July 2012 Archives

New Mindset

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Romans 8:5-13

Our thinking changes once we make the decision to follow Christ and receive Him as Savior. Our interest and focus shift away from the temporary things the world offers to us--money, popularity, beauty, fame, talent--and move on to spiritual things that make a difference for eternity. Paul puts it this was "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5).

As a believer in Christ, our minds are to be set on "things of the Spirit." So at present, what are the spiritual things/matters that are capturing your focus? How has your mindset changed as you've grown in your relationship with the Lord? Tami W.

Romans 8:1-4

The moment we receive Christ as Savior everything changes. We become a new creation in Christ. We're no longer ruled by the law of sin and death. We're free from condemnation and spiritual judgment--forever--because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. (Thank you, Lord!)

Whether you're a new believer or you've been a Christ-follower for umpteen years, are you (or how are you) taking advantage of your "new life" in Christ? How would you describe your "walking in the Spirit" (vs. 4)? Tami W.

P.S. This week on Back to the Bible, Dr. Kroll is teaching on What's So New about the New Creation? If you're not already, why don't you join us for these studies?

Essential

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2 Timothy 3:16-17

Paul lets us know pretty clearly in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God's Word has to be our foundation if our desire is to fully follow Christ. I gave that some thought this morning and considered some of the ways I use and draw from the Bible in my life. First and foremost, it's where I go to find out about God--Who He is, His character, the things He loves and the things He doesn't. And, I turn to the Word for teaching, instruction and direction. But I also rely heavily on the Bible for encouragement. I love that no matter what my circumstance, I can open God's Word and let it speak directly to my heart.

So how do you use and draw on the Bible? What role is it playing in your life? Tami W.

No Better Words

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Psalm 119:97-104

I enjoy all 176 verses of Psalm 119, but I especially like verses 97-104, the section captioned "Mem." These verses just speak to my heart because of the way they so clearly lay out the importance of God's Word and the benefit it is to me when I make the commitment to engage it--that is, spend time receiving, reflecting and responding God's Word.

So what did you see about God's Word from Psalm 119:97-104? Was there a particular verse that resonated with you, maybe even described you? Why is engaging God's Word important to you? Tami W.

Only One

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Isaiah 43:10

Luke 2:8-11

John 14:1-7

The world has many religions, but it only has one Savior. Isaiah 43:10 tells us that there is no savior but God, and in Luke 2:8-11 we see that God came to earth in the person of the Lord Jesus to be our Savior. And then Jesus tells us directly in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

There are MANY people who believe they're going to heaven because they go to church or because they're hard workers or good people. The fact of the matter is, if they haven't received Jesus as their Savior, heaven is not going to be their future. So who in your family needs to hear this truth? Who in your neighborhood? Who in your work place? What can you do--even today--to be intentional in telling those specific people (and others) about Jesus, their only Savior? Tami W.

Unwavering

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Matthew 9:1-8,

Matthew 9:18-26

Having faith is a critical part of being a Christ-follower. So what is faith? Well, Dr. Kroll defines it this way: Faith is confidence in the righteous character of God that fosters trust and hope even when your circumstances foster doubt and despair.

We see three examples of faith in Matthew 9:1-8 and 18-26. None of these people's situations were good, yet they had absolute confidence in Jesus. I find their examples encouraging and good reminder of the importance of keeping my focus on God.

So what did you see from Matthew 9 today about faith? What are some things we can do to stay strong and also grow our faith going forward? Tami W.

No Understanding

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Jeremiah 4:22

In the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah is called by God to confront the people of Judah about their rejection of God and turning away from Him. The situation is sad because living without God has become the norm and as a result, the people have no understanding or knowledge of God.

"My people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are 'wise'--in doing evil! But how to do good, they know not" (Jeremiah 4: 22).

What does this passage show you about the importance of consistently taking in and responding to God's Word? Think about your top priorities. Where does spending time in God's Word land that list? Tami W.

Peace Giver

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Ephesians 2:13-22

If you're looking for personal peace in your life, the answer is Jesus. Now I can make that statement with confidence based on many verses in the Bible. For example:

  • Ephesians 2:14 "For he himself [Jesus] is our peace. . ."
  • Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  • Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. . ."
  • Galatians 5:22 "And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. . ."

Satan loves to keep us in turmoil and steal our peace, but with Jesus, we can overcome. So how are you drawing on Jesus for peace today? What does Jesus being "our peace" mean to you personally? Tami W.

This Week on Back to the Bible

John 10:1-18

Jesus, talking about himself, lays out for us in John 10:1-18 who He is and what His role is. And He does this by presenting himself as a shepherd and us as sheep. Two times in this passage Jesus point blank tells us "I am the good shepherd." Verse 11 says "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." And verse 14 says "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me."

So what did you learn about Jesus as the good shepherd from this passage? How well would you say you know the good shepherd, and what are you doing to continue growing in your knowledge and relationship with Him? Tami W.

P.S. This week we have a brand new series on Back to the Bible. It's called Turning Your NO's into YO's. It's all about how God can turn our negatives into positives. Hope you can join us.

A Broken Heart

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Psalm 51:1-19

Yesterday we looked at 2 Samuel 12:1-23 where the prophet Nathan confronts and rebukes David about his sin with Bathsheba. So what did David do after his "talking-to" by Nathan? Well, one of the things he did was write Psalm 51, and from the words of that psalm we get a good picture of where David was at emotionally and especially spiritually. To me, this psalm is beautiful. I love David's honesty before God and how every single word seems to be pouring out directly from his heart to God.

Try as we might, none of us are immune from sin. And that means confessing and asking God for forgiveness needs to be part of our routine. So how do you approach and talk to God when you need forgiveness? Did you see anything from David's example that will help you going forward? Tami W.

2 Samuel 12:1-23

After David sleeps with Bathsheba and sets Uriah up to be killed in battle, the Lord sends Nathan to confront David about his sin. And confront he does. Nathan doesn't pull any punches. He doesn't skirt the issue. He doesn't elude to "possible sin" and hope David gets it. He's direct and he lets David know 100% that what he did was wrong and sin, and that there would be consequences for his actions.

I can't help but think about how difficult and painful this discussion was for both David and Nathan. But it was necessary because, for whatever reason, David seemed to be blinded by his sin. That can happen to us too. And when it does we need a Nathan to come along side and point out our wrongdoing.

So what did you notice about David as the person being confronted? What did you learn from Nathan as the confronter? Tami W.

Not By Choice

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Nehemiah 1:1-2:8

Nehemiah is living in exile serving as a cupbearer for a foreign king when he gets word that the city of Jerusalem, both the remaining Jews and the physical city, are basically in shambles. "The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire" (Neh. 1:3). This news weighs heavy on Nehemiah, so he prays. And then, when the opportunity presents itself, he prays again and asks the king to allow him to return and rebuild the city walls and gates.

Sometimes we need to take action or start over on something, not because of anything we did, but because of what someone else has done or because of something that's happened that is outside of our control. That's generally hard. But as we see with Nehemiah, tough situations are no hindrance to God, and He is able and willing to hold us up as we work through whatever the situation may be.

So what did Nehemiah show you about dealing with setbacks and tough situations, especially if they aren't something you caused? When you've had setbacks, how much has prayer played a part in moving forward? Tami W.

Never Too Bad

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2 Chronicles 33:1-20

Manasseh was an extremely sinful and evil king. He built altars to false gods, he relied on sorcery and mediums for direction, he even burned his own sons as a sacrifice to another god. Manasseh operated with no regard for God, and "led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel" (2 Chronicles 33:9). But eventually God had enough. He sent the king of Assyria and his army to capture Manasseh. Verse 11 tells us that they "captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon." (Sounds pretty awful.)

Well that got Manasseh's attention, and it's at this point that he finally recognizes God and His control and sovereignty. Manasseh undergoes a heart change and calls out to God in prayer. God is moved by Manasseh's genuine repentance and prayer and brings Manasseh back to Jerusalem where he then dedicates his time and efforts to God. Quite an amazing turnaround.

What did this passage show you about turning your life over to God? After reading Manasseh's story, what do you think God can do with your life? Tami W.

Another Shot

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Jonah 1:1-10; 2:1-10

Jonah was determined not to follow the instruction he had received from the Lord. And he did his best to run from, and avoid, God. Even so, God didn't walk away from Jonah. He actually pursued him and that led Jonah to repent and get a second chance to do what God had instructed him to do in the first place.

So what does Jonah's story show you about God's love for you? What about being part of His plan? Did reading Jonah's story change your perspective on your opportunity to serve the Lord going forward? Tami W.

A Renewed Man

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Acts 2:14-41

This week we're looking at starting over. Today Peter is our example, and boy, is he a good one. Right before Jesus was arrested and sent to the cross, Peter declares his allegiance to Jesus. But then when that time comes, Peter falls flat on his face. He lets his fear get the best of him and he publically denies Jesus three times (see John 18:12-27). But Peter isn't through serving the Lord. No way, because our God is the God of second chances and we see that clearly in Acts 2:14-41 where Peter (yes, Peter) is boldly teaching and proclaiming Christ. And the result is AMAZING--three thousand people receive Jesus as Savior. (Thank you God, for second chances!)

So how can you draw on Peter's example to move forward in your relationship with God, or help someone else move forward? What do you think would help you become a more vocal supporter of Jesus Christ? Tami W.

Fresh Start

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Genesis 28:10-22; 35:1-15

Jacob was a schemer. He lied and tricked his father into giving him his older brother Esau's blessing and inheritance. As you can imagine, that didn't sit well with Esau. So as we come to Genesis 28:10-22, Jacob is on the run headed to his uncle Laban's house. God speaks to Jacob through a dream and tells him that He is with him and that Jacob will have great offspring and land.

Years later, we see a similar exchange between God and Jacob in Genesis 35:1-15. It's at this point that God changes Jacob's name to Israel and tells him "A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you" (vs.11-12). Pretty amazing.

What did you learn about God from these passages? How has God given you a fresh start when you've stepped away from Him? Tami W.

P.S. To go a little deeper this week, join our Back to the Bible series, Sometimes You Have to Start Over. If you've ever needed a fresh start or a second chance, you'll be encouraged by this study.

2 Kings 20:1-11

Yesterday we looked at what I'll call Hezekiah's "war" prayer. Today we're looking at his "deathbed" prayer. After God protects Hezekiah from Sennacherib, Hezekiah falls deathly ill and Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, tells Hezekiah he is going to die (vs.1). Hezekiah immediately turns to the Lord in prayer and again we see a candid, honest and humble crying out to God.

So how did Hezekiah's deathbed prayer compare with his earlier prayer? What did this passage show you about God receiving and listening to our prayers? Tami W.

2 Kings 18:1-19:19

This weekend we're wrapping up on prayer looking at two prayers from King Hezekiah.Hezekiah was a godly king. Second Kings 18:5-7 tell us that Hezekiah trusted and held fast to the Lord, and that he kept the Lord's commandments, and as a result, the Lord was with him. Fourteen years into his reign, Hezekiah runs into problems with the king of Assyria, Sennacherib. Sennacherib sends an army threatening to attack and openly mocks God in the process. It's a pretty scary and intimidating situation, but Hezekiah responds well. The first thing he does is seek God's direction (see 2 Kings 19:1-2). And then Hezekiah brings his prayer before God. I love how Hezekiah speaks with reverence, but he's still able to speak from his heart and he doesn't hold back anything. Every time I read it, I'm moved.

Was there something Hezekiah did or said that moved your heart today? What did Hezekiah's prayer show you about approaching God in prayer? Tami W.

In Jesus' Name

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Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John heal a crippled man in Acts 4:1-22. This creates quite a stir with the Jewish leaders, so they arrest Peter and John and then question them about the incident asking them "by what power or by what name did you do this?" (vs. 7). Peter boldly responds "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well" (vs. 10).

When we pray, we pray in Jesus' name. That's because Jesus' name is the only name that has the authority to get us to God.

Take some time today to consider the incredible privilege we have of praying to God the Father in Jesus' name. What does this privilege mean to you? Are you taking full advantage of it? Tami W.

door knocker

Hebrews 4:14-16

Hebrews 4:14-16 lets us know that we can and should approach God "with confidence." But a big part of our approaching God has to do with relationship. Think about it. In a typical person to person relationship (like with a friend or co-worker), boldness and confidence only come once your relationship with that person is developed and solid. The same is true with God. There's a direct correlation between how boldly we approach God in prayer and how strong our relationship is with Him.

So are you as confident and bold in prayer as you'd like to be? What are the things you really want to ask God for today? Tami W.

Earnest Examples

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Luke 22:39-46; Psalm 5:1-2; Psalm 25:1-5; Psalm 28:1-2

Today I thought it would be a good to take a few minutes and examine and consider how each of us pray. So here come the questions: On average, how many times do you pray each day? What do you typically pray about and for? What's your usual prayer demeanor? Are you an earnest prayer? In other words, when you pray are you focused and do you expect something to happen?

As I asked myself these questions, I realized there are plenty of times when my prayers fall short of earnestness--I might be in a rut or maybe I'm praying about something because "that's just something you always pray for" or I let busyness rule my life which pushes aside meaningful interaction with God. Whatever the case, reading scriptures on prayer the past week or so has reminded me that I need to be praying earnestly (with focus, intensity and expectation) all the time.

So what'd you find out from your "prayer assessment"? How does praying with earnestness impact you? What about your relationship with God? Tami W.

Proper Approach

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Luke 18:9-14

When I look back over my prayer life, I have to admit that I've been both the Pharisee and the tax collector. I think that's why I found this parable to be such a good teaching tool. I want my prayers to be acceptable and pleasing to God and for that to happen, I need to be operating with a humble heart and attitude.

So how do you typically approach God in prayer? Where are you at on the Pharisee to tax collector scale? Based on this passage, how important is it for you to have an attitude of humility when you talk with God? Tami W.

Don't Stop

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We looked at prayer last week--specifically why God may not answer our prayers--and this week we're staying on the topic of prayer only with a focus on attitudes that make prayer work.

Paul says point blank in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing." Three little words, but boy, do they pack a punch.

So take a few minutes today and think about Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing." What does it tell you about prayer? What does it reveal about our attitude and approach to prayer? What does it show you about God's desire to be in relationship with you? Tami W.

P.S. Join Dr. Kroll and me for the series Attitudes that Make Prayer Work this week on Back to the Bible.

Vocal Workout!

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Psalm 150:1-6

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6.

Ok, if you're reading this blog, you have breath. So have you praised the Lord yet today? Did it rise to the level of trumpet sound, tambourines and dancing and loud crashing cymbals? If not, what can you do to take your praise to another level this week? Tami W.

Change it Up

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Psalm 149:1-9

The clear instruction in Psalm 149 is to sing a "new song" to the Lord, to sing for joy and to let the high praises of God be in our throats.

So the call to action this weekend is this. Think about your "normal" when it comes to praising God and then change it up a little. What can you do to praise the Lord in a new and different way? Tami W.

Luke 11:1-10

Immediately after the Lord's Prayer, Jesus points out to the disciples the importance of being persistent in our prayers. Pretty logical really. If something is important to us, shouldn't it be a recurring request? My answer? Absolutely, yet oddly enough, my actions don't always reflect persistency when it comes to certain specific prayer requests. I'll pray about something a time or two and if I don't perceive a response in fairly short order, sometimes I give up. When I do that, I lose out, and I'm pretty sure that I've had prayers that have gone unanswered because of my lack of diligence. :( This is definitely an area I need to work on.

So what are some of the benefits of being persistent with specific prayer requests? What's your experience been concerning persistent prayer for a person, an outcome, maybe even a special event? Tami W.

Mark 10:35-40

This week we've been considering prayer and looking at scriptures to uncover why sometimes, God doesn't answer our prayers. So far we've seen that God may not answer because we haven't asked Him for what we need. Other times we don't get an answer because we're not treating God like God or maybe it's because we're not treating God's Word well--we're not following God's instructions and commands. But there are still other things that can hinder or block receiving answers to our prayers--like asking God for the wrong things--which is exactly what we see in Mark 10:35-40.

So what did you learn from James and John's actions and behavior? What part does motivation play in getting an answer to prayer? Tami W.

Is He Hearing?

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Proverbs 28:9

How much thought do you typically give to God hearing your prayers? If you're like me, not a lot, because honestly, I just expect Him to be there listening. But that's not always the case. So I was thankful to read Proverbs 28:9 because it was a good reminder for me of how very important it is to have a proper attitude and heart toward God and His Word before I begin praying.

So how did Proverbs 28:9 speak to your heart today? Tami W.

P.S. Take a couple of minutes and look at Proverbs 28:9 in other translations. I did this and it emphasized even more for me the message of this important verse. (I particularly liked the wording in the NLT.)

Please Listen

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Zechariah 7:6-13; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4

Did you know that sometimes God refuses to listen to our prayers? That's hard to hear, but it's true. Bottom line is if we expect God to listen to and answer our prayers, we need to treat God like God--giving Him the honor, respect and praise He's due. The Israelites had a track record of turning away from God. Of course, they were still calling Him their God, but their hearts and their actions didn't line up. The result? God refuses to answer their prayers.

So what did these passages show you about God? What about our treatment of God? What did you learn about approaching God in prayer? Tami W.

Important Ask

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James 4:2

"You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask." James 4:2

Do you ever wonder why things haven't turned out like you had thought or hoped? Well one possible reason is that you haven't asked God. I know I'm guilty of that. I get busy and involved in "doing" and instead of stopping and taking time to ask God for help or guidance, I just push forward. There are even times when I find myself thinking, Well, God knows what I'm thinking. I know it's stupid on my part, but yet, it happens. Maybe you've done the same thing?

So how do we combat falling into a casual attitude about prayer? Any thoughts on things we can do to help us make sure we're bringing all of our requests before God? Tami W.

P.S. This week on Back to the Bible, Dr. Kroll is taking a look at God answering our prayers. The series is called Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayers? We'd love for you to join us.

Good to Work

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-17

Paul's final instruction in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 is to not be idle. Rather, Paul tells us to be willing to work, to keep busy at work and to work quietly and earn a living.

All of us have our own unique work roles. I can think of at least three different roles for me: my work at Back to the Bible, my work as worship leader at my church, and my very important work role of being a wife. So as I considered Paul's instruction, I took a few minutes and thought about all three of these work areas.

So think about your different work roles? How are you doing in the "work" area for each? And, if you find you're not quite meeting Paul's mark in a particular area, what are a couple of things you can do to improve? 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 July 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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