September 2011 Archives

The Whole Enchilada!

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Jude 1-25

We've spent the last four days kind of picking our way through the Book of Jude. But today our wrap up assignment is reading through and considering the Book as a whole. If you haven't yet gone back and read all 25 verses together, take a few minutes and do that now. (And, ask the Lord to show you something specific as you read.)

So what impact did Jude have on you this week? Was there a particular point, phrase, or challenge, that got you thinking, praying, taking action, you name it for the Lord? Tami W.

Rescuers!

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Jude 17-25

Jude spends the first 2/3 or so of his letter presenting the state of the union, if you will. But, like any good writer, he shifts gears at verse 17 and calls us to action--in a variety of ways. I found the call to share Christ with others very powerful. "Save others by snatching them out of the fire. . ." (vs. 23). Sharing our faith is so important. Yet, many Christ-followers shy away from it. That's why I was so moved by the way Jude portrays sharing our faith, witnessing, telling others about Christ (whatever you prefer to call it).

Think about it this way. If you happened upon an accident where someone was trapped and in danger of being burned and killed by fire, how would you respond? You wouldn't even think about it. You'd try to rescue them, and you'd be highly motivated to do so. So you know where I'm going with this--every single person that doesn't know Christ is in this exact situation. That being the case, we've got lots of rescuing to do!

So, rescuer, what can you do--starting today--to go all out to show, tell and demonstrate Christ as Savior to others? Tami W.

Bad Result

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Jude 8-16

Yesterday Jude's message was believe in and follow the Lord. That's still the underlying message as we move on to verses 8-16, but now Jude lays out examples for us of the disastrous results of doing our own thing and following our own desires. He is quite thorough in pointing out the problem of running our own show: "relying on their dreams" (vs. 8); "they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, instinctively understood" (vs. 10); "shepherds feeding themselves" (vs. 12); "following their own sinful desires" (vs. 16).

Now Jude is writing about people who aren't believers here, but even after accepting Christ, the temptation is there to do our own thing. So what do you do to combat this powerful temptation? What did these verses show you about our human nature, temptation, living a surrendered life? Tami W.

Believe and Follow

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Jude 5-7

For me, there was one central message in our three verses today--that there's nothing more important than believing in and following the Lord.

Take a couple of minutes and think through that message--that there is nothing more important than believing in and following the Lord. What are some ways you demonstrate this to your family? Friends? Co-workers? Strangers? Tami W.

Contenders

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Jude 1-4

We're delving into the Book of Jude this week. It's only one chapter with 25 verses, but it has much for us to learn and consider. Jude begins his letter with the typical greeting, but then gets right to what's on his heart--false teaching. He calls us as believers and part of the Church to guard against allowing false teaching to come in and negatively influence us. "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith. . ." (Jude 3).

As I considered this call to action, I looked in a thesaurus at the word "contend" and found words like assert, maintain and declare. That was helpful because it allowed me to get a better grasp on, and comprehension of, exactly what Jude is challenging us to do.

So how will you, or how do you, contend for the faith? How do you guard against and combat allowing false teaching to creep in and influence your Christian walk and witness? What about at your church?
Tami W.

P.S. Get more out of our Jude study and tune in to our Back to the Bible series this week, Jude's Guide to Religious Phoneys.

Steady...to the End

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Genesis 50:14-26

As we finish out the final chapter of Genesis, Joseph's brothers are afraid that with Jacob out of the picture, Joseph will retaliate against them. But their fears are unfounded because Joseph was a man of his word. He had already told his brothers (Genesis 45) not to be dismayed at their bad actions because God had sent him ahead to provide for the family. And here in Genesis 50:19-20, Joseph reiterates that even stronger. "'Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. . .'" My response as I read these verses was Wow, Joseph. You are truly the real deal. I want to be more like you.

So, how do we go about being more like Joseph? What are some things you can do (or need to do) to be more forgiving, to be a person of your word, to be more loving to family and others around you, to be less focused on circumstances and more focused on pleasing God? Tami W.

P.S. If you had any big "takeaways" or "aha moments" from Joseph's story, I'd love to hear them.

Death and Family

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Genesis 49:28-50:14

Reading about Jacob's death struck a chord with me today. Both of my parents have already passed away so I've experienced and gone through what Joseph is dealing with here in Genesis 49:28-50:14. There were a number of things that I noticed. First, was how Joseph honored Jacob both in life and in death. And, I loved how Joseph wasn't embarrassed to openly show his emotions and his deep love for his father. Finally, this passage was also a nice reminder for me of the importance of taking care of family.

So what does this passage show us about the whole process of aging and death, particularly as it pertains to family? How can you use or draw on these verses when it comes to dealing and coping with the death of a loved one? Tami W.

Fruitful Branch

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Genesis 49:16-28

As we finish reading Genesis 49:16-28, Jacob continues to address his sons. He eventually gets to Joseph in verses 22-26, and what Jacob has to say is quite descriptive and really reinforces all that we've seen of Joseph so far. Plus, the wording Jacob uses gives us another way to look at and consider Joseph. "'Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall'" (Gen. 49:22).

So what did Genesis 49:22-26 show you about Joseph? How can we be more like Joseph, a fruitful bough (branch), when it comes to living for the Lord? Tami W.

Said...In Love

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Genesis 49:1-15

Jacob calls all his sons together for his final words in Genesis 49, and, boy is he ever candid with them. He tells his sons to listen to him and then he informs each one individually what they can expect going forward. Jacob's approach is straightforward and his words are very telling when it comes to each son's character. As hard as it may have been, Jacob didn't pull any punches. He told/revealed the ugly and undesirable things right along with the good characteristics.

This got me thinking about how we have a tendency to not see, maybe overlook, or simply have an inaccurate perception of what we're like and how we operate. So even though it may be hard to hear, it's good to have someone like a spouse, a parent, a friend, or even a child speak candidly with us...in love.

So how can we make sure we're listening and open to what others tell us about ourselves? How might you go about telling someone something difficult...in love? Tami W.

Reinforcement Needed

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Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob and Joseph have some personal time together in Genesis 48:1-22. Jacob is very near the end of his life and he asks to see Joseph and his two sons. When Joseph arrives, Jacob looks back on his life and recalls all that God has done, not only for him and his family, but also for Abraham and Isaac. He then reminds and encourages Joseph that God will be with him (vs. 21).

Now Joseph was strong in the Lord. As we've read through his story here in Genesis, I can't recall once where he got off course in his walk. Even so, Jacob encourages Joseph and reinforces his trust and faith in God. This was a good reminder to me about how much I/we need other Christians. Everyone, even those people who appear to be strong, on fire and committed to the Lord, needs Christian encouragement and reinforcement.

So where, or from whom, do get your reinforcement? Who can you be an encouragement and reinforcement for this week? How will you go about this important task? Tami W.

Christian Business

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Genesis 47:13-31

If Joseph were living today, he could appear on one of those business reality shows and win hands down. Joseph was wise, confident, focused, he listened to people, he was trustworthy, fair, and didn't operate on favoritism. No doubt about it, Joseph's life and actions show us a thing or two about leadership and being a Christian person involved in business.

So what was one thing that stood out to you about Joseph in this passage? In what areas do you need to model Joseph, and what can you do to start working on that? Tami W.

How Sweet It Is

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Genesis 46:28-47:12

Joseph and Jacob and all of Jacob's family are finally reunited in Genesis 46:28-47:12. This is a very tender passage and I can just picture it in my mind. So now that the family has arrived, Joseph introduces them to Pharaoh and basically takes care of, and provides for, everyone. (Nice job, Joseph!) Joseph could have held a grudge against his brothers and let that influence him in a number of ways. But that's just not what we see--at all. What a great example for us in our relationships.

So what did you see or learn from Joseph about the importance of family, forgiveness and reconciliation? Tami W.

Big Move

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Fragile

Genesis 46:1-27

You might say that Jacob takes the plunge in Genesis 46. He loads up his entire family and all his possessions and sets off for Egypt. Quite a big and scary undertaking. But Jacob didn't have to go it alone. God was with him all the way and even gave reassurance to Jacob telling him to not be afraid because He [God] would go to Egypt with Jacob and make him a great nation (Gen. 46:3-4).

So how has God reassured you in the past? How will you seek out and listen for the Lord's reassurance and guidance today? Tami W.

Respected Representative

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Genesis 45:16-28

When Pharaoh learns about Joseph's family, his response is wonderful--"It pleased Pharaoh and his servant" (Gen. 45:16). Pharaoh then instructs Joseph to bring his entire family to Egypt and generously offers to give this foreign family the best of the land. That's pretty amazing, and we can see God's hand in it all. But Joseph also played a major role in this outcome. Everything about him reflected his foundation in, and love for, God--his words, his actions, his attitude. Pharaoh and those around Joseph saw it day after day and it clearly had an impact.

So what kind of impact are you having on those around you? What are some things we can do to be more like Joseph? Tami W.

Genesis 45:1-15

My favorite part of the account of Joseph is when Joseph finally reveals to his brothers who he is and there's a family reunion of sorts. The storyline is good and Joseph's words and actions are so impressive. Now, typically, I'd focus there. But, today something different captured my attention. As I sat considering this chapter, thoughts of God's greatness and his goodness flooded my mind. The events of Jacob's and Joseph's lives didn't just happen. It was all part of God's master plan, and He and He alone is the orchestrator and conductor of that plan.

So Jacob, Joseph--and each of us--are all instruments or players in that plan. Now the difficult thing about this is that we aren't privy to all the details. So, we have a tendency to doubt and question and underestimate God's power and ability when circumstances don't make sense to us. I guess what I'm trying to say is, we evaluate God based on our limited vision. I can't tell you how many times after coming through a tough situation I've looked back and thought Oh, that's what you were doing God. I sure didn't understand it then, but I get it now and I'm thankful.

So what will you do this next week to do a better job recognizing God as the master planner, orchestrator and conductor of your life? How will you use this passage to build your trust in Him? Tami W.

Straight On

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Genesis 44:1-34

Joseph's game of cat and mouse with his brothers continues in Genesis 44:1-34. Once again Joseph arranges it to look like his brothers are dishonest, and he specifically sets up Benjamin. So now the brothers are back before Joseph and the penalty for Benjamin's "stealing" is for him to stay in Egypt as a slave. This is about the worst scenario there could be for the brothers. But, Judah steps us and takes action. He tells Joseph all the events and details leading up to Benjamin being allowed to come to Egypt and explains what would happen with Jacob if Benjamin doesn't return. Then Judah offers himself as a substitution for Benjamin. (Pretty courageous.)

So what did you learn from Judah about handling unpleasant business? How will you make sure you respond in the best manner possible the next time you have to deal with an unwelcome task or situation? Tami W.

Forced Hand

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Genesis 43:1-34

Jacob is still dragging his feet while Simeon is forced to sit in an Egyptian prison. And this might have been the scenario for a long time if the food situation hadn't continued to get worse for Jacob. As we start off in Genesis 43:1, we see that the severity of the famine forces Jacob to give in and send his sons, including Benjamin, back to Egypt. Now Jacob isn't happy about this, but God is at work in the situation, and in the end, it all turns out for Jacob's and his family's own good.

So has God ever forced your hand? What did He show you and what did you learn from the situation? Tami W.

In the Moment

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Genesis 42:18-38

Lots of emotions, reactions and actions in Genesis 42:18-38. Joseph is sad and hurting, his brothers are fearful and afraid and Jacob is distraught and unyielding. So what didn't I see? Anyone seeking God. This got me thinking about times when, in the heat of the moment, I allow myself to be driven by my emotions. Before I know it, I've responded to someone or to an important situation based on my feelings with no consultation of God. Not wise on my part.

So what is it that causes us to look to ourselves--our emotions, our feelings--rather than God? How can we do a better job of seeking God right away when something happens that triggers intense emotions like fear, anger and distress? Tami W.

Surprise!

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Genesis 42:1-21

Well, Joseph gets a surprise in Genesis 42:1-21. His brothers, every single one that threw him into the pit and then sold him into slavery, are in Egypt seeking to purchase grain, and they are bowing before him. Imagine that! Joseph's brothers don't recognize him. So Joseph proceeds, not revealing who he is and treating them fairly harshly. And the more he interacts with them, the more he finds out about his family.

So what do you think is up with Joseph here? The more I thought about it, I could understand Joseph's thinking and actions. Think about it. He hasn't seen his brothers in over 20 years, and the last time he saw them, they hated him. He doesn't have any clue what's transpired with his brothers. He doesn't know if or how they've developed or changed. So we see some investigating, probing and examining of his brothers. In my mind, that makes sense considering the situation. So Joseph's actions were a good reminder for me that there will be times when I need to be cautious and patient before I jump in and respond or act, and I need to be tuned in to when that may be the case.

So what spoke to you from this passage? What did you learn from Joseph or even Jacob and the brothers today? Tami W.

P.S. We're in the middle of a 3-week study on the life of Joseph. And if you'd like to go a little deeper, jump in to the series on Back to the Bible. It's called Joseph: Making Life Out of Lemons.

Fruitful...Wherever

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Genesis 41:37-57

Joseph's life has taken a dramatic turn as we get to Genesis 41:37-57. He's no longer in prison but is now second in command in all of Egypt. Is God amazing or what? As Joseph is running Egypt, he also starts his family and we see that he and his wife have two sons. Joseph names them Manasseh and Ephraim and continues to honor God with the names he selects. It was the meaning of those names that touched my heart as I read today, and particularly the definition of Ephraim. "'For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'" This really got me thinking about how just because I may not be thrilled with my situation (I may even be hurting and feeling miserable) that doesn't mean God isn't using me in and through that situation for His purposes. Bottom line--we're called to be fruitful wherever we're at.

So where do you find yourself today? In a good spot, in affliction or somewhere in between? Whatever the case, how can you be fruitful in it? Tami W.

P.S. Today is a tough day as we remember the tragic events of September 11th. I encourage you to pray for those who are grieving and still feeling the effects of such tremendous loss. May each of us fully embrace being lights in a dark world--bringing hope to the hopeless.

Use It!

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Genesis 41:1-36

Have you noticed how Joseph and dreams just seem to go together? Dreams were an important part of Joseph's life from the time he was a young boy--first his own dreams and then interpreting them for others. Joseph's insight (ability) concerning dreams was clearly given to him by God. Joseph recognizes this, gives God credit for his special gift and he is ready and willing to exercise and use this skill for God's glory (Gen. 40:8; Gen. 41:16).

So what are some of your unique skills and abilities? How can you or how are you using them for the Lord? How can you or how are you giving God the credit and the glory? Tami W.

Patiently Serving

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Genesis 39:21-40:23

The rough road continues for Joseph as we get to Genesis 40. He's has been faithful in trusting and following God, and yet, he finds himself sitting in prison and he's been there for quite a while. So what do we see from Joseph? Not what you might think--no feeling sorry for himself, no anger--actually just the opposite. Joseph is patient and continues to honor and serve God.

So what are some things that help you keep honoring and serving God while you're waiting? What can we do to respond like Joseph when our situation isn't of our choosing and we don't yet see a light at the end of the tunnel? Tami W.

Far Reaching

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Genesis 38:1-30

We've all heard it, maybe we've even thought it or said it. My business is just that--mine. And what I choose to do isn't anyone else's concern. So many times we don't give much, if any, thought to how our actions might impact others. So we do what seems right for us at the moment. But that can be problematic, especially when sinful behavior is part of the mix. The account of Judah and Tamar demonstrates that pretty clearly. Judah didn't keep his promise to Tamar because it suited him. But as we see, his broken promise snowballed into more and more sin.

So what did this passage show you about the devastating effect of sin? Tami W.

No Matter What

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Genesis 39:1-21

Every time I read the account of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, I get a little angry. Poor Joseph. He was following God and doing the right things yet he still found himself in a bad situation in Potiphar's home and an even worse situation in prison. The word injustice comes to my mind. However...when you look at the whole story and how it plays out, you can see that God was in control and working mightily through each and every good and bad situation. And actually, this account is good because it gives us such a great reminder that no matter how righteously we're living, sin and temptation are always around us, pressing in.

So what did you learn from Joseph in Genesis 39? What did this passage show you about experiencing tough situations, doing the right thing, temptation, and trusting God? Tami W.

Unbridled

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Genesis 37:12-36

When I was growing up, we lived in the country, so I had several horses and trained and showed them. Now, for the most part, my horses were gentle, responsive and loving toward me. However, if something happened that scared or spooked them, that behavior would change very quickly, and without some intervention, they could easily run out of control, cause damage and hurt themselves.

That's kind of the picture I got here with Joseph's brothers. They are operating unchecked, motivated by jealousy. It's a slippery slope with one bad decision leading to another and so on.

So what does Genesis 37:12-36 show us about unchecked jealousy? What will you do the next time you sense jealousy setting in? Tami W.

Nix the Favorites

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Genesis 37:1-11

Jealousy is never a good thing, and we see that today in Genesis 37:1-11 (we'll see it even more in tomorrow's reading). We're looking at Joseph's life, and we see that the jealousy of Joseph's brothers started because Jacob played favorites. "Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any other of his sons . . . . [W]hen his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him" (Gen. 37:3-4).

This passage definitely shows us that jealously is bad, but the message that impacted me most was how favoritism can create and foster jealousy. Jacob clearly did that here, and we can do the same thing in our roles as a parent, grandparent aunt or uncle, in the workplace as a supervisor, in church as the leader of group, project or class, even between our friends.

So how do we guard against showing favoritism and creating or playing in to jealousy? What did you learn about jealousy from this passage? What will you do in response? Tami W.

P.S. We're starting a new series today on Back to the Bible called Joseph: Making Life Out of Lemons. Join us for some great Bible study!

Psalm 118:1-29

I could just feel the emotion, the excitement, the enthusiasm of the psalmist as he proclaimed God's love, goodness and greatness in Psalm 118:1-29. As I read I found myself saying a number of times, "Yes!" And nodding my head in agreement. How about you?

So what is it that you exuberantly proclaim about the Lord? Was there a particular verse or phrase that really moved your heart today from Psalm 118? Tami W.

Go to Town!

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Psalm 117:1-2

One short chapter made up of two verses. So when you saw our reading for today did you think Wow, this is going to be a light day? Well, if so, think again because we don't necessarily have to read a certain number of verses to have a meaningful time with the Lord. We can really go to town engaging God's Word (receiving, reflecting and responding) with just two verses--seriously.

For me, I started in right at verse 1 with the goal of stopping and thinking about those things I noticed and saw. The first thing I read was the command to praise the Lord and to extol him. So I thought about that and considered Do I praise and extol him? How? What does that look like? And should or can I be doing more? Then I moved on to verse 2 focusing on the phrases "great is his steadfast love toward us" and "the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever." Some of my thoughts were: Do I fully believe these statements? Why? Why not? And how can I embrace and live relying on them even more? Then, I spent some time just recalling different times when God has been faithful to me and has shown His steadfast love and thanked Him.

So that's what I did. Now it's your turn. How did you engage God's Word through Psalm 117 today? Tami W.

Physical Needs Matter

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Philippians 4:10-23

Paul gave me a gentle but good reminder in Philippians 4:10-23 of how important it is for us to be helping other Christians in need, and in this particular passage, he hits physical needs pretty solidly. Now maybe you're thinking, I barely have enough money to cover my (or my family's) needs, so how can I help others? Well, there's no indication from Paul that helping with physical needs is just financial. Helping someone could be by giving away fruit or vegetables you've grown in your garden, or inviting someone over for a meal, or offering to watch someone's kids or driving a little out of your way to carpool. The message for me was that it's not about amount. What's important is that we're open and generous when it comes to helping a brother or sister in Christ who's in need.

So any other suggestions or thoughts on ways we can reach out and help others with physical needs? Who do you know that might need a helping hand? What can you do, even this weekend, to be a helper? Tami W.

Seek Peace

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Philippians 4:2-9

Philippians 4:6&7 have been two important verses for me over the years. I couldn't even tell you how many times I've specifically turned to this passage for comfort and reassurance. But what it shows me is that I can, and should, put my anxiousness aside because God's got whatever my situation is covered.

How has God been your peace? What will you do to take full advantage of the instruction and promise we're given in verse 6 and 7? 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 September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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