April 2016 Archives

Helpers

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Today's reading: Psalm 82:1-8; Proverbs 21:13; Proverbs 19:17

Psalm 82 gives us a glimpse of God's protective and caring nature in that He gives justice to the weak, afflicted and poor, and He rescues those in need. And God expects us to do the same. He wants us to use the power we have to protect and help others in need.

How aware are you of people who need assistance--families struggling to make ends meet, someone who is suffering physically, those who are homeless? When's the last time you helped someone with a physical, financial or emotional need? Would you ask God to show you how you can be a "helper" today, and then take action? Tami

Profitable

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Today's reading: Titus 3:1-11

As we move on in this short Book of Titus, Paul continues to put before Titus (and us) the message and challenge to do good as a follower of Christ. Paul urges us to be intentional about "devoting" ourselves to good works, and lets us know that when we are intentional about living well for God, it is excellent and profitable for us. (vs. 9).

In what ways has doing good for God been profitable or of benefit to your life? Would you say that you are "devoted" to good works? Tami

Displaying Good

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Today's reading: Titus 2:7-8

"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8, ESV)

I love the message contained in verses 6 and 7 of Titus 2 and the direct and plain way in which Paul lets us know that people who are not Christ-followers, and who may adamantly oppose our choice to follow Christ, are watching and taking note of our actions and behavior. Thus the call and challenge to model good works because we are representatives of Christ to the world around us.

In a typical week, what are some ways you "model good works" to others? Would you say that the people around you--co-workers, classmates, neighbors, family--recognize that you are a follower of Christ by your words and actions? Tami

Self-controlled

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Today's reading: Titus 2:1-15

I couldn't help but notice that Paul repeatedly gave the command to be "self-controlled" throughout Titus 2--first for older men, next for older and younger women, and lastly, for younger men. Then as he concludes his instruction, Paul once again, points out that being self-controlled needs to be part of who we are as followers of Christ.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age..." (vs. 11-12).

There were many other specific instructions given in this passage, but when you think about it, being self-controlled is foundational to us behaving in the manner Paul describes throughout this chapter.

Who do you know who illustrates being self-controlled as they live for Christ? What are some of the benefits of being self-controlled, and why is it so important? Tami

Above Reproach

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Today's reading: Titus 1:5-16

As we start into the Book of Titus, Paul, who has been in Crete with Titus, is now sending back instructions to Titus about appointing and putting in place church leaders. Two times in the span of just two verses Paul uses the phrase "above reproach" to describe to Titus the type of person he should be seeking out to hold these positions.

Those two words--above reproach--speak volumes to me as a follower of Christ. Because whether or not we're looking to be in church leadership, striving to live according to God's Word and doing what we know is right in all situations should be our goal.

What does today's passage reveal and show us about the meaning of the phrase "above reproach"? Is it your heart's desire to do what is right in all circumstances? What impact does praying and taking in God's Word have on your daily decisions? Tami

Today's reading: Titus 1:1-4

Paul was definitely a writer. I say that because of the way he composed his letters. Instead of simply writing (like I would) "Dear Titus," and then turning to the issue at hand, Paul typically includes a detailed introduction in his correspondence. And that's exactly what we see here in Titus. Before Paul gets into his letter to his co-worker, he wraps in quite a bit of helpful information about God. So before we ever get to the meat of Paul's letter, he has us thinking about God and following Him.

So what are some things Paul shows us about God from his opening words to Titus? What encouragement did you draw from the message conveyed in these few verses? Tami

Open Wide

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Today's reading: Psalm 81:1-16

Asaph begins with a call to praise, then takes an historical look back at what God had done, moves on to our responsibility to listen and submit to God, and finally concludes by showing us the blessing God wants to give us when we choose to be obedient in following Him. While there were several verses in this psalm that touched my heart, I found my eyes repeatedly going back to the words in verse 10.

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."

So much is conveyed in these few words. The first half of the verse highlights the personal relationship God desires to have with us and how He is in control, and guides and protects us in and through our circumstances. But the final sentence was my favorite because of the way it so clearly communicates that if we simply surrender to God, He is there waiting to shower His love upon us and give us all we need. Thank you, God!

What does God being "the Lord your God" mean for you? Would you describe yourself as having your "mouth open wide" when it comes to receiving God's instruction? If not, what's hindering you, and what changes do you need to put in place to get to a point of full surrender? Tami

Loud for God

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Today's reading: Psalm 81:1-3

In the first three verses of Psalm 81, Asaph lays down the call for us to praise God in a LOUD way! Being the extrovert that I am, I love celebrations, especially when they include dynamic music. That being the case, this picture of enthusiastic public recognition and honoring of God absolutely resonated with me this morning, and it motivated me to be intentional about using my voice (through conversations and in song) to praise God openly and with exuberance this weekend.

How did Psalm 81:1-3 impact you today? Is it your practice to "shout for joy" to the Lord? What does you being "loud for God" look like? Tami

Wrap Up

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Today's reading: 1 & 2 Timothy

Thanks for spending the last three or so weeks with me reading through 1 & 2 Timothy considering Paul's words of encouragement and instruction to his fellow worker, Timothy. One of my favorite things about these two Books is the close relationship we see between Paul and Timothy. Paul is truly an engaged mentor, not to mention a pretty amazing friend, to Timothy. What an example for us about the importance and need to be both a mentee and a mentor as we navigate life.

So for our final day considering 1 & 2 Timothy, let's identify at least one lesson or message God showed us, impressed on our hearts, or revealed to us for the first time from each of these letters. What was the most significant thing you took away from Paul's instruction? Tami

Support System

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:9-22

As human beings, God designed us to function at our best when we're in relationship with others. And having close relationships beyond our immediate family is especially important for us as followers of Christ. Paul certainly knew this, as evidenced by the list of people he references in 2 Timothy 4 (and in other Books as well). There's no doubt in my mind that Paul valued relationships and was a proactive relationship builder.

Relationships and people are important to me too. So I look for opportunities to get together with others--socially, in Bible study groups, through retreats, you name it--if other people are involved, I'll be there. I'm currently part of a women's Bible study group that meets weekly on Thursday night. I have to say, Thursday nights are my most favorite night of the week because I get to spend time with this group of women. One of the wonderful things about our group is how it provides an interactive support system for each of us. On the nights we meet and the days in between we are encouraging each other face-to-face, as well as through Facebook, emails, texts and phone calls. We're praying for each other, lending a helping hand where needed, meeting for coffee or lunch when someone needs extra support and encouragement. These women have become a part of my life in a significant way, and I love each of them dearly.

Do you have a "support system" or network of Christian friends and family with whom you regularly interact? Why is having Christian friends so important? What benefits have you experienced from having Christian friends and also being one to others? Tami

In Review

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Writing with the knowledge that his life will likely be taken from him in the near future, Paul looks back and reflects on his spiritual past. He then puts his life example before Timothy as an encouragement for Timothy to follow in his footsteps. The example is surely a good one. Paul tells Timothy he has served God fully and well--fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith--and how as a result, Paul will be a recipient of special rewards in heaven for his faithful service to God while he was on earth.

Reflecting back on our spiritual lives is a good exercise to help us live even better as we move forward. Our spiritual growth is an ongoing process that includes setbacks, hardship and difficulties. And because we're human, we're not perfect (and neither was Paul, by the way). So if you're thinking: "I'm no Paul. I've had a bunch of stumbles. I've let God down. I don't feel like I've done my best." you're not alone. We can't go back and change something we did yesterday, last month, last year or beyond that. The past is the past. BUT...we have the power and the ability to change how we do things from this moment forward. And, when we ask God to help us and we then make those changes, the next time we look back we will be able to join Paul in saying "I am fighting the good fight. I am running the race, and I am keeping the faith!"

Would you take a few minutes today to do some reflecting with me? Ask yourself "How am I doing spiritually? Am I fighting the good fight? Am I keeping the faith?" Then, no matter what your answer, ask God to help you do even better. Ask Him to show you some specific ways you can be bolder for Him, how you can live with more confidence, if there are things He wants you to do. Ask Him to give you wisdom, strength and power so that you can run the race to the best of your ability. Tami

Ready

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul charges Timothy to boldly proclaim and teach Christ as he continues to move forward with ministry. That same charge applies to us as well, because even if the jobs we work at each day (accountant, mom, teacher, painter, truck driver, store clerk, salesperson, etc.) aren't for an established ministry, we are all still in full-time "ministry" for the Lord. That being the case, just like Timothy, God wants us to share Him--His truth, His love, His plan of salvation--with everyone we encounter.

Would you say you are ready at any time to tell others about Christ and God's gift of salvation? Do you see yourself as doing the "work of an evangelist"? Tami

Living Godly

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

When we choose to live a godly life, we will encounter and experience difficulty. But as Christ-followers, we have the power of God and His Word at our fingertips, to help us stand strong as we live out our faith and represent Christ to the world around us.

Based on this passage, how would you describe the importance of God's Word to a new believer or someone who doesn't yet know Christ? What did you see or learn about God's Word from 2 Timothy 3:10-17? Tami

Restoration Prayer

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Today's reading: Psalm 80

Psalm 80 puts before us yet another prayer dealing with Israel experiencing hardship as a result of turning away from God. The psalmist begins by recognizing God for His greatness and past actions. He then talks with God about the hardships which He has brought on them because of the people's sinful actions, and then implores God to please turn again to look on His people and save them.

What does this psalm reveal about turning away from God? What did you see or learn from this psalm about repentance and seeking God's forgiveness? Tami

Jealous Over Us

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Today's reading: Psalm 79:1-13

Psalm 79 gives us a glimpse of the Israelites at a time when they were in a difficult circumstance--their country had been overthrown and was being ruled by enemies as a consequence of their turning away from God. As the psalmist writes, he notes that God is a jealous God and then turns to recognize the people's wrongdoing, proclaim their recommitment to following God and then call on God to act on their behalf.

How often to you think about God being "jealous" about His relationship with you? What does this psalm reveal about God's love for us? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

If I didn't know better, I'd think Paul had the 21st century in mind as he wrote 2 Timothy 3:1-9 because of the way his words so accurately depict the general attitude and mindset of the world today. Paul gives us information and alerts us about what to expect with regard to end times which is useful, but his words are also useful in that he puts before us, quite clearly, an example of the mindset and behaviors that God doesn't want to see in us or coming from us as believers. Wouldn't it be nice if these types of sinful behaviors would no longer be part of our lives once we receive Christ as our Savior? Unfortunately, that isn't the case because we all still have that sin nature in us, and it's constantly warring against our desire to do what's right and good. And, oh the allure of that subtle and sinful inner voice that tells us life should be all about us and doing whatever we want. (see Romans 7:14-25)

Take a look back over Paul's list of behaviors and identify one or two areas where you have a propensity to stumble (for me it's pride and self-centeredness). Do a little self-assessment to see how you're doing, and then ask God to help you resist the temptation to slide back into that particular behavior, as well as the others in this list. Tami

Servant Living

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 2:22-26

Being the Lord's servant requires wisdom combined with action in a variety of ways and areas. The message I took away from today's passage is that we must be committed to pursuing good things, there will be times when we will need to endure and be patient, there will be times when we need to avoid certain people and circumstances, and at all times we must be ready and willing to lovingly teach and correct others. Paul gives us a pretty tall "to do" list in these few verses, but it's a list I'm willing and eager to tackle, one step and one day at a time. Will you join me?

What does being the "Lord's servant" mean for your personally? What area(s) do you most need to work on from today's passage? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 2:20-21

I decided to focus on only two verses today rather than finishing out the remainder of chapter 2 because of the way I was drawn to Paul's words about being an honorable vessel. I must have read this passage five or more times, and each time I got a little more excited and motivated. My thoughts were: "I want to be that honorable vessel! I want to be used by God! I want to be ready for every good work He has for me!" When I finished reading, I sent up a prayer to God asking Him to help me be an honorable vessel, and letting Him know that I am eager and ready for Him to use me today.

What encouragement did you draw from this short passage? Is it your desire to be: set apart for God, useful to God and ready for every good work He has for you? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 2:14-19

As he did in 1 Timothy, Paul once again, warns and cautions Timothy about false teaching and the problems surrounding people who aren't following or speaking God's truth. Rather than engaging in arguments or controversy with these people, Paul instructs us to keep our focus on God and living well before Him, with the specific call to be "rightly handling the word of truth" (vs. 15). I like how this passage reminds us that God's Word is absolute truth and it will never lead us down a wrong path.

God's Word must be front and center in our lives for us to live justly, correctly and properly. But in order for us to "rightly handle" God's truth, we have to be familiar with it. That means we must be intentional about spending time with God in His Word and that we need to have a mindset of learning and studying when we read our Bible. It also means that we need to be attending a Bible teaching church where we regularly take in solid teaching, and can spend time with other Bible-believing Christ-followers.

What are you currently doing to fulfill Paul's call to be an approved worker who rightly handles God's truth (vs. 15)? Is it your practice to spend time with God in His Word each day? Do you ask God to reveal His truth to you as you take in His Word? Tami

Good Soldier

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

Paul uses the examples of a good soldier, an athlete and a farmer to help and encourage Timothy to stay focused on, and diligent in, his work for God. And then as an extra boost, Paul speaks of the power of God's Word and the fact that nothing can impede or thwart it. "But the word of God is not bound!" (vs. 9)

What did this passage reveal to you about serving God? Do you think of yourself as being a "good soldier" for God? What encouragement do you draw from knowing that God's Word is not bound, and why? Tami

Telling Forward

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The song of Psalm 78 is an historical one that provides an overview of God's provision for the Israelites from the time of Moses to David. Looking back and remembering how God has walked with us as our provider and protector is important because it helps us keep our focus on God and His greatness and goodness. And, as we look back, we not only need to be reminding for ourselves but also passing on God's history, as well as our personal history with God, to those around us and especially to children and the next generation.

"tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done" (vs. 4).

Is looking back and remembering God's history, as well as your specific history with Him, something you do regularly? What impact does remembering God's history have on you? Why is it so important to share this information with the next generation? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 77:1-20

Sometimes our hurt is so intense, our discouragement feels so heavy, that it's hard for us to even speak and all we can do is literally cry out loud to God. It's not a pleasant place to be at emotionally, and when we find ourselves in this painful state the temptation is to doubt God, and even turn away to try and solve our problems. That's the scenario we see here in Psalm 77, but the psalmist resists the temptation to turn from God, and instead chooses to think back at all the previous times and ways that God has been faithful. The result is a changed attitude and tone by the time we reach the closing verses of the psalm. The psalmist's outlook has changed from one of seemingly utter despair to that of hope and continued dependence on a good and sovereign God.

How has remembering God's past faithfulness helped you through a difficult time? Do you (will you) talk about how God has guided, protected and provided for you as a way to help and encourage others who are struggling? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Timothy 1:8-14

The world today wants us to feel uncomfortable, ashamed and embarrassed because we have chosen to follow Christ. I have a heavy heart about our nation's growing negativity and its rejecting attitude toward Christianity, which seems to have accelerated over the past 5-10 years. But as I take in and contemplate God's Word, I'm reminded that it's nothing new for God's message of love and salvation to be met with much resistance, and that regardless of the spiritual atmosphere, we must be bold about Christ. So I was thankful for Paul's urging of Timothy to stand firmly on his relationship with God, and to continue to confidently and boldly proclaim Christ through his testimony.

"But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me" (vs. 12).

Are you with Paul in saying, "I am not ashamed of Christ"? How do the people you go to school with, work with, your neighbors, family members, know that you are a follower of Jesus? What helps you resist the temptation to shrink back when it comes to representing God to others? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-18

Paul's words and the way in which he writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1 (and in 1 Timothy as well) puts before us a beautiful picture of a deep and close friendship between these two men. It's certainly refreshing to see, and also serves as a good reminder that God designed us as relational beings, and that we function at our best when we're personally and actively involved with others.

What impact does having Christian friends have on you--your attitude, thought process, actions? Are you intentional about being a friend who walks encouragingly alongside a sister or brother in Christ? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 1:5-7

Every time I read the first few verses of 2 Timothy 1, I'm drawn to the unique wording Paul uses in verse 6 to encourage Timothy to be focused and active about growing his relationship with God and, in turn, reaching out and impacting the world around him as a representative for God.

"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God . . ."

I looked up the word "fan" in the thesaurus and here are a few of the words I found: stimulate, provoke, increase, fuel, encourage. I then re-read verse 6 substituting each of these words in place of the word "fan" which helped me understand and embrace the prompting to be active even better.

So how are you fanning--stimulating, provoking, increasing, fueling, encouraging--your relationship and walk with God? How does being active about getting to know God better impact your desire to share Christ with others? Tami

Prayer Warrior

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-7

One of the things I love about Paul was that he was truly a prayer warrior. Constantly and fervently praying was his norm. So it's no surprise that he calls for and encourages us to do the same throughout his many letters. And from what Paul writes, we can see that an extensive portion of his prayer time was dedicated to praying for others-his friends and those whom he had ministered to. Paul's prayer example is one that I want and need to follow and imitate.

In a typical day, how often do you pray? For what or for whom do you regularly pray? Is it your practice to pray for friends? Family? People in need? Church and government leaders? What impact does praying for others have on you spiritually? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Timothy 6:17-21

As we come to the close of 1 Timothy, Paul specifically addresses the issue of Christ-followers who are "rich" because they have earthly wealth and possessions. A specific caution is given for this group to resist the pull of money, paired with the directive to keep their focus on God and doing good in order to store up heavenly treasures and "take hold of that which is truly life" (vs. 19).

What does this passage reveal about how God views and values our doing good? What did you learn about earthly versus heavenly riches from this passage? Tami

Mighty God

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Today's reading: Psalm 76:1-12

Psalm 76 is a song of thanksgiving that recognizes and praises God for His strength and power. Through his praise the psalmist show us quite a bit about God and the mighty works of protection He has shown to His people by giving them victory over their enemies.

What did you notice or learn about God from this psalm? Is it your practice to praise God for helping you overcome difficulty? Do you thank and praise God for how He goes before and protects you? Tami

All Authority

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Today's reading: Psalm 75:1-10

In Psalm 75, the psalmist recognizes and praises God as being over and above and in control of all things. That message was particularly clear in the words of verse 7:

"But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another."

How often do you give intentional thought to the fact that God is in control of all things, and that even those things which don't make sense to us are part of His plan? Tami

All In

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Today's reading: 1 Timothy 6:11-16

If you need a little motivation, what Paul has to say in 1 Timothy 6:11-16 should give you a boost. As I read today I tried to imagine Paul delivering this message. The picture that came to my mind was an energetic, motivational speaker encouraging, charging and challenging us to embrace living for God to the full! By the time I reached the end of this short passage, Paul had me saying Yes, Lord! I want to be all in for You!

How did Paul's words impact and motivate you today? What does it mean for you to "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called"? 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 April 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2016 is the previous archive.

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