December 2016 Archives

Our Recourse

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Today's reading: Psalm 120:1-7

Psalm 120 is one of the psalms where we don't see a resolution to the physical hardship that is impacting and taking place around the psalmist. We do see, however, that God hears the psalmist's cry of distress and answers him (vs. 1). While I prefer a total happy ending package (physical, spiritual and emotional resolution), that's simply not how life typically goes. So I am thankful for the example set out in Psalm 120 because it reaffirms what I already know deep in my heart--that no matter the situation, I can have peace when I choose to rest in God!

How do you tend to interact with God when you're in the middle of turmoil or difficulty? Are you comfortable crying out to, and talking candidly with, Him? What's one example of how prayer has strengthened and sustained you through a difficult situation? Tami

Stirring Reminder

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Today's reading: 2 Peter 3:1-13

Twice in the short Book of 2 Peter, Peter tells his readers that the purpose of his writing is to "stir them up" by way of reminder about God's truth and living according to it (2 Peter 1:13 and 2 Peter 3:1). I love this example of being intentional about encouraging, prompting and motivating others to grasp on to the truth found in God's Word and then put it into practice in their daily lives.

Are you intentional about encouraging others to read and follow God's Word? Who do you know that could use some spiritual "stirring up" by way of reminder? Will you reach out to them in the next week, and how? Tami

Perfectly Timed

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Today's reading: 2 Peter 3:1-13

The fact that my thoughts and perceptions of time are different than God's is not something new to me. I'm well aware of it. Yet all too often, I expect things to happen in my time frame (which seems absolutely reasonable to me--LOL) and then get frustrated, disappointed and discouraged when God doesn't move according to my thinking. For the past year or so my husband and I have been waiting on God to move in several areas. The weeks and months have seemed to drag on and my human mind is weary with we wait. That being the case, I needed the perspective adjustment provided by Peter's reminder in verse 8.

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

Thank you, God, for Your perfect timing. I know that Your ways are better than mine. Please help me wait patiently and give me Your peace, knowing that You are in control.

What helps you keep the right perspective and attitude when something isn't happening in the manner or at the pace you expect? What does 2 Peter 3 reveal about God's plan, wisdom and love? Tami

Truth Twisters

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Today's reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22

Peter puts out a strong warning against false teaching in 2 Peter 2, alerting and cautioning us about succumbing to the persuasive manners, ways and words of those who twist the truth about God and faith in Christ. But rather than pointing out specific false ideas and principles being put forth, Peter instead highlights the behaviors and mindsets of those engaged in false teaching in order to help us identify those who would lead us away from God's truth. He also spends quite a bit of time explaining the penalty and judgment that will come to these truth twisters, supporting his words with historical examples of God's judgment.

What does this chapter reveal about the importance of regularly taking in God's Word and knowing what it says? What did 2 Peter 2 show you about the value God puts on righteousness (doing what's right and honest and speaking truth)? Tami

Trustworthy and True

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Today's reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21

God and His Word are trustworthy and true! That's the message that came across loud and clear as I took in 2 Peter 1:16-21. I love how Peter makes sure we know that what he and the apostles are teaching and conveying is the result of being with Jesus while He was on earth ("but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty..." vs. 12), and that every part of God's Word--every phrase, sentence, chapter, Book--is from God. "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (vs. 21).

What does knowing that Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus' teaching, miracles, death and resurrection reveal about the Gospel message? How does knowing that every word of the Bible is "from God" impact your mindset, approach to and confidence in God's Word? Tami

Good Qualities

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Today's reading: 2 Peter 1:1-15

I hope everyone had a good Christmas weekend! Before we kick off the New Year where we will turn to the Book of Genesis, we're going to spend this week in 2 Peter, a letter to the church at large. Let's get started!

Peter provides those who are followers of Christ with a progressive list of qualities that we should strive to possess and put into practice in order to have and then maintain a strong walk with God.

"[M]ake every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (vs. 5-7).

After reading through this list and then verse 10, which tells us that if we practice these qualities we will not fall, I was prompted to ask myself:

  • Do I possess these qualities?
  • Am I putting these qualities into practice? What are some examples?
  • Am I growing in these areas, and how?

It was a good assessing exercise that helped me recognize those areas where I need to improve and work a little harder as well as those areas where I'm doing well.

So now it's your turn to do a little self-assessing. Do you possess the qualities Peter puts before us in verses 5-7? Are you putting them into practice? Are you growing in these areas, and how? Tami

Merry CHRISTmas!

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Today's reading: Luke 2:1-21

Merry Christmas everyone! I wish each of you an incredible Christ-focused day.

A couple of years ago at a church Christmas party, each person was asked this question: Besides Jesus, who would you choose to be in the Christmas story and why? As you can imagine, there were a number of different answers (I chose one of the shepherds because of the encounter with the angels and then having the privilege of meeting baby Jesus), and each one got me thinking about the what, when, why, how--and especially the miracle of Christmas.

So what about you? Who would you choose to be in the Christmas story and why? When you finish answering, send a thank you prayer to God for sending His only Son to be your Savior. Tami

Worship and Praise

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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 these passages is what took place when each group encountered the Christ child. The wise men fell down and worshipped 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 weekend? What will you tell others about Christ this Christmas season? Tami

God With Us

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Today's reading: John1:1-18; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-40; Matthew 1:18-2:23

John 1:1-18 tells of God's marvelous plan of salvation through Jesus coming to live a perfect and sinless life among us. But the details of Jesus coming to earth and taking on human form are recorded in the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke.

Now more than likely, you're familiar with the Christmas story, as am I. Even so, each Christmas season I like to read the accounts that detail the miracle of Jesus' birth as well as a variety of passages that point to Jesus coming to earth to be our Savior. God always moves my heart and draws my attention to circumstances and context, actions taken, emotions, words thought and spoken--all of which help me continue to gain a better understanding of God's incredible master plan and His love for us.

I invite you to join me today (and through this weekend) in reading the account of Jesus' birth in Matthew and Luke, along with the first chapter of John. Before you read, ask God to reveal something new to you from this familiar and marvelous story. Tami

Stand Firm

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 5:12-14

As Peter closes out his letter, he, one more time, encourages and challenges us to stay the course with God and stand firm in our faith--in all situations.

What verse, passage or message helped you the most from 1 Peter, and why? What's one way you will continue to "stand firm in the grace of God" right now, during this Christmas season? Tami

Hungry Lion

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 5:8-11

I Peter 5:8-11 contains one of the clearest warnings in the Bible about Satan and spiritual warfare. It provides a good reminder that Satan is real, that he is our powerful enemy and that he is actively seeking to inflict harm on us as one of God's children. But immediately following this serious warning, Peter offers these encouraging words, which lets us know that with Gods power, we can stand firm.

"Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you" (vs. 9-10).

How often do you think about spiritual warfare and the fact that Satan is actively "your adversary"? What comfort do you draw from verses 9-11? Tami

Cast Away!

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 5:6-7

The message of 1 Peter 5:6-7 is clear--God wants us to give Him ALL of our burdens. That means every single situation that causes us to worry, every feeling of fear that grips our heart, every anxious thought that enters and occupies and controls our mind.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."

How were you encouraged by 1 Peter 5:6-7? What is it that you need to "cast away" and give over to God today? Tami

Good for God

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

I feel blessed to be a citizen of the United States because of our country's stance on freedom of religion. That being said, however, the social climate in the US is not overly friendly to those who have chosen to place their faith in Christ. Openly proclaiming that you are a "Christ-follower" won't win you any popularity contests, and often brings with it ridicule, insults, mocking and even discrimination.

Peter tells us that trials and opposition are a given once we place our faith in Christ and dedicate our lives to doing good for God. He then reminds us that our trials parallel, to a lesser degree, what Jesus experienced and endured while here on earth. So when we suffer for the sake of being a Christian, we can remain steadfast and joyful, and in so doing, highlight and bring glory to God.

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (vs. 19).

How are you doing at living out 1 Peter 4:19 and doing "good for God" even through difficult circumstances? What most helps you remain steadfast and joyful when your faith is under fire? Tami

Crucial Choice

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:173

From start to finish Psalm 119 delivers the message that in order for us to live rightly and fully for God, His Word must be our foundation. So how fitting to see these words from the psalmist as he concludes this powerhouse chapter.

"Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts" (vs.173, emphasis added).

One of the most important choices you will ever make is the decision to spend daily time in God's Word--reading your Bible, considering what it says and then putting what you've read into practice.

With 2017 fast approaching, I invite you to join with me in saying to God: "I have chosen Your Word. Teach me Your ways, draw me closer to You and help me live more fully." Tami

Voice It

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:169-176 (Taw)

I'm an extrovert, and there are more than a few people who would describe me as extra verbal. So perhaps that's why I was so drawn to this final stanza of Psalm 119 where we see:

  • "My lips will pour forth praise" (vs. 171)
  • "My tongue will sing of your word" (vs. 172)
  • "Let my soul live and praise you" (vs. 175)

Think back over the past couple of weeks. What's one example of when you verbally praised God or His Word? How will you live out verses 171 and 172 in the coming week? Tami

Living Out Good

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 4: 1-11

Life as we've known it changes once we make the decision to receive Christ as our Savior. Living to satisfy our human wants and desires ceases. Our focus and thinking, instead, shifts to doing the will of God, and being a living example of doing good. Peter provides us with some instruction on this good and godly living in verses 7-11--be self-controlled, sober-minded, love each other, show hospitality, serve one another with the spiritual gift(s) God has given you.

Think back over the past week or so. What's at least one example of how you have lived out and demonstrated one or more of Peter's instructions on godly living in verses 7-11. Tami

Zealous for Good

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 3:13-22

My sister has a phrase she says often, "If you do what you know is right, God will bless." That's immediately what came to my mind as I read today because Peter is essentially conveying that same message in verses 13-17. I particularly liked the reinforcing call for us to be zealous (passionate, fervent, eager) for what is good--regardless of the fact that our choosing to do what is right and good may result in some form of persecution, harassment or discrimination. Verse 17 sums up Peter's instruction well.

"For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."

What does living "being zealous for what is good" mean for you personally? Verse 15 tells us to be ready to tell others about the reason for our hope. Are you prepared and talking with others about your relationship with Christ and your love of what is good? How might you explain this? Tami

Pay Back

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Paying someone back for wronging us is appealing on the surface, but it's not the way God would have us respond. And when we do choose to respond in kind to someone who has hurt us, it doesn't fix the situation. Any satisfaction it provides is short lived, which leaves us still carrying around anger, bitterness and resentment after the fact.

As he did in chapter 2, Peter once again challenges us as Christ-followers to live differently than the world around us by resisting the urge to retaliate against those who have harmed or treated us in badly. Peter issues this clear instruction in verse 9. "Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing."(NLT)

Do you find it difficult to "turn the other cheek" when someone mistreats you? What role does having a humble heart play in being able to "pay them back with a blessing"? Who do you need to pay back with a blessing today? And what might that look like--praying for them, refusing to engage in a fight, offering assistance, paying them a compliment? Tami

Loud Actions

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 3:1-7

The familiar saying that "actions speak louder than words," is the message delivered in 1 Peter 3:1-7. How we live out our lives as followers of Christ serves as a powerful, spiritual example to those around us--and especially to our spouse. Our conduct is revealing. It broadcasts the true condition of our heart. And when our heart is right with God, our actions will highlight Christ and draw people to Him.

How often do you think about your actions being a spiritual example to those around you, and especially to your spouse? How can you be more intentional when it comes to being a spiritual example at home? At work? In your neighborhood? Tami

Good Enduring

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 2:18-24

When someone doesn't treat me fairly or when I feel I have been intentionally wronged, my thoughts (and sometimes my actions) immediately go to righting the situation. My sense of justice kicks in! But that human response doesn't line up with what God desires and expects from me.

In 1 Peter 2:18-24, Peter challenges us to follow the example of Jesus when someone treats us unjustly--not lashing out, not defending ourselves, not responding in kind--but instead entrusting the situation to God "who judges justly" (vs. 23). I especially like the straight forward explanation we see in verse 20. "For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God."

Do you find it difficult to respond without anger, sarcasm, and defensive words when you are treated unfairly? Why is it important not to react this way? What has helped, and does help, you respond in a godly manner when you find yourself in a tough situation? Tami

GREAT Peace

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:165

"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165).

The words of Psalm 119:165 moved my heart today because they describe what I've experienced. When I'm in God's Word and focused on and trusting in Him, that's when I truly have great peace. What a comfort to know that no matter our circumstances, we can stand strong and not be pulled off course by what's taking place around us.

How does God's Word bring you peace? What's an example of when your being in the Word has kept you from stumbling? Tami

Treasure

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:161-167 (Sin and Shin)

Every verse of Psalm 119:161-168 (Sin and Shin) addresses God's Word in some form--describing it, explaining its impact, commenting about it.

  • Verse 161 talks about respecting Gods Word (in awe).
  • Verse 162 tells us that the psalmist takes joy in God's Word, and reveals how he values it (great spoil or treasure).
  • Verse 163 shows us the psalmist's love for God's Word.
  • Verse 164 talks of God's Word being upright and good.
  • Verse 165 reveals the peace we can have when we make taking in and studying God's Word our habit.
  • Verses 166-168 all demonstrate that obeying and following God's laws and instructions should be our regular practice.

Do your feelings about God's Word line up with those of the psalmist? In a sentence or two, how would you describe God's Word and the way(s) it impacts your daily life? Tami

Respect and Follow

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 2:13-17

Respectfully submitting to those who are in authority over us can be challenging at times. Yet, it's exactly what God expects and wants us to do. 1 Peter 2:13-17 clearly puts before us the call to submit to those who have authority over us, pairing this with the call to do good because we are living servants of God. Peter concludes this segment with the command to "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (vs. 17).

How are you living out the charge to "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."? Is it your practice to pray for government officials? Tami

Living Foundation

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 2:4-12

Peter's encouragement continues in 1 Peter 2 where he reminds us of God's great love for us demonstrated through His plan of salvation--Jesus, a "living stone" and the cornerstone (foundation) of our faith. Peter then takes his encouragement to another level by drawing from Old Testament language to show these new believers in Christ (the New Testament Church as well as the Church today) that they were "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession..." (vs. 9).

As I sat back and considered the words of 1 Peter 2:4-12, I was struck by the greatness of God and His supreme plan for mankind. Peter's words turned my attention back to 1 Peter 1 and the message of being "born again to a living hope."

What did you learn or notice about the greatness and magnificence of God from this passage? What did these verses reveal about our human thinking and limited understanding of His ways? What verse, phrase, image or concept encouraged you the most from 1 Peter 2:3-12, and why? Tami

Intentional Growing

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 2:1-3

Once we receive Christ as our Savior, it's God's desire that we grow spiritually--that we become more and more like Christ and in so doing deepen our relationship with Him. But unlike physical growth that happens naturally, spiritual growth requires effort and intentionality from us. Thus Peter's instruction in 1 Peter 2:1-3 to rid ourselves of sinful behaviors (malice, slander, envy, hypocrisy, deceit) and instead seek after and long for the right and wholesome truth (spiritual nourishment) we can only receive through God's Word.

How often do you think about your spiritual growth and what you need to do to continue moving forward? On a scale of 1 to 10, how intentional are you about daily spending time in God's Word? What's the relationship between reading your Bible and "growing up into salvation" (vs. 2)? Tami

Living Holy

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 1:13-25

Peter issues the call and challenge to conduct ourselves rightly--"to be holy in all our conduct." But rather than simply stating this charge and moving on, he fleshes this out a bit and provides a number of ways we should be conducting ourselves in order to live out a holy lifestyle.

  • Our minds should be engaged for God--prepare our mind for action, being sober-minded (vs. 13)
  • We should behave differently--not be conformed to our former ways (vs. 14)
  • We must have reverence for God (vs. 17)
  • We remember the price that Jesus paid on the cross, dying for our sins (vs. 18-19)
  • We live having faith in and hoping for Christ's return (vs. 21)
  • We genuinely and sincerely extend love to others (vs. 22)

What does the charge to "be holy in all your conduct" mean to you? Describe what living out this command looks like in your life. Tami

Captive for God

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 1:13-25

Having greeted and then acknowledged that he is fully aware of the difficult circumstances of the recipients of his letter, Peter now turns to instructions about living for Christ. He refers to this group of believers as obedient children and then supplies numerous directives and guidelines by which they should strive to live. Before Peter gets fully into his teaching, however, he gives the foundational instruction to "prepare your minds for action, be sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (vs. 13). What I like about this verse is how it reveals the powerful nature of our minds, and then highlights the requirement that we must take our minds and thoughts captive in order to live fully for Christ.

Why is "preparing your mind for action" so vital to daily living for Christ? What helps you take control of, and focus your mind on, God--reading the Bible, listening to Christian speakers or music, attending church, being part of a Bible study group? Tami

Truth

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:153-160 (Resh)

Trials, suffering and affliction continue for the psalmist in Psalm 119:153-160 (Resh). Yet through it all, the psalmist is able to stand firm because he trusts God and the truth found in His Word.

"The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever."

How does (or how has) knowing God's Word is truth and that His rules are established forever help (or helped) you in times of distress? Tami

Creator God

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Today's reading: Genesis 1:1-31

In Genesis 1 we find the account of God creating the world. The account is a precise one, in that it details the order of creation and shows us God's actions and thoughts.

One of my favorite things about the creation account is getting to see God's satisfied and pleased reaction after evaluating the product of His work. At the end of every day when God looks back over what He has created, we see this consistent declaration--that everything which He had created was good.

  • And God saw that the light was good. (vs. 4)
  • And God saw that it [heaven, sea and earth] was good. (vs. 10)
  • And God saw that it [vegetation] was good. (vs. 12)
  • And God saw that it [sun, moon and stars] was good. (vs. 18)
  • And God saw that it [sea creatures and birds] was good. (vs. 21)
  • And God saw that it [livestock and earthly beasts] was good. (vs. 25)

And then, after creating mankind and observing the totality of His creation, we see the final and greatest declaration. "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (vs. 31).

What did Genesis 1:1-25 reveal to you about God as Creator of the world? What did you learn or see about God's creation, and specifically mankind? Tami

Total Reliance

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:145-152 (Qoph)

When we experience trials and we and/or our families are in distress, there's no better response than turning to God. In these eight verses, the psalmist shows us his total dependence on God. He presents the entirety of his situation to God, holding nothing back ("with my whole heart I cry'). He boldly asks God to help and save him. And in combination with crying out to God, we see the psalmist dedicating and spending time meditating on God's Word and keeping a constant focus on God (rising before dawn and being awake before the watches of the night).

When you feel distressed and overcome by your circumstances, how do you respond? Do you talk with God and give all your stress, worries and burdens over to Him? How does (or has) relying on God give (given) you strength? Tami

Tested Genuineness

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 1:3-12

On pretty much any given day, most of us encounter and deal with difficulty in some area of our life--from something minor and isolated to something that's a major, all-consuming circumstance.

Given that difficulties are going to come, how we react and ultimately respond to them is important. Even after years of being a Christ-follower, I have to fight against letting my gut--my human reactions--take over and dictate when I encounter problems and trials. So I found Peter's pointing out how trials "test the genuineness" of our faith helpful in that it served to give me a needed perspective adjustment.

When you encounter difficulty and trials are you quick to seek God through prayer? Do you ask God to help you trust Him and to view the trials as a growing and/or learning opportunity? How does thinking about trials as being "a testing of the genuineness of your faith" help you stand strong and stay the course with God? Tami

Living Hope

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Today's reading: 1 Peter 1:1-9

Today we start into the Book of 1 Peter, a letter of encouragement written to Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout Asia Minor. This group of believers were discouraged and downhearted because the environments in which they were living didn't embrace God's ways, and as a result, they were experiencing hardship and persecution.

Once Peter completes his greeting, he immediately turns to encouraging these disheartened brothers and sisters in Christ. He acknowledges the hard and unpleasant circumstances that they are living in, but then reminds and reassures them that they are possessors of a "living hope" from God. In other words, that they are each heirs of God, and as such have "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you..." (vs. 4).

How often do you give thought to the fact that, as a Christ-follower, you possess a living hope? Why is this important? How did reading that God is keeping--for you--an imperishable inheritance, impact your attitude and outlook today? 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 December 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2016 is the previous archive.

January 2017 is the next archive.

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