October 2011 Archives

Staying In Tune

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Jonah 1:1-17

All this week we're looking at and considering the story of Jonah. As I started into this short but packed Book, what stood out to me was Jonah's tuned outedness (I know, pretty sure that's not a word) to God. Right away we see Jonah intentionally turns from God and actually tries to run away. But as the storyline progresses Jonah's tuned outedness gets worse and increases. Jonah is on the ship and the storm is raging, so what is he doing? He's oblivious to it all, sleeping. And even after the men wake him up because they are freaking out about the storm and worried for their lives, Jonah matter of factly tells them that he's the problem because he's running from God, so just throw him overboard. The situation is pretty awful, not to mention scary, yet Jonah doesn't take any steps to reach out or get back in tune with God.

As I finished up this chapter I found myself thinking What in the world was going on with Jonah? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I've acted the same way on a number of occasions. It's kind of sad really that sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before we truly submit, focus and get in tune with God.

So can you relate to Jonah? What did you see in this passage that you can use to help you stay in tune with God? Tami W.

Master

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Psalm 123:1-4

Generally when I talk or write about God I refer to Him as Father, God or Lord. But I don't typically refer to Him as master even though I fully believe and know that God is my master. So I was glad that Psalm 123 made the analogy of servants (us) looking to their master (God) because it got me thinking in a more focused way today about God being my master and what that truly means for me.

So what does God being master mean to you? How are you "looking to the hand" of God, your master, today? Tami W.

Glad for Church

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Psalm 122:1-8

Psalm 122:1 made me smile this morning, and got me thinking about one of my favorite things to do each week--go to church. But, it also got me thinking about being involved with church. As I look around it just seems that regularly going to church is falling by the wayside. Activities--sports, family outings, work and other things--fill our weekends and evenings and before we know it, church has moved right down our list of priorities.

So does Psalm 122:1 describe you and your attitude? What is it about going to, and being part of, church that makes you glad? Tami W.

Judges 20:36-21:25

How fitting that the last verse of Judges tells us one more time "In those days. . . everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). We've seen this all the way through Judges and we've even given it a closer look ourselves here on the P4 blog. But, it just seemed appropriate to turn our focus back to this problem and consider it again today especially with as much as God highlights this issue for us.

So what has Judges shown you about following your own wants and thinking? Was there any particular story or scenario that highlighted this problem and helped you understand it better? Any other thoughts on Judges? Tami W.

Way Out Thinking

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Judges 19:1-20:36

The further we get into Judges, the worse things seem to get. Today's reading about the Levite and his concubine is disturbing, to say the least. Once again we're shown how our thinking gets completely messed up when we're not in a proper relationship with the Lord. We see that with the Levite, with the man that open his home and with the men from Gibeah.

My focus went to the Levite in this passage. His attitude and actions were so off-course, so off-center, so skewed. This man is an active participant in his concubine's death. He knew what the men were going to do, but he still "seized his concubine and made her go out to them." Then, when he finds her dead in the morning, he's angry and demands justice from the tribes of Israel. Israel responds and the situation continues to go downhill from there.

What did Judges 19:1-20:36 show you about the dangers of getting out of alignment with God? Were there any other danger areas or dangerous ways of thinking or acting that you saw from this passage? Tami W.

Judges 17:1-18:31

One of the clear messages I get from Judges is that we're all sinful in nature and we all have the desire to do what is right in our own eyes. And Judges 17 and 18 seems to lay this out in detail.

Right off we see that Micah has stolen from his mother. He fesses up and then his mom dedicates the money to the Lord and has an image carved and an idol cast (contradictory to say the least). Micah sets up a shrine for the idol in his house, makes a sacred ephod and more household idols and then proceeds to install one of his sons as his personal priest. It's right after these details that we're told "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6). (Now there's a lot more in the rest of the passage, but you get the picture.)

What does this passage show us about our desire to worship? What about worshiping the wrong things? How can you use Judges 17 and 18 to help you get, and keep, your focus and your worship exclusively on the Lord? Tami W.

Oh, Delilah!

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Judges 16:1-31

If you play with fire, you're going to get burned. That was the message that came across to me as I read about Samson and his relationship with Delilah. Samson clearly knew that Delilah was, for lack of a better phrase, working with the enemy for his demise. But, he was in love, and chose to ignore it. Bad, bad decision.

We've all been there and we'll be there again--tempted to play with fire. Think about what that "fire" is (or "fires" are) for you. Now, what are some things you can do to combat that temptation (or temptation generally) when it arises? Tami W.

Judges 15:1-20

Samson decides to give it another go with his Philistine wife after the tragic and volatile end to the wedding feast and celebration. Unfortunately when he gets to his wife's house with his gift of a goat (weird), her father informs Samson that he has given Samson's wife to another man. Sampson doesn't take the news well at all. His emotions erupt and he reacts--poorly, burning the Philistines fields and killing 1000 men.

What does Samson show us about the danger of immediate and unchecked responses to emotions? What are some things we can do to help us respond to whatever our situation is in a godly manner? Tami W.

God Working

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Judges 13:24-14:20

Today we get our first look at Samson as a grown man, and what we see isn't really what you'd expect, and not particularly impressive spiritually. In fact, as I read about Samson's marriage and the events surrounding it, I found myself kind of scratching my head because it all seems a little odd and even senseless. But here's the thing, God was fully aware of what was going on and He was most certainly working through the situation.

So what does this story show us about how God works? What about who God uses? How is God working in and through you and your unique circumstances? Tami W.

To the Lord

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Judges 13:13-25

One message hit me loud and clear from Judges 13:13-25: I need to make sure I'm giving my thanks, my praise, my reverence, my offerings to the Lord--period. Pretty logical message really, but unfortunately it's not too difficult to get pulled off course. We see that to some extent with Manoah. Manoah wants to thank, recognize and honor this messenger, but the angel of God immediately, and with authority, directs Manoah's focus to the Lord. "And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah 'If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord'" (vs. 16).

So how can we make sure that we are directing our thanks, praise and reverence to the right place--God? Tami W.

Open Hands

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Judges 13:1-14

Samson's parents, Manoah and his wife, impressed me in Judges 13:1-14. They are childless, but then an angel of God appears and tells Manoah's wife (and later Manoah) that she will have a baby, a boy, and that "the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines" (vs. 5). Now Manoah and his wife had to be thrilled that they were going to have a baby, but at the same time, they had been told point blank that their son was special to the Lord and that he would be used to rescue Israel from the Philistines.

Now it would have been easy for Manoah and his wife to question and doubt and try to hold on to their son. But they didn't miss a beat. They seemed to understand that their child was a gift from God and fully accept that God was going to use their son for His purpose and plan.

So what did Manoah and his wife show you about having open hands with God when it comes to people, things, and/or areas in our lives that are important and precious to us? Tami W.

Shibboleth

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Judges 12:1-15

Jephthah's woes continue as we get to Judges 11. After a victory over the Ammonites, the men of Ephraim gather and confront Jephthah. They're basically mad because Jephthah defeated the Ammonites without them. No resolution is reached, and Jephthah and his men end up fighting with the men of Ephraim. The whole situation is sad, and the fighting is foolish because it's a fight between relatives. Emotions are high on both sides, and the situation ends in complete tragedy with Jephthah and his men slaughtering 42,000 men.

So what does this sad final chapter of Jephthah's time of judging show you about dealing with conflict, and especially conflict within the family? What about taking action in the heat of the moment when consulting God isn't part of the mix? Tami W.

Tough Times

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Judges 11:1-40

My heart kind of goes out to Jephthah in Judges 11:1-40. Yes, he was a judge, but his journey getting to that point was certainly a tough one. You see Gilead was Jephthah's father, but his mother was a prostitute. Now because of this, Gilead's sons drive Jephthah out and he ends up living in the land of Tob, hanging out with...well...not the best crowd. Now Jephthah was a mighty warrior, so when the Ammonites gather for war against Israel, who do you think the men of Gilead call? You got it--Jephthah--not because they like him or want him back, but because they need him. (Ouch!) So, Jephthah agrees to fight the Ammonites and he is successful. Sadly, though, Jephthah makes a senseless vow to the Lord which leads to Jephthah having to take the life of his only child and daughter.

So what did you learn from the story of Jephthah in Judges 11? Was there anything in particular that struck a chord with you? How might you draw on this passage when it comes to dealing with your personal life circumstances? Tami W.

18 Years?

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Judges 10:1-18

After Abimelech exits the scene, Tola and Jair judge Israel back-to-back for a total of 45 years. But, as soon as Jair dies, and Israel is without a judge, the people immediately turn away from God. "The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD" (Judges 10:6). So God "sells" the Israelites into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites and the people are severely oppressed.

Now what I read next, totally grabbed me. Get this, the Israelites were oppressed for 18 years, before they cried out to God--18 years! What is up with that?!? And it's not until God refuses to come to their immediate rescue and reminds them of their rebellious hearts that they "put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD" (vs. 16). This passage was an eye opener and highlighted for me just how important it is that I keep a short account with the Lord.

So how did this passage impact you? What did the Israelites show you about our rebellious hearts and our propensity to go after foreign gods? Tami W.

Worldly

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Judges 9:1-57

Gideon had 70 sons and when he died, Abimelech, the son of one of Gideon's servants, raises himself up to become king. Everything we see about Abimelech is bad. And the more I read, the more I found myself thinking how he was a total product of worldly thinking and living, and how we need to be careful because we can fall right into this same mindset and thinking. Abimelech was conniving, power hungry, all about himself, and although this passage doesn't specifically tell us, I'm guessing into having money and things as well since he was so determined to be king.

So what did this passage show you about the pull of the world? What else did you learn from the story of Abimelech today? Tami W.

Lips with the Heart

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Judges 8:22-35

After Gideon saves Israel, the men of Israel approach him and ask Gideon to rule over them. Gideon's answer is impressive. "I will not rule over you. . .the Lord will rule over you" (Judges 8:23). But then, almost in the same breath, he asks each person to give him the earrings from the spoil of the battle. As a result, Gideon rakes in 1700 shekels of gold and proceeds to make an ephod (a garment worn by priests) which he places in his home city. "And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family" (vs. 27). So Gideon talked the right talk about God, but his actions didn't match up.

Now, as much as I want to roll my eyes and point a condemning finger at Gideon here, I can think of a number of times when I've done the same thing. I know the right answer so I speak it, but in my heart, I'm not quite there. Are you with me? So what are some things we can do to make sure our lips and our heart are in agreement? And if we find ourselves in an out of sync situation, how do we take care of it? Tami W.

Careful with Anger

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Judges 8:1-21

Anger is a powerful emotion and because of that, it can also be dangerous. It's not a sin to get angry. It's how we choose to handle our anger that's key. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger; and give no opportunity to the devil." Gideon let his anger drive and control him and it led him right down the path to sin.

Getting angry is a given. But sinning because of our anger isn't. So how do we combat the pull to react sinfully like Gideon? What are some checks you might put in place to help you respond without sinning the next time something makes you angry? Tami W.

Only with God

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Judges 7:16-25

Trumpets, empty jars and torches led to the route of the Midianite and Amalekite armies that were "like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance" (Judges 7:12). Pretty impressive and only possible because of God. I love it!

So what does this battle passage show you about God handling your most difficult situations (as well as those day-to-day struggles)? How will you use Judges 7 to strengthen your trust in and reliance upon God? Did this passage encourage you today? Tami W.

Plan B

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Judges 7:1-18

So Gideon rises to the challenge and rallies 32,000 men to fight. He's, no doubt, thinking this is the army that defeats the Midianites. But God has other plans and decreases Gideon's forces to a mere 300 men. Think about that...32,000 down to 300. Yikes! But Gideon completely goes with God--no doubting, no questions.

So did you catch why the army was decreased? Because God knew that if Gideon and his army of 32,000 were victorious they wouldn't give the credit to God but would take it for themselves. "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest they boast over me, saying 'My own hand has saved me'" (Judges 7:2).

So have you ever "boasted over" God? I sure have. Definitely not a wise thing to do because it feeds and builds that prideful "all about me" syndrome. :( So how do we avoid a boasting mindset? And when we do make the mistake of boasting over God, what can we do to correct it? Tami W.

Judges 6:1-24

To fleece or not to fleece--that's the question on my mind after reading Judges 6:36-40. The time has come for Israel to go to battle against the Midianites and Amalekites. Gideon has rallied the troops, but he's still a little uncertain and fearful. So, using a fleece of wool, he asks God for two very specific signs to let him know if God is serious about using him to rescue Israel. Both times, God responds just as Gideon requested.

Now here's the thing, God is God. He's in control and He certainly doesn't answer to us. Yet, He answers Gideon's specific requests for signs. Now I'm a little torn on this one because it doesn't seem right to me to put a fleece before God. But then again, maybe it's not the request itself that's problematic, but whether it's a demand on our part or a sincere request because we need guidance.

So let's hear it. What are your thoughts on "to fleece or not to fleece" and why? Tami W.

Yes, You Can

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Judges 6:1-24

Israel was brought very low because of Midian because the Midianites pillaged and stripped the land and its resources season after season (Judges 6:5-6). This is the scenario when the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and calls him--actually commands him--to rise up and be Israel's next judge. Well Gideon's response is less than impressive. Here are a few of the words that came to my mind describing Gideon in this introductory passage: afraid, not confident, uncertain, hesitant, doubtful. Even so, God selected him for a huge task. Hmmm....

So what did Judges 6:1-24 show you about your capability, as well as your possibility, to serve the Lord? What did you learn about God from this passage? Tami W.

Willingly

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Judges 5:1-31

Quite the song today in Judges 5:1-31. I wish we could hear the actual melody and take it in just as it was sung way back when. Now that's not possible, but I'm thankful that we can at least take in and consider the words of this song of celebration. As I was doing that this morning, what was conveyed in verses 2 and 9 totally touched my heart. "That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!" and "My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people." These words really made me stop and think about how and what I offer to the Lord and how I could do more and better.

So think about this--are you offering yourself willingly to the Lord? Are there any areas where you could be more open and willing? How will you get there? Tami W.

Battle Time

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Judges 4:12-24

It's time for battle and team Deborah and Barak respond, stepping out in faith. Barak has 10,000 men to fight Jabin's forces which are being led by Sisera, king Jabin's military general who had an impressive and scary 900 iron chariots. Now Sisera and his army are crushed, I mean demolished--but not because of Barak. Did you notice these two telling verses? "And the Lord routed Sisera, and his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword" (Judges 4:15). And then verse 23, "So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Caanan before the people of Israel."

So what battles are you fighting today based on your own strength? What do you need to do to let go and turn them over to the Lord? How can you use Judges 4 to help you fully rely on God in all circumstances? Tami W.

Stronger Together

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Judges 4:1-14

I've always liked the story of Deborah and Barak because ... well ... Deborah's a girl. :) But putting that aside, I like this story because It reinforces the importance of working together with fellow Christ-followers. Judges 4:1-14 shows us that working together has its benefits--keeping each other accountable, encouraging one another, getting things done. Having like-minded people around you is a good thing when you're a Christian whose desire is to serve the Lord.

So what are some things you can do to get more involved with others as you're working for the Lord? If you're not already, how can you be part of a Christian "support" team? Tami W.

Judges 3:12-31

Our first three judges, Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar, got me thinking about being used by God. Now what's written about each of these men shows me a number of things: they listened to God, they moved when He called them to action, and they trusted God to go before them. But what's not written down is also telling. Did you notice how there's no mention of things like success, popularity, exceptional mental or physical abilities? That tells me that God uses ordinary people. Hmm...I like that because that means you and I are capable of doing amazing things for God too.

So what did you learn from our first three judges? What are some ways "ordinary" you can be used by God right now? Tami W.

Judges 3:1-11

Because of Israel's disobedience, God leaves a number of nations in place to test the Israelites. And what we see is that Israel accepted and joined right in with them. Judges 3:6 tells us "And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods." And then verse 7 says "They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth."

Ouch...what a good reminder of the influence ungodly thinking and living can have on us. These verses relay the message that we can't afford to underestimate the pull and the power of the world around us, and that we need to be extra careful and mindful of God's Word and ways in all situations.

So what are some helps for standing strong and not giving in to the ungodly influences that are constantly pressing in around us? How do you guard against that subtle and gradual influx of worldly thinking? Tami W.

One Generation

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Judges 2:10-23

It's not uncommon anymore to run into someone, especially someone younger, and have them tell you they've never been to church before. Now that seems odd to me because when I was growing up most every kid in my grade school or high school went to church at least once in a while. But as we see here in Judges 2:10-23, it doesn't take long for us as a family, a church group or a country, to move away from God and as a result lose our foundation and bearings. "After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord, or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel" (vs. 10); "How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord's commands" (vs. 17).

So what does Judges 2:10-23 show you about falling away from the Lord and His teaching? What about the importance of teaching others, and particularly the next generation, about following God? How are you, or can you, take an active part in keeping God's Word at the forefront not only with your own generation but with the younger generation as well? Tami W.

Us...Too

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Judges 1:22-2:5

"'What is this you have done?'" (Judges 2:2). This was the key verse for me. It was piercing and really drove home the disobedient hearts and attitudes of the Israelites at this time. Verse after verse in Judges 1:22-2:5 laying out and describing disregard, disrespect and disobedience for God and His commands. Heartbreaking really, but, definitely a passage we need to read and consider because, as hard as it might be to admit, we think, act and respond like those Israelites all too often.

Take a couple of minutes and read through Judges 1:22-2:5 again. As you read, focus on what these verses reveal about disobedience as it pertains to us and our lives. Then, consider what they show us about God and His perspective and handling of disobedience. What did you find? Tami W.

Bring on Judges!

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Judges 1:1-21; 2:6-10

All through the month of October, we're going to be in the Book of Judges. This is one of my favorite Books and God shows me more and more each time I read it. So I encourage you to make the most out of the time we spend together in this amazing Book this month and to listen to Dr. Kroll's messages on Judges on Back to the Bible. You won't be disappointed.

Judges follows immediately on the heels of the Book of Joshua which ends with the Israelites vowing to follow and serve the Lord and then Joshua's death (see Joshua chapter 24). So as Judges begins, we see Judah and Simeon stepping to the forefront in Joshua's absence. The people ask the Lord who should go up against the Canaanites and He responds "'Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.'"

What does Judges 1 show us about the importance of following the Lord in all things? Tami W.

No Slumber

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Psalm 121:1-8

I love when I read a passage that I've read many times before and something new jumps off the page at me. Well, that's exactly what happened today when I read Psalm 121. This is such an encouraging passage to begin with, but when I got to verses 3 and 4 I had one of those "light bulb" moments. Why? Because the God of the universe cares so much about us that He never sleeps or slumbers. "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

So take a couple of minutes and really think about God being our Helper and that He never takes a break from that role. How amazing is that?!? How will this impact you going forward? Tami W.

Coping 101

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Psalm 120:1-7

Sometimes our circumstances are just plain...yuck (you fill in your own details). No, we don't like it at all, but those times are just part of life. That's what I see as I read Psalm 120. The writer finds himself living with and surrounded by ungodly people and apparently, he's unable to leave. So he does what he can. He cries out to God and relies on Him for strength and comfort to cope with this difficult situation.

So what does Psalm 120 show you about dealing with times of trouble and difficulties? How will you draw on these verses? 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 October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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