January 2012 Archives

Far Sighted

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Luke 6:17-26


Jesus' message in Luke 6:20-27 pretty much told me that I shouldn't be so concerned about my immediate circumstances but should instead be concerned about eternity and living a godly life in the here and now. Now here's the thing, I know that. I believe that. But then, I walk out the door and all the circumstances of the here and now hit me full on, and if I'm not prepared and careful, my focus slips right to...me and my circumstances. :(

So how can we use the beatitudes (Luke 6:20-27) as life hits us head on each and every day? What do you do that helps you keep your focus on eternity rather than your immediate circumstances? Tami W.

Not about Religion

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Luke 6:1-11

We have a saying here at Back to the Bible. "It's not about religion...It is about a relationship." That's what popped into my mind as I read Luke 6:1-11 and read Jesus' words "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath" (vs. 5), and took in His actions of healing the crippled man on the Sabbath (vs. 10). Jesus is showing the religious leaders that following Him is not about keeping a list of rules and regulations (i.e. religion).

So what does the phrase "It's not about religion...it is about a relationship" mean to you? And how might you use it to explain to someone that being a good person, by itself, will not get them into heaven? Tami W.

Moved by People

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Luke 5:17-26

One thing that really stands out about Jesus in Luke 5 is how He genuinely cares for people. He was moved by them and their circumstances and He took action to do something about it. Yesterday it was a man with leprosy. Today, it's a paralyzed man that has to be let down through the roof to reach Jesus.

So what did you learn and take away from Luke 5:12-16 (the man with leprosy) and Luke 5:17-26 (the paralyzed man) that you can put into practice? Tami W.

Great, yet Humble

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Luke 5:12-16

For the next few days Jesus is healing people in our readings. Today it's a man with leprosy. Now I love the fact that this man got healed in Luke 5:12-16, but Jesus was the real attention getter for me. He is so powerful. And what He is doing is completely awesome. Yet, Jesus doesn't make a big deal about any of it. He doesn't seek the spotlight. There's no self-promotion, no boasting, no pride.

So what did you learn from Jesus' actions? Based on this passage, how important is a humble heart when we're serving the Lord? Tami W.

Reaction and Response

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Luke 5:1-11; 27-31; 6:12-16

Fish net

How people reacted and responded to Jesus was what I found myself focusing on after reading our passages for today. The scene at the Sea of Galilee really got my attention. Initially the fishermen are skeptical of Jesus' instructions to go out deeper and let down their nets. Simon even puts up a little resistance by telling Jesus how they've already tried and didn't catch anything. But obedience wins out and a miraculous catch of fish follows. Then, we see a big change in the men, and particularly in Peter. They were blown away by what they had just witnessed and put everything aside to follow Jesus.

These passages got me thinking about my reaction and response to Jesus--past, present and future. So how does your reaction and response to Jesus compare to Peter and the others here in Luke 5? Does the phrase "they left everything and followed him" describe your relationship with Jesus? Tami W.

All About Jesus

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Luke 4:1-44

There's a lot going in Luke 4, and the best part about that is, the chapter all revolves around Jesus. I enjoyed getting an up close look at a couple of days of Jesus' life--what He was doing and saying, and what different people's perception was of Jesus and how they responded to Him.

So rather than focus on one event or one portion of this passage (like we do most of the time), today read Luke 4 with a focus on what you can discover about Jesus. There are four different situations in this chapter, so there's plenty to draw from. So what are a couple of things you saw (maybe for the first time) about Jesus from Luke 4? Why is it significant to you? And how will you now use this information? Tami W.

Preach It, JB!

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Luke 3:1-38

John the Baptist's style was simple, but BOLD. He was honest and direct, and he delivered his message with authority combined with a sense of urgency. John was an effective communicator.

So what did you see from John about telling others about Christ? What did you learn from John's message? Tami W.

Extreme Focus

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Luke 2:1-52

More often than not we read Luke 2 to get a picture of the Christmas story. So today, I thought it would be nice to look at Jesus as a young boy in verses 41-52.

So Joseph, Mary and Jesus go to Jerusalem for the Passover and when the festival is over they head home. . .but without Jesus because he stays behind to spend time in the Temple with the religious leaders. After a frantic three day search, Jesus' words to Joseph and Mary are: "But why did you need to search? Didn't you know that I must be in my Father's house?" (vs. 49). Hmm. . .some good food for thought.

So, what do Jesus' words reveal to us about the importance of knowing and understanding God and His law? What does Jesus' focus on God tell us about our need to do the same? How are you accomplishing that? Tami W.

Christmas Revisited

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Luke 1:1-80

For the next few weeks we're going to be working our way through the Book of Luke on P4 and on Back to the Bible. So this being day one, we're starting in Luke 1. Now we just looked at this chapter back in December for Christmas so maybe you're thinking Not again. We just read this. Or you might be thinking I don't need to read this because I've read it a million times before.

Well, here's the thing--no matter how familiar we think we are with a scripture, God will continue to reveal new things to us when we're faithful and obedient to read His Word. Now I love it when that happens. It's such a great reminder for how rich the Word is and how much I still have to learn.

So ask God to show you something new from Luke 1 and then read the passage. Then, tell us what you uncovered or how God spoke to your heart through Luke 1 today. Tami W.

Never Done

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Nehemiah 13:15-31

A leader's work is never done was the thought in my mind as I read Nehemiah 13. Even though Nehemiah has dealt with many problems up to this point, things are constantly changing and new concerns and issues are discovered that need addressing. And, Nehemiah doesn't hesitate to take action and put in place what is right. He doesn't shy aware from confrontation because he recognizes that dealing with problems head on is necessary in certain situations.

What did you learn from Nehemiah 13 about leadership? What was the most significant thing you learned from the entire book of Nehemiah? Tami W.

No Waiting

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Nehemiah 13:1-14

The first three verses of Nehemiah 13 were significant for me. The people are reading the Law and they discover that what they're doing, intermarrying with the Ammonites and the Moabites, is contrary to God's commands. So what did they do? They immediately took action to correct the situation.

So how do you typically respond when you discover new Truth in God's Word? What does our manner of response reveal about our heart and commitment to the Lord? Tami W.

Massive Praise

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Nehemiah 12:27-47

Well the wall Nehemiah set out to rebuild is done and now it's time for the dedication, and what we see is essentially a massive (and impressive) praise service. (Could you sense the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd?) I thoroughly enjoyed this passage and was touched by it because I am an absolute music lover! I lead worship at my church and I sing every single day to the Lord. These verses gave us a wonderful picture of how music was used, and revealed the way songs, instruments and voices have been part of worship to, and celebration of, the Lord at least since the time of David and Asaph (vs. 46).

So what did this dedication/celebration show you about praising God? How did it compare to what you're used to doing? Tami W.

Keeping Track

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Nehemiah 11:25-12:26

More lists, more names as we come to Nehemiah 12:1-26. And this time around our passage is focused on God's workers, the Levites and priests. Now I threw out the challenge a few days ago for us to slow down and read these detailed, list-filled passages with an eye toward what we can learn from them. Well, I'm throwing out that challenge again.

Read back through Nehemiah 12:1-26 focusing on the information God is putting before us. What do these verses show you about the Levites and priests' lives and work? (Now I'll be honest, the first time I read this passage I didn't see much. But when I went back and read with more intentionality, there was quite a bit there. I just overlooked it.)
Tami W.

Called to Move

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Nehemiah 11:1-24

My husband and I have been part of two church plants. So when I read the first couple of verses of Nehemiah 11 which talked about how one out of ten people relocated to Jerusalem, it immediately reminded me of that process of people moving from the "home church" to the new plant location. It's a big commitment that includes a lot of "new" and "change" plus a bit of sacrifice. I smiled when I read verse 2 "And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem."

Has there been a time in your life when God has asked you to move (any sort of move or change, not just a physical move)? How will you use this passage the next time God asks you to step out and make a change for Him? Tami W.

Giving Back

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Nehemiah 10:1-39

Giving back to the Lord was a big part of Nehemiah 10. In verse 32 the commitment is to "give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of God." Then in verses 35-37 we see the obligation of bringing firstfruits, and we're given specifics of different types of firstfruits. And last but not least, the passage turns to tithing. This entire chapter really drove home the importance of us being active and intentional when it comes to giving to the Lord, and for His work. The very last verse pretty much said it all. "We will not neglect the house of our God" (vs. 34).

What do you consider to be your "firstfruits"? (list them out like we saw here in Nehemiah 10) Are you bringing those to God? If not or if not enough, what can you do to make a change in this area? Tami W.

Do A Look Back

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Nehemiah 9:15-38

A big part of this gathering where the people confessed their sin and worshipped in Nehemiah 9 was a time of looking back and a public recalling of the history between God and the Israelites. And when we get to the end of chapter 9, we see that this approach was good and effective. The people respond by agreeing to obey God. "Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests" (vs. 38).

So how about joining the Israelites today? Take some time to look back and consider your history with God. What did you see, or maybe discover? How can you use your history to grow your relationship with Him moving forward? Tami W.

Action Evidence

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Nehemiah 9:1-15

Yesterday we saw how taking in God's Word changed the hearts and attitudes of the people. And today...another step forward. The people outwardly express their renewed love of God and His Word through confession, worshipping and taking in more of God's Law. I tried to visualize the scene in verses 1-5, and honestly, it was kind of hard to imagine standing and listening to scripture for three hours, and then confessing and worshipping the Lord for three more. That's just not a typical practice this day in age, at least not in the US.

So what did the scene in verses 1-5 reveal to you? Anything you might consider incorporating into your personal time with the Lord? Tami W.

Word Power

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Nehemiah 8:1-18

I found Nehemiah 8:1-18 a little sad, but mostly encouraging. The sad part was how far the people had moved away from God and how they had forgotten His Word. The encouraging part--seeing the power of God's Word. I loved how everyone took in the Word and how doing that caused a complete change of heart in the people.

So what does Nehemiah 8:1-18 show us about our treatment of, and attitude toward, God's Word? What about our need to know, understand and apply it? Tami W.

Oh, The Detail

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Nehemiah 7:5-73

Have you ever noticed the amount of lists (names and numbers) recorded in the Bible? The Bible is truly full of details. That's good for us--right? After all, God is showing us things that matter to Him, and not just big things, but the little things as well. So why is it that when we get to one of these passages--that seem to go on and on with names we don't recognize and can't pronounce--we're tempted to skip it all together (and sometimes we do) or we just skim over it quickly? Hmmm...

Take a few minutes today and read back through the names and numbers put before us in Nehemiah 7. Did you learn anything new from the details God included for us? If so, what? And lastly, what did this passage reveal to you about God? Tami W.

Battle of Minds

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Nehemiah 6:1-7:4

I really enjoy action, thriller movies. There's the "good guy" trying to save a country or someone's life or whatever, and then, there are the bad guys. They're cunning, generally have no ethics and they'll do pretty much anything to get their way.
Ok, maybe it wasn't as extreme as an action thriller, but Nehemiah 6 kind of reminded me of a movie today. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem (the bad guys) opposed what Nehemiah was doing and they tried a number of tactics to stop him. But the one strategy they never abandoned was trying to instill fear. And, that makes sense. Fear is a powerful, influencing emotion. That being the case, it can be used as a powerful weapon. Once fear takes root, it can really snowball out of control and mess up our thinking and actions. That's exactly what "the bad guys" were hoping for with Nehemiah. But Nehemiah had God on his side and he didn't fall for it.
None of us are strangers to fear, and what causes fear is different for each of us in our unique situations. So what did you learn from Nehemiah about dealing with opposition and handling fear? Tami W.

Multiple Tasker

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Nehemiah 5:1-19

Nehemiah's primary task is rebuilding the city wall and gates of Jerusalem. But he made the most of his time and accomplished a number of other important tasks as well. Today Nehemiah takes on the challenge of righting a serious situation where the common Jewish people were being gouged financially by the nobles and officials.
I learned quite a bit about godly leadership from Nehemiah today. After I read Nehemiah 5:1-19 through, I went back and looked for qualities Nehemiah displayed and used that I found admirable. Here's my list: helper; fixer; hard worker; compassionate; concerned for the people; honest; fair; spokesperson; generous; genuine. What was the most meaningful thing you saw about Nehemiah in chapter 5? What did you learn from it and how will you put it into practice in your life? Tami W.

Expect It

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Nehemiah 4:1-23

As we come to Nehemiah 4, good progress has been made rebuilding the wall and Sanballat and Tobiah are not at all happy about it. In fact, they are downright angry. So much so that they make plans to attack Nehemiah and all those involved in the rebuilding project.

As I read this passage, the spiritual warfare going on was so evident. It was a good reminder for me that Satan doesn't like it when we are accomplishing things for the Lord, and as we're working for Him, we should expect opposition and be prepared for it.
What did you learn from Nehemiah (the man) about responding to, and coping with, opposition? What did he show you about being a leader in difficult circumstances? Tami W.

All Hands On Deck

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Nehemiah 3:1-32

For the next two weeks we'll be reading through and considering Nehemiah as Dr. Kroll teaches from this incredible book on Back to the Bible. Our reading is starting in chapter 3, but in the first two chapters we've been told that Nehemiah is in captivity, that he is the cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, the King of Persia, and that he has gotten word that the city of Jerusalem is in a state of shambles. Nehemiah is heartbroken and after seeking the Lord's direction, he gets permission from King Artaxerxes to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. As we come to chapter 3, Nehemiah is in Jerusalem. He's met with the Jewish people and gotten their support to rebuild the walls.

Nehemiah was an exceptional leader, but what caught my attention today, wasn't so much Nehemiah and his actions, but all the other people and names in this passage who stepped up to work on this massive building project. Talk about a picture of unity and the Body working together. It was simply impressive--goldsmiths, priests, merchants, temple servants, women, perfumers--all contributed to this important undertaking.

So what from Nehemiah 3 can you use and apply to your own life situation? Was there anything in particular that really spoke to your heart from this passage today? Tami W.

P.S. I hope you can join Dr. Kroll and me for this series on Nehemiah. It's called Effective Leadership in the 21st Century and it's full of information and guidelines that we can use every single day.

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Great and Above

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Psalm 135:1-21

Yesterday "bless the Lord," today the command is "praise the Lord." And, right after issuing this instruction, the psalmist goes on and gives us example after example of why God is worthy of all our praise.

So I thought it would be good for us to join the psalmist today by making verse 5 our own, if you will. You can do that by finishing this sentence:

For I know the Lord is great and above all gods because ____________________________. Tami W.

Bless the Lord!!

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Psalm 134:1-3

The call to action is clear in Psalm 134--"Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord" (vs. 1). And then in verse two we see the command again, only this time with some specifics. "Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord." Ok, bless the Lord it is for us today.

So how are you blessing the Lord? What does "lifting your hands" mean for you? Is it a literal lifting of your hands or something else? Or maybe both? Tami W.

Part of the Family

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Ephesians 1:3-6; Galatians 4:3-7

We're told in both Ephesians 1 and Galatians 4 that we are children of God, that God chose us and adopted us, and that we are sons and heirs of God. Talk of being a child of God or being part of the family of God is common in Christian circles. But how often do we really take time to jump in and consider what a privilege being a child of God is and what that really means--not only to us but to God? For me, the answer has to be not nearly enough.

So, let's do it. Take some time today to really ponder being a child of God. What does that mean to you? And, that being the case, what should your relationship with God look like? And finally, what do these two passages show you about how much God values and loves you? Tami W.

Total Necessity

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Isaiah 40:28-31

Four well-known and powerful verses for us in Isaiah 40:28-31. I don't know how many times I've read this passage, but for me today they highlighted the huge difference between God and me...but, at the same time, how this all powerful, infinitely wise, Creator God was available and there for me. How awesome. As I finished reading, one thought occupied my mind--I SO NEED GOD!!

What did Isaiah 40:28-31 reveal to you about God? What did these verses convey to you about needing God? Tami W.

Routine is Good

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Psalm 5:1-12

David gives us a glimpse of his routine with God in Psalm 5 (every morning). His words show me a personal, intimate relationship with God. And the kind of familiarity David demonstrates only comes through repeated communication.

So do you have a routine with God? What is it, and how is it working for you? Is there something you could do to make your time with the Lord even more meaningful?

Now if you don't really have a routine, I can't encourage you enough try it. When I finally took that step, it made a huge difference almost immediately. So start with a small goal--maybe one week of being in the Word at a specified time. Then at the end of the week set another goal. You'll be glad you did. Tami W.

God Speaking

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John 1:1-16

We're only looking at two verses today and in a little different way than usual. Instead of considering how to put 2 Timothy 3:16-17 into practice, I'm taking the approach of what do these two verses show us about God, our relationship with Him and the importance of the Bible.

For me, these verses reveal the personal character and nature of God and how He wants to be in relationship with us. They really drove home how God isn't just some distant deity, demanding my loyalty and tribute. He is communicating and speaking to us through His Word. That being the case, engaging the Bible is the primary way we learn about, and grow closer to, Him.

So what did these verses show you about God? What has, and does, God's Word mean to you? (To help you answer this last question, consider things like: What would your life look like without it? How important is being in God's Word? How many times each week are you engaging it? On an importance scale of 1-10 where would you put the Bible?). Tami W.

Yummy Food!

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Psalm 63:1-11

Chocolate ExcessI have about three psalms that I call my favorites and Psalm 63 is at the top of that list. All the descriptions David uses to portray his feelings toward, and relationship with God, give me a clear picture of the love and passion I should have for God.

I particularly like verse 5: "My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food. . ." It totally connects with me because I absolutely LOVE eating dessert (and spend way too much time thinking about it--but that's another blog.) So, when I read verse 5 I think about this dessert my husband and I share at our favorite restaurant. It's called Chocolate Excess (that's actually a picture from one of my recent trips to the restaurant) and, let me tell you, the word YUMMY doesn't do it justice. It's a big, thick triple fudge brownie that isn't quite cooked all the way through (so it's really soft, almost gooey). It's served very warm with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, walnuts and then big pieces of chocolate shards over the top. I don't think there's any food I enjoy more than this dessert.

So...after I recall this "dessert experience," I ask myself if I feel that strongly about God and my relationship with Him and His Word? This really gets me thinking about where I'm at with God and continuing to grow closer to Him.

So take a minute and think about what your favorite food is, and how much you crave it and enjoy it. Do you hunger after time with God and His Word like you do this particular food? Now I'd love to hear what favorite food you used for this exercise and any thoughts you had after you finished. Have fun! Tami W.

Luke 11:1-13

After Jesus says the Lord's Prayer, he spends a good bit of time explaining to the disciples how important it is for us to bring our requests to the Lord in prayer. And for this to happen, it requires us to initiate the dialogue and communication. "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (vs. 9).

So how are you doing in the "dialogue with God" department? What's something Jesus showed you today about prayer? 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 January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2011 is the previous archive.

February 2012 is the next archive.

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