July 2011 Archives

Level Ground

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Philemon 1:8-25

Today we move on to the second half of Philemon and Paul's appeal for the runaway slave Onesimus. Paul lets Philemon know that he is sending Onesimus back to Philemon--but as a changed man because Onesimus is now part of the family of God. Then, he writes these important and telling words: "that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother--especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord" (vs. 15-16). Paul is putting before Philemon the reminder that there are no hierarchies in God's family.

So how did this passage speak to you today? And how will you draw on and use this reminder (in your church, your family, your day-to-day life)? Tami W.

Philemon 1:1-7

We're spending this weekend reading the tiny book (only 25 verses total) of Philemon. Paul is the author and he is writing to a wealthy Christian slave owner about one of his slaves, Onesimus, who has apparently run away and is now with Paul and has received Christ as his Savior.

Today we're only looking at the first seven verses of Philemon which is basically Paul's hello to his friend Philemon. Now we won't get to Onesimus (the reason for this letter) until tomorrow. But that's actually good because there are things for us to take in and consider right up front. The main thing that caught my attention today was how Paul recognizes and commends Philemon for being a "refresher" to other Christians. And, if you think about it, Paul is doing that same thing here to Philemon--refreshing and encouraging him through this letter.

So how does receiving refreshment from others impact you (or how has it)? How are you doing in the area of giving refreshment to others? Who can you support and encourage this weekend? Tami W.

1 Peter 1:14-16; Titus 2:11-14

Both of our passages today give us insight into how we should be living out our lives. But one phrase really stood out to me, "As obedient children" (1 Peter 1:14).

So what does being an obedient child of God mean to you? How are you living that out? Tami W.

Thank You

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Leviticus 19:1-2; Colossians 1:19-23

Not many verses today, but that's alright because there is plenty to think about and consider, especially in Colossians 1:21-22. "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he [Christ] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. . ." Separation, sin and hostility turn to reconciliation and us being able to stand holy and blameless because of Jesus' death. Thank you, Jesus.

How often do you truly reflect on what we're told in these two verses? If you're like me, probably not enough. So, I encourage you to take some time and do that today. Then, tell us what you discovered, and tell the Lord thank you. Tami W.

Set Apart

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Deuteronomy 7:1-14

I struggle with the instructions God gives to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 7:1-5. But then, I have to remember that this is the Old Testament and at that time, things operated and were done very differently than today. Add to that what we read in verse 6 and beyond, and things become a little more understandable. You see it's at this point (verse 6 and beyond) that God declares that the Jewish people are special. They are chosen, a treasured possession, loved and holy (set apart) to Him.

So think about this. If the Israelites moved into a pagan country, took up residence beside, had friendships with, and married people who worshipped idols and didn't believe in or follow God, how long do you think it would be before their ungodly practices and influence would start rubbing off, being accepted and then followed by the Israelites? You guessed it--not very long. God knows this and He doesn't want the Israelites to end up there.

So what does living a holy life, being set apart for the Lord, mean to you? How are you living that out today? Tami W.

Habakkuk 1:1-2:3

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I want to be "in the know." I want to know and understand what's going on, why and for what purpose when it comes to things that impact and affect my life. So sometimes, when things are happening that don't make sense and aren't to my liking, I get frustrated. That's kind of the sense I get with Habakkuk in Habakkuk 1:1-2:3. Bad things are happening and he doesn't understand why. So he presents his frustrations to the Lord. Well, God listens and then He pretty plainly lets Habakkuk know that He has a plan, He's in control, that we're not privy to His plan and timetable and this is all by His design. Basically God tells Habakkuk to chill out and trust Him.

So how can we come to grips with the fact that we're not supposed to know every little thing? How do we work on being content with God's plan and timetable regardless of what that means for us? Tami W.

Stark Contrast

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Titus 1:1-3; John 8:38-47

I love it when Scripture is absolutely clear, and that's the case with both of our passages today. Jesus is speaking in John 8:38-47, and he boldly and clearly tells us that Satan is a liar and has nothing to do with the truth (vs. 44). Then referring to Himself, the son of God, Jesus says "I tell the truth. . ." (vs. 45). Paul words in Titus 1:2 likewise tell us that God never lies.

So what did John 8:38-47 show you about Satan versus God? What did you learn from John 8:38-47 and Titus 1:1-3 about God's character and trusting Him? How will you use these verses to boost your trust factor? Tami W.

Righteous 101

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Psalm 112:1-10

After reading Psalm 112 there's no doubt that our goal should be to live as a righteous person, and we're given quite a bit of information on what that means and looks like. Now right in the middle of all this information and instruction are these awesome words, "For the righteous will never be moved. . . He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord" (vs. 6-7). I say, Amen to that!

So how do you line up with the description of a righteous person as it is here in Psalm 112? Are there areas that need a little improvement, and if so, how will you go about doing that? Tami W.

Loved

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Ephesians 2:1-10

Definitely a well-known passage today with Ephesians 2:1-10. So I read these verses four or five times considering what God would have me take away and put into action. Each time I read the passage, certain descriptions and phrases about God and salvation gave me pause and got me thinking about just how amazing God is and how incredibly blessed I am (we are) to be part of His family. Here they are: "rich in mercy" (vs. 4), "great love" (vs. 5), "immeasurable riches of his grace" (vs. 7) and "gift of God" (vs. 8).

What from Ephesians 2:1-10 spoke to you today? What did you do or will you do as a result? Tami W.

No Need to Fear

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Psalm 56:1-13

All of us have experienced fear. Maybe we've even lived in a state of fear for a time. Fear is powerful, and what I've found through personal experience is that fear can be crippling and it can pull us way off track if we're not careful. Living in and with fear is just pretty miserable.

Well, David was afraid and fearful in Psalm 56:1-13, but instead of giving in and allowing his fear to control him and his situation, he turns to God and gives every concern over to Him. "When I am afraid, I put my trust in God" (vs. 3).

So what did David show you about trusting God in all circumstances? Were you encouraged by Psalm 56? How will you draw on this passage the next time fear pushes in on your life? Tami W.

No Entitlements

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Psalm 78:17-39

I came away from reading Psalm 78:17-39 feeling sad because of the way the Israelites treated and responded to God. It reminded me of a dysfunctional family relationship with the underlying theme being "yet they sinned more against him" and "they still sinned...they did not believe" (vs. 17 and 32). My sadness deepened the more I thought about what took place here and how we (you and I) do those same things and have those same attitudes as the Israelites. So, I stopped and prayed. I apologized to God and asked for His forgiveness for those times when I've behaved and acted this way. Then I asked Him to help me going forward.

So how did Psalm 78:17-39 speak to you? What are some things we can do to help us not treat God like we're entitled to whatever we think we want when we want it? Tami W.

Matthew 9:35-37; 15:32-39; 20:29-34

We're looking at three passages in Matthew, and in each of them we get a slightly different picture of compassion through Jesus' actions and words. In Matthew 9:35-37 Jesus demonstrates compassion by teaching the crowds and healing the sick. In Matthew 15:32-39 he feeds 4,000+ people who have been following him and taking in his teaching. And in Matthew 20:29-34 Jesus' compassion leads Him to give sight to two blind men in Jericho. So Jesus shows compassion first and foremost by teaching; He also shows compassion by helping people when He sees they are in need. And He is responsive when specific requests and needs are brought to his attention (like with the two men in Jericho). Bottom line--compassion combined with action is a must for us as a Christ follower.

So how do we develop a compassionate heart and attitude? What are some ways you have (and do) show compassion to others? Who might you show compassion to even today--and how? Tami W.

Benefits Galore

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Psalm 103:1-14

David gives us a good reminder of the importance of regularly recognizing who God is and praising His name in Psalm 103:1-14. Now a big contributor to this is constantly looking at and keeping before us "the benefits" of being a child of God.

So take a few minutes to think about David's words in verse 2, "forget not all his benefits." What are the benefits you've experienced in your relationship with God? Tami W.

Perfect Example

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Matthew 26:36-46

It's the night of Jesus' betrayal by Judas, and Jesus takes the disciples to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus was emotionally low at this point and even tells the disciples that His soul is very sorrowful (vs. 39). We then see Jesus going off by himself pouring his heart out in prayer to the Father.

Matthew 26:36-46 gives us a very personal look at Jesus, and what we see can teach us a lot about our relationship with God and communicating with Him.

What does Jesus show us about being open and forthright with God? What did this passage show you about prayer? Tami W.

"Take Two"

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Exodus 34:1-9

God instructs Moses in Exodus 34 to meet Him on Mount Sinai. The purpose of the meeting is for God to give Moses two stone tablets on which He has written laws for the Israelites. This is the second time for a meeting on Mount Sinai and the second meeting came about because Moses broke the original set of tablets in a fit of anger when he came down the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32).

Now this had to be a difficult and, likely, a sad occasion for Moses. But I'm thankful that we get to see that even Moses, a mighty man of God, made mistakes and stumbled, and that we also see how he responded and dealt with it.

What does Moses show us about a proper attitude toward God? What can we learn from Moses about responding to God? Tami W.

A Necessary Part

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Ephesians 4:1-3

Paul talks in Ephesians 4 about the Body of Christ and how each of us has a unique calling and role to play in that Body as a follower of Christ. He urges and challenges us right up front to live in a manner "worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (vs. 1).

So what role are you fulfilling in the Body of Christ? How can we make sure we're giving our best effort to that role? If you're not actively functioning as part of the Body, what can you do to change that going forward? Tami W.

Extra:
If you've ever wondered about the specific role God has for you in the Body of Christ, it may be helpful to take a spiritual gifts inventory. These can be really helpful in finding out how God has uniquely gifted you to serve. Below you'll find several free spiritual gift assessments to get you started.

Motivational Gifts Survey

Ephesians Four Ministries of the Church Growth Institute

Spiritual Breakthroughs - ElmerTowns.com

Big Fruit Goal

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Galatians 5:16-26

Every time I read Galatians 5:22-23, I'm hit head on with the realization that exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is a tall order and, while I do exhibit some of the elements most of the time, I have plenty of room for improvement. That's why I'm grateful for the fresh start I have each morning and that I have the Holy Spirit to help me combat the pull of those sinful desires of the flesh as I go about my day.

So how do you draw on the help and strength of the Holy Spirit? What does walking by the Spirit look like in your life? Tami W.

Numbers 14:1-19

The children's story of Chicken Little came to mind when I read Numbers 14. This is right after the Israelites send a group of spies into the land of Caanan (chapter 13), and the report back from the majority of the spies is negative and fear-based--there are giants in the land, the land devours its inhabitants, the Israelites are like grasshoppers in the eyes of these people ... the sky is falling. Well, the Israelites jump right on that fear bandwagon and in so doing, throw God and His faithfulness aside. They won't listen to the report of Caleb or Joshua that the land is good and that with God's help they are able to overtake it.

So how do we guard against falling prey to the Chicken Little mindset where we put our circumstances and fears before our trust and reliance on God? How can we be more like Caleb, Joshua, Aaron and Moses? Tami W.

Luke 16:10-13; Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus gives us a preview of final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. He's addressing two groups, Christ-followers and non-believers, and talks about feeding, clothing, visiting and ministering to people in need. Jesus' words make it very clear that reaching out to help people is important in God's eyes.

So how do we make sure we're tuned in and accomplishing this?
When I hear about someone in need my first thoughts are typically about how my husband and I might help financially. But money isn't necessarily a requirement for helping others. So what are some other resources we can use in helping people? How are you using your resources to feed, clothe, visit, minister to those in need around you? Tami W.

God Given

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Proverbs 2:1-19

Brains, talent, title--all good things to have. But those things, even combined, don't hold a candle to having wisdom. Today we're looking at Proverbs 2 which is all about godly wisdom. Only the Lord gives wisdom (vs. 6) and that wisdom comes from His mouth (His words and commandments). So how do we get this wisdom? Well, we don't just receive it because we love the Lord. We must play an active role in seeking it (vs. 3-4).

So, what does this passage tell us about the importance of engaging God's Word (receiving it, reflecting on it and then putting it into action)? What are you currently doing to seek God's wisdom? Tami W.

Psalm 89:1-18

You can't read Psalm 89:1-18 without seeing the repeated declarations of God's faithfulness. I read through this passage a couple of times and I found myself coming back and considering verse 11 and how that relates to God's faithfulness. "The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them."

My thoughts were basically this: If the heavens and the earth and the world are God's, and He's been faithful with them, then what does that show me about God's faithfulness to me? Let me put it another way. Since God has been faithful with HUGE things (heaven, earth, creation) shouldn't we be able, willing and eager to trust that He will be faithful with us as well? Tami W.

Action Required

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Colossians 3:1-17

As I start each day, it's my desire that how I go about my day (my thoughts and my actions) would be pleasing to God. So I found Colossians 3:1-17 an excellent read because it really lays out what a life that pleases God looks like.

Do you ever find yourself operating on this thinking--because I'm a Christ-follower I should just automatically be better? I do that sometimes even though deep down I know that's not the case. Living a life that's pleasing to God takes effort on our part. Paul doesn't say when we receive Christ we'll be loving, kind, patient, etc. He tells us to "put to death" and "put off" earthly desires and to "put on" Christ-like qualities. Putting to death, putting off and putting on require action, effort and, yes, work on our part.

So what are some of the actions/efforts you take to "put off" sinful desires? And on the flip side, what do you do to "put on" things like compassion, meekness, kindness, humility, forgiveness? Tami W.

Pure Children

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1 John 3:1-3

A couple of big things to consider in our three short verses today. First, the whole concept of being a child of God right now and in the future. And, second, as a child of God, keeping ourselves pure because God is absolutely 100% pure.

So what does it mean to you to be a child of God right now, in the present? How does being a child of God motivate you to be and stay pure? And lastly, what are some things you do that help you stay pure? Tami W.

Psalm 139:1-24

David sure has a way with words. His writing is eloquent and delivers a clear message. And speaking of message, the BIG message I got from Psalm 139 was that God KNOWS me inside and out. He knows every detail about me--physically, emotionally, spiritually. Nothing is hidden from God and I cannot escape from Him. Those are all wonderful things but a little tough to fully comprehend.

Think about the person who knows you best. Maybe that's a parent, a spouse, a sibling or your best friend. Now consider what they know about you and then multiply that by...oh, let's say 10. That's how intimately God knows us. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

So how did reading that God has total and intimate knowledge of and about you impact you today? What did Psalm 139 show you about God, his love for you and your relationship with Him? Tami W.

P.S. Over on our Facebook page, we're sharing our thoughts on how we keep our eyes, mind & heart pure. A few of our P4 team members will be sharing throughout the day, so join us and give us your take.

Ephesians 4:17-32

Paul takes a look at two ways of living in Ephesians 4:17-32. First he describes the ungodly life before we have a relationship with Christ (old self), and then he shifts to what "new life" in Christ looks like (new self). I liked the approach Paul used in this passage. It was thought-provoking and helpful. By reading and considering the examples provided of both ungodly and godly living, we can get a pretty comprehensive picture of what our new self and new life ought to look like.

What did you learn about old self and new life from Paul? What evidence do you see in yourself of a new life as a new self? Tami W.

2 Timothy 2:19-26

In 2 Timothy Paul is giving Timothy instruction and counsel. He's basically charging Timothy to maintain the proper mindset, attitude and lifestyle going forward. When we get to chapter 2, Paul's counsel turns to being clean and pure, and he even gives some specific examples of ways to accomplish that.

Well, I'm guessing Paul's charge inspired Timothy because it inspired me. As I finished the passage, my thought was... I want to be "a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work" (vs. 19).

So are you with me, wanting to be an honorable vessel? So how do we make that happen, and what did you learn from Paul about getting there? Anything else you might you add? Tami W.

Living It

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Psalm 26:1-12

David is proclaiming to the Lord that he has clean hands and a pure heart like we talked about yesterday in the blog. In his proclamation, he lays out the how and why of his godly lifestyle. There's a lot of information here for us to take in and draw on concerning being right before God.

Does David's view of being clean match up with yours? Do you have anything to add? So what did you learn from Psalm 26 about being right, pure, clean (you pick the word) before God? Tami W.

Psalm 24:1-6

David lets us know plain and simple that we have to have clean hands and a pure heart if we want to be in the presence of God. "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. . ." (Psalm 24:3).

So what does having clean hands and a pure heart mean to you? And how do we attain, and then maintain, this in our lives? Tami W.

P.S. All this week on Back to the Bible, Dr. Kroll is looking at and teaching on purity through the series What Ever Happened to Purity? We'd love to have you join us for these studies if you're not already a listener!

P.P.S. Happy 4th to all our P4ers in the United States!

Great Works

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Psalm 111:1-10

One thing is clear from Psalm 111--the Lord is to be praised. This is such a great Psalm because that message of praise is the first thing we read. And then, just in case we missed it, the rest of the chapter pretty much lays out reason after reason why we should be thankful and praising.

Now I use the ESV for P4 and verse 2 says "Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them." But I also read the NLT today which talked about pondering the works of the Lord. It made me realize that although I study the works of the Lord in the Bible, I don't necessarily do a lot of studying or pondering of the great things the Lord has done in my life. So I took some time and I pondered, I thanked and I praised.

So take a few minutes today and think about (ponder) some the great things the Lord has done for you (And they don't have to be big, life-changing events) and send up some praise to the Lord. Then, would you tell us about one or two of the great things you praised the Lord for? Tami W.

Psalm 110:1-7

I find Psalm 110 a bit of a harder read than some of the other psalms. It's not praise oriented (which I like) and it contains prophecy pertaining to Jesus. So as I considered application I could take away from these verses, I decided to step back and take a big picture approach. To do that, I read through the chapter a number of additional times. I thought about things like the relationship between David and the Lord, and then just considered what these verses showed me about God. Now I'll be honest, this exercise wasn't as easy as time spent in one of the praise psalms. But, I learned and benefitted from it in a deep way. Plus, God used this passage to remind me that work is a necessary part of my growing process.

So how did you approach Psalm 110? Did you come at these verses looking for and considering details and information, or were you more like me, looking more generally at what Psalm 110 shows us about God and relationship? What did you discover? Tami W.

Deuteronomy 20:1-8

There are many days when what we're dealing with in life (whatever that may be, and it's different for all of us) feels like we're facing, head on, an "army greater than our own" (Deut. 20:1). But that shouldn't matter according to Deuteronomy 20:1-8 because we're told over and over do not be afraid because the Lord is with us. (Thank you, Lord, for those reassuring and comforting words.)

So what did you see or learn about fear from Deuteronomy 20:1-8? What is it in your life that feels like a battle? And how can you draw on this passage to deal with it? Tami W.

P.S. Happy Canada Day to all our Canadian P4ers!! Hope you have a great holiday.

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 July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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