December 2012 Archives

Proper Focus

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1 Corinthians 10:13, 31

Well tomorrow starts a brand new year and that means many of us are thinking about New Year's resolutions or just making some positive changes going forward. So whether you're tempted with overeating (like we talk about on Back to the Bible today) or something else, rather than making a resolution to not do "x" again, why not resolve to start each day in God's Word and then when those temptations come, to call on God and wait for His help.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

So how will you rely on this verse in 2013? 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 5:3. "In the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch." His words show me a personal, intimate relationship with God and a familiarity that only comes through repeated communication.

Now if you don't really have a routine with God, I can't encourage you enough try it. When I finally took that step, it made a huge difference almost immediately. 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. And if you do have a routine, is there something you could do to make your time with God even more meaningful? Tami W.

Proactive Living

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Psalm 101:1-13

David's desire is to please God. So he tells the Lord that he will consider and pursue a blameless life and that he will lead a life of integrity. Then, he talks about some of the ways he'll accomplish these goals--not looking at bad or worthless things, not associating with evil things or lying people, seeking out other faithful and blameless people as friends.

So what does pursuing a blameless life and leading a life of integrity look like for you? What are those things you won't do, and that you will do, to help you accomplish these goals? Tami W.

No Good

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Proverbs 6:16-19; 1 Timothy 5:13

Some of the biggest hurts I've experienced have been because of gossip--words directed at me or about me from others and, yes, even my own words about someone else foolishly and sinfully spoken.

Nothing good comes from gossiping. Yet, it seems to come so naturally. You've probably heard the phrase: "If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all." My mom used to tell me that all the time growing up. I didn't really realize it at the time, but what wise advice.

So give some thought to overcoming gossip. What are some protections you can put in place to keep yourself from speaking words of gossip? What about those situations where someone else initiates gossip? How might you respond then? Tami W.

Slow = Good

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Proverbs 14:29; 15:18; 19:11

Anger is a powerful emotion which translates into me wanting to react, to right whatever I perceive to be wrong, immediately. Problem is, that can get me into trouble. So I'm thankful for Proverbs and the numerous warnings it contains against letting anger be our driver. Did you notice that all three of our verses talked about how being "slow to anger" is a wise and good thing?

So how do we get and maintain a "slow to anger" mindset? Are there other verses or examples from scripture that you find helpful when it comes to dealing with anger? Tami W.

Why Worry?

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Psalm 55:1-23

Worry can be all consuming and distracting. And when we're determined to handle it ourselves and in our strength, it can totally derail us and pull us off course spiritually. David got that, and tells us straight up in Psalm 55:22 to give up those worries--to cast our burdens on God because He will sustain us.

So how can you take full advantage of Psalm 55:22? What are you trying to manage in your strength that needs to be given to God? Tami W.

P.S. Today through Friday, January 4, we're airing a series called What Keeps Me From Growing, designed to help us deal with and overcome a number of common temptations that hinder our spiritual growth. Be sure to visit backtothebible.org each day to download a study on the day's topic, including a Baker's Dozen of Verses to help you fight each temptation.

Merry Christmas--Story

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Luke 2:1-21; Matthew 2:1-23

Today being Christmas, I thought it'd be good to read the Christmas story as found in both Matthew and Luke, focusing on Jesus since He is the reason we observe Christmas. (Maybe you can even read this out loud with family?)

How have you, and are you, celebrating Jesus this Christmas? I'd love to hear any traditions you have involving the Christmas story. Tami W.

Exhilarating Night

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Luke 2:8-21

Can you imagine being one of the shepherds that the angel of the Lord appeared to on Christmas night? It had to be mind blowing, most certainly scary, but at the same time exciting and exhilarating to hear (from an angel) these words: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (vs. 11). Right after this, the shepherds went "with haste" and found Jesus. Their lives were changed forever.

What impact has Jesus had on your life? The shepherds glorified and praised God and told others about Jesus. How about you? Tami W.

"Wise" Men

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Matthew 2:1-12

As I read about the three wise men today, it kind of hit me that these truly were three "wise" men. I say that because of how they trusted God's leading and continued on their quest even though they didn't have many details and they didn't know how their journey would conclude. They followed the star when they first saw it, they went with the flow when they were called before Herod and questioned, after the meeting with Herod they continued on with their search and journey, and after finding Jesus they followed God's leading and did not return to Herod.

So are you with me that the wise men were, in fact, "wise"? What did you learn from these men about trusting God and God being in control? Tami W.

What a Man

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Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-15; 2:19-23

As I was reading the Christmas story in Matthew today, I decided to focus on Joseph and try and put myself in his shoes. It was a good exercise. I came away encouraged by Joseph's example. Although he found himself in what he had to consider a not good situation (both initially when Mary told him she was pregnant and then later when Herod was seeking to kill Jesus), Joseph listened and was obedient to God. Joseph's response in and through his difficult circumstances lets me know that I can do the same. Thank you, Joseph!

What did you notice about Joseph today? Did his example encourage you? How? Tami W.

Love and Compassion

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Isaiah 55:1-13

I love you. I want to know you. I will take care of and provide for you--is the message that hit me as I read Isaiah 55. I was moved, so I read the passage one more time. My thoughts, again, went to the goodness of God, but God's candor in verse 2 caught my attention and I kept looking back at it. After starting out powerfully with the declaration and invitation to "Come, everyone" and take what I offer "without price." God then immediately follows up, basically asking us: Why, when I offer you total satisfaction, do you continue to seek after other things that will never match up? Excellent question. I absolutely know that God loves me and I know what and how He provides. Yet, I still find myself chasing after other unsatisfactory things. So taking a little time to ponder God's question was good for me today, especially during this Christmas season.<br><br>


  So what about you? What's your response to God's question in verse 2? Tami W.

Esteemed Not

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 puts before us a detailed preview of the sacrifice Jesus made for you and me. I know the story well, but as I read this morning, Isaiah 53:3 grabbed my heart. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as on from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

Being accepted by others is really important to me--and I don't think I'm alone when I say that. People (I) want to be loved. We (I) want to be "in" with our peers, our schoolmates, our co-workers, and when that doesn't happen it's miserable and feels awful. It hurts when someone says unkind things to me or about me or they don't treat me well. So when I read about Jesus being rejected and despised, the magnitude of His suffering and sacrifice hit me head on. Thank you, Jesus, for what You've done for us!

So what moved your heart as you read Isaiah 52:13-53:12? Did you see anything about Jesus that maybe you hadn't seen or focused on before? Tami W.

No Other

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Isaiah 42:1-17

Yesterday we looked at Isaiah 42:1-7 and today we're going back to Isaiah 42 but adding verses 8-17. As I took in more of this chapter, the message that stood out so clearly to me was God's greatness--there is no other god like our God. He demands our praise and will not share His glory with others.

"I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other. . ." (vs.8).
"They are turned back and utterly put to shame who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, 'You are our gods'" (vs. 17).

What are you doing to recognize and praise God for Who He is and what He has done for you this season? Tami W.

Jesus Our Hope

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Isaiah 42:1-9

There are a number of places in the Old Testament where we can learn about Jesus, and Isaiah is one of those places. Isaiah 42:1-9 is all about Jesus. What we in this passage is God's description of Jesus (He refers to Jesus as "My Servant"), and then God's words about what Jesus will do hundreds of years before Jesus comes to earth to live among us. For me, verses 6 and 7 were significant. "I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind."

Take a few minutes and think about the message of Jesus. What part are you playing in spreading the message that Jesus is our Hope? Who can you invite to church this weekend or Christmas Eve? Tami W.

To the Full

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Matthew 2:1-12

When the wise men finally reached Bethlehem and found Jesus, "they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Matthew 2: 11). All I can say is "I'm moved."

Take a few minutes and try to visualize and consider the scene in verse 11 between the wise men and Jesus. How can you use the wise men's example to help you worship to the full this Christmas season? Tami W.

Do Your Part

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Psalm 5:1-12

I don't know how many times I've asked God to direct my path and lead me in His ways. So David's petition to "Lead me in your righteousness" really resonated with me. But here's the thing. Asking God to lead us is wonderful, but it requires action on our part, too. You see God speaks (communicates) to us through His Word. So it's when we read our Bible that we hear from God--that's how we learn about Him and His righteousness.

So how did God speak to you from Psalm 5 today? What did you learn about His righteousness? Tami W.

Praise Him!

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Psalm 138

Have you ever stopped to take note of just how often and in what circumstances David praised the Lord? It seems like David praised through it all--the highs, the lows, the in-betweens. So if we follow David's example then whatever we're experiencing, we can (and should) still praise God--and not just for the present, but for things from the past and even things yet to come.

So how about a little praise-a-thon this weekend? We'll start with some of the same words David used in Psalm 138, but then let's fill in the blank with our own praise to the Lord. Be as broad or as specific, as big or as small, as you want. Our goal is just to let God know how much we love and appreciate Him. Here goes. You fill in the blank at the end.

I give You thanks and praise Your name for _______________.

Now I love to praise the Lord, so here are a couple of my praises today.

- I give You thanks and praise Your name for Christian friends who encourage me to stand strong.

- I give You thanks and praise Your name for my precious husband and every day you give us together.

Now it's your turn. Let the praises begin!! Tami W.

Cause for Prayer

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Daniel 9:1-19

Daniel's prayer for his nation is powerful and moving. There's no pomp or fluff. We do see, though, things like sincerity, repentance, humility and definitely passion, both for the Lord and Israel. But did you notice what prompted this incredible prayer? In verses 2 and 3 Daniel tells us that he was reading the "word of the Lord" and as a result he "turned his face to the Lord God seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes." What a good reminder of the value of reading God's Word.

So what are some ways we can incorporate and draw upon God's Word as we pray this next week? Maybe you already do that. If so, encourage us with an example. Tami W.

Acknowledging God

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Habakkuk 3:1-19

I found Habakkuk's prayer a little challenging--at least initially. But as I continued to read, I could see how Habakkuk was, through examples and descriptions, recognizing and elevating God and His greatness and power. He then claims and relies on God to help him in his present circumstances, which sound difficult based on his descriptions in verse 17 (no fruit on the vines, no olive harvest, no herd in the stalls).

Do you acknowledge God's greatness and power in your prayers? How? What's your experience been when you start your prayer focused on God? Tami W.

Solomon's Prayer

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2 Chronicles 6:12-42

Solomon gets the privilege of building "the house of the Lord." He constructs the temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, and he spares no expense. It is built exquisitely. When completed, Solomon calls the people together for a dedication ceremony, and at 2 Chronicles 6:12-42 we see Solomon's prayer of dedication.

Solomon is a powerful, wise, and extremely wealthy king. Yet his prayer reveals a heart that is completely submitted to God. Over and over Solomon recognizes God's authority and then humbly asks God to hear the people's prayers and forgive them of their sins.

So what did you learn about praying from Solomon's dedication prayer? What was the thing that stood out to you the most about his prayer, and why? Tami W.

Last Words

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Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60

Stephen is doing mighty work for the Lord. This doesn't sit well with a number of the people. So they stir up the crowds against him and lie about Stephen which leads to his arrest and death by stoning at the hands of the crowd. Through it all Stephen doesn't falter, and as he is literally taking his final breaths, he prays for all to hear "Lord receive my spirit....Lord do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:59-60).

I spent a few minutes just considering Stephen's prayer. Here are a couple of things that stood out to me: That prayer is powerful and a right response to every situation; and that Stephen didn't ask to be spared death but rather to be sustained through it.

What role does prayer play in your life? How has praying sustained you? What about the prayers of others for you? Tami W.

Through God's Eyes

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Luke 18:9-14

Today Luke gives us a close up look at the prayers of a Pharisee (a "religious" man) and a tax collector. And boy, are their prayers ever different. These men highlighted for me that just because we're going through the motions (whatever that motion is--praying, going to church, taking communion, helping in Sunday School), doesn't necessarily equate to having a right heart and attitude. This passage also showed me that whether you and I are a pastor, construction worker, mom, teacher, policeman, you name it, what matters to God is our heart and that we're earnest in our relationship with Him.

So what did Luke 18:9-14 show you about what pleases God? Did you find any prayer helps from this passage? Tami W.

The Love of God

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Psalm 36:5-12

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God!" Psalm 36:7

Over and over again throughout the Psalms we see the phrase "steadfast love" referring to God's love for us. Now I understand the word steadfast, but decided to look it up the thesaurus to see some of the other descriptions for this word. Here are a few of the words I saw: unwavering, committed, dedicated, unswerving. Then I went back and read verse 7 a number of times inserting each of these words in place of the word steadfast. It was a fun exercise and helped me expand my thinking about God's amazing love.

How have you experienced God's steadfast love? What did you take in about God's love from Psalm 36? Tami W.

Cool Plates

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Psalm 16:1-11

The other day as I was driving I noticed the license plate of the car in front of me said "Psalm 16." So the next morning when I was having breakfast I opened my Bible to Psalm 16 (I wonder if this license plate prompted anyone else to open God's Word? Hope so.). It's a beautiful psalm full of many wonderful reminders. And the one that spoke loudest to me this particular morning was "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you" (vs.2). It just hit me how personal God is and how much He loves me. Yet, I still wander and start operating on my own which is foolish as well as dangerous. All that to say, I need to dedicate time to growing my relationship with God through His Word.

So what did you see about having a relationship with God from Psalm 16? What was one thing that stood out to you about your part of this relationship? Tami W.

Pass the Baton

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2 Timothy 4:1-8

We get a good look at Christians ministering together and supporting one another with Paul and Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Paul is the mentor, teacher and friend of Timothy. Paul knows he is nearing the end of his life and ministry, and as a result, we see him instructing, advising, challenging and, most importantly, encouraging Timothy to carry on for Christ.

So what can you do to follow Paul's example with others at home? School? Church? Work? Or, if someone has come along side you as a Christian mentor and friend, what about returning the favor? What can you do to encourage and help them grow? Tami W.

World Warnings

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1 John 2:15-29

We get a number of warnings about the world from 1 John 2:15-29. John tells us straight up that we are not to love the world or the things in the world. He also warns us about being influenced and led astray by worldly people and thinking. Now right along with these warnings, John lets us know that we aren't fighting this battle alone. We have the means to deal with the world and its temptations because we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

So what did 1 John 2:15-29 show you about how the Holy Spirit lives and works in us? What did you take away from this passage about focusing on the Truth and staying in fellowship with the Son and the Father? Tami W.

By Faith

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1 Peter 1:3-9; Galatians 6:6-10

As Christians we have a living hope. But so often life is crazy and I get caught up in all that's going on and don't necessarily give a lot of thought to my living hope. So what Peter conveyed in 1 Peter 1:3-9 was a good reminder for me today. He tells us about living hope--the hope we have now "to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for [us]..." as a result of Jesus' death and resurrection (vs. 3-4). Placing our faith in Jesus is how we receive living hope. And going forward, our faith is our core and foundation as we live for Christ.

So what does 1 Peter 1: 3-9 show you about the importance of faith and how it benefits us and works in our lives? What about how God values our faith? Tami W.

P.S. Take a minute and thank the Lord for the living hope you have today. Ask Him to help you continue to grow and draw on your faith.

9.5

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Philippians 3:7-16

I love the Lord and I think I'm pretty passionate about having a relationship with Him. But after reading and considering how Paul talks about and describes his relationship with the Lord, and how he's continually working at knowing Him more...well, let's just say, there's room for improvement. Paul is absolutely sold out, on fire, passionate--you choose the word--about pursuing Christ, knowing Him better and becoming more like Him. (Paul...I want to be like you!)

So on a scale of 1-10 (Paul being a 9.5 because, remember, he told us he wasn't perfect) where are you when it comes to being passionate abut knowing Christ? How did you get there? And how can you improve your number? Tami W.

P.S. In case you're wondering where I landed on the scale... Well, I'm thinking a 6.5 to a 7. So I have plenty of opportunity to keep growing and moving forward--an opportunity I'm eager to work on!

Service Managers

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Luke 19:11-27

There were two phrases from the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:11-17 that got me thinking. The first is in verse 13. "Engage in business until I come." And the second is in verse 17. "Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities."

These two statements prompted me to consider my attitude about serving, how I go about serving, what exactly my service has looked and does look like and how much effort I'm putting into it right now. (It was a good exercise, by the way.)

So what does this passage show you about what God expects from you in the here and now, and how what you do now will matter in a life to come? Which one of these 3 servants do you most closely align with? How can you improve? Tami W.

Whatever Is Due

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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ and a manager in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. Then he goes on and tells the Corinthians that in those roles what matters to him is not how the Corinthians evaluate or judge his service and work, but how the Lord will judge him.

When you think about it, Paul's words make a lot of sense. We all like to receive the praise and approval of other people. And we can do a pretty good job of hiding our motives for doing things. I think that's why Paul says specifically that the Lord "will bring to light the things now hidden in the darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart" (vs. 5).

Does knowing the Lord will examine and evaluate your service in the future factor into or motivate your daily living? How can you use this passage to help you prepare for this future evaluation? Tami W.

From the Heart

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Matthew 20:1-16

The picture that Jesus gives us of the master/landowner in Matthew 20:1-16 is an impressive one. This man is the owner of a vineyard and he needs workers. So he goes to town and negotiates and secures a number of different men to work for him. But while he's taking care of important and necessary business needs, he still takes note of and extends a helping hand to those in need. His kind and generous heart is evident.

So do you know anyone that reminds you of this landowner? How would you describe a generous heart? How do we develop one? 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 December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2012 is the previous archive.

January 2013 is the next archive.

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