July 2013 Archives

Be Real

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1 Kings 17:17-24

There have been a number of times in my life where I've found myself in a pretty serious situation that I just didn't understand and there wasn't anything I could do to physically change the situation. That's basically what I see with Elijah when he discovers that the widow's son has died. Elijah can't change the situation himself but he knows God can so he cries out for help. No fluff. No pomp. No flowery words. He's just real with God.

So when's the last time you prayed that way? And what was the result? I'd love to hear your story. Tami

Prepared

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1 Kings 17:8-16

We're back at 1 Kings 17 today taking a more focused look at Elijah's encounter with the widow from Zarephath. One thing I clearly saw from this passage (as well as in verses 1-7) is how God prepares our way. What a comfort to see that when God asks us to do something--serve in church, witness to someone, move into another job or to a different state, etc.--He's already made preparations in advance for us to complete the mission.

So what's your track record with responding to God's call? As you go forward, will you allow Him to shape your life through the good and the tough situations that present themselves? Is there something God is calling you to do today? Tami

1 Kings 17:1-16

Today we meet the prophet Elijah. We're not really told much about him, but our passage reveals a man that was dedicated to serving God and followed His instruction to the letter. I found Elijah's total trust and reliance on God to provide exactly what he needed to survive pretty remarkable. In my mind, relying on ravens to bring you food and then three people living for "many days" on a handful of flour and a small amount of cooking oil, is unsettling. Yet we don't see even one hesitation on the part of Elijah.

What did you learn from this passage about trusting God to provide your needs? What role do you believe obedience plays in this process? Tami

Psalm 102

The writer of Psalm 102 is definitely stressed and, in his own words, distressed. He's in a hard place. We've all been there, right? My attention was caught by how this man conveys what he's going through and what he's feeling so clearly to the Lord, and he doesn't seem to be holding anything back. But then, once he gets everything out, we see a shift in focus from himself and his woes to God and His greatness, eternality and faithfulness.

So how might you use and draw on Psalm 102 to help you respond and deal with hardship and, like the psalmist, move from complaint to praise? What does this passage show us about how hardship can draw us closer to God? Tami

Psalm 100

One of the first things we see in Psalm 100 is that we're to "Serve the Lord with gladness!" I totally agree but unfortunately I don't always hit that mark. There are just some days when I don't feel like serving with gladness. And every time that happens it's because my focus has shifted off of the Lord and onto me and my circumstances--something happens that I wasn't anticipating and I let myself get overloaded, overwhelmed and consumed with life.

So what can we do to help us be more consistent in serving the Lord with gladness? Tami

Growth Process

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Mark 8:34-38

All week we've been considering following Jesus so today we're taking another look at Mark 8:34-38.

I made the decision to follow Christ when I was 8 years old. And that commitment to Christ has impacted my life every day since. One of the realizations I didn't fully grasp until a little later in life is that following Jesus is a lifestyle. A lot of things changed when I finally understood that Jesus truly has to be my way of life.

How has your relationship with the Lord grown and changed since you made the decision to follow Christ? How does following Jesus impact your lifestyle? Tami

Second Seat

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steering wheel

Mark 8:34-38

You don't have to be around me too long to realize that I'm a total in control, take charge kind of person. Here's an example. Whenever I travel or when my husband and I drive anywhere, guess who's behind the steering wheel? You guessed it--me. So Jesus' words in Mark 8:34-38 spoke loudly to me because Jesus is telling the crowd and his disciples (plus you and me) that if we truly want to follow Him, we have to put Him in the driver's seat every day. That means saying no to self (our ideas, our desires, our being in control) and saying yes (submitting and being obedient) to Christ.

So what does it mean for Christ to be in the driver's seat? For those times when you realize that you've taken over the driver's seat, what do you do to correct the problem? Tami

With a Purpose

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Mark 3:13-19

Jesus sent the disciples out with a clear assignment--to spread the gospel message. Verse 12 says the disciples went out telling everyone to repent. Well here we are some 2,000 years later and our assignment as a Christ-follower is the same--to show and tell others about Christ.

Think back over the past week or so. What's something you've done that has shown someone that you are a Christ-follower? What's something you've said or maybe written that has highlighted and shared Christ? Tami

Called

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Mark 3:13-19

Jesus appoints the twelve disciples in Mark 3:13-19. Right away as we start this passage we see that Jesus "called to him those whom he desired and they came to him" (vs. 13). Certainly a personal call to his disciples, and the good news is He calls us personally as well.

So how have you experienced that call?
Tami

All In

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Mark 1:16-20

The first people Jesus calls to be his disciples are fishermen--Simon, Andrew, James and John, and he calls them with this simple statement. "'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men'" (Mark 1:17). Next thing we see is each of these men abruptly abandoning their nets and boats to begin a new life journey following Jesus.

So what can we learn about being a Christ-follower from these men? What does being a follower or disciple of Christ mean to you? What does it look like in your life? Tami

P.S. Today on Back to the Bible, we begin a brand new series, Following Jesus, with Bible Teacher Dr. John Munro. He brings us some great teaching on how to live as a disciple of Christ, so be sure to listen. (You'll also want to hear an exciting announcement, so don't miss it.)

Psalm 99

Three times in the nine short verses of Psalm 99 we're told that God is holy, and accompanying this declaration is the command to praise His name, (vs. 3), exalt the Lord and worship at his footstool (vs. 5) and to exalt the Lord and worship at his holy mountain (vs. 9). Pretty clear message.

So what are you going to do with the recurring instruction to both exalt the Lord and to worship Him? How will you put this into practice today or next week?
Tami

Joyful

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Psalm 98

If you're needing a "joyful" shot in the arm today, then Psalm 98 is sure to supply. As with so many psalms, it's about singing and praising the Lord. I particularly like verse 8 where the psalmist gives us the unusual description of the rivers clapping their hands and the hills singing for joy together. That got me thinking If the rivers and hills can be that exuberant, what does that tell me about my joy in the Lord? I think I've got some work to do!!

So what can we do to make sure we're all about being joyful in the Lord this week? How are we going to experience joy? How can we display it, share it, and even receive it? Tami

A Second Look

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Numbers 12:1-15

We're taking another look at Numbers 12:1-15 and Moses' prayer for his sister Miriam. Yesterday I keyed in on praying for difficult family members, but today I want to simply focus on the prayer and Moses as the person speaking the prayer. Moses' prayer is recorded in verse 13. It's short and to the point. "'O God, please heal her--please.'"

Take a couple of minutes to consider Moses' prayer looking at things like his focus, his attitude, his lack of grumbling, even the brevity of the prayer. Was there something that really stood out to you? How might you model Moses when it comes to praying for others? Tami

Oh...Family

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Numbers 12:1-15

So far this week we've been considering praying for difficult people and looking to Moses as our example. Up to this point, Moses has been talking with God and interceding for the Israelites as group. But today, his prayer is for just one difficult person--his sister, Miriam. Now, dealing with family members can be complicated. Emotions run a little higher and we tend to be extra critical with those we know best. Next thing you know words get said rashly and...off we go down a bad path. But we don't see any of this with Moses. He handles this not so good situation with his sister wonderfully.

So what did Moses' response to Miriam's leprosy reveal to you about his heart? What did you learn from Moses about responding to, and praying for, difficult family members? Tami

Exodus 33:1-23

For the last two days we've looked at Moses and how he intervened for the Israelites with God. As I read Exodus 33 today, though, it was the Israelites behavior that caught my attention. They clearly knew they had sinned and that Moses had intervened for them. So according to verse 4 when they heard God's stern words "they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments."

To your knowledge has anyone ever intervened with God for you when you've acted foolishly or gotten off course? What did that act mean to you? Did it impact your thinking and actions? Did it help turn your attention back to God? Tami

Exodus 32:15-35

When Moses witnesses firsthand the Israelite's sinful worship of the golden calf, he is furious. But instead of washing his hands of the people (which you've got to think he was tempted to do) he, once again, intercedes for them with God. Pretty remarkable and also a good reminder to me that someone else's bad behavior or poor choices doesn't give me a pass when it comes to praying for them--even if that person has purposefully hurt me.

So what's your experience been when it comes to praying for difficult people? What helps you stay the course even though the circumstances may be such that you don't feel like praying for them? Tami

Middleman

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Exodus 32:1-14

The Israelites were a handful for Moses and we see that clearly with the golden calf incident. Moses is barely out of sight when the people turn away from God and jump head first into idol worship. A very foolish decision that angers God. "Now therefore let me alone, so my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them in order that I may make a great nation of you" (Exodus 32:10). Even so, Moses intercedes for this "stiff-necked" people asking God to spare them, and God relents.

So what does this passage show us about caring and praying for people around us who aren't in alignment with God? Who do you know that needs your prayers today? Tami

Philippians 1-4

One thing that really stands out to me about the Book of Philippians is Paul's consistent attitude of joy. If Paul didn't tell us, I think we'd be surprised to find out he was in prison when he wrote this uplifting letter. I love how throughout the letter Paul includes many reasons why he is and can be joyful.

So what about you? What reasons do you have to be joyful? What brings you joy when it comes to spiritual matters? Tami

Philippians 1-4

Yesterday we read the entire Book of Philippians and since there's so much to consider, we're going to stay looking at the four chapters of Philippians over the weekend. So take another read through Philippians and then consider the questions below.

What thought or spiritual principle stands out to you most from the Book of Philippians? What verses in this letter do you think are good ones to memorize and practice each day? Tami

The Whole Book

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Philippians 1-4

(Yes, the whole book!)

When you get a letter in the mail, do you read it all at once? Or do you read a paragraph or two one day and then finish reading it the next day? You read the entire letter at once--right? So do you ever do that with a book of the Bible? Today, I thought it'd be good for us to read the entire letter to the Philippians in one sitting. Now if that sounds a little daunting, it's only four chapters, and it's actually a great way to read this Book that was written as a letter. Yes, it will take some extra time, but it will be worth it.

So rather than reading chapters or just certain passages, today read the Book of Philippians from beginning to end like a letter. Did you see anything reading through this time that maybe you missed when you read the book in segments? Did the book make more sense? Tami

P.S. Over the weekend, I want us to think about a few more questions pertaining to the Book of Philippians as a whole. So let's plan to camp out there and really soak up its message.

Provided For

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Philippians 4:10-23

As Paul was out ministering and preaching the gospel, he didn't have a set paycheck coming in once a month or every two weeks like most of us. His needs were being met through the financial gifts and provision of other Christ-followers. That being the case, there would be times when Paul had an abundance of funds and supplies and other times when he didn't have much at all. So what did this teach Paul? That he could be content in any situation because he was trusting in and relying on God for his provision. "I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (vs. 12-13).

How has God supplied your needs in both lean times and when you've had plenty? What role does God's Word and prayer play in you being content in any situation? Tami

Where's your focus?

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Philippians 4:1-9

A theme that stood out to me in today's passage was FOCUS. Take a look at what these verses tell us about where our focus should be.

Verse 5: "The Lord is at hand." Other translations say "Remember, the Lord is coming soon." If we focus on the fact that Jesus is coming back, it should motivate us to live for righteousness and to have an eternal perspective.

Verse 6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Ever notice that worry only produces more worry? That's why we're urged to take our needs straight to God. And after we pour out our hearts to His listening ear, our job is to focus on Him (not our issues)--fixing our thoughts on His character and His promises.

Verse 9: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Our minds dictate our sense of well-being, our attitude, our peace. That's why we need to tell ourselves what to think instead of letting our minds wander to whatever comes naturally--thinking about self, worrying, fearing what's ahead... Paul tells us to fix our thoughts on truth, on what is good, and ultimately, on God. When our focus is on God, there's no room for anxiety, selfishness or fear.

So what kinds of thoughts tend to cause you anxiety, fear or lead you down the road of focusing on self? How do you or can you choose to focus on God, on what is true from His Word, on what is pure, lovely, admirable? Meredith

Like Me

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Philippians 3:12-21

Paul's "press on toward the goal" speech is one of my favorites. So as I started reading I figured I'd be talking with you about pressing on and straining forward. Instead, my attention was drawn to verse 17 and this statement, "Brothers, join in imitating me..." I started thinking about how bold those words were and if I'd be comfortable saying them. I wasn't too sure about that, so I tried to dismiss it because this was, after all, Paul. But here's where I landed. Once we decide to follow Christ, our lives should say "join in imitating me."

Paul wasn't perfect. He wasn't sinless. But he was passionate and sold out to following Christ. We can be too. So what does that look like and how do we get there?
Tami

Philippians 3:1-11

Where's our confidence? That's the issue Paul addresses in Philippians 3:1-11, and he's quick to point out that as followers of Christ, our confidence should be in Him and Him alone. But the message we hear from the world (and certainly from our human nature) is that we should be confident in ourselves and our abilities. So we have a choice to make as we start out and then continue through each and every day.

What do you do to stay focused on Christ so that you're not responding to things based on your own strength? What does "gaining Christ and being found in Him" (vs. 8-9) mean for you? Tami

He Reigns

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Psalm 97

Psalm 97 starts out with these words, "The Lord reigns" and the subtitle in my Bible (maybe yours too?) for this chapter also reads "The Lord Reigns." So we know right away what this entire chapter is about and we see a number of examples and descriptions of the Lord's strength, power, might and rule.

Psalm 97 prompted me to spend a little time thinking about the Lord reigning and what that means and looks like for me. Here are some of my thoughts: There's no doubt that the Lord is in control of my life. He's God and I am not. But the Lord reigning means so much more. First off, I want the Lord to reign in my life. But for that to be the case, I must recognize Him for who He is, willingly submit and then strive to follow and serve Him fully each day. That's a tall order and there are plenty of days I fall short. Maybe that's why we have new days--to give us a fresh start. There is nothing more peaceful, more satisfying, more confirming than to look back at the end of day and know that, today the Lord reigned in me.

So what does the Lord reigning mean to you and your life? Any examples you want to share? Tami

The Added Twist

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Psalm 96

Many of the psalms tell us to sing to the Lord, and we see that again here in Psalm 96 but with an added directive--to sing a new song to the Lord. Now that tells me that God welcomes and even expects us to be fresh and creative in our praise and celebration of Him. And if we're wondering what information, words, tone, etc. that our new song might include, we can get good start from just reading the rest of Psalm 96 for some examples.

So what are some new ways or new things you can do--publicly or privately--to celebrate the Lord? What is your new song going to look like? Tami

Support System

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Philippians 2:19-30

As I read Philippians 2:19-30 the importance of having Christian friends really hit me. Life is full of choices and challenges and trying to navigate and weather it all on our own isn't smart. The way I see it, having a godly support system, as well as being a support for someone else, is a must.

How have Christian friends been a help to you? What are you doing to support other Christ followers? How can you get more involved in both encouraging and walking alongside other Christians, as well as receiving and accepting encouragement and support from others? Tami

Child of God

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Philippians 2:12-18

Paul encourages followers of Christ as "children of God" to live fully and rightly for God. His specific instruction includes holding fast to the word of life and being a shining light to a lost world.

How would you describe being a child of God to another person? Would you say people recognize you as a child of God? Why or why not? Tami

Model It

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Philippians 2:1-11

Paul's charge in Philippians 2:1-11 is for us to model Christ in all areas, but specifically in humility. I totally get that, but know that to accomplish this I have to deal with my human nature which seems to automatically jump to "me-centered" thinking. So being humble and responding in humility is going to take some effort and intentionality on my part, but it is so worth it.

When you think about being humble, what examples come to mind? What do you do to get an attitude of humility? Tami

Spill the Beans

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Philippians 1:12-30

One of my favorite things about Paul is his passion for proclaiming Christ and advancing the Gospel, and we see that clearly in Philippians 1:12-18. Paul doesn't let anything limit or hinder him telling others about Christ. Even in prison, Paul is actively proclaiming the Gospel. "What has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ" (vs.12-13).

Sharing the Gospel is really important to me and I do look for and take opportunities to tell others about Jesus. But reading Paul's words in Philippians today made me realize that I have plenty of room to grow and do more whether that's when I'm traveling or when I'm in my own backyard.

On a scale of 1-10 with Paul being a 10, where would you place yourself when it comes to telling others about Jesus (how often/frequency)? Whatever the number, how can you increase it starting this week? What are some things you can do to be an effective proclaimer of Christ, right where you're at? Tami

Building Up

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Philippians 1:1-11

Paul is what I would consider to be a total encourager, and we really see that in the first verses of his letter to the church in Philippi. But what makes his encouragement even more impressive is that Paul is writing this letter from prison. Even so, there's not even a hint of discouragement about his situation. Instead, Paul is focused on lifting up his friends in Philippi and helping them stay the course for Christ.

Part of being in the Body of Christ is encouraging, reinforcing and lifting other believers up. I love it when I receive a text, email or a handwritten note someone from my church family letting me know that they're praying for me or that something I've done has encouraged or helped them. Those simple kinds of acts are huge to me. They certainly confirm my living for Christ and also motivate me to keep at it.

So this week, will you join me in committing to build up other Christ-followers? The goal is for each of us to encourage at least one person every day, starting today and then for the next six days. I know we can do it! Alright, who can you encourage today and how will you go about it? Have fun!! Tami

P.S. I'd love to see some blog posts with examples of your encouragement throughout the week. Keep us in the loop!

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 July 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2013 is the previous archive.

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