December 2015 Archives

Prideful Downfall

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 14:1-22; 2 Chronicles 25:14-28

As Amaziah takes the throne of Judah he, like his father, wisely chooses to follow God and do what is right. But as he establishes himself as king and God begins to prosper him and allow him to have successes in battle, Amaziah's focus and heart turns away from God. He thinks quite highly of himself, and as a result, refuses to listen to the prophet sent by God to rebuke him for turning from God and worshipping the idols of Edomites. He then foolishly challenges and instigates war with a stronger and mightier king Joash and Israel. Unfortunately for Amaziah, his pride and looking to himself, bring about his downfall.

When you accomplish something (secure a victory) do you recognize God's involvement in it and thank Him for it? What helps you keep a proper perspective about yourself and your successes? Tami

God's Man

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 13:10-25

When Joash becomes king of Israel, he is immediately faced with the same oppressive conditions that his father Jehoahaz faced as a result of being overrun and dominated by king Hazael of Syria. By this point in time, Elisha is an old man who is sick and dying, and the new king visits him to pay his respects and to seek Elisha's help one last time. The exchange that takes place between these two men touched my heart. I was especially drawn to how Elisha responds to Joash even though Joash and the kings before him have failed to honor and seek after God. God's love and kindness were exhibited as Elisha welcomed Joash and willingly offered his help. Elisha was truly God's man putting forth God's love and care until he drew his final breath.

Think back over all we've read and seen about Elisha in 2 Kings. What stood out to you about this godly man? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from his words, actions and/or example? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Kings 13:1-9

2 Kings 13 brings us back to the kings of Israel and the family line of Jehu. Jehu's son Jehoahaz is now king and, as we've seen so many times before, he did evil and enticed the people to do the same. God is angry with Jehoahaz and the people of Israel and gives them into the hand of Hazael and Syria (Remember Elisha's words to Hazael in 2 Kings 8:12--that Hazael would do evil acts to Israel? It's happening here.). With the situation severe, a desperate Jehoahaz hits rock bottom and humbly turns to God. "Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them" (2 Kings 13:4). What stood out prominently to me in this passage was how God responded to Jehoahaz despite his prior sinfulness and disregard for God. What a beautiful demonstration of God's mercy and grace.

What does this passage reveal about God's love and His desire to have a relationship with us? What encouragement do you draw from the way God listens and responds to Jehoahaz? Tami

Poor Finish

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 12:1-21; 2 Chronicles 24:1-27

When we start a new job, take on a new task, or begin a new course in school, our expectation is that our performance will improve as we learn about what we're doing, and become wiser, more efficient, and more discerning. Unfortunately that's not what we see with king Joash. We actually see the opposite. When he takes the throne of Judah as a young boy under the guidance and mentoring of Jehoiada, he does quite well. His aim is to honor and serve God, and he does exactly that for a good period of time. But as Jehoiada ages and then dies, Joash chooses to turn away from following God. As a result, he and the people of Judah suffer serious consequences.

Based on this look at the life of Joash, why is it important to have godly mentors and friends as we navigate life? Do you have one or more Christian friends who you can call when you need a listening ear and/or some counsel? Tami

Backward Confidence

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Today's reading: Psalm 54:1-7

As David finds himself in yet another dangerous situation on the run from Saul, he calls out to God to protect and defend him. In the middle of dire circumstances, David recalls Who God is and how He has delivered him through all of his troubles in the past. As a result, we see a confident, trusting and expectant David even when he is surrounded by danger and chaos.

When has God delivered you from trouble in the past? How does looking back and recalling His protection and provision help you in the present? Tami

Presenting Jesus

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Today's reading: Psalm 53:1-6

It's not uncommon to hear someone make the comment that people are inherently good (television, radio, classrooms, social media). But the fact of the matter is we are not inherently good. Rather, we are all born with a sinful nature that dominates and rules our hearts and thinking until we come to know God and receive Christ as Savior.

Who do you know that doesn't yet know Jesus? Will you step out and introduce them to Him this week? Tami

Shepherds and Wise Men

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Today's reading: Luke 2:1-21; Matthew 2:1-12

I never get tired of reading about the shepherds encounter with the angels and the wise men's dedicated journey to find Jesus. My favorite part of each passage is what took place when each group encountered the Christ child. The wise men fell down and worshiped and then offered gifts. The shepherds verbally proclaimed Christ, "glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them" (Luke 2:20). What a beautiful picture!

How will you worship and praise Christ this Christmas--and beyond? What's one thing that stood out to you about the shepherds? What about the wise men? Tami

P.S. Merry Christmas, everyone!! Thank you for being part of Powered by 4 with me. Have a God-focused and God-filled day!

Joseph

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Today's reading: Matthew 1:18-25

Our Christmas story focus today is on Joseph. Like we did yesterday, take some time to sift through and consider the details in this passage. Try to imagine yourself in Joseph's shoes.

What's one thing that stood out to you about Joseph, and why? What did this passage reveal to you about God's ways? Tami

Mary

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Today's reading: Luke 1:26-56

With Christmas just a few days away, we're going to read through the primary passages of the Christmas story today through Christmas day on Friday. I make sure I read this incredible story in full every year, and I'm always reminded just how many details were given and how often they get overlooked in programs, plays, pageants and songs. I love this story, and we can learn so much from it if we sift through the passage with an inquisitive eye on the details.

As we begin today, our focus is on Mary. Read through the passage once and then go back and read it again. But this time go slowly, specifically looking for pieces of information to help you get an even fuller grasp of this miracle.

What stood out to you most about Mary? What did this passage reveal to you about God? Tami

Doing Right

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 11:4-21

When Athalia turned to killing her family members so that they couldn't challenge her taking over as the next ruler of Judah, Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada the priest protected and provided for Joash, the infant son of king Ahaziah. After six years of raising Joash in hiding, Jehoiada takes the steps necessary to put young Joash in his rightful place as the king of Judah. Taking this action was difficult and risky, but this man of God knew it was the right thing to do. For me, the highlight of chapter 11 was verses 17-21 where Jehoiada unifies Joash and the people, and then guides and directs them back to God.

What's your experience with doing what is right in a difficult situation? Tami

Dark Hearts

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 11:1-3

When you hear the word grandmother, Athaliah shouldn't be the picture that comes to mind. Wicked and hungry for power, she brutally murdered all of the male members of the royal family to ensure that she would be the new ruler of Judah. This tragic and sobering account reveals just how sinful we can be apart from God, and specifically shows us the incredible pull and influence that power can wield over us.

The temptation to grab power and abuse it is always before us. So how does having power impact your thinking and actions? What helps you use the power and/or position you have appropriately? Tami

Affirming God

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Today's reading: Psalm 52:1-9

Psalm 52 is David's response to Saul's ordering, and Doeg's carrying out of, the slaying of Ahimelech and the priests at Nob because they had given provisions to David and his men (see 1 Samuel 21-22). I can only imagine the heavy heart David must have had knowing that it was his actions that led to this tragedy. Because David is on the run from Saul, he is powerless to take action. So in this time of grief and distress, he turns to God reaffirming his trust and dependence on Him.

How has God been your comfort and refuge in a time of grief or distress? What impact does focusing on God and declaring and affirming your trust in Him have when you're troubled, worried or distraught? Tami

Seeking Forgiveness

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Today's reading: Psalm 51:1-19

With a humble heart, David cries out to God asking Him for forgiveness. I like this Psalm because of the perspective it provides for us about sin and because of the example it puts before us of honestly talking with God about our heart and actions. In verse 4 David says, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. . ." This lets us know that whenever we sin we are first and foremost sinning against and offending God. What a good reminder to help us think more about our actions and hopefully sin less often going forward. Then after confessing and putting forth his sin, in verse 10 David makes this beautiful request of God: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

Is it your practice to regularly seek God's forgiveness? What did you see or learn from David's example? Tami

Passion for God

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 10:28-36

Although Jehu was passionate about ridding Israel of the worship of Baal, his heart wasn't fully devoted to worshiping and following God. So rather than removing all forms of idols and false gods in Israel, he left in place the golden calves constructed years earlier by Jeroboam which allowed and influenced the people of Israel to continue to live in sin.

"But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin" (vs 31).

How would you describe your relationship with God? Are you passionate about worshiping Him and living according to His Word? Tami

Hard History

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 9:1-10:27

As we arrive at 2 Kings 9 Jehu is anointed king of Israel, and what immediately follows is deadly violence. I find passages like these extremely difficult to read, understand and accept--even knowing that this account is from a much different time period where customs, traditions, practices and laws were nothing like what we follow today. Nevertheless, it's part of God's Word as well as biblical history which means I need to know about it and look for lessons from it.

There was one word that kept going through my mind as I read this heavy passage--SIN. Sin is powerful, far-reaching and always has consequences.

What are some of the spiritual consequences when we choose to sin? What helps you keep your focus on God and following His ways? Tami

Influenced

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:16-29

As we finish out 2 King 8, we're given a brief look at two kings of Judah, Jehoram and Ahaziah. Our passage tells us clearly that neither of these men were godly leaders, immediately followed by statements about how they were connected and related to the evil "house of Ahab" and its descendants.

What does this passage reveal about the influence of people who are our companions--friends, business associates, family members, dates or spouses? Think back over the past month or so. How have the people that you've spent time with influenced your thinking and actions? Why are Christian companions so important? Tami

Representing God

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15

Elisha was well-known for boldly following and serving God and the many mighty works he did in God's name and through His strength. So when the king of Syria falls ill, he reaches out to "the man of God," for guidance and direction, rather than turning to the god of the Syrians. Elisha's demeanor and how Elisha interacts with Hazael and responds to Ben-hadad, got me thinking about ministry and the varying situations, demands and opportunities that come with it. Elisha is in a country that follows a foreign god, and when he is approached by the king through Hazael, he represents God fully and well. He willingly conversed with Hazael, he wasn't arrogant or condescending in his actions or words, he was straightforward and spoke openly and with truth.

There's a temptation as we read passages and accounts about people like Elisha, Elijah, Moses, or one of the disciples to think of their examples as being primarily for those who have chosen full-time ministry as an occupation. But the fact of the matter is that as a follower of Christ, we are all in full-time ministry, whether or not it generates our paycheck.

As a follower of Christ, do you consider yourself as being in full-time ministry? Think back over the past week, how did you represent God to others through your actions and words? What does you representing God well look like? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:1-6

Today we get another lesson from the Shunamite woman we first met in 2 Kings 4. What we see is a continuation of this woman being steadfast in trusting and being obedient to God through many uncertain and difficult circumstances. I love how God protects her by warning her of the coming famine, providing for her in a foreign country, and then ensuring that her property plus lost income are given back to her upon her return.

What's one thing that stood out to you from the Shunamite woman's example, and why? What does this passage reveal about how God moves and the ways in which He provides? Tami

Thanksgiving

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Today's reading: Psalm 50:1-23

The clear message that came across to me from Psalm 50 was that God wants our hearts, and desires for us to offer up to Him an earnest and genuine sacrifice of thanksgiving.

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" (vs. 23)

How do you show God that your heart is given to Him? Do you demonstrate to others that God is the desire of your heart? Tami

Forget the Stuff

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Today's reading: Psalm 49:1-20

With Christmas fast approaching and ad after ad delivering the message--we need more, we need bigger, we need better--I found the words of Psalm 49 wise and timely.

"Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish" (vs. 12).

"Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him" (vs. 16-17).

What helps you keep an eternal perspective in this material, money-focused world? What encouragement did you draw from Psalm 49, and why? Tami

Discipline

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:1-6

Elisha's servant Gehazi is back in the picture. The last we saw of Gehazi was in 2 Kings 5:15-27 where Elisha struck him with leprosy because he acted upon his greed, acquiring money and possessions from Haaman untruthfully. As we reach 2 Kings 8, several years have passed (at least seven since the earlier event was prior to the seven year famine) and what we discover is that despite Gehazi's punishment, he is still faithfully serving Elisha and doing it with a good attitude about Elisha and God.

No one enjoys being disciplined, but when it happens we have a choice to make. We can either respond positively--growing and learning from the painful experience by acknowledging our wrongdoing, accepting the resulting consequences, and then changing our behavior going forward. Or we can respond negatively--making no changes but instead getting angry, refusing to take responsibility, and harboring a bad attitude and an unchanged heart.

How have you responded when you've experienced God's discipline? Why is discipline so important? What are some of its benefits? Tami

Taking Action

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 7:1-20

Part of life is dealing with challenges and working through difficulties, and there will be times when our circumstances seem absolutely overwhelming. So how we choose to respond in these times is critical. So often our tendency is to get caught up in, and focus on, the negatives of our circumstance. But when we choose to go down this path we end up crippling ourselves as we pull back, shut down and shift into a survival mode mindset. The fact of the matter is God has our situation covered, and wants and has so much more for us.

The account of the four lepers was an eye-opener for me. In the middle of a horrific situation, God had already gone before and prepared the way for these men. But in order for them to see what God had done and take advantage of His provision, they had to take action. I was grateful for this example and the message it delivered that living for God requires active participation on our part in all situations.

How are you actively living your life for God? Are you in a situation where God is waiting for you to take action? What encouragement did you draw from this passage? Tami

Our Terms

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 6:24-33

Despite prior defeats and God thwarting their plans, the king of Syria is determined to overcome and control Israel. So as we finish out 2 Kings 6, the Syrian army has surrounded and cut off the city of Samaria. The city is in extreme distress, suffering from a severe famine. The people are desperate and want relief which the king can't provide. In frustration and anger, the king turns on Elisha, calling for his life blaming God for the terrible circumstances. ("The [king's] messenger came down to him and said, 'This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?'" vs. 33).

What a picture of the self-centered thinking that comes so naturally to us and can fill our minds so easily if we're not diligent about submitting our will to God. Have you ever noticed how we want God to operate on our terms? We're happy to receive His help while we pursue our plan, but then when something happens contrary to that plan, we get angry with God, and more often than not, refuse to recognize how our actions and attitudes have contributed to our current situation.

How do you interact with, and respond to, God when life isn't following your preferred game plan? What helps you get and keep a mindset of being submitted to God's plan for you and your family? Tami

Bigger and Grander

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 6:8-23

2 King 6:8-23 is rich with "people lessons" and examples for us to learn from--Elisha, Elisha's servant, the king of Israel, the king of Syria. But rather than one of these men, it was what I saw about God that captured my attention. I was struck by the all-powerful and all--knowing nature of God and how this was displayed through Elisha knowing in advance the plans of the Syrians, the super natural protection of God's army, and God impairing the thinking and vision of the Syrian soldiers in response to Elisha's prayer. This reminder of how God is so much bigger, and operates so much grander, than our human way of thinking was exactly what I needed today as I find myself going through a number of things that I don't fully understand and can't yet see a clear answer to. What a comfort to know that God is in control and is taking care of all my details!

What does God being all-powerful and all-knowing mean for you and the circumstances you're going through right now? What lesson(s) did God impress on your heart as you read this passage? Tami

Ministry Mindset

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7

The character and approach to life displayed by the sons of the prophets, a group of young men whose lives were committed to fulltime ministry, caught my attention. So I wrote down some of the things I noticed about these young men that would be wise to implement and follow. Here's my list:

  • Eager to learn more about God and His ways;
  • No attitude of entitlement or expectation of receiving charity;
  • Willing to work for what they need;
  • Don't want to move ahead without confirmation from their leader;
  • Desire the company and help of their spiritual teacher;
  • Not concerned with having possessions; and
  • Took care with, and were concerned about, the items of others.

As a follower of Christ, we are all in ministry. So how would you describe your mindset with regard to serving and representing God? What from the young prophets examples, stood out to you most, and why? Tami

Forever

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Today's reading: Psalm 48:1-14

Psalm 48 is a song recognizing and celebrating Jerusalem, or Zion, as God's chosen, special and holy city. What I saw I as progressed verse by verse through this psalm was a depiction of a mighty city, but more importantly a city chosen by a loving God committed to protecting and defending His people. I love the proclamation of the final verse that God is "forever and ever" and "will guide us forever" (vs. 14).

How has God been your protector and defender? What encouragement do you draw from verse 14 and the proclamation that God is forever and will guide us forever? Tami

Loud in Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 47:1-9

Celebratory psalms always bring a smile to my face, and Psalm 47 definitely falls into this category. It's a rallying of God's people to corporately recognize and esteem Him--publicly, with joy, and through actions (clapping and singing) of loud praise!

What does praising God look like for you? Is it your practice to publicly praise Him? What's one way you can loudly praise God this weekend? Tami

What We Love

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 4:20-27; 1 Timothy 6:10

Even though Gehazi is Elisha's servant and is working alongside him in ministry, his heart is more enamored with money than with God. So much so that when Elisha refuses to accept any payment for healing Naaman, Gehazi can't stand it. He thinks Elisha is foolish, and gives in to the temptation to take advantage of the situation for his own gain. One sin then leads to another and another with the situation ending horribly for Gehazi, and disappointingly for Elisha. It's a sad but accurate illustration of the pull and power that money and possessions can have on us when we take our focus off of God.

In this holiday season when we're bombarded by all sorts of ads showing and telling us about the things we "need" and "deserve," what helps you keep your focus on serving God? Tami

God Motivated

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 5:15-19

Although our passage is only four verses today, I was struck by the two examples it provided of being moved and motivated by God.

After following Elisha's instructions Naaman is healed. Through his healing, he recognizes precisely Who God is, and then publically declares that God is the one and only true God. What a sweet depiction of the life change that takes place when we encounter God and open our hearts to Him. Elisha is also God motivated, but being a prophet, is in a much different place spiritually. He provides us with a beautiful picture of what living fully for God looks like. Elisha isn't worried about his status, title or position, he's not concerned with having money, nor is he interested in worldly gain.

How is God moving and motivating you right now? What does you living fully for God look like Tami

Expectations

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14

The king of Syria sends his top military leader, Naaman, to Israel to be healed of leprosy. As Naaman heads out, what we see is that he had a plan in place for his trip--he traveled with servants, took a large amount of money for payment, had ten changes of clothing, and brought a letter of introduction from his commander and king. But in addition to his plan, Naaman also had some preconceived expectations about how his healing would take place, none of which came to fruition. Being a highly respected and powerful figure in Syria, Naaman expects to be treated with a bit of pomp and ceremony, but he receives none. He is made to go to Elisha's house and when he arrives, Elisha doesn't even grace Naaman with his presence. Instead, he simply sends out a message to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Ouch! Well, Naaman is furious and comes close to missing out on God's healing when he decides to return to Syria. Thankfully he was sensible enough to listen to the wise words of his servants, and when he follows through on what Elisha instructs, God restores his skin to a state that was better than Naaman most likely imagined.

What lesson(s) did you learn from Naaman's example? When you take requests to the Lord in prayer, do you have preconceived expectations of how He should answer? Do you have any examples of when God answered a particular prayer in a completely different manner than you expected? Tami

Wonderful Word

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:129-136

With the start of another new year, I decided to pause our journey through 2 Kings for a day so we could think about the importance of taking in God's Word and living it out in our daily lives. Psalm 119 is a favorite of mine because it's all about God and His Word. Since it's quite long, I only selected one stanza, verses 129-136, for us to focus on today. I hope you enjoy it and that through these verses God will increase your desire to spend time with Him in His Word.

Will you join me in committing to consistently spend time with God in His Word in 2016? What was your favorite verse from this passage, and why? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Kings 4:38-44

In the final account in 2 Kings 4, Elisha goes to Gilgal and where he meets with a group of a hundred or so young prophets. There's a famine in the land, but you'd never guess that by Elisha's words and actions. Despite the extreme and sparse conditions, Elisha instructs one of the young men to "set on the large pot" for a meal (vs. 38) while another of the men heads out to gather herbs in order to make some stew. After the stew is made, Elisha receives a gift of twenty loaves of bread and some grain, which is a fairly significant gift in this time of famine. But rather than keeping this food for his personal sustenance, his instructions are, "Give to the men, that they may eat" (vs. 42).

What an example of having complete confidence in God in the middle of hard times. Elisha fully believes and trusts that God will provide all that is needed, for him and the group of young prophets, in the situation.

Do you believe God will provide for all of your needs? How are you (or can you be) generous with all that God has given you? 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 December 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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