June 2015 Archives

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 18:1-16

David's life changes significantly after his slaying of Goliath. He is now in full-time service to Saul, and his success as a warrior is continuing. In fact, David's military accomplishments are so impressive that the people embrace David and publically praise him above Saul. "And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'" (vs. 7). As you might imagine, Saul is extremely unhappy about being in David's shadow, and the next thing we see is a jealous king who wants to get rid of his competition.

What did you notice and learn about jealousy from: Saul? David? The women? Tami

Representing God

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 17:38-58

From the moment he arrived on the battle ground, what we see of David is that he was an outstanding representative of God. As I started reading our passage, it hit me that David's standing up to and taking on Goliath is a wonderful example for us as we represent and stand up for Christ in the world today. So I started jotting down the things I noticed from David's example that I could put into practice. Here are a few of the things I came up with:

  • He was confident in God
  • He wasn't ashamed
  • He didn't hesitate
  • He didn't concern himself with comparisons
  • He didn't question the situation
  • He used the tools he was familiar with
  • He "ran toward the battle" (vs. 48)
  • He remained humble
  • He finished strong

What encouraged you the most from David's example? What's one thing you learned about representing God that you can put into practice? Tami

Write It Down

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Today's reading: Psalm 6:1-10

My heart was moved by David's candidness as he describes to God his feelings, emotions and actions in the middle of experiencing extreme distress. As I looked over and considered David's words, it prompted me to think about a number of times when I've been in significant distress and taken the time to write down what I was thinking, feeling and experiencing. The exercise helped me get a better understanding of the situation and how I was reacting, and served to deepen my prayer conversations with God.

Take some time today to write out those things that are weighing on your heart. Then incorporate what you've written into a prayer to God asking Him for guidance and strength. Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 5:1-12

The fact that David had an established routine with God came across loud and clear to me as I took in Psalm 5. I love how part of David's conversation with God provides us with a description of David's routine interacting with God. His day starts out by talking with God (prayer) and preparing a sacrifice (for us perhaps a willing heart and attitude), and then he waits for God to respond. David also asks God to lead and teach him, and the result of it all is living with joy.

What are the benefits of having a consistent routine with God? Is it your practice to start your day by talking with God? If so, how does this impact the rest of your day? Tami

Change Agent

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 17:1-37

The account of David and Goliath is arguably one of the best-known stories in the Bible. I remember hearing it as a little girl in Sunday school and singing songs about David and his sling and stones. But before we turn to the incredible confrontation between David and Goliath, we're going to spend today looking at the first part of 1 Samuel 17. As I took in the details of the passage, what stood out to me was how God used David, a young man who wasn't even part of Saul's troops, to be the change agent the distraught and intimidated Saul and army needed.

Try to picture the scene in your mind. Two opposing large armies with a valley between them had been set up for at least 40 days. BUT...the Philistines have a giant, super warrior named Goliath, who had struck fear in the Israelites through his routine morning and evening tauntings and challenges. Then David enters the picture. Arriving on the battlefield with some food for his brothers, he hears one of Goliath's rants. Unlike those around him, David takes a bold stand for God, reminding and encouraging the troops and then Saul that they are the army of the living God (verses 26 and 36). David then volunteers to take on Goliath, confidently assuring Saul that God will deliver him (verse 37).

What does this passage show about how God operates and uses people? How can you be a change agent for someone who may be discouraged, searching for direction, or needing a little encouragement or nudge to take action? Tami

Turning Back

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 16:14-23

After receiving the message that God has rejected him as king (1 Samuel 15), Saul doesn't truly repent. And because of Saul's turning away from God, when we reach 1 Samuel 16:14-23 we see that the Spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul, and as a result, he is mentally and emotionally distressed.

The solution to Saul's problem seems so obvious--he needs to turn back to God and seek His forgiveness. But that's not what we see. Instead, Saul's servants suggest bringing in David so that he can play music that will make Saul feel better. Unfortunately, Saul chooses to proceed with that suggestion with no apparent consideration of seeking God's forgiveness.

What does Saul's situation show us about choosing our ways over God's, having an unrepentant heart and living with unconfessed sin? After reading this passage, how important is it for you to have godly-minded friends? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

As Samuel journeys to Bethlehem to seek out and anoint the next king, he is expecting God to direct him to an impressive man--one who is physically fit, muscular, tall and good looking. But God surprises Samuel when He rejects Jesse's oldest son who appears to fit that "impressive" list. I never get tired of reading God's words to Samuel when Samuel assumes that Eliab is God's choice for the next king.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart'" (1 Samuel 16:7).

It's so easy for us to get caught up in outward appearances. I know I certainly do. So I was thankful for this reminder that God is looking at our hearts, and it is His desire for us to love, follow and serve Him fully.

How would you describe the spiritual condition of your heart? What thoughts did God impress on your mind as you read this passage? Tami

Tough Love

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-35

My heart went out to Samuel and the situation in which he finds himself in 1 Samuel 15. The picture is one of a now old Samuel who is still seeking after and following God faithfully and wanting the best for the nation of Israel. But after delivering clear instructions to Saul concerning the Amalekites, Samuel discovers that Saul has disobeyed God's directive. Disappointed, hurt, angry and frustrated, Samuel then turns to the unpleasant task of confronting Saul and telling him that God had taken Israel from him and given it to another who was better. A tough day delivering a tough message for Samuel.

What do Samuel's words in verse 22, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams" reveal about God and what He values? What did you learn from this passage about obedience? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 14:24-46

As I finished up 1 Samuel 14, Saul's thinking and the way he interacted with his troops definitely provided me with some insight on leading people--but from a negative perspective rather than a modeling of effective leading. Saul was consumed with avenging his enemies, the Philistines, and this state of mind affected how he treated those around him and clouded his decision making.

What's one thing you noticed or learned about leading from this passage? Considering any modifications or changes to your style of leading after reading 1 Samuel 14? Tami

God's Peace #2

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Today's reading: Psalm 4:1-8

Again today we see the wonderful message of how when we trust in, and rely on, God we can have peace and joy no matter what our circumstances. Thank you, Lord!!

Are you fully trusting God with everything that is going on in your life? Is it your practice to ask Him to give you peace and joy as you live for Him? Tami

God's Peace

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Today's reading: Psalm 3:1-8

David is in a bad situation, fleeing from his son, Absalom, who is seeking David's life. But instead of exhibiting panic and fear, David is at peace, knowing that God is in control. I loved the picture of peace during the storm that verses 5 and 6 provided.

"I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves up against me all around."

What's your experience with God giving you peace in difficult times? Is there an area of your life or a specific situation you need to turn over to God today? Tami

No Doubt

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 14:1-23

Jonathan (Saul's son) and his armor-bearer stir things up a bit as we get into 1 Samuel 14. This duo single-handedly take on and defeat a battalion of the Philistine army, which then leads to a full-blown battle that ends in victory for the Israelites. It's an unlikely scenario that, at first glance, seems a bit reckless on Jonathan's part. But Jonathan wasn't acting on his own strength. The words he speaks to his armor-bearer in verse 6 convey an unwavering, absolute belief and trust in God and His control and protection.

"Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few."

Would you describe yourself as having the mindset that "nothing can hinder the Lord"? How does fully believing and trusting in God impact your day-to-day decisions, the way you interact with your family, co-workers and friends, how bold you are for God? Tami

Self Reliant

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-23

1 Samuel 13 gives us quite a different picture of King Saul than what we first saw in 1 Samuel 11. With a massive Philistine army geared up for battle, a now self-focused, impatient Saul takes matters into his own hands, offering sacrifices to God in place of God's prophet, Samuel.

When are you most tempted to take matters into your own hands? What's one thing that helps you stay focused on, and submitted to, God? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 12:1-25

Now an old man, Samuel addresses the Israelites one more time, reminding them of Who God is and then calling the nation to respect, serve and obey Him.

As I took in Samuel's passionate address, once again, his absolute commitment to God was apparent. From his earliest years to his final days, Samuel wholly followed God--seeking His instruction, following His words and then faithfully leading and guiding God's people. As I finished chapter 12, I spent a few minutes thinking about Samuel's example. Here are some descriptive words that came to my mind: unwavering, steadfast, dependable, submitted, devoted, loyal, honest, firm.

What does Samuel's life show us about serving God in and through our circumstances? What about serving God as we get older? What was the most important lesson you learned from Samuel's example? Tami

Superb Leader

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 11:1-15

Today we get a look at Saul's leadership style in the early days, and I have to say, it is impressive. The Ammonites have taken control of the city of Jabesh-gilead, and Nahash, the Ammonite leader, has agreed to make a treaty with the people--under the condition that each person's right eye be gouged out as a way to disgrace Israel. (Talk about a picture of an arrogant bully). In desperation and with the hope of receiving aid from kinsman, Jabesh-gilead sends word of their impending plight around the countryside.

When the message reaches Saul's community of Gibeah, the people are sad but no one suggests taking action to help. That all changes, however, once Saul hears about this horrific situation. He immediately responds, calling out the people of Israel to rally together to rescue the city of Jabesh-gilead. Saul then organizes a large group to respond, and they proceed to crush the Ammonites and take back the city. But we're not quite done seeing Saul's leadership. Immediately after the victory, Saul refuses to allow the killing of a number of men who had opposed his leadership. Well done, Saul.

While we may not think so, the fact of the matter is, we're all leaders in some capacity. So what did you learn from this account about understanding, helping and leading people? Tami

Young King Saul

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 10:1-27

A young Saul is anointed as king of Israel in 1 Samuel 10. But Saul didn't fully understand what was taking place, not to mention the why and how it was going to play out going forward. Although Samuel anointed him as king, Saul didn't have a detailed road-map of the situation or a play-by-play instruction manual to follow, and he was a little scared (hiding from the crowd in some baggage). Yet, he listened to Samuel, as God's representative, and obediently moved forward with the expectation that God would guide him along the way.

This passage is just what I needed today, as I'm in the middle of one of these uncertain times. I am following God's prompting and know that He is right with me. Yet, because I can't see the full plan or how God is precisely working, my tendency is to hesitate, to question and, like Saul, to be a little fearful. So I'm thankful for the reminder 1 Samuel 10 provided that I need to keep moving forward so I don't miss out on, or have a lesser experience with what God has for me.

Have you ever felt like young Saul here in 1 Samuel 10, struggling because you don't fully understand or see all the details of God's plan? What sort of things help you keep moving forward when you're not entirely certain how God is using the turns, twists, hills and valleys as contributors to your journey? Tami

All Powerful God

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Today's reading: Psalm 2:1-12

We get a good picture of God and His control of all things in Psalm 2. I was particularly drawn to the final verses and the call to serve the Lord with reverence, respect and awe because He alone is the all-powerful, mighty God.

What was one thing about God that stood out to you from Psalm 2? How do you show respect and reverence to God in your day-to-day living? Tami

Vibrant Living

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Today's reading: Psalm 1:1-6

I'm an outdoor lover. So the illustration of a tree leafed out and producing fruit absolutely resonated with me. This familiar depiction helped me better understand how vibrant and full my Christian walk can be when I'm delighting in God and spending time in His Word.

How does spending time talking with God and taking in His Word impact your spiritual growth? Would you describe yourself as a vibrant tree like the one here in Psalm 1? Tami

Following God

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 9:1-27

Today we get our first glimpse of Saul, a handsome and tall young man whom God is about to anoint as the first king of Israel. But what captured my attention in this chapter wasn't Saul. Instead, it was Samuel. I was struck by Samuel's relationship with God. Samuel seeks God, listens intently to Him and then follows every instruction he receives, to the letter. What an example.

What does your relationship with God look like? Is it your daily practice to seek, listen to and follow God? Tami

God Knows Best

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 8:1-22

You've undoubtedly heard the phrase: "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it." Well, there's a lot of wisdom and truth in that statement, and it describes exactly what we see taking place in 1 Samuel 8. After years of God's protection and provision with Samuel judging Israel, the people's hearts, once again, have turned away from fully following God. They want a king. They want to be just like the ungodly nations around them. Per God's instructions, Samuel warns them about the significant troubles that will accompany being ruled by a king, but the warning falls on deaf ears. The people refuse to listen so He grants their unwise request.

What does the example of the Israelites reveal about our spiritual journey and following God? When, or in what kind of situation are you more likely to take your focus off of God and be influenced by the world? Tami

The Lord Only

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 7:1-17

As Samuel becomes the judge over Israel, the people are in a poor state--spiritually speaking. Although they are God's chosen people, they aren't devoted to God and they certainly aren't wholly following or serving Him. But Samuel, being a godly leader, changes that through his calling of the entire nation to cast out their foreign gods and to "direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only..." (vs. 3). The people embrace Samuel's appeal, and in turn, God responds mightily, delivering them from the Philistines and restoring the cities that had been taken from them.

Would you say your heart is directed toward the Lord and that you are serving Him only? What sorts of things can pull your focus off of serving God? How do you guard against them? Tami

Unseeing

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 6:1-21

Again today, we get a look at the Philistine's thinking with regard to the ark of the covenant, and we also get to see how they handled its return to the Israelites. The Philistines were clearly knowledgeable about God's dealing with the Egyptians and, at some level, were fearful of God and even acknowledged that they needed to make amends for their wrongful taking of the ark.

Chapter 6 fleshed out what I mentioned yesterday about the Philistines knowing they were dealing with an all-powerful God, yet refusing to acknowledge, accept and submit to Who God is--the one true God. Chapters 5 and 6 provide us with a picture of how sin can absolutely cloud our vision, especially when it is unchecked, ongoing and unconfessed, thus keeping us from recognizing, submitting and serving God.

Do you keep a short account (in other words--daily, hourly, or minute to minute) with God when it comes to asking for forgiveness for wrong actions, thoughts, words, attitudes, etc.? Why is this important? Tami

God of Israel

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-12

After the Philistines capture the ark of the covenant, they are introduced and subsequently learn, in a painfully direct way, about the deity and power of the God of Israel. What I found odd was that the result of God displaying His power, might and control in the presence of the Philistines, was fear and rejection (send the ark back and get it out of our country) rather than recognizing God as the one and true living God.

What did you learn about God from the Philistine's encounter with the ark of the covenant? What did this chapter reveal about how people can perceive God and the things taking place around them? Tami

Use Your Breath

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Today's reading: Psalm 150:1-6

An exuberant call for us to praise the Lord is evident from Psalm 150.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" (verse 6).

When you praise the Lord is it exuberant like what we see in Psalm 150? God wants us to praise Him fully, so what can you do to take your praise to another level this week? Tami

Fresh Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 149:1-9

The clear instruction in Psalm 149 is to sing a "new song" to the Lord. As I read this command what immediately came to mind was the fact that our praise should be fresh and creative. In other words, it shouldn't always be the same routine.

Think about your normal routine when it comes to praising God. What can you do to praise God in a fresh and different way this weekend, and going forward? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 4:1-22

After suffering a defeat in battle against the Philistines, the Israelites are perplexed by God's seeming inaction. So they send for the ark of the covenant assuming that its presence would give them victory over their enemy. They were wrong, and the Philistines ended up severely routing them, with 30,000 Israelites dying in round two of the battle. The Israelites weren't devoted to or following God. Yet, their expectation was that God should and would act on their behalf and protect them. They were operating on what I'll call an "insurance policy" mindset. After all, they were God's people, so of course God should protect them.

This kind of mindset was disastrous for Israel and it can be disastrous for us as well, and I'm speaking from experience. There was a period of years in my 20s and 30s where I lived with that "insurance policy" mindset. I did whatever I wanted and God was most definitely on the back burner. However, if something seriously difficult came up, then I would look to God for help. That strategy didn't work well for me. God allowed me to fall--hard--to get my attention. As I look back, I'm thankful for God's love and continued pursuit of me in those self-focused years.

What is your mindset when it comes to who God is and the role He plays in your life? What sorts of things help you keep serving God at the forefront rather than thinking about God as a safety net? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

As I read 1 Samuel 3, God drew my attention to three things to consider and learn from:

  • Samuel's obedient attitude and heart. Samuel immediately responds to God's calls and to Eli the morning after receiving God's message. What a sweet example for us.
  • God's timing is not necessarily the same as ours. The Lord tells Samuel "I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle" (vs. 11). In my mind "about to do" means something is going to happen in short order. But it doesn't. When we reach verse 19, quite a few years have passed because Samuel has grown up and is now recognized as a prophet of the Lord, and God has not yet taken this action.
  • Eli's indifferent response to God's message of coming judgment. Rather than humbling himself before God and asking for forgiveness, Eli maintains his distant stance and attitude toward God. It's a sad picture that serves as a reminder that our hearts can grow spiritually cold when we're not nurturing our relationship with God and seeking to grow spiritually.

What lessons or reminders did God put on your heart from 1 Samuel 3? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 2:27-36

Eli fails to step up and properly deal with the ungodly behavior of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, and in so doing chooses to elevate the importance of his sons over God. As a result, God sends word to Eli that He has had enough, and tells Eli that He is going to remove His blessing from Eli's family and raise up for Himself a faithful priest.

This was a sad scenario but a revealing one in that it highlighted for me the fact that God wants us to know and follow Him fully, and when we make the choice to turn away from God and place other things before Him, at some point there will be consequences. I'd like to tell you that I've never had any "Eli" experiences, but I certainly have. They were painful, but God used each one to teach and grow me, and ultimately draw me closer to Him. For that, I am thankful.

What helps you keep God in the proper place, elevated above all else, in your life? Tami

Your Influence

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 2:12-26

As we finish up chapter 2 of 1 Samuel we learn about Eli's two grown sons who, although they were in the position of priests, were disrespectful and defiant toward God and the things He values.

You know, so often our mindset is one of "what I do only impacts and matters to me," but that is simply not true and we can see that in this passage. Eli's sons both held the high position of priest, and in that esteemed and public position, they intentionally thumbed their noses at God through their refusal to follow the established practice for obtaining meat and by having sexual relations with women who were serving at the tent of meeting. They were highly visible, horrible examples. Think about their negative influence--if the priests weren't acknowledging God or following Him in any way, why should the people?

Who are the people you impact and influence? What's one thing you can do today to be a positive influencer as you demonstrate living for Christ? Tami

Hannah's Prayer

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 2:1-11

Upon delivering young Samuel to Eli the priest, Hannah then expresses her love of God and thankfulness to Him through a beautiful, passion-filled prayer. For me, verse 2 said it all.

"There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God."

Is it your practice to tell God how much you love Him when you pray? How often do you recall and thank God for the things He has done? Is proclaiming your trust in God part of your prayers? 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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This page is an archive of entries from June 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2015 is the previous archive.

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