June 2014 Archives

No Ifs

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Today's reading: Luke 9:37-43; Mark 9:14-29

Jesus interacts with a distressed father in our passages for today, and then heals the man's son who has been plagued with a demon since he was little. My heart went out to this father who wanted so badly to help his son. In his desperation he implores Jesus to help "if you can." Jesus' response conveys a strong message. "And Jesus said to him, 'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes."

What do Jesus' words show us about God's power? What did you see from these passages about the importance of having faith, relying on God and prayer? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 81

Have you ever noticed how sometimes when you read, a particular thought or message will just stand out to you? Well, as I read Psalm 81 today it seemed like verse after verse just showed me how deep God's love is for us. I was particularly moved by verses 8-10 where God is telling us if we simply listen to Him, if we surrender and open our hearts, He will be our all. (Thank you, Lord!)

So what are you doing to accept and reciprocate God's love? What can we do to help us be better listeners to God and what He has for us? Tami

Noticing

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Today's reading: Psalm 80

Every word, every phrase, every sentence of God's Word is important. But when God repeats the same phrase or thought, emphasizing it in a chapter or a book, I definitely want to take note of that. Three times in Psalm 80 we see "Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!" (verse 3; see verses 7 and 19). So I thought about these words and asked myself How often do I respond and cry out to God like this? Well I do....but not always, and that's not the best way to proceed.

So what can we do to keep at the forefront that God alone is our restorer and provider and that we should be calling upon and seeking Him in all things? Tami

Looking at Jesus

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Today's reading: Luke 9:28-36

Today, I was struck by the different look this transfiguration passage gives us of Jesus. So I spent a little time looking back through the passage focusing on what certain phrases and verses revealed to me about Jesus. It was a good exercise, so I'm asking you to join me.

Read back through Luke 9:28-36 specifically focusing on what you can learn about Jesus. What did you notice? Did you see anything that maybe you hadn't observed or considered before? Tami

Following Jesus

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Today's reading: Luke 9:23-27

Jesus speaks some powerful words in Luke 9:23-27. But the message of denying self--putting aside our desires and our comfort in the here and now, isn't an easy one. And, it isn't the most popular message in today's "it's all about me" culture.

Based on Jesus' words in Luke 9:23-27, what does following Jesus mean to you? What are a couple of examples of how you are living out this passage? Tami

P.S. A big thanks goes out to the guest bloggers (Tricia, Ben & Topher) who filled in for me while I was in the Philippines. I hope everyone enjoyed their unique perspectives.

Surprise!

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Today's reading: Luke 9:18-22

Today's blog is written by Tricia, editor for goTandem. Enjoy!

A while back, my husband told me about how, as a little boy, he was fascinated with falling stars. As he rode in the back seat of the family car at night he would stare up at the sky and fix his eyes on one star, waiting for it to fall. As you can imagine, that never happened. And he probably missed other falling stars by focusing on the one he thought would make its dive from the heavens.

Today's passage from Luke made me think of that story. The disciples finally (and no small task) seem to understand who Jesus is: "You are the Messiah sent from God!" Peter blurts out. So now! Now they can expect Jesus to bring the REALLY big miracles! He's been impressing them the last couple years with what He can do, but now He's really gonna bring out the big stuff. Get rid of the Romans and bring the glory back to Israel. Maybe even give the 12 of them a good job in His government. But they were stunned to hear Jesus say, so un-Messiah-like, that He "must suffer many things" and that He would be killed.

It's a great thing that Jesus does the unexpected, the not-dreamed-about. If you're facing a situation and think you know what should happen; if you've fixed your heart and your prayers on a solution, step back. Widen your view. Look at Jesus, not your expectations. He will probably surprise you.

When have you been surprised by Jesus? Will you trust His solutions more than your own? Tricia

Oh We of Little Faith

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Today's reading: Luke 9:10-17

Today's blog is written by Topher, one of our writers for goTandem. Enjoy!

We've all heard the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus starts preaching. People get hungry. A kid brings up his lunchbox and voila, everyone gets more than enough to eat. Bam. Jesus completes another miracle and moves on with his life. But I don't think that's why Luke included this story. I think he brought it up so we could get a better look at the disciples. See, these guys had been around when Jesus had performed miracles. Big miracles. Jesus had even sent them out to do miracles of their own. And yet, these men--who had seen everything--still didn't know what to expect from Jesus. And it's easy to be the same way. It's easy for us to forget our history with Christ because whatever we're facing in the present seems insurmountable. But it's not, just like whatever problems you were facing last week weren't. Because the same Jesus who calmed the storm last week is the same Jesus who will divide the loaves and the fish this week.

Take some time today to take an inventory of the things that God has helped you overcome in the past. What are some of the things that you're facing right now? Are you trusting God to take care of them? Topher

Have you been served?

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Today's reading: Luke 9:1-9

Today's guest blogger, Ben, works in tech support for goTandem. Enjoy!

Have you ever seen a servant's battle? I see it a lot at church. The battle often happens at the entrance when two people arrive at the door at the same time. One person lunges forward to grab the handle and opens the door. But the other person stops and says, "no please, you first." The first person won't hear of it though, "I insist, you first." And back and forth it goes. Both persons are so intent on being a servant, they won't allow themselves to be served.

This may be part of the reason behind Jesus' instructions to His disciples as He sends them out to preach and to heal in today's verses. "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics" (Luke 9:3). The implication is that the disciples would need to be dependent on others--and by extension, God--for their provisions. Jesus sends out the Twelve to perform a service for others, but at the same time He puts them in the position of having to rely on the service of others.

There is nothing wrong, and everything right with being a "servant of all" (Mark 9:35). But sometimes being a servant means allowing someone else to serve you. The example above of servants at the door is a bit silly; few of us need a door to be opened for us. But all of us will need something at some time in our lives--at many times in our lives. When that time comes, will you allow someone else--and by extension God--to meet your needs by serving you?

How has God used friends, or even strangers, to meet your needs? How might God be calling you to meet the needs of others?

Extra Credit: Can you remember a time when one of the disciples objected to being served by Jesus? What was Jesus' response?

Ben

Questioning God

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Today's reading: Psalm 79

As we start Psalm 79 the Israelites are calling out to the Lord. Their situation isn't good. They've gotten out of sync with God and as a result, other nations have come in and defiled God's temple and "laid Jerusalem in ruins" (vs. 1). Then we see these telling words "How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?" (vs. 5).

So what does Psalm 79, and specifically verse 5, show us about God's love and desire to have a relationship with us? Tami

The Mind of God

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Today's reading: Psalm 78:40-72

Psalm 78 is rich with information about God. And it's all right there for us to take in. Did you notice how almost every verse in Psalm 78:40-72 talked about and showed us God's actions, emotions and power? There was so much there I ended up going back and looking at this passage a number of times.

What do these verses tell us about God's heart for us? His faithfulness? How about the things that we do that break His heart?
Tami

It's Good to be Desperate

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Today's reading: Luke 8:40-56

Today's blog is written by Tricia, editor for goTandem. Tami should be back in action next week. Enjoy!

It's interesting, the contrast between Jesus' encounter with the man who's demon-possessed that Topher wrote about yesterday, and the intertwined stories of Jairus and the bleeding woman that come right after.

• While the people of Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away; the people in verses 40-56 "welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him."

• Jesus healed the Gerasenes man on His own initiative, without a request from the man. But the stories of Jairus and the woman are all about Jesus responding to, even requiring, their faith in him.

• Everyone knew about the demon-possessed man, but he was a total outcast in society. The woman seems like an anonymous person until she meets Jesus, then everyone hears her story. Jairus was the popular and respected leader of the synagogue.

• Jesus sent the man he healed with instructions to "go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you." To Jairus and his wife Jesus "insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened."

There are probably many reasons for the contrasts in these encounters with Jesus, but one thing is woven throughout all three narratives: Jesus' eagerness to bring physical, emotional and spiritual healing to these desperate people. For two of them, it required faith. For the other, Jesus just responded.

Where do you see yourself in these stories? What are you desperate for Jesus to do in your life? Tricia

P.S. Since I'm the editor, I can't let this opportunity pass to invite all of you to sign up for goTandem on the web at goTandem.com or download our app--available on both IOS and Android phones. We're the daily spiritual interruption you've been looking for!

Jesus vs. Legion

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Today's reading: Luke 8:26-39

Some of you know Tami is doing ministry work in the Philippines right now, and because of the unpredictable nature of the internet there, we'll be featuring guest bloggers for a few days until Tami is back. Today's blog is written by Topher, one of our writers for goTandem. Enjoy!

It's hard not to feel sympathy for this man. He was seen as a threat to society and to himself, and as much as everyone tried, they just couldn't fix him. He'd go running off into the desert again, broken and bleeding and still full of demons. Then Jesus comes along--as Jesus tends to do--and the demons start trembling. They know who Jesus is. They're not big fans. But they basically beg for their lives, and when they're cast out they slaughter a herd of pigs.

But this isn't the interesting part of the story. What's really fascinating is Jesus' interaction with this man. First, everyone who saw it is now terrified and they want Jesus gone. I mean, who is this man who can command demons, right? And then, this guy starts following Jesus everywhere, begging to be allowed to follow him, and why shouldn't Jesus let him follow? It'd be amazing PR. Come see Jesus and the guy Jesus kicked demons out of. It'd be a great crowd draw, but instead, Jesus tells this guy to go home and tell others what God has done for him. Not go and tell everyone that my name is Jesus and I cast out demons, but go tell everyone what God has done. And that's an amazing thing.

Is it ok to look for credit when we do things for God? How can we constantly put Jesus first in our lives? Topher

Your Turn to Share

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Today's reading: Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41

Today's blog is somewhat out of the ordinary since Tami is in the Philippines learning more about Back to the Bible's partnership with International Care Ministries (ICM). The internet is hit or miss, so Tami wasn't able to send her blog for today. Hopefully she'll be able to connect tomorrow! A little more about ICM... This wonderful organization works with the ultra-poor, equipping them with life skills and training to create positive long-term change. They've asked Back to the Bible to come along side to help develop the spiritual growth side of their outreach--to better assess the spiritual needs of the people they serve and implement a strategy to help people (and their own staff) grow closer to Jesus on a daily basis. We're super excited about this opportunity made possible through your support, and we'd appreciate your prayers as we continue this work with ICM.

Now on to today's reading. Let's take another look at the passages in Luke and Mark. As you think about storms you've gone through in your own life, what are some verses that have given you comfort or hope? We'd love to hear from you, so let's get a good list of verses going. They'll be sure to encourage us all. Meredith

No Storm Too Big

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Today's reading: Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41

Following Jesus' instructions, the disciples (with Jesus) head out by boat. Part way through their journey, they encounter difficulty in the form of a great wind storm that threatens to sink the boat. As the waves and water begin filling the boat, the disciples are scared. Jesus, on the other hand, is comfortably sleeping in the stern of the boat as the storm rages around them.

Difficult situations (storms) are simply part of life. But as followers of Christ, we don't have to respond in fear when our circumstances feel overwhelming. What a comfort to know that God is in control, He knows our situation and He will be there to guide, direct and sustain us in and through our storms.

How has God helped you navigate in and through the storms? And if you're up for it, encourage us with one of your stories. Tami

Today's reading: Luke 8:19-21; Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-34

At first glance you might think Jesus' words in Luke 8:19-21 (and the parallel passages from Matthew and Mark) are cold and harsh. And if we draw that conclusion, it's probably because we're approaching the passage through our experience with our earthly family. But Jesus wasn't thinking or talking about earthly terms here. His concern, His focus, and thus His response, were on spiritual matters. (As I read this passage Matthew 8:21-22 came to mind. Take a look and see what you think.)

What do these passages reveal about doing God's will and our priorities? Tami

Share Worthy

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Today's reading: Psalm 78:1-39

Let's say your favorite place to shop is having a storewide 50% sale or one of the best restaurants in town is having a buy one meal get one free special, would you tell your family and friends? Of course, and you'd probably tell some strangers too. We like to share good news.

What does Psalm 78:1-39 show us about the importance of telling others, and particularly our youth, all about God and what He has done? How can we make sure we don't lose sight of God's works and wonders? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 77

When you think about it, hardships, trouble, tough times all describe what we should expect as we live out the Christian life, and we see that pretty clearly here in Psalm 77. Now I've lived long enough to know this--well. Even so, somehow, in the back of my mind there's still this little thought that life should be easy and carefree, and if and when I hit that rough spot, I can pray and God will fix it. Well that's not reality. It's not what God's Word tells us. So when I allow myself to indulge in this thinking, it pulls me off track from God and that, in turn, typically leads to disappointment and discouragement.

So how can we use Psalm 77 to keep us on track with God and encourage us when we're in the middle of tough times? What does it tell us about taking our troubles, concerns and problems to the Lord? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 8:16-18; Matthew 5:14-16

Today we arrive at a very familiar passage where Jesus talks about a lamp. This happens to be one of my favorite passages because it addresses an issue that I am passionate about (sharing Christ with others). I also like it because Jesus uses such a common object to deliver an understandable and powerful point. There's no doubt after finishing up these few verses that we are to be highly visual advocates for Christ.

So how are you doing in the "shine" department? What's one example of how you've let your light shine before others in the past week or so? Will you ask God to help you show Christ to someone this week? Tami

Significant Seed

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Today's reading: Luke 8:4-15

We're taking another look at the parable of the sower today, but this time we're going to dig in and consider Jesus' message about God's Word.

What does this passage reveal about the importance of God's Word? How do you after "hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience"? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 8:4-15

Jesus liked to teach using parables (stories), and as a result, we find many of these teaching stories throughout Matthew, Mark and Luke. For me, certain parables make sense right away. There are others, though, that aren't quite as clear, and I struggle a little as I work on deciphering Jesus' underlying message. Either way, they're a good learning tool because the stories make me think, helping me look differently at certain situations, actions or maybe the way I've been approaching something.

So what are your thoughts and experiences with Jesus' parables? How do you approach them? What are some benefits you've received? Tami

Giving Back

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Today's reading: Luke 8:1-3

Luke 8 begins with three short verses that are easy to skim over. In fact, that's exactly what I did as I read chapter 8 considering what verses I would write about for today. But as I started to settle in on the parable of the seeds, it bugged me that I was starting on verse 4. So I went back and re-read verses 1-3 again with the mindset that they wouldn't be there for me to read if they weren't important.

Immediately my focus went to the several women who were mentioned, and specifically the final words of verse 3 (that seemed to jump off the page now that I was paying more attention), "who provided for them out of their means."

So what is the example, the lesson, these women provide for us today? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 7:36-50

Jesus interacts with two people in Luke 7:36-50--a Pharisee and a woman from the city who was known as a sinner--and the encounters are completely different. I tried to imagine the scene. On the one hand, I could picture the stiff, upright and prideful countenance of the Pharisee complete with a look of disdain on his face. The visual of the woman was one of humility, shame and smallness as she approached Jesus whom she revered and respected. As I finished reading, I spent a few minutes considering my attitude toward Jesus and how I treat Him. I'd love to tell you that I'm always like the woman, but that's not the case. There are days when I do take on a little of that Pharisee attitude. So this passage was a good reminder to me of what happens when I let my focus slip off of God and following His Word.

So when it comes to how you view and treat Jesus, who do you identify with more, the woman or the Pharisee, and why? What are some things you do to keep your focus and attitude in the right place? Tami

His Greatness

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Today's reading: Psalm 76

Psalm 76 is a song recognizing and praising God for His greatness in the way He has protected Israel and "his dwelling place in Zion" (vs. 2). The psalmist, Asaph, then provides us with some specifics and details of this protection and wraps up the psalm with a call to worship God.

So what does Psalm 76 tell us about God? How can we use this psalm to boost our trust in and reliance upon Him? Tami

Lifted Up

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Today's reading: Psalm 75

The primary message or theme of Psalm 75 is one of God judging with fairness ("with equity" vs. 2). But mixed in throughout this theme and verses I also picked up pretty clearly the message that God is most certainly in control (see vs. 2, 3 & 7). So even though we can fall into thinking that we're pretty powerful (vs. 4-6), really, it's not about us or our power at all.

So how can we draw on Psalm 75 to help us keep the right perspective so we can be empowered by God (not ourselves) and be "lifted up" by Him (vs. 10)? Tami

Questions

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Today's reading: Luke 7:18-35

What's going on in our lives (especially when life isn't going the way we think it should) can really impact our thinking and shake us up, spiritually speaking. Things like sickness, death, accidents, job loss, bankruptcy, divorce can lead to us to question and doubt God and His plan. Now as much as I'd like to tell you that I never give in to this line of thinking, I do. We all do. Even John the Baptist wrestled with uncertainty as he was sitting in prison.

So what do you do to keep your focus on God and His Word during uncertain and difficult times? Any favorite verses or scripture passages you turn to in times of struggle? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 7:11-17

When Jesus raises a young man from the dead in Luke 7, it is a clear demonstration of his power and authority. But what stood out even more for me today, was Jesus' compassion. What a tender scene verse 13 provides. "And when the Lord saw her (the young man's grieving mother), he had compassion on her and said to her, 'Do not weep.'"

What does this passage reveal about God's interest, care and love for you? Tami

Roman Example

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Today's reading: Luke 7:1-10

In Luke 7:1-9 we read about Jesus healing the servant of a Roman centurion who is deathly ill. Jesus is moved by the centurion's faith, and says to those around him "I tell you I have not found such great faith even in Israel" (vs. 9). As I read through this passage I absolutely saw and appreciated this demonstration of faith by the centurion. But I also noticed and appreciated a number of other qualities he displayed--things like humility, respect, understanding, belief and wisdom. I came away from my read with the thought that I would do well to model what I observed from this man.

So what stood out to you about this centurion? How did God speak to your heart through this passage today? Tami

Firm Foundation

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Today's reading: Luke 6:46-49

My husband and I have built two houses in our married life, and through that process one of the first things we learned was that if we didn't have a solid, stable foundation, our house was going to have serious problems. That being the case, we made sure our contractor took great care with the pouring of our foundations.

God has given us His Word to be our foundation. But when we choose to do things our own way instead of following His direction, we're going to run into problems. Verse 49 portrays this problem pretty clearly. "But the one who hears and does not do them is like the man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

How would you describe your foundation? What are you doing to keep your foundation solid and strong? Tami

Our Yield

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Today's reading: Luke 6:43-45

I will be known for the fruit I produce, and you will be known for the fruit you produce. That's the clear message from Jesus in Luke 6:43-45. That being the case, I'd better be thinking about and constantly tending to my "yield."

How would you describe the fruit you are currently producing? What impact will Luke 6:43-45 have on your actions today, next week, next month? Tami

Attitude Check

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Today's reading: Psalm 74

I read Psalm 74 a number of times as I prepared to write for today. Each time, I was drawn to Asaph's pointing out of how their enemies were insulting and dishonoring to God. But here's the thing, I kept saying to myself but wasn't Israel guilty of doing essentially the same thing? And then I started thinking about us and how easily we can fall into that camp as well.

So how do we guard against letting our hearts and attitudes become distant from, dishonoring and even insulting to God? Tami

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 June 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2014 is the previous archive.

July 2014 is the next archive.

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