wound the seven sons. This was a good reminder for me of just how real and powerful Satan is. So many times we make light of evil. We treat Satan and satanic things like make believe and use them for entertainment (movie, books, etc.). That's exactly what Satan wants and likes us to do, and it's not wise on our part. Satan and his army of evil are real, they are powerful and they are out in full force today. That doesn't mean that every bad thing that happens is because of Satan, but we need to be aware.

So how can we make sure we're tuned in to Satan and the spiritual warfare that takes place around us? Tami W.

Occupied

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Acts 18:1-28

Non-stop is how I would describe Paul. Non-stop preaching and teaching. Non-stop reaching out and pursuing people. With Paul you can pretty much count on things moving full force ahead. So what is it that motivates him? Well, Paul's love for the Lord for sure, but along with that is his love for and knowledge of God's Word. Verse 5 tells us "Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus." This verse and particularly the phrase "occupied with the word" really grabbed my attention. I thought to myself Would someone describe me as being occupied with God's Word? As much I wanted my answer to be Absolutely!, the truth is that I am sometimes, but there are times when I'm not.

So what would it look like for us to be "occupied with God's Word"? How do we get there and how do we sustain it? Tami W.

Acts 17:16-34

There are many different approaches to sharing Christ and Paul shows us in Acts 17:16-34 that we'd be wise to take into account the audience before us when considering what approach we use to witness. Paul is in Athens and he is grieved by the idol worship that is so open and widespread. These people need to know about salvation and Paul most certainly tells them. But the tactic he uses is different than what we've seen him do elsewhere. Instead of a head-on approach, here Paul first engages the people in conversation about their practices and what's meaningful to them. Then he introduces God, the need for repentance and Christ's resurrection. Paul doesn't water down or sugar coat the message. He recognized that with this particular crowd, he needed to come at their need for salvation a little differently.

So two thoughts today. First, how can we be more like Paul--grieved by the people that are lost around us and not hesitant to tell others about their need for salvation? And second, what did you learn from Acts 17:16-34 that you can put into practice? Tami W.

Romans 5:1-21

Have you ever heard of the phrase "Romans Road"? It's been around for many years and it basically refers to how if you want to show someone their need for a Savior, Romans is a sure place to go. Now I know that, but because I've been a Christian for quite a while and I'm so familiar with salvation, sometimes I just overlook the incredible information that's there for my use. So reading Romans 5 was a good refresher for me.

Paul clearly explains our sinful nature and how Jesus' death and blood sacrifice for our sin saves us, only he doesn't just use the term "saved"; he describes it with phrases like--Christ has saved us from God's wrath, reconciled us to God, He has given us peace with God.

So what did God impress on your heart when you read through Romans 5? How will you use this passage going forward? Tami W.

Faith...First

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Romans 3:1-31

Reading Romans 3 took me back to my attorney, practicing law days. Let me explain. The way Paul lays out Romans, it's not the easiest read. (In fact, I read through this chapter a number of times just to make sure I was following everything.) But all the detail we need is there laid out very logically.

What Paul is doing is explaining how Christ's death and resurrection has changed things spiritually speaking. We no longer live under the law of works but are now under grace and the law of faith. That's a huge change that requires a complete shift in thinking for the Jews. "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (vs. 28). Paul then explains how the law doesn't go away or become meaningless because of what Jesus did. "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law" (vs. 31). So bottom line--our salvation isn't a result of our keeping the law. However, the law is still there for us to follow and uphold.

What did Paul and Romans 3 show you about how faith and the law work together? Did you find this passage motivating regarding keeping the law and doing good works? Why or why not?
Tami W.

Check It

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Acts 17:1-15

Paul's life and travels were an adventure. There was rarely a dull moment, and we see that as we begin Acts 17 today. Paul and associates arrive in Thessalonica and start preaching about Christ. All is well until the Jews get jealous and intentionally incite quite an uproar. So, Paul, Silas and Timothy move on to Berea and begin preaching there. However, the Jews in Berea receive and react to them differently because of their wise approach. "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

So what can we learn and put into practice from the church at Berea? Tami W.

P.S. We're having trouble with the P4 emails, so if you didn't get yesterday's or today's, below are the questions for thought. Thanks for your patience while we fix the issue!

Questions
Outline Paul's presentation in the synagogue in Thessalonica (17:1-4). How could you use that approach as you talk about the Gospel? Why did Paul move on from this city (17:5-9)? How did the response in Berea differ (17:10-12)? What does this tell you about testing what you hear?

Models

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Acts 16:1-40

Do you ever think to yourself How should my life look or what should I be doing as a follower of Christ? I sure do, and at certain times more than others. So I'm finding the entire Book of Acts helpful because it's showing me a lot about the people who received Christ as Savior and followed Him during the days of the early church.

So what have you learned about being a disciple of Christ from Paul and Barnabas in the last few chapters of Acts? What about from Timothy, Lydia or the Philippian jailer from Acts 16 today? Tami W.

Acts 15:36-41

Yesterday we saw how Paul and Barnabas handled and worked through controversy and disagreement over the Jewish law concerning circumcision. Today we have another disagreement, but this one isn't over the law; it has to do with a personal difference of opinion about whether John (aka Mark) should join Paul and Barnabas as they travel. Apparently Mark had bowed out of working with them on an earlier occasion. Paul took issue/offense with Mark's leaving and Barnabas did not. Verses 39-40 tell us "And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him ... but Paul chose Silas and departed..."

Disagreement doesn't always end with everyone coming together with one mind or one way of thinking. But as this passage shows us, sometimes that's ok.

So what does Acts 15:36-41 show us about working with other believers? What does it show us about not letting disagreements interfere with, and get us off track in, doing God's work? 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 June 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2011 is the previous archive.

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