February 2017 Archives

Unconventional God

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Today's reading: Genesis 18:9-15

Do you ever wonder why God does things the way He does? Let me put that another way. Have you come through an experience where you thought, after the fact, how arriving at that certain endpoint could have happened sooner or through a more obvious and direct route? I sure have, and still do. But what I've learned over the years is that the longer, and many times harder, road was necessary in order for me to grow spiritually and for God to receive all the glory in the outcome.

I'm so grateful for how God speaks to us, and how His heart and ways are revealed to us through the life stories, teaching and instruction contained in the Bible. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about God is how He excels and shines through scenarios that appear uncommon, unusual, strange, bizarre and impossible to us. But as God says to Abraham in Genesis 18:14, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" The answer, of course, is a resounding "No!"

How does knowing that God excels at working in and through unlikely scenarios impact your thinking and attitude? What circumstance or situation are you facing that seems overwhelming, unbeatable or impossible? Will you give it over to God and trust and lean into Him as you travel the route together? Tami

Kind and Charitable

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Today's reading: Genesis 18:1-8

Abraham was intent on living his life in a way that honored and pleased God, and this mindset motivated and permeated everything he did. As we come to Genesis 18, we find Abraham at the entrance of his tent looking out over his land, eager for any opportunity to serve that God would put before him that day. So when Abraham sees three men coming toward his home, he immediately takes action, running (at the ripe old age of 99) to greet them and offer food, rest and accommodations. Both he and Sarah willingly and joyfully opened their home, extended kindness and shared what they had with these men. I love this example and the reminder it provides that God is pleased when we are kind, generous and offer help to those around us.

Who do you know that has a kind and charitable heart for people? What sorts of things do they do? When was the last time you invited someone into your home--for a meal, for coffee, to get to know them better? Do you look for opportunities to be hospitable and show God's love to others? Tami

We Can Sing

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Today's reading: Psalm 137:1-9

Even when times are tough and we're struggling, we can have joy if we keep our eyes on God and continue to praise and sing to Him. Sometimes, though, that can be difficult. There have been plenty of times when I've gone to a church service weary and downhearted to the point that I didn't want to sing or participate in the service. Yet, when I left the service, I had a different attitude. Why? Because I chose to sing to the Lord--even as I struggled. My decision to sing (many times through tears) served to sooth and open my heart to hear more clearly from God who was right there by my side.

What role has remembering God's goodness played in helping you maintain a joyful heart, particularly in difficult circumstances? Tami

P.S. As I read and considered Psalm 137, the song "How Can I Keep From Singing" by Chris Tomlin came to my mind. I invite you to take a listen and sing along to God! Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24qpqu-yDkI&list=RD24qpqu-yDkI

Today's reading: Psalm 136:1-26

Each verse of Psalm 136 puts before us either a description of God or a description of a mighty deed God has done, followed by the phrase "his steadfast love endures forever." So 26 times in this psalm we're told that God's love is steadfast and endures forever. That's a powerful promise we can claim!

The format of this psalm got me thinking about what I could say if I were writing my own poem to God using this format. Here are two of my verses:

  • To him who continued to watch over me even when I thought I knew better and wanted to do things on my own; for his steadfast love endures forever.

  • To him who protected and shielded my family from people with evil intentions; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Now it's your turn to write a verse or two following the model of Psalm 136. Complete the verse below by filling in the blank with something specific from your life. Give it some thought and have fun! ___________________________________________________; for his steadfast love endures forever. Tami

Nothing Impossible

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Today's reading: Genesis 17:15-27

God's thoughts, His timing and His way of doing things are different than ours. I clearly know this, yet somehow I continue to be "surprised" when what I'm thinking doesn't quite match up with God's plan. LOL. Although the Bible doesn't expressly say it, I wonder if Abraham struggled with this as well?

When Abram is already an old man with no children, God tells him that he will have offspring as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15). Years pass before God appears to Abram again (he's now 99 years old), and this time God delivers the message that he will be the father of nations through a son by his 90-year--old wife, Sarai. What?!? This certainly isn't the succession plan we'd come up with in our human thinking. But as Abraham's and Sarah's story drives home--God's ways are not ours, and nothing is impossible with God.

Do you have a God-given dream or desire that seems impossible to you? What encouragement does God's interaction with Abraham provide? How does this account resemble the interaction between Mary and the angel in Luke 1 ("For nothing will be impossible with God.")? Tami

13 Years

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Today's reading: Genesis 17:1-27

Thirteen years pass from the end of Genesis 16 (and the birth of Ishmael) to the first verse of Genesis 17, and during this time Abram pushes faithfully onward. Chapter 17 begins with God appearing to Abram to institute a second covenant and put into action the covenant made with Abram in Genesis 15. This time when God speaks, however, He's more specific about the blessing being bestowed. He tells Abram that he will be the father of many nations through a son from Sarai, God changes Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah, and God puts in place the covenant of circumcision. Abraham doesn't fully understand the "what's, why's, how's or when's" of what God is telling him (similar to Genesis 15). Yet, he listens to God, accepts everything that he is told and obediently acts on God's instructions.

What's the most meaningful lesson you learned or noticed from Abraham's example? When you don't fully understand how God is moving, what helps you keep your eyes on God and take Him at His word? Tami

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Messes

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Today's reading: Genesis 16:1-16

Sarai's taking matters into her own hands creates quite a messy situation--for her, for Abram and most certainly for Hagar who didn't really have a say or choice in the matter. But thankfully, God is much bigger than, and in no way limited by, the messes we find ourselves in.

Hagar was placed in a bad situation by Sarai, and not surprisingly, that situation took a turn for the worse after Hagar got pregnant. So to escape from an angry and bitter Sarai, Hagar runs away into the open countryside, a dangerous and barren place. She was low emotionally and thought she was on her own, but God was right there by her side, guiding, protecting and providing for her.

What messes have you found yourself in--either by a poor decision you made or a poor choice by someone else? How did God guide, protect and/or provide for you in and through one of those messy situations? What did you learn or notice about God from Genesis 16? Tami

Seasons

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Today's reading: Genesis 16:1-6; Proverbs 3:5-8

Although Abram and Sarai desired to have children, Sarai was barren. So after years of trying to conceive, Sarai, instead of continuing to prayerfully present her situation and her desire for a child to God, gives in to the temptation to take matters into her own hands. Now let me interject here. If you feel like pointing your finger or shaking your head at Sarai--hold off. Because honestly, haven't we all done this at some point or another? I certainly have. When circumstances aren't moving along like we think they should, our sinful nature rises up and urges us to push God aside and take control, seductively whispering "You know what's best for you." But when we give in to this temptation and run ahead of God, it's always to our detriment.

I am thankful for how our Powered by 4 schedule has landed us on this passage today (it's not a coincidence), because I've been hearing that seductive whisper and needed a reminder about not running ahead of God. You see, my husband and I have been in a period of transition for the past three years. And while we certainly know that God is in control and what we've experienced (and continue to experience) is part of His plan, I'm eager to close the chapter of the last three years and move fully into a new season. Yet, for whatever reason, God is taking His time in wrapping up that season and moving us forward. Thankfully, God has given me some amazing friends who are walking alongside me, keeping me grounded so that my eyes remain on God and His perfect timing.

How would you describe the season you're experiencing right now? What helps wait you patiently when you're ready to move but God hasn't yet fully cleared the way? What did you learn or see from this passage and Sarai's and Abram's example? Tami

Believe and Trust

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Today's reading: Genesis 15:1-21

Genesis 15 lets us see the personal dialogue between God and Abram when God tells Abram that He is protecting him and that He [God] will reward Abram for choosing to follow after God and live rightly. This entire chapter highlights and emphasizes the personal nature of God and His desire for us to be in relationship with Him.

Abram was committed to serving God. It was his regular practice to look and listen for God's instruction and guidance. So when God speaks to him through a vision, he responds by talking openly with God, asking Him what He is planning. Even though what God tells Abram seems inconceivable to Abram given his circumstances, verse 6 tells us that Abram "believed the LORD, and he [the LORD] counted it to him as righteousness." What an incredible example of taking God at His word and trusting Him fully!

Thank you, God, for Abram's example. Please help me respond like Abram to Your instruction and direction.

In what area or circumstance do you need to trust God today? Do you talk openly with God when you pray? What impact does speaking candidly with God have on your relationship with Him? What did this chapter show you about God? Tami

Good, Great & Living

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Today's reading: Psalm 135:1-21

Psalm 135 calls us to praise God for who He is--the one and only living God who is good, great and over and above all things.

"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods" (vs. 5).

What stood out to you most about God's greatness from this psalm? How would you describe God being a good, great and living God to someone who doesn't have a relationship with Christ? How do the words of verse 5 (above) encourage and motivate you to praise God today? Tami

Blessing God

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Today's reading: Psalm 134:1-3

Only three short verses in Psalm 134 with one call to action--bless the Lord.

What does "blessing the Lord" mean for you? In other words, what are things you do that "bless" the Lord? How will you bless God this weekend (be specific)? Tami

Public Honoring

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Today's reading: Genesis 14:17-24

After Abram and his neighbors track down and defeat the kings who had taken the residents and possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, the king of Sodom reaches out to Abram to thank and honor him. Melchizedek king of Salem also comes to recognize and offer a blessing to Abram. (Verse 18 tells us that Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High. See Hebrews 7 for more explanation on Melchizedek).

Abram and his friends were heroes! And, spirits were undoubtedly high after the defeat of the enemy kings. I can only imagine the extreme exhilaration and feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction they must have been experiencing. Yet, when the spotlight is turned on Abram, he doesn't bask in it. Rather, he immediately directs everyone's attention to God by verbally proclaiming Him as sovereign God over all, declining to accept the king of Sodom's offer to take the spoils of the victory and offering a tithe to Melchizedek as a priest of God Most High.

How often do you speak of God and honor Him in public? When you are blessed by God--through an accomplishment, receiving praise, getting an unexpected gift--do you thank God and offer verbal praise in front of others? What are the benefits of publically honoring God? Tami

Vital Relationships

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Today's reading: Genesis 14:1-16

Because of war between the kings of several clans in and around Sodom, Lot and his family are taken captive when the enemies of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah prevail in battle. When word of Lot's capture and abduction reaches Abram, he immediately sets a plan of rescue into action, which includes two of his neighbors. Thankfully for Lot, he and his family and possessions are rescued and returned safely to Sodom.

The word "relationship" repeatedly came to my mind as I took in and thought about this chapter--the partnering and power relationships between the kings, the family relationship between Abram and Lot, the friendship and ally relationship between Abram and his neighbors. All of these differing relationships highlight how God created us as relational beings. We need other people, and other people need us. Pretty much everything we do involves other people in some fashion. And when you think about it, many seemingly insurmountable tasks can be accomplished when we join together in relationship.

What are some key relationships/friendships in your life (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, business partners)? Would you say you are a relationship builder? Why is this so important? How can you make the relationships you have even stronger going forward? Tami

Today's reading: Genesis 13:1-18

As Abram and Lot and their families move on from Egypt, God continues to guide, protect and show His favor to them. God has blessed each man with many possessions (flocks, herds, people, money) to the point that the time has come when Abram and Lot need to separate in order to adequately take care of the people and things God has provided for each of them.

I love it when biblical principles and teaching are portrayed through someone's life example. And that's precisely what I noticed as I read and considered Abram's actions in Genesis 13. Numerous times Abram demonstrated instructions we're given throughout the Bible (verses in Proverbs, teachings of Jesus, Paul, John, Peter and James found in the New Testament). Here are some of the examples I noticed:

  • Abram's top priority was seeking after God
  • Abram valued family
  • Abram wasn't fixated on or worried about his wealth
  • Abram put the interests of his extended family before his individual interests
  • Abram was intentional about avoiding conflict with his relatives

What's the most important lesson you learned or noticed from Abram's example, and why? What does this chapter reveal about the importance of family, and having and maintaining good relationships with those in our family tree? Tami

Focus Changer

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Today's reading: Genesis 12:10-20

One of the quickest ways we can get off track spiritually is to let fear penetrate our minds. If we don't nip fearful thoughts (and the feelings that accompany them) in the bud, they will immediately grow like a weed, taking root to push out good, right and wise thinking. Fear is a focus changer. Instead of keeping our eyes on God and His faithfulness, it turns our focus inward, consuming our thoughts with what might happen and how we, not God, can control our circumstances.

Fear got the best of Abram as he, Sarai and his family members encountered extreme and difficult circumstances while they were following God's directive to move to a new land. Abram allowed fear for his life (via famine and by the hands of the Egyptians) to take root in his mind. And as he focused on himself rather than consulting with God, he made unwise decisions which led him to act sinfully before God, his wife and family and the Egyptians.

When you've allowed fear to flood your thinking, how has it impacted your focus, and in turn, your relationship with God and decision-making? Is there something that has you fearful today? Will you turn it over to God and trust Him to carry your through your situation? Tami

Abram Went

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Today's reading: Genesis 12:1-9

Today we return to Genesis, picking up with the account of Abram and Sarai. Abram (or Abraham as he will later be called) is a foundational person to Christianity, so it's important that we know about his life journey and the relationship he had with God through it all. Yet because Abram is such an important figure and we're reading with hindsight, I find that I sometimes read through parts of this storyline and take Abram's actions for granted--after all, this is Abraham and he was a great man of God. But while Abram was a godly man, he wasn't perfect, which means he struggled, just like we do, with emotions, thoughts and actions. So with this in mind, three words stood out to me today.

"So Abram went..." (vs. 4)

These three words convey so much. As I read, I tried to imagine myself in Abram's shoes when he received the word from God to pick up and move his entire family. This was no small charge. And he didn't even know where God was going to take him. Following God's instruction meant Abram's life (not to mention the lives of those in his family) was going to be turned upside down. Yikes! That's a little scary! But Abram took God at His word. Thus we see that in trust and obedience "Abram went, as the LORD had told him..."

How do you tend to respond when God asks you to make a change or prompts your heart to move in a different direction? What encouragement do you draw from Abram's example? Are you willing to trust God even when you can't see the full picture of His plan for you? Tami

Good and Pleasant

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Today's reading: Psalm 133:1-3

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

There is something extra special about Christ-followers operating in unity with one another. It's truly a joy to experience, and is absolutely pleasing to God.

Are you fostering and contributing to a spirit of unity in your church? How? What about in your home and in your work place? Tami

David's Fervor

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Today's reading: Psalm 132:1-18

Psalm 132 is a psalm written after David's life looking back and reminding God of the promises He had made to David, and in so doing, asking God to fulfill them. What I like about this psalm is how it provides us, through a historical perspective, with a look at the loving relationship between King David and God.

What message does Psalm 132 convey about revering God and dedicating our lives to serving Him? What did you notice or learn about God from this psalm? Tami

Healing Power

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Today's reading: Proverbs 12:18

Today is our final day in Proverbs looking at verses about our words before we return to Genesis and the account of Abram and Sarai on Monday. I've enjoyed our short break in Proverbs and trust you've found our time in this Book as beneficial as I have. I am always in need of reminders and instruction on honoring God with the words I choose to speak.

"There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

There are a number of things I like about Proverbs 12:18--the descriptions used and how they immediately bring clear and understandable images to mind, the message conveyed of the power of our words and how they can be harmful or restorative, and lastly, the point that a wise person will choose to offer words (in content and in tone) that bring healing.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being low and 10 being high), where would you rate yourself with regard to using "healing words" in the past week? How can and will you improve this number going forward? Who, in your circle of influence, needs to hear some "healing words" from you? Tami

Ten Second Rule

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Today's reading: Proverbs 29:20

"Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him" (Proverbs 29:20).

Over the years I've learned that, more often than not, taking time to pause before responding to someone is a good practice. This is especially important when the conversation involves a disagreement, discipline or giving counsel or advice. I often refer to this short period of holding back as "the ten second rule." (A good friend refers to her practice of pausing before responding by this name, so this is actually a borrowed phrase.)

Ten seconds may not sound like much time, but it can literally make or break a situation. That brief time where I'm intentional about holding my tongue, allows me to shoot up a prayer to God asking for wisdom, further assess the emotions, demeanor, body language and attitude of the person(s) I'm talking with and gather my thoughts so I can offer my best words to respond.

In what type of situations are you most tempted to be "hasty with your words"? How has holding back and not responding immediately been of benefit to you? Do you utilize something like the ten second rule? Tami

Guard It

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Today's reading: Proverbs 13:3

"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin."

Proverbs 13:3 especially stood out to me this week in light of current events in our country. It's so easy to respond based on our emotions and say whatever we are feeling. But more often than not, our unbridled responses don't serve us well. They hurt other people (many times those who are close to us) and they can paint us in a negative light and damage our witness. Tha's not to say that we can't speak truth or that shouldn't stand up for what we know is truth. But we must seek God's direction and ask Him to help us be wise and discerning as we respond in love.

How do you discern when to hold your tongue and when it's right to speak out? And when you do choose to speak, what helps you guard your words? Is it your practice to pause and pray before responding? Tami

Soft and Gentle

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Today's reading: Proverbs 15:1-2 & 4

Proverbs 15:1-2 and 4 let me know without a doubt that what we say and how we say it are important to God. I was drawn to the appealing picture painted by these words in verse 4, "A gentle tongue is a tree of life..."

How would you explain the wisdom of responding with a "soft answer" and using a "gentle tongue" to someone? What message do these verses reveal about the impact our tone and manner of speech has on those around us? How will you use your tongue to be a "tree of life" today? Tami

Word Power

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Today's reading: Proverbs 18:21

Before turning back to Genesis and the account of Abram and Sarai, we're going to stay in Proverbs one more week focusing on verses that have to do with the most powerful weapon we possess--our tongues. The verse I've selected for today, Proverbs 18:21, is my favorite. I LOVE this verse and turn to it often for the reminder it provides to be intentional about the words I choose and the tone I use to deliver them.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."

There's nothing more enjoyable than receiving words of life from another person--words that compliment, words that convey love, supportive words, words that express kindness, care and empathy. It's amazing how receiving a few encouraging words has the power to change a person's perspective and impact their day. And the benefit is twofold because offering encouraging words to someone, impacts the giver positively too.

Who can and will you encourage with your words today--at home, school, work, on Facebook, as you're out running errands? Will you join with me to offer words of life to those around you this week? Tami

Calm and Quieted

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Today's reading: Psalm 131:1-3

David gives us a look at having a right state of mind in Psalm 131. His focus in these three short verses is on his relationship with God, not on materials things or circumstances or things that he doesn't understand. David is content and secure knowing that God is by his side. I was moved by this Psalm because I could identify with this state of mind that David is describing. Just looking back over the past year, there have been so many times when circumstances have seemed to be swirling around me and out of control, yet because my focus remained on God, my soul was "calm and quieted." Thank you, God, for holding me in Your hands, and caring about every circumstance and detail of my life!

How does knowing that God is with you at all times impact your thinking and attitude? What helps you maintain a mindset of trust in God so that you can be "calm and quieted"? Tami

I Hope

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Today's reading: Psalm 130:1-8

What a beautiful picture of God's offer of forgiveness and the hope that we have for eternity as a result. And, yes, while there is waiting now (verses 5 and 6), knowing that we are forgiven and redeemed allows us to wait eagerly and with expectation of our incredible heavenly future.

What does hoping in God's Word (vs. 5) and hoping in the Lord (vs. 7) mean to you? How do you explain or describe your hope to someone who doesn't know Christ? What about to a believer who is struggling? Tami

Valuable Wisdom

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:13-35

In the second half of Proverbs 3 Solomon turns to wisdom, a subject he was certainly knowledgeable about being the wisest man to ever live (see I Kings 3:1-12). So in verses 13-35, Solomon schools us a bit on wisdom, giving us three different looks at this valuable quality.

  • Look 1: Verses 13-18 lay out before us the value of wisdom--better than gain from silver and gold, more precious than jewels, bringing pleasantness and peace, being a tree of life to her possessors.
  • Look 2: Verses 19-20 highlight God's wisdom from the perspective of His creation.
  • Look 3: Then in verses 21-35 we are given practical instruction on wise living, paired with benefits of living wisely and rightly--life to our soul, helps us walk securely and not be afraid.

What benefits from possessing wisdom stood out to you from Proverbs 3:13-35, and why? What motivation do you draw from knowing that "the wise will inherit honor" (vs. 35)? How are you seeking and pursuing wisdom? Tami

Growing Pains

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:11-12

I doubt I'm alone in saying that I don't particularly enjoy being disciplined. In fact, I try to avoid it. But Proverbs 3:11-12 delivers the message that being disciplined is a necessary part of our living for God.

Because we aren't perfect and never will be this side of heaven, we sin. Sometimes we're blatant about it, intentionally choosing to do things our way. Other times our moving away from God is more subtle, like a wandering or drifting away. In both situations and everything in between, if at some point we don't turn back to God, He will eventually use discipline to get our attention and bring us back in alignment with Him. And even though the experience of being disciplined may not be pleasant, we should be thankful for it because God's discipline is evidence of His great love and care for us. Instead of writing us off like a lost cause, He lovingly uses discipline to teach, protect and guide us, and through it all, our relationship with this wonderfully personal God grows and matures.

In times or seasons of discipline, how do you tend to respond, and why? How have you benefited from God's discipline? What's one example? Tami

Wealth Expanded

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:9-10

Solomon gets right to the point when it comes to handling money and the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Thus the clear and concise directive to honor God with our wealth and with the firstfruits or best of our produce. (Proverbs 3:9).

The first thing that comes to mind when I read the word wealth in this verse is money. But as I took a few minutes to think about my "wealth," I realized that it goes far beyond money to many things that God has given to me. For example, in addition to money, I am "wealthy" when it comes to having:

  • Time,
  • Ideas,
  • Ability,
  • Words,
  • Family,
  • Relationships and
  • Possessions.

Thinking about this expanded view of wealth was good for me today because it provided a perspective adjustment on money, and also served as a good reminder that God desires for us to honor Him in all areas of our good and full lives.

How would you describe your "wealth"? What areas or items would you add to the list above? How are you honoring God with your "wealth"? 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 February 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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