March 2012 Archives

Tell It Like It Is

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Psalm 69:1-18

Psalm 69 tugs at my heart. David is pouring out his hurts, his fears, his frustrations to God and the emotional way he communicates draws me in. And even though the tone is heavy, I find it refreshing because it is so open and honest. Plus, it shows me very clearly David's complete reliance and trust in God.

Is open, honest, and sincere communication with God the norm for you? What are some of the things that hold you back when you communicate with God? Tami W.

Excellent Leader

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Mark 10:32-45

Jesus and the twelve disciples are headed to Jerusalem when Jesus talks with them about his coming crucifixion. Right after this, James and John ask Jesus to "Grant us to sit, one at our right hand and one at your left, in our glory." Now I was thinking, Really? That "request" is way out of line. But Jesus handled the situation so wisely. Here's what I noticed:

  • Jesus is forthright with the disciples. He tells them what is coming.
  • He listens to the special request put before Him.
  • Instead of being critical of James and John for making a foolish request, He explains why He cannot do what they ask.
  • And finally, Jesus deals immediately with the frustration of the other disciples and uses what has happened as a teaching opportunity about serving.

So what did you see about Jesus from this passage? Any additional leadership qualities to add to the list? Tami W.

P.S. I've included a slideshow of more photos taken in Israel. I hope you've enjoyed our road trip for the past two weeks!

Garden Tomb

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John 19:38-42; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; Matthew 27:57-61

After Jesus dies, Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus' body. Pilate agrees to the request and Joseph takes Jesus and, with the help of Nicodemus, prepares his body for burial in Joseph's private tomb. The short parallel passages for today give us a pretty good look at a one of Jesus' followers (Joseph of Arimathea) who wasn't one of Jesus' twelve disciples. I was impressed by Joseph's actions in this dark time. The big thing that caught my attention was how Joseph didn't let the horrible events of the day incapacitate him. Speaking from experience, that can happen pretty easily. Something bad happens and we just freeze, we don't know quite what to do. But not Joseph. He saw a need and took on the task of caring for Jesus' body. His actions were deliberate and he didn't let anything get in his way.

So what did you learn from Joseph (or Nicodemus) from the passages for today? Tami W.

P.S. In keeping with tradition, I've posted some pictures of the Garden Tomb. :)

John 8:1-11

The Pharisees bring a woman who has been caught in adultery to the temple where Jesus is teaching. They want Jesus to condemn the woman to death by stoning, but Jesus doesn't comply. Instead, he replies "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Well Jesus is the only person there who fits this description and He isn't throwing anything. Before you know it, everyone is gone except Jesus and the woman, and Jesus tells her that He has not condemned her and to go and sin no more.

There's a lot going on in this passage. So what did you learn about sin from each of the characters in this passage? Tami W.

P.S. The picture below is of the steps to the temple in Jerusalem.

Steps to Temple in Jerusalem

John 9:1-41

Last Friday our tour group spent the day in Jerusalem visiting the ruins of the City of David and then, just below it, the ruins of the Pool of Siloam. (Take a look at some of the photos below.) Jesus comes across a man who had been blind from birth in John 9:1-41. Jesus spits in the dirt, makes mud and then puts the mud on the blind man's eyes and tells him "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." The man does exactly as Jesus says and his eyesight is restored.

Pretty amazing, don't you think? Well the Pharisees, don't see it that way at all. They're way more interested in, and worked up about, Jesus healing on the Sabbath. So the Pharisees aggressively confront the healed man and they basically try to discredit Jesus and get him to say that Jesus is a sinner. But the healed man stands his ground. He knows what he experienced and he's going to tell it like it is. As a result, the Pharisees cast him out of the synagogue. Harsh.

So what did you learn from the healed man's actions and words? What did John 9:1-41 show you about standing up for Jesus? Tami W.

Spiritual Healing

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John 5:1-17

The pool of Bethesda today is ruins, but in Jesus' day it was a very special place. It was a pool located near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem where sick people would gather waiting for an opportunity to be healed. You see the water would stir from time to time and the first person who could enter the pool while the water was moving would be healed. In John 5:1-17 Jesus comes to the pool of Bethesda and sees a man who has been unable to walk for 38 years. This man has been coming to the pool year after year in hopes of getting healed but because he can't walk, he can never get to the water when it stirs. Jesus speaks to this man and asks him if he wants to be healed. Of course, the man says yes, and then Jesus tells him "Get up, take up your bed, and walk" (vs. 8). Without hesitation, the man gets up and walks away healed.

As I thought about this encounter, it dawned on me how this story really shows us a picture of a world starving for spiritual healing. They want and need spiritual healing, but they don't know how to attain it. And, they are open to hearing about it from others (that's where you and I come in). This past week in Israel I had the opportunity to share Christ with a Muslim store keeper. I had never spoken to a Muslim about Jesus before, and I was a little scared because I didn't know how he would respond. But I asked Jesus to help me and jumped in. Guess what? He listened to every word I said and we talked for 20 minutes or so. He didn't receive Jesus as Savior, but at least he heard about the Son of God and Savior. I'm praying for this sweet man and his family and hope that someday they will know Jesus personally.

So what are you doing to tell others about Jesus and the eternal life that comes only through Him? What can you do to be more aware of opportunities to share Christ? Tami W.

A Good Broken

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Psalm 51:1-19

When I read or hear the word broken, generally bad things come to mind. But when it comes to our walk with the Lord, being broken isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, it's desirable. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

So what does having a broken spirit and a contrite heart mean to you? What might that look like as we live out our lives? Tami W.

P.S. Tomorrow I'll be sharing more thoughts & pictures from my time in Israel.

Astounding Actions

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Psalm 66:1-20

Psalm 66 basically starts off marveling about God's awesome deeds. And then when we get to verse 5 we see that God "is awesome in his deeds towards the children of man." So that thought--that God does awesome deeds for us and specifically for me--stuck in my mind as I read on. Then I hit verse 16 "let me tell you what he has done for me." That got me thinking about and remembering what some of those incredible deeds were. There were plenty--like giving me my husband and sustaining our marriage, bringing me to Back to the Bible for my work, and guiding me to an incredible church where I can participate and use my gifting--just to name a few biggies.

So what are some of the awesome deeds God has done on your behalf? Think about it. Then how about living out verse 16 and telling us about some of your experiences? You'll be glad you did. Tami W.

Matthew 5:1-11

Jesus teaches point blank that those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness (being right with God), are blessed. Now when I read these words my first reaction is Hey, I'm on board with that. I'm guessing that's your reaction too?

So what does hungering and thirsting for righteousness mean to you? On a day to day basis, what does it look like in your life? Tami W.

P.S. Check out the gorgeous view from the Mount of Beatitudes.

Stormy Seas

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Matthew 8:23-27

We began our first morning in Israel on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. It was a rainy and windy morning, but it was still quite beautiful, and oh, what a view. We sailed out to the middle of the sea and there Dr. Kroll opened God's Word and taught from Matthew 8:23-27 about dealing with the storms of life.

Storms are something we're all familiar with. Like it or not, they're just part of life. But while we may not be able to control the storm, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us and we can rely fully on Him through it all.

So what did you learn about dealing with the storms of life from Matthew 8:23-27? What are you going through right now that you need to turn over to the Lord? Tami W.

Matthew 8:5-13

One of the places we visited in Israel this week was Capernaum. Now the city as it stands today is just excavated ruins, but in Jesus' day this was an important seaside city. The city was also important to Jesus and became his "home away from home" after the crowds rejected him in his hometown of Nazareth.

In Matthew 8:5-13 Jesus encounters a Roman centurion who seeks Jesus out to ask him to heal one of his servants. Jesus is amazed by this Gentile's (non-Jew's) faith and heals the servant from afar speaking these simple words "Go; let it be done for you as you have believed" (vs. 13).

What did the account of the Roman centurion reveal to you about faith generally, and your own faith? What did this passage show you about Jesus? Tami W.

P.S. Enjoy a few pictures of Capernaum.

Joshua 6:1-27

God tells Joshua "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor" (Joshua 6:2). But Jericho is still a fortified city at this point. And then, God gives this plan to Joshua--to have all the men march around Jericho once each day for six days and then on the seventh day to march around seven times with the priests blowing trumpets. Then when the priests made a long blast with the trumpets, all the people were to shout and the walls of the city would fall down (vs. 3-5).

So do you wonder what Joshua was thinking at this point? I sure do because--wow--this is not a typical battle plan. In fact, it doesn't sound like a battle plan at all. Yet, Joshua's response is impressive. He didn't question, he didn't hesitate, he didn't waiver. He followed God's instructions to the letter immediately.

So what did you learn from Joshua and the battle of Jericho about responding to and following God's leading? What will you do the next time you feel God prompting you to do something that seems odd to you or that you don't understand? Tami W.

P.S. Just took these pictures of Jericho in the past few days.

1 Samuel 23:29-24:22

In 1 Samuel 24 David and Saul come face-to-face at Engedi. David and his men are hiding from Saul and his army in one of the many caves in the wilderness of Engedi. Saul enters the cave where David is at to go to the bathroom. David is presented with what looks like the perfect opportunity to kill Saul and end all the craziness of running for his life. But instead of taking matters into his own hands and killing Saul, David shows himself to Saul and confronts him about his relentless and unfounded quest to kill David. What an example of total trust in, and submission to, God.

So what can we do to respond more like David when the opportunity to "make things right" in our own eyes presents itself? What helps you release and turn over your circumstances to God? Tami W.

P.S. Take a look at the caves and springs at Engedi.

1 Samuel 17:38-51

It's one of the best-known stories of the Bible--David and Goliath--and it all played out in the Valley of Elah. The entire account of David's coming to fight Goliath and his god-empowered victory over him, is in 1 Samuel 17. And as I focused on David, the main thing that I noticed was how David never took his eyes off the Lord--never, not once. Oh to be like David.

So have you had any David and Goliath experiences that the Lord has brought you through? How do we (you) keep our (your) focus on God and God alone--especially in those tough and uncertain times? Tami W.

P.S. The picture below of the Valley of Elah was taken on one of my recent trips to the Holy Land.

Valley of Elah

Matthew 26:36-45

The Garden of Gethsemane is one of my favorite places in Israel. The olive trees, some of them dating back over 1,500 years, are stunning with their knots, twists and craggy trunks and branches. But what makes this place even more beautiful is knowing that this was a special place for Jesus and where he went to pray before he was arrested and crucified. I find the account in Matthew 26:36-45 so tender. And the fact that, just like me, Jesus was "sorrowful and troubled," helps me get a better understanding of Jesus.

So what did this passage show you about Jesus? Like Jesus, do you have a particular place where you like to meet and talk with God? Tami W.

P.S. Enjoy a few pictures from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Proverbs 24:23-34

Honesty was the underlying theme that stood out to me in Proverbs 24:23-34, and right away we see instruction concerning our speech. "An honest answer kisses the lips" (vs. 26) and "do not deceive with your lips" (vs. 28). But this passage also addresses the need for us to be diligent (honest) in doing our own work. "Prepare your work outside" (vs. 27) and "field of the sluggard" (vs. 30-34).

So what do you do to keep yourself on the right path when it comes to speaking with truth and honesty? What about being diligent in the area of work? Tami W.

P.S. As of today, I am in Israel as part of the Spring Back to the Bible Holy Land Tour with Dr. Kroll. So we'll be spending some time looking at scriptures that take place at certain places in Israel or that talk specifically about different places in Israel. I'll be blogging on the road and will do my best to post a few photos of some of these places.

Fundamental Steps

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Proverbs 22:17-29

In my Bible the heading for Proverbs 22:17-29 says "Words of the Wise" and that's certainly the case throughout these verses. But there were two phrases that sent an especially strong message to me today. The first is in verse 17 where we're told to apply our hearts to knowledge, and then verse 18 which lets us know we need to be ready to speak wise words with our lips.

So how are you "applying" your heart to godly knowledge? And as far as your lips go, are you making the most of your opportunities to speak wisely--and how? Tami W.

Sound Construction

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Proverbs 24:1-14

My husband and I have owned three houses and it didn't take me long at all to realize how critical the foundation is to a house. The outside can look beautiful, the kitchen might be magnificent, but if the foundation isn't sound, you're going to run into problems. So when I read Proverbs 24:3 "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established" it resonated with me. I got the message loud and clear that I have to have a solid foundation for my life (house) which can only come from my taking in and storing up godly knowledge and understanding through time in God's Word.

So what's the current state of your "foundation"? What are you doing to build and maintain your "house" on godly knowledge, understanding and wisdom? Tami W.

Wise Lips

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Proverbs 20:1-30

My favorite from Proverbs 20 is verse 15 "lips of knowledge are a precious jewel." My head was nodding in agreement as I read it. You see, one of the most difficult things for me is to keep control of what comes out of my mouth--and not just the actual words, but also the tone and attitude I use when delivering those words. My mom used to tell me "If you can't say something nice, then don't say it at all." That's basically the underlying message I saw in verse 15. Our speech is powerful, so using our mouth wisely is precious.

So would you say you have "lips of knowledge that are a precious jewel"? No matter your answer, how can you improve? What are some things we can do to keep our words wise? Tami W.

Ongoing Process

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Proverbs 1:1-7

Solomon starts Proverbs by giving us a look at some of the things that are part of having wisdom. I found these verses helpful because they gave me a more complete picture of what wisdom looks like rather than just being told to "be wise." And, Proverbs 1:5 was key in my mind because it confirmed that getting wisdom and knowledge requires action on my part. "Let the wise hear and increase in learning. . ."

So how are you attaining wisdom? What are you doing to "hear and increase in learning"? Tami W.

Fragrant Words

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Psalm 141:1-10

David's prayer is a good one in Psalm 141. He's calling out to God concerning his situation and basically asking God to help him stay on the course of righteousness. But it's what David said as he started his prayer that really hit me. He says in verse 2 "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you. . ."

So what did verse 2 communicate to you? Did David's words give you a different perspective on prayer? Tami W.

Plan A

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Psalm 140:1-13

Based on his descriptions, David's in a tough spot in Psalm 140. Even so, there's this total recognition that God is in control of it all. What a good example of complete reliance and trust in God. David's not looking anywhere else but to God for solutions. God is David's plan A.

So often our tendency is to jump in and take control and try to solve our problems ourselves. Then, when things get really bad, we turn to God. So how do we change that? What can you do (or what do you do) to make turning to God Plan A? Tami W.

Polar Opposites

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Proverbs 3:7-8

Deep down we think we know what's best for us and that we're pretty smart. That's human nature and basically the message of the world. But that message of "self" and the message God gives us in Proverbs 3:7 are polar opposites. And then when you read on through verse 8, you also see that the benefits of surrendering to God and following His wisdom are HUGE.

So what are things that you do (or have done) to help you let go of self-pride? How have you experienced "healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones" as a result of surrendering to God? Tami W.

A Fresh Look

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Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6 is such a well-known passage. Sometimes I wonder, though, if we're so familiar with it that we kind of take it for granted. You know, we use it out of routine. We say it, we quote it, we recite. But how much time do we spend thinking it through and considering it?

So spend a few minutes today taking a fresh look at Proverbs 3:5-6. How can you put them into practice (or how are you)? How has God demonstrated these verses to you? Tami W.

From the Lord

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Proverbs 2:6-15

"The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6). What a clear, understandable message. And, these words provide us with confirmation that the more we seek to grow in our relationship with God, the more knowledge and understanding we'll attain. Sounds like a good plan to me! :)

Based on Proverbs 2, what are the benefits of having godly wisdom? What are some examples of how you have experienced these benefits? Tami W.

Treasure Hunt

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treasure map

Proverbs 2:1-5

Wisdom doesn't just happen. It requires ongoing action on our part. That was the primary message I took away from Proverbs 2:1-5. Here's why I say this. Did you notice all the action verbs?

• If you receive my words (vs. 1)
• Treasure up my commandments (vs. 1)
• Making your ear attentive (vs. 2)
• Inclining your heart to understand (vs. 2)
• Call out for insight (vs. 3)
• Raise your voice (vs. 3)
• Seek it like silver (vs. 4)
• Search for it (vs. 4)

So what's your practice when it comes to gaining wisdom? What does seeking wisdom look like for your life? Tami W.

For the Taking

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Proverbs 1:7; 20-33

For the next two weeks we'll be taking an in-depth look at wisdom through the Book of Proverbs. (Dr. Kroll will also be teaching on Proverbs and wisdom on Back to the Bible so plan to join us.) Now today we're looking at part of chapter 1, and there were three things that stood out to me. The big message was the importance of having wisdom. That came across loud and clear. But underlying that, I thought Solomon did a good job of giving us a look at how our free will can lead us away from God and His wisdom (which He offers freely) and how obedience also plays an important role in our attaining wisdom.

So why should we want wisdom based on this passage? Were there any verses that were particularly important for you and why? Tami W.

Father God

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Psalm 139:1-24

I find Psalm 139 humbling. Its message is absolutely precious. And there's no doubt in my mind after reading it that no one knows and understands me like God. That got me thinking. Do I treat God like the awesome God and Father He is? Do I respond to Him with complete trust and love? My honest answer...sometimes. Now that's painful and a little embarrassing to write down because I really wanted to tell you "Oh, yes, my relationship with God is outstanding." Well, it is what it is, and I can't go back and change how I responded yesterday, last month, five years ago. But, I can respond differently today and going forward.

So think about where you're at with God when it comes to things like trust, love, openness, etc. What are some specific actions you can take to move even closer to Him? Based on Psalm 139, how did you think wants you to respond to Him? Tami W.

Aligned Purpose

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Psalm 138:1-8

Giving thanks to the Lord is definitely the driving message of Psalm 138. But within the main theme, I saw a couple of other secondary messages. Did you notice verse 8? "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me." As soon as I read this I thought How awesome is that? And this being the case, it would serve me well to make sure I'm tuned in to God's call and purpose for me, and that what I'm doing is God's plan and not mine.

Each of us is unique, which means God's purpose for you is different than His purpose for me. So what is God's purpose for you right now? How do we make sure that our work is in alignment with His plan for us? Tami W.

Proper Focus

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Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Boy, can I attest to the truth of this verse. As I read it I remembered a conversation I had about 20 years ago shopping with my mom.

I was in college so my husband and I didn't have a lot of money. I saw a sweater that I really liked. It was $30, but there wasn't enough money in our checking account to buy it. I said to my mom "I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to buy something I see for $30 or $40 dollars and not have to worry about whether I have the money." You see, my focus was on money and having things and I was quite confident that if I just had more money, my life would be wonderful. I was dead wrong. It was only a few years later when I graduated from law school that I could spend $40, even $100, without any worrying about money. And guess what? I wasn't satisfied at all. I wanted more. Pretty sad on my part.

So what's your attitude toward money? How do we keep our money--how much we have of it or how we're using it--from taking over and becoming our focus? Tami W.


2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

Paul's words describing how we should use our money resonated with me today.

• Wealth of generosity (2 Cor. 8:2)
• They gave according to their means and beyond (2 Cor. 8:3)
• Willing gift (2 Cor. 9:5)
• Give per your heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7)
• God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7)
• Be generous in every way (2 Cor. 9:11)

So as you can see, it's pretty clear what our attitudes and actions should be when it comes to giving. But in my own experience, I didn't get there overnight. When I first started giving it was out of obedience because I knew I was supposed to give. But as I continued to act obediently, my heart started to change and at some point, I realized I was giving willingly, according to my heart and, most importantly for me, cheerfully. (Thank you, Lord!) That doesn't mean I've "arrived" when it comes to giving. I'm still learning and growing especially in the being generous category and giving beyond my means, and still have twinges of reluctance here and there.

So how does your approach to giving compare to Paul's instructions? Did you see anything in these passages that you need to work on? 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 March 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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