August 2016 Archives

Today's reading: Acts 4:23-31

As soon as Peter and John are released, they join up with a group of other Christ-followers and tell them about their arrest and interrogation experience. Upon hearing all that Peter and John have to say, the group turns to a time of corporate prayer. They recognize God's sovereignty and fully embrace that opposition and hardship are part of His supreme plan. Then with this submitted mindset, they ask God to continue to encourage, empower and prompt them to spread the Gospel message--no matter the circumstances they encounter.

How does knowing that opposition and difficulty are part of God's plan help you cope when you encounter and experience hardships? What impact does praising God when you encounter difficulty have on your attitude and thinking? Tami

Uncommonly Bold

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Today's reading: Acts 4:1-22

In a situation where you'd expect to see Peter and John pulling back--being arrested, detained and interrogated for sharing the Gospel--we see just the opposite. Even during this uncertain and somewhat scary situation, these two "uneducated, common men" (vs. 8), continue to boldly and confidently proclaim the name of Jesus Christ. What I like about this account is that we're shown so clearly how, as Christ-followers, having the Holy Spirit residing within us empowers us to do things above and beyond what we could ever do in our own strength. Thank you, God, for this reminder that in and through Your power, all things are possible!

Have you ever shied away from telling someone about Christ because you felt like you didn't know enough? What encouragement did you draw from Peter and John, two uneducated and common men, being able to clearly share the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit? Tami

Bold Approach

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Today's reading: Acts 3:11-28

Peter and John's healing of the man who had been crippled from birth created quite a stir, and understandably so. The people going to the temple to worship have just witnessed a miracle and they're stunned. They want to know exactly what has happened and how. With no hesitation, Peter steps up and takes full advantage of the situation. He addresses this crowd of temple goers in his typical bold fashion--pointing out the crowd's sin, telling them of their need to repent, and then presenting God's offer of salvation through Christ.

What's your preferred approach or style when it comes to sharing Christ with others? In what types of situations might you consider altering your typical approach, and why? Tami


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Today's reading: Psalm 111:1-10

As I took in Psalm 111 today, my attention kept coming back to verse 2, and particularly to the second part of the verse which talks about how we should study (ponder, consider, examine) God's works.

"Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them."

Scuba diving immediately came to my mind as I thought about ways I "study" the works of God. I am an avid diver, and one of the things I love most about the time I spend in the ocean is the awareness it gives me of God's amazing creation. It truly is another world under the water. A regular part of my dives is to thank God as I am delighting in His great works.

Great works of God are displayed all around us. What are two or three that you've recently observed? What's one example of how you "study" God's great works? Tami


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Today's reading: Psalm 111:1

I love the opening verse of Psalm 111 because of the psalmist's confident declaration that he will praise and thank God with 100 percent of his heart.

"Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation" (vs. 1).

What does praising and thanking God with your "whole heart" mean for you personally? How would you explain why you praise and thank to someone who doesn't yet have a relationship with Christ? Tami

The First Step

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Today's reading: Acts 3:1-10

I've read the account of Peter and John healing the crippled man outside of the temple many times. But today, God drew my attention to a detail that I had never taken note of before. After Peter and John hear the lame man pleading for money, they tell him that they don't have any money to give him and then tell the man "'In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!'" (vs. 6). What happened next is the part I've failed to note until today. After instructing the man to get up and walk, Peter then reaches out to the man, physically helping him to stand so that he can take his first steps. "And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk..." (vs. 7-8). What a lesson we can learn from Peter. Most of us are quick to offer advice when we see someone who's struggling. But often times for that struggling person to succeed, they also need us to help them take that critical first step forward.

Why is it important to help someone take the first step forward after you've offered them counsel or given them advice? Who has helped you take a "first step" forward? Is there someone in your family, at church, at work, in your neighborhood who needs your encouragement and assistance today? Tami

Today's reading: Acts 2:42-47

Immediately following Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Luke gives us a glimpse of the first days of the early church. I love what's portrayed--people who are generous, cheerful, grateful, friendly, caring and loving--as they follow Christ. Reading about this group of early believers prompted me to do a little self-assessing. Here are the questions I considered. I invite you to join me in thinking through and answering them. Tami

  • Am I dedicated to learning about what God's Word says and means for my life?
  • Am I eager about and committed to having relationships with other Christ-followers?
  • Am I fervent about spending time with God through prayer?
  • Am I contributing financially to the church? And is what I'm contributing enough?
  • Am I helping and supporting other believers who are in need?

Today's reading: Acts 2:14-41

As we move further into Acts 2, we continue to see the working of the Holy Spirit through Peter as he delivers a powerful and dynamic message which results in over 3,000 people receiving Christ as their Savior. I tried to visualize this incredible event and imagine myself being part of this massive crowd taking in Peter's passionate proclamation of Christ. There were many good points, but what drew my attention were the clear message that salvation is for all people, and that the Holy Spirit is a gift we receive upon placing our faith in Jesus Christ (vs. 38).

How often do you think about the Holy Spirit dwelling within you? How do you benefit from His constant presence? What point(s) stood out to you from Peter's message, and why? Tami


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Today's reading: Acts 2:1-13

Reading through Acts 2 this morning immediately brought to mind Acts 1:8 and Jesus telling the disciples that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. If I had been one of the disciples, I would have been wondering how such a monumental task was even possible given that--I wasn't trained in the scriptures, I didn't speak multiple languages, I was no longer employed in my vocation, I had little to no funds and traveling the world wasn't my practice. Yet only a short time after Jesus' departure, the disciples, through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, delivered the gospel message to numerous groups of people in their own languages. And, in turn, these new believers were then empowered to take the salvation message back to their own people, spreading the gospel message far and wide.

This got me thinking about some of the ways the Holy Spirit has empowered me. A number of years ago I was traveling and the gentleman next to me noticed that I had a Bible. He began asking me a lot of questions about what the Bible said about specific topics. I could tell that this was not going to be a short or ordinary conversation so I shot up a prayer and asked God to give me wisdom and the right words to be able to respond to whatever questions came my way. I can only explain what followed as a Holy Spirit empowering. For the next hour or so this man pelted me with questions ranging in topics from a Biblical perspective on gun control, to asking me to explain the difference between what I believed and a number of other religions. As we landed and our conversation came to an end, I was acutely aware of God's hand in our conversation. I was able to respond to every single one of his questions--something that I know was only possible because of the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

What's one example of how the Holy Spirit has empowered you to complete or accomplish a task you couldn't have done on your own? Tami

Devoted to Prayer

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Today's reading: Acts 1:12-26

After Jesus ascends to heaven, His eleven remaining disciples return to Jerusalem where they join with the women who had also served Jesus and with Jesus' brothers. When you think about the recent events this group of Christ followers had witnessed and experienced (Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension), they had to still be grappling with and recovering from the shock and the emotions of everything that had taken place. They were in unexpected and uncharted territory. So what did this dedicated group of Christ followers do after Jesus' departure? They "devoted" themselves to prayer, drawing strength from God as they pushed forward to serve Him.

How would you describe your prayer life? What would (or does) you being "devoted" to prayer look like? When you spend concentrated time in prayer, in what ways does it impact your day? Tami

Hurting Response

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Today's reading: Psalm 109:1-5

Being wronged, attacked or betrayed by someone whom you trust and love cuts deeply. It hurts! And in our pain, often times our gut reaction is to defend ourselves or to respond in kind with our words and actions. But that's not the example David puts before us in Psalm 109. In his distress he turns to God. David tells us in verse 4 "but I give myself to prayer." And that's precisely what we see--David candidly crying out to God, seeking comfort as he tells God about what's happening to him.

Is it your practice to "give yourself to prayer" when you encounter hardship or difficulty? When you pray, how does it influence you emotionally, spiritually and/or even physically? Tami

With God

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Today's reading: Psalm 108:1-13

In Psalm 108 we see David's total recognition that God is the head of all and in charge of all. And with this mindset, he praises God--exuberantly ("I will awake the dawn!" (vs. 2)). Even in the middle of extreme difficulty (vs. 11) David confidently proclaims to all that "with God we shall do valiantly" (vs. 13).

What's one example of how you have personally experienced God's steadfast love and faithfulness in a difficult circumstance or season? Will you join with David and confidently proclaim that "with God" you will do valiantly? Tami

Power to Proclaim

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Today's reading: Acts 1:1-11

In Jesus' final meeting with the disciples, He tells them about the coming gift of the Holy Spirit and then immediately declares "'and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'" (vs. 8) So Jesus assigns them their work (spreading the gospel message) and then promises them that they will receive power through the Holy Spirit to enable and equip them for the all-important task of being God's ambassador that lies ahead.

How often do you think about the fact that you (like the first disciples) are an ambassador and witness for Christ? Are you intentional about talking with others about Christ and asking God to empower you as you do? In a typical week, how would you describe your witness for Christ? Tami

Acts, Day 1

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Today's reading: Acts 1:1-11

Starting today and then going forward for the next few weeks, we're going to take in and consider the Book of Acts. Before we jump into chapter 1, here's a little background information on this Book. Acts was written by Luke and is basically a continuation, or a part 2, of the Book of Luke (thus the opening words of Acts "In the first book' referring to the Book of Luke). Through Acts, Luke gives us a look at the early church and the ministry of the apostles. There is much to observe and learn from this Book--we'll take in a number of great sermons, discover roadmaps and travel routes of the disciples, as well as get a glimpse of personal interactions and experiences of these men who dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel message of Christ.

In the first verses of Acts 1, Luke picks up where he left off in Luke 24, with a recap of sorts of Jesus meeting with the disciples, followed by Jesus' ascension. One of the first things Luke does within these opening verses is establish the fact that the disciples were eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ. "He presented himself alive to them...appearing to them during forty days..." (vs. 3). Important foundational information that shows us the reliability of the contents of Acts.

Luke then turns to the final interactions between Jesus and the disciples where Jesus instructs and tells the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I was drawn to Jesus' actions and words. Knowing that His remaining time on earth is short, He works diligently, instructing and training the disciples, up to his final breath. What an example for us about pressing forward with the work God has put before us--in all situations.

What encouragement did you draw from Jesus' actions and words in Acts 1:1-11? What does this passage reveal about God equipping us for the tasks he sets before us? Tami

Insights on Life

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 1-12

Thank you for spending the last few weeks reading and working through Solomon's observations and thoughts on the meaning of life. His cautions, encouragements and instructions certainly gave me a number of things to consider, but more than anything it challenged me to be intentional and diligent about living with an eternal mindset.

How did reading Ecclesiastes influence your perspective on the meaning of life? What did you learn from Ecclesiastes about living for God? Was there a particular message that stood out to you from this Book, and why? Tami

Glorifying Focus

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

At the end of the day, only one thing matters--following God and honoring Him as we live out His commands and purposes.

"Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (vs. 13).

It's funny how God brings messages we need to hear and consider before us in a variety of ways. Just this past weekend, my sister and I were talking about different aspects of living for God and our attention turned to what serving God really means. As we wound down our conversation my wise sister pulled out some notes she had jotted down from a message she'd head a while back. The gist of her note was this: Our purpose is to glorify God, which means our complete focus must be on God's greatness, His holiness, His goodness, and His plan and purpose, rather than looking to God to fix our situation or answer questions about our circumstances.

Our talk then brought to mind something I had experienced earlier in the afternoon. I was cleaning the house and turned on the radio. The song "Great I Am" was playing. It's a song that always moves my heart. I felt compelled to get on my knees, right in the middle of cleaning, to worship God for who He is. (Here's a link if you'd like to listen to this amazing song.)

All that to say, when our focus is in this right place, we can stand strong and in so doing glorify God whatever is taking place around us.

Where would you say you are focused today? Is it on what God can do for you or is it simply on God? How will you glorify God today? Tami

Following Always

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Solomon instructs and encourages us about the importance of following God at all times, but especially in the days of our youth (and I'm not going to define what age range "youth" might be. LOL). You see, Solomon knows that in our younger years, our tendency will be to choose to follow our own way rather than being committed to following God's instructions. That was certainly my experience. Although I was raised in a Christian home, when I went away to college and the strong influence of my parents was removed from my daily life, I faltered and ended up turning away from God. I wasn't intentionally trying to be rebellious. In fact, I would even tell people I loved the Lord. But my love was limited to lip service at this point because my focus was on me and I had decided I was going to do my own thing--whatever I wanted. What's so clear to me now that wasn't then, was how inexperienced and naïve I was in my thinking. I thought I was so wise. I was sure I knew what was best for me. I thought I was invincible. I believed I could put things off because I had all the time in the world to serve God later. Foolish thinking that kept me from making the best use of my time for quite a number of years.

What's your personal experience with following God? Are you making the best use of your time in serving Him (regardless of your age)? If not, what are some changes you need to make? Tami

Tell Your Story

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Today's reading: Psalm 107:1-43

The command to "let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble" (vs. 2) is a call to action that I absolutely champion. And I love the way the psalmist drives this point home by putting before us situation after situation followed by this repeated directive:

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" (verses 8, 15, 21 and 31)

Satan loves to get into our minds and lead us to think that we're not equipped to share our faith. That's a lie! When we tell our story, in other words, when we talk with others about how God has protected, guided, provided for and walked alongside us through difficult times, we're being a witness. We're sharing our faith as we proclaim God and His love and goodness to a world that needs to know about God and have a relationship with Him.

If we've placed our faith in Christ, we all have a personal story to tell others about God's love and forgiveness. But we also have multiple stories of God's goodness that we can use to show and tell others about God and ultimately what Jesus did for us on the cross.

So take some time today to look back and consider how God has worked in your life with the specific purpose of honing in on a number of God stories. So what's your story? And who will you tell your story (placing your faith in Christ and subsequent God stories) to this week? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 106:1-48

God is good and His "steadfast love endures forever!" is the opening proclamation of Psalm 106. The psalmist then shows us the truth of this declaration in the remaining verses of his song. He looks back and examines the account of the Israelites, and what we see is a spectrum of faithfulness. The Israelites, despite being God's chosen people for whom God had performed wondrous miracles and works, were repeatedly unfaithful to God. Yet God didn't turn away or abandon them, even in His anger. These words in verse 43 spoke volumes to me:

"Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes..."

What does Psalm 106 reveal about God as our Father and His love for us? How has God shown himself faithful to you and your family, even in times when you were rebellious? Tami

Good and Bad

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

As we close out Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon turns his attention to life in general, matter-of-factly reminding us that our life journey will be one that contains highs as well as many lows. I was particularly drawn to the words and message of verse 6.

"So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity."

Life is a gift that's all too fleeting. Our circumstances may not always be what we'd choose, but as we've seen time and again, we aren't in control or privy to God's master plan. That being the case, we need to make the most of both the good and the bad circumstances we encounter, keeping our eyes fixed on God and eternity.

Do you look at life as a God-given gift? How does having the perspective that life is a gift impact your decisions and help you cope when you encounter hard and dark days? Tami


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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

"Life is a mystery" is a statement I've heard numerous times from numerous sources over my lifetime. And while I don't embrace that statement as a whole, it does make sense to me when I consider God's plan and His ways. Solomon touches on this as well in Ecclesiastes 11:5-6, "so you do not know the work of God who makes everything...for you do not know which will prosper..." Pretty clear statements that serve to remind us of God's sovereignty and that by God's design, we're not going to be privy to His plans.

Since I'm a bit of a control freak (who prefers to know what's coming and always have plans in place), I often struggle with "not knowing." That struggle has been particularly prevalent the past year so as my husband and I have been navigating uncharted waters that we don't fully understand and that feel a little scary. I absolutely know that God has every detail of our lives in His hands and that His plan for us is good. Yet, I give in to doubt and have spent many hours wrestling with God through my prayers. The bottom line is--I have to trust God completely. I have to completely surrender to Him and accept and even embrace "not knowing" every next step and detail. That means talking openly with God, telling Him that I trust Him, and then asking God to help me rely solely on Him multiple times throughout my day.

Thank you, God, for using Solomon's word to remind me, yet again, that I am Yours and You have got this!

Do you ever struggle with "not knowing" the details of God's plan? Do you talk with God about your struggles and doubts? How did Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 impact your thinking about navigating life and the plans God has for you? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-4

Solomon instructs those who have resources (financial and/or material) to be openhanded in helping others. And he not only instructs us to be giving, but to be extra generous in our giving, according to the needs we see around us. "Give a portion to seven, or even to eight..." vs.2).

The instruction to help others absolutely resonates with me. Being able to give of my time and/or money when I see a need, is something that brings me joy. And as I have grown in my relationship with God, He has impressed this principle on my heart more and more. There are so many people around us that need help. But all too often, we're so focused on the details of our lives that we overlook and miss out on daily opportunities to show God's love to others. God is pleased when we are openhanded and charitable with what He has generously given to us. I like to think that every generous and loving act we extend to others brings a smile to His face.

Would you describe yourself as a generous and helping person? What are your thoughts on Solomon's directive "to give a portion to seven, or even to eight"? Will you join me in being intentional about reaching out to help someone this week? Tami

Good Leaders

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 10:16-20

Solomon lets us in on a few of his thoughts on being a good leader in Ecclesiastes 10. Traits or qualities that are good and beneficial, both for the leader and those whom the leader oversees, are having a good work ethic, being mature in thinking and actions, having integrity, and being and staying focused on the tasks at hand.

All of us our leaders in some manner (home, work, church, school). What character traits are you strong in as a leader? What's one area in which you could benefit from further development? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

Tucked in the middle of Ecclesiastes 10, Solomon gives us some prudent advice about our speech. Verse 12 lays out the heart of his instruction well.

"The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him."

What does this passage reveal about the power of our words? Think back over the past couple of weeks. What's one example of how you used your words wisely? Tami

History Lesson

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Today's reading: Psalm 105:1-45

Psalm 105 gives us a mini history lesson of the nation of Israel from Abraham through Moses. As I read this condensed history, I recalled many additional details of the life of Abraham and his family and descendants. What a storyline it is! As I progressed through the timeline, my thoughts were drawn to God's extraordinary plan and provision. I was reminded, once again, of how so often God's ways are beyond our human way of thinking.

What does this Psalm reveal about God's ways? What does it reveal about His character and faithfulness? What comfort do you draw from this look back at God's plan and His provision? Tami

His Works

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Today's reading: Psalm 104:1-35

I love the outdoors and pretty much anything and everything to do with nature. So reading through detail after detail about God's creation and contemplating how God so perfectly orchestrated it all, brought a smile to my face for sure. But more importantly, Psalm 104 focused my mind on God's greatness, His goodness and the exceptional love He has for His creation. As I reached the final verses of this incredibly descriptive song, I was, like the psalmist, eager to sing praises to God and proclaim His works to those around me.

When you look around at nature, how do you see God and His greatness (give one or two specific examples)? What did you notice or learn about God and/or creation from this Psalm? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 10: 5-11

When we choose to act imprudently--with wrong motivation, pushing our own agenda, forcing action according to our own timing--situations don't end well. We bring about harm to ourselves (our improper actions come back to bite us), we cause strife for ourselves and others, we create more work and many times a job that isn't done well.

Seeing as none of us are perfect, we've all chosen to ignore good judgment at some point. Think back to one of those situations. What's one lesson you learned? How did your experience line up with what we read from Ecclesiastes today? Was there a particular verse that stood out to you and why? Tami


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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 10:4

Solomon's advice in Ecclesiastes 10:4 is dead on. Our tendency is to immediately react when a bad situation arises, but in most situations, we serve ourselves best by pausing, assessing and seeking God's guidance before we take action to respond. As I contemplated Solomon's words, it brought to mind a number of similarly themed verses from Proverbs. Verses instructing us to be slow to get angry (see Proverbs 14:7; 14:29; 15:18; 19:11; 25:15), verses telling us how it's good for us to guard our thoughts and words (see Proverbs 10:19; 21:23) and that the words we do speak should be thought through and tempered (Proverbs 12:18; 17:27; 29:20).

How have you benefited from responding calmly in a stressful or bad situation? How does praying and reading your Bible help you stand strong and calm when you're in the middle of uncertain circumstances? Tami

Even A Little

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

Solomon's message of caution in Ecclesiastes 10:1 is a good one, and words that I'm sure we've all experienced at one time or another.

"[A] little folly outweighs wisdom and honor" (vs. 1).

Have you ever noticed how when something bad, unexpected, unpleasant or uninvited happens or is introduced into a situation, even in a small amount, it can damage or completely ruin a situation or outcome? That's certainly the case when it comes to the choices we make. We can work long and hard establishing a good reputation, developing a strong work ethic, saving our money, building relationships. But then, in almost the blink of an eye, we can cause immense damage by acting foolishly--failing to think through our actions, giving into a temptation, letting down our guard.

What do these verses reveal about the wisdom of following God's ways and seeking His counsel as we make life decisions? How have you observed or experienced a "little folly" having a significant negative impact? Tami

Better Than

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 9:11-18

As we close out Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon considers, yet again, the incredible importance and value of having wisdom, and how our lives are benefitted by possessing it. This time around, Solomon makes two "better than" statements about wisdom (wisdom is better than might and better than weapons of war) that contradict what the world would have us believe--that having power, wealth and education somehow equates with having wisdom. Not so says Solomon. Rather, godly wisdom is better than anything the world has to offer.

How often do you think about the fact that you're gaining godly wisdom when you read and study God's Word? Do you ask God to give you wisdom before you read your Bible? What's one way you can/will demonstrate wisdom today? How about the rest of this week? Tami

Living Well

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

In Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 Solomon provides some instruction on living well. We are to enjoy, in a practical and sensible way, the things God has provided for us here on earth, make the most of our relationships, and be dedicated to doing our best when it comes to the many aspects of work that we encounter.

Think back over the past couple of weeks. How have you been "living well" with regard to your relationships? Describe one situation where you were diligent in the work God put before 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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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2016 is the previous archive.

September 2016 is the next archive.

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