May 2012 Archives

white flower

Psalm 32:1-11

David gives us quite a bit of insight on confessing our sin in Psalm 32. His words also revealed a lot about God and our relationship with Him.

So what did Psalm 32 show you about unresolved sin? What are some of the benefits of confessing your sin? What did this passage show you about your relationship with God? Tami W.

Proper Approach

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Matthew 18:15-18

People don't stop sinning when they make the decision to follow Christ. Sin is still a part of life that we have to deal with--both as the person who sins and as the one who has been sinned against. Jesus knew this, and in Matthew 18:15-18 He specifically addressed the proper way to handle when a fellow believer behaves badly and sins against us. Wise instruction from Jesus, but not always easy to follow.

Take a couple of minutes and just think about doing exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-18. What are some of the benefits of following Jesus' instructions? What was the key thing that stood out to you from this passage? Tami W.

1 John 1:9

Have you ever felt like your sin is too much, too significant, too bad for God to forgive? Have you ever thought to yourself, can God really forgive me? You know, Satan loves it when we allow our thinking to go this direction. So when I start heading down that guilt-driven path, one of the things I like to do is read 1 John 1:9 for a good dose of Truth. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (Thank you, Lord!)

So what does 1 John 1:9 show you about your sin? What about confession and forgiveness? Tami W.

For Us

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Romans 8:31-39

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" That's Romans 8:31, the very first verse of our reading today. Now I read our entire passage, but I kept coming back and looking at verse 1. Why? Because it's powerful and when I really thought about it, it pretty much says it all. It tells me that if I'm in alignment with God (in other words, I'm in relationship with Him, taking in and living out His Word) I can overcome. With God for me, I can resist temptation. With God for me, I can recover when I do stumble and sin. With God for me, I can live fully and freely for Him. "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

So what does Romans 8:31 communicate to you? What other promises did you find in Romans 8:31-39, and how will you draw on them going forward? Tami W.

P.S. Check out this week's encouraging messages on Back to the Bible. They're all about how God helps us through our sin and failures so we can get back up again and learn from our mistakes.

Bowed Down

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Psalm 146:1-10

One phrase stood out to me as I took in Psalm 146. "The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down" (vs. 8). That same phrase was also part of Psalm 145 that we read yesterday. Psalm 145:14 says "The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down." Based on these two verses, I'm pretty sure me being "bowed down" to God is important. So I took a little time this morning and considered what all "bowed down" could mean for me. I also thought about how my "bowing down" is really significant to having a right relationship with God.

So what does "bowed down" mean to you? Why do you think your being "bowed down" is so important to God? Tami W.

Directed Praise

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Psalm 145:1-21

There's no question that God wants and expects our praise. But Psalm 145 also makes it clear that our praise has a secondary purpose--to inform others about God and His goodness. Verse 4 tells us how one generation should speak well about God's works and share God's mighty acts with another generation. Then in verses 11-12 David again talks about how we should speak about God's glory and power and His mighty deeds to children.

So what does your praise look like? Are you using your praise to tell and show others about God? What are some examples of "directed praise"? Tami W.

Money Pull

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Acts 5:1-11

Ananias and Sapphira gave in to temptation and sinned because of money. Here's a little context. In Acts 4 we're told this about the first century church and believers, "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need" (Acts 4:34-35). Ananias and Sapphira are part of this group. They sell some property with the intent of giving the proceeds to the church. But instead of giving what they received from the sale of the property, they lie about the sale so they can keep part of the money for themselves. Well Peter calls Ananias out "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? . . . You have not lied to man but to God" (Acts 5:3,5). That very day, both Ananias and Sapphira die as a result of their sin.

So what does this passage show you about temptation and sin, especially when it concerns money? What did it show you about God's view on honesty and having a generous heart? Tami W.

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Genesis 3:1-19

Have you ever noticed how it's easier to fall into sin when someone that you love or trust is sinning and encouraging you to join them? It just makes it harder to say "no." That's exactly what I see going on in Genesis 3:1-19. Eve has made the decision to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree and she sways Adam to do the same. But surprisingly, Adam doesn't put up any resistance whatsoever. He simply joins in. What a picture of the powerful influence others can have on us, especially when it comes to sinning.

So how did the account of Adam and Eve falling to temptation and sinning help you today? Where did God focus your thoughts as you read this passage? Tami W.

Just Say No

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Matthew 4:1-11

I've heard my fair share of sermons and messages on the temptation of Jesus. So as I got ready to read this familiar passage, I asked the Lord to direct me to something I hadn't focused on before. So what did I notice? How Jesus didn't entertain any of Satan's temptations--period. Jesus simply says "no," He means it and He's done. Now this was good for me to see because it reinforced the wisdom of not even considering whatever it is that's tempting me. Taking time to think about and consider the temptation is really opening the door to it, and then saying "no" becomes that much more difficult.

So what did you learn about defeating temptation from Jesus' actions and words in Matthew 4:1-11? Tami W.

Steps

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2 Samuel 11:1-27

As I read the account of David and Bathsheba, what I saw was how there is a progression when it comes to sinning. First, David looked and saw Bathsheba. He was tempted, but instead of turning away, he took a step forward and thought about Bathsheba. He lusted. Well, that led him to yet another step of taking action. He sends for Bathsheba, he "takes" her, even though he is totally aware that she is a married woman. So David looked, he thought about and dwelled on what he saw and then he took action. But the sinning doesn't stop there; when David finds out Bathsheba is pregnant he tries to cover up his sin which ends with him "arranging" for Uriah to be killed. David was caught in a massive downward spiral of sin.

So what did you learn about giving in to temptation and sinning from David? How did the account of David and Bathsheba speak to your today? Tami W.

Perfect Armor

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Ephesians 6:10-20

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11 "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." And then he repeats this command in verse 13 letting us know that when we do armor up, that's when we can "stand firm." Now Paul's not just giving us a suggestion here, he's strongly saying Do this! So if I approach putting on God's armor like it's an option, I'm going to run into problems.

So how are you using the armor of God? Are you using all the pieces? Do you have a routine of putting it on each morning, and what does that look like? How has this armor helped you in the past? Tami W.

P.S. Overcoming temptation is the focus of our programs on Back to the Bible this week. So make sure to join Dr. Kroll and me for the series Learning to Manage Temptation.

New Song

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grass and sky

Psalm 144:1-15

We read Psalm 144 yesterday, but I just felt like coming back to it today because there is so much there for us to consider and learn from. David is praising the Lord throughout the Psalm but also asking for protection and deliverance from foreign enemies. And as part of his praise and recognition of God's greatness he says this right in the middle of the Psalm: "I will sing a new song to you, O God" (vs. 9). Now I thought about this verse for a while and it made me realize how my praise can turn into a routine and lose some of its vigor, particularly if I'm not being intentional about it. So if I'm singing a "new" song, that would require a fresh and focused effort on my part, and I do think that would be pleasing to God.

So how about offering God a new song this weekend? Now this could be a literal song, but it could also be through prayer, journaling, you name it. Just make it part of your communicating with Him. And if you'd care to share any of your "new song" with us, we'd love to read it. Tami W.

Awesome God

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Psalm 144:1-15

David is a powerful communicator. It only took me two verses to get pulled into what he was saying. His description of God totally grabbed my heart: my rock, my steadfast love, my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer.

So take a few minutes today and think about David's very personal description of God. How has God been your rock, steadfast love, fortress, stronghold and deliverer? Tami W.

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Esther 7:1-8:17

All the pieces fall into place for Esther today. Haman's plans are revealed to the king, Haman is executed and then Esther and Mordecai write and distribute an edict for the king that saves the Jewish people. Pretty amazing. What a confirmation that with God, all things are possible.

So what did today's passage (actually all of Esther) show you about God's involvement in the details of our lives? Has the Book of Esther impacted, influenced or changed the way you think about trusting God? Tami W.

Esther 5:1-6:14

Esther moves into action today in Esther 5:1-6:14. And I have to say I like her plan and how she was patient in working out every detail. But it was really Haman who caught my attention today. His arrogance and pride permeated the entire passage. I even rolled my eyes and thought to myself Really, Haman? Well, as we'll see, this sinful attitude ultimately leads to his death.

So what did Esther 5:1-6:14 show you about pride, arrogance and conceit? What are some things we can do to squelch those ugly desires when they surface? Tami W.

Willing

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Esther 3:1-4:17

Today we meet Haman, the man king Ahasuerus promotes to be head official in the kingdom. Haman is infuriated because Mordecai will not bow down and worship him. So, he comes up with a plan to have all the Jews under the king's rule executed via an edict Haman secures from the king. Mordecai gets word to Esther about this plot to kill off the Jews and implores her to speak to the king. That sounds simple enough, but Esther can't approach the king unless she is summoned, and if she does, she risks being put to death. But Esther rises to the challenge sending this message back to Mordecai "I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16).

Esther makes the commitment to do whatever she has to do to help the Jews, even if it means her life. So what does this show you about Esther? If you found yourself in an "Esther" situation, how much would you be willing to risk for the sake of Christ? Tami W.

Responding Well

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Esther 2:1-23

Esther is literally taken from her uncle and caregiver, Mordecai, and made part of the king's harem. Now at first read, that may sound intriguing and like some dramatic scene from a movie, but this isn't fiction. It's a true account of Esther's life. So think about Esther and what she was experiencing. We're told that she was a "young woman." Now I'm guessing a young woman at this point in history was probably a teenager. Just imagine how frightened she had to have been as she went through these events. Yet, Esther handles herself marvelously. We're told she had "found favor" in the eyes of her caretaker in the king's palace (vs. 9) and a little later that she "was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her" (vs. 15).

What did you learn from Esther's example about responding to unexpected and perhaps unwanted events? What else did you learn from Esther today?
Tami W.

Esther 1:1-2:4

All this week we'll be reading through and considering the Book of Esther. As we start into this Book, the first chapter is pretty much background information that will give us context for the rest of the story. So here's a slightly different assignment today.

Read Esther 1-2:4 and do your best to imagine what the general environment of the country was and what is taking place there, think about the feast that is taking place, and consider the main characters in the story. Basically, try to imagine yourself being there. That should get you prepped to meet Esther and start learning the details of her story tomorrow. And if you see anything you want to discuss, don't hesitate to shoot over a comment on the blog. Tami W.

P.S. For the full and close up story of Esther, join us on Back to the Bible this week.

Ruth 1-4

We've just spent a week going through the Book of Ruth in chunks. So today, take a little extra time and read through the entire Book in one sitting. Then, consider the questions below.

What did the Book of Ruth show you about God's protection? God's faithfulness? God's love? What else did God reveal to you through this powerful little Book? Tami W.

Ruth 4:13-22

I love how God has a way of taking some of our worst times and using them for our good and His glory. That's what I see with Ruth and Naomi today but especially with Naomi.

This passage made me think about when my husband, Jeff, got cancer. He was so sick and we didn't know if the treatment was working. Jeff wasn't even 40 years old yet and here he was fighting for his life. But as awful as that was, God used Jeff's cancer for His glory and Jeff's and my good. You see the cancer opened up many opportunities for Jeff, and even me, to witness to others about Christ. His cancer also drew Jeff closer to God, and Jeff and I closer together in our marriage.

So when have you experienced hardship that, when you look back, you can see it was ultimately for your good and God's glory? I'd love to hear your story. Tami W.

Ruth 4:1-12

In Old Testament times Jewish people observed something called the law of levirate marriage. Levirate marriage simply means this: If a man dies, and he has no children, it's the responsibility of one of his brothers to marry his widow, not just to care for her but also to raise children by her in the name of his dead brother. That means then that his dead brother will not lose his inheritance in Israel. That part of the inheritance that was allotted to all the tribes would be intact if the brother had a son and sons after that.

So, the law of levirate marriage is what Boaz is following when he goes to the gate and meets with the other relative of Naomi's husband who is closer in bloodline than Boaz.

So, what additional information or details did you discover about Boaz today? What does Boaz show us about operating honorably and following laws and established guidelines and procedures? Tami W.

Ruth 3:1-18

We've all been there, we find ourselves in some sort of predicament and we know exactly how we want it to turn out. So, we jump in, we grab the bull by the horns, and do our best to make what we think should happen, happen. But as I'm learning over the years, there is wisdom in waiting and having patience. That's one of the things I see in Ruth 3. Ruth didn't try to rush ahead and make something happen with Boaz. She and Naomi didn't try to take matters into their own hands. Likewise, Boaz also didn't rush ahead to try and make a marriage to Ruth happen. He followed Jewish law and tradition and trusted that if it was meant to be, he would get to marry Ruth (verses 12-13).

So what's your experience been with waiting patiently for God to act or to give you direction? What did you learn about patience from Ruth 3:1-18? Tami W.

Ruth 2:1-23

Ruth is poor and she really doesn't have a lot of options. Boaz, on the other hand, is wealthy and a powerful businessman and his options are wide open. Ruth puts before us example after example of God-honoring living and thinking. Boaz does as well.

So what does Ruth 2 tell us about godly living? What were two godly qualities you saw in Ruth? What about demonstrated by Boaz? Tami W.

Blame Game

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Ruth 1:1-23

Based on what I see in Ruth 1, Naomi must have been an incredible mother-in-law. But, like each of us, Naomi wasn't perfect. She had flaws, and I say that because every time I read the Book of Ruth I notice (actually I'm bugged by) the way Naomi blames God for her circumstances. And, she isn't shy about it. The first time this happens is in verse 13, "it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me" and then in verses 20-21 she says this. "'Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?'"

So what's going on with Naomi here? And if we find ourselves with a similar mindset or attitude, what are some things we probably need to do to go about changing it? Tami W.

Ruth 1:1-18

Devoted, committed, loyal, caring, faithful, dedicated, flexible, helper--those are some of the words that came to my mind as I was putting together a mental description of Ruth. She was nothing short of amazing. Her situation was not good (actually it was pretty bleak) yet it didn't shake her or her commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi one bit. What an example of loving your family.

So how would you describe Ruth based on Ruth 1:1-18? What did you learn from her today? Tami W.

P.S. All this week on Back to the Bible Dr. Kroll is teaching on the Book of Ruth. We'd love to have you join us!

Simply Real

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Psalm 143:1-12

David is so real, so genuine with God. I love how he speaks openly and honestly with Him. David pours out his heart to God but he also recognizes God for being God and asks Him for instruction and direction.

So what does the way David talks with God show you about his relationship with God? How did Psalm 143 speak to you about your relationship with God? Tami W.

Psalm 142:1-7

Going through valleys and dark times is part of life--even as a Christian, and we see that loud and clear in Psalm 142. David is in a major valley and he is crying out to God. Why? Because as David writes, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living" (vs. 5).

So how do you compare with David? Do you fully believe that God is your refuge and portion? What does taking refuge in God look like in your life? Tami W.

Prodigal--II

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Luke 15:11-32

Yesterday the youngest son and the father were my focus as I took in the parable of the prodigal son. But today, my focus went to the oldest son at Luke 15:25-32. And what I saw was another prodigal son, the older brother. The older brother was mad, I mean really steamed, when he got home from working and discovered that his younger brother had returned and the father was throwing a huge party on his behalf. As a result, he and his father exchanged words and unfortunately, as the parable ends, the relationship between the two is not restored.

So what did you learn about prodigals from the oldest son in Luke 15:25-32? What did these verses show you about unchecked anger and jealousy? Tami W.

Luke 15:11-31

There are so many lessons for us in Luke 15:11-31 (the parable of the prodigal son) that we're actually going to spend two days on this passage. Today I focused on the youngest son and the father. First, I considered the son's actions and what was going on in his heart and with his thinking that led him to do the things he did (both bad and good). Then I took a look at the father and the way he interacted with this young man in the foolish times and when his son returned seeking forgiveness. Overall it was a good reminder, actually a good warning, about how dangerous it is when we insist on being the driver of our lives rather than serving and following our Heavenly Father.

So what did you learn about prodigals (either having one or being one) from this parable today? What was one thing you learned from the youngest son? What about from the father? Tami W.

Jonah 3-4

So Jonah gets his act together and goes to Nineveh. The people--all the way down to the king--hear his message and repent, and as a result, God spares Nineveh. Now at this point you'd think All's well that ends well, but not for Jonah. He's mad that God didn't destroy the city. So Jonah has a pout fest. He complains to God and they (God and Jonah) converse about the situation. But unfortunately, Jonah's heart is hard and he is not in a good place with God when we reach the end of the Book.

So what's the most important thing you learned from Jonah's story? What did this tiny little Book show you about God? What did it show you about your relationship and interaction with Him? Tami W.

Jonah 1:1-3:5

Running from God is never a good idea, but for whatever reason, we all seem to find ourselves there at one time or another. That was certainly the case with Jonah. He gets clear direction from God--go to Nineveh and tell the people they need to repent or the city will be overthrown. Simple enough, but Jonah doesn't like God's instruction. So he goes the opposite direction in an attempt to flee from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:3).

Well, you know what happens next, a storm comes up, Jonah is thrown overboard and then swallowed by a big fish. He spends three days and nights in the fish's belly where he finally comes to his senses. Jonah 2:7 says "When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you. . ."

So what did Jonah show you about human nature? What did you learn about running away from God and how will you use that information going forward? 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 May 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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