April 2017 Archives

Peace Giver

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Today's reading: Psalm 3:1-8

In Psalm 3, David is literally on the run fleeing from his son Absalom who has seized David's position as king and is now seeking to kill him. But instead of panicking and giving in to fear, David calls out to God, claiming God to be his shield and the lifter of his head. David has no doubt that God is in control, and as a result, he is able to push aside fear, even to the point of sleeping peacefully in the midst of a horrific and dangerous life storm.

"I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves up against me all around" (vs. 5-6).

How and when has God been a "shield" around you and a "lifter" of your head? What's your experience with God giving you peace in difficult times? Is there an area of your life or a specific situation you need to turn over to God today? Tami

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All Powerful

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Today's reading: Psalm 2:1-12

Running throughout Psalm 2 is the prophetic message of the authority and power of Christ, the Messiah, and the opposition of the world to Christ. The first half of this psalm provides for us a good and clear depiction of God being over and in control of all things. The psalm then concludes with the call to serve the Lord with reverence, respect and awe.

What does Psalm 2 show about God's ultimate authority and control? How are you recognizing God and serving and rejoicing in the Lord in your day-to-day living? Tami

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Repeating Back

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Today's reading: Genesis 32:3-21

Immediately after working through the difficulty of permanently parting ways with Laban, Jacob turns toward his homeland only to be faced with the prospect of encountering his long offended brother, Esau. Jacob kindly and humbly (calls Esau "my lord" and refers to himself as Esau's "servant") sends word to Esau of his journey, but his kindness isn't immediately reciprocated. Instead, Jacob receives word that Esau is approaching with an army of 400 men! Jacob is filled with fear, and in this state, he wisely turns to God in prayer.

And what a beautiful example of prayer it is. Jacob humbly approaches God, yet his request and conversation are bold. He pours out his heart, very specifically telling God what he wants and what he fears will happen. But most noteworthy about this dialogue was how Jacob repeats back to God the very promises that God had made to him (see Genesis 29 and 31). God certainly didn't need the reminder, but Jacob did. Why? Because his verbalizing of the promises God had made to him served to strengthen and reinforce Jacob's trust in and relationship with God.

How does repeating back to God promises He's given us in His Word impact your thinking, attitude, mood and/or outlook? What's one promise (verse) from God's Word that you claim and repeat back to Him when you're feeling afraid? What about when you're lonely or sad Tami

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God's Camp

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Today's reading: Genesis 32:1-2

It was my intention this morning for us to read Genesis 32:1-21, but immediately my attention was drawn to verses 1-2 and Jacob's proclamation of "This is God's camp." So today, we're reading and considering just two verses.

I can't say that I've visibly encountered angels of God, but I have had a number of experiences where in a certain place and at a certain time, I got an overwhelming sense of God's presence paired with an unmistakable feeling or impression of affirmation, encouragement and support which conveyed the message "stay the course" and provided me with a needed boost of strength. These "This is God's camp" experiences have prompted me to pause in that moment to recognize God and thank Him for His care, assurance and confirmation.

Take a few minutes today to identify some of your own "This is God's camp" experiences. When has God mightily revealed Himself to you--letting you know that He sees exactly what's taking place and that He is guiding, protecting and walking with you? How did you respond? What impact have these experiences had on you? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 31:17-55

Jacob's track record with Laban has been a bit rocky. He knows how difficult Laban can be and that he's not a man of his word. So when God prompts Jacob to return to his homeland, rather than being upfront with Laban (which Jacob knows is the right way to handle the situation), he gives in to his fears and tricks Laban in order to avoid the uncomfortableness of confronting him. But Jacob's trickery and avoidance only serve to complicate an already tense situation. His deceitfulness prolongs the taking place of the confrontation and fans the flame of Laban's irritation into full-blown and dangerous anger. Thankfully, God intervenes on Jacob's behalf which results in a toned down confrontation where Jacob finally steps up to speak truth and stand up for himself to Laban.

What's one lesson about confrontation you learned or saw from this passage? What other lessons did you observe from this account--about fear, consequences of sin, speaking truth, God's unconditional love? Tami

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Problematic People

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Today's reading: Genesis 31:1-16

Sometimes we find ourselves negatively targeted by others and on the short end of the stick when all we've been doing is doing our best to live rightly for God. I've experienced this a number of times. It's hurtful and it can be difficult to navigate.

As God continues to show His favor to Jacob by enlarging his family and possessions, it irritates Laban and his sons, and verse 2 tells us that "Laban did not regard him [Jacob] with favor as before." So Jacob finds himself in a difficult predicament even though he has done nothing wrong to contribute to the situation. He knows he needs to take action, but rather than simply reacting to the situation based on his feelings and emotions, he listens to God and relies on His leading.

What does this account reveal about encountering difficulties when we choose to live rightly and serve God? How do you tend to respond to problematic people (especially when a difficult situation hasn't been created by you)? When someone treats you unfairly, what helps you respond in a different manner? Tami

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Growing Up

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Today's reading: Genesis 30:25-43

Despite Jacob's rocky beginnings with living rightly, God continues to walk alongside him, guiding, directing and strengthening him. So when we reach Genesis 30:25-43, what a different Jacob we see compared to the foolish and greedy young man we saw in Genesis 25 and 27. Jacob is now a mature and grown up godly man who is ready to break ties with Laban and take care of his own family, workers and possessions.

This chapter caused me to look back over my own life and consider how God has used difficulty, trials, sadness, victories and accomplishments to draw me closer to Him and in so doing, help me grow spiritually. I'm thankful that hindsight is 20/20 because it lets me know that even if I don't understand what's happening in the here and now, I can confidently trust God knowing that He will use it for my ultimate growth and good.

Take a few minutes to look back at the past 10, 20, 30 or more years. How has God worked in your life to draw you closer to Him? What were some key life experiences (good or difficult) that prompted and generated spiritual growth? How were you encouraged by this account? Tami

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Today's reading: Psalm 1:1-6

I love the outdoors and anything to do with nature. So the illustration of a healthy, leafed out tree producing fruit in season absolutely resonated with me. This depiction of something I'm familiar with helped me visualize, and in turn, better understand my dependence on God and His Word (planted by streams of water), and how vibrant and full my Christian walk can be when I'm focused on God and purposeful about spending time in His Word.

Would you describe yourself as a healthy and flourishing tree like the one depicted in Psalm 1? Why or why not? What's the relationship between spending time in God's Word and your spiritual growth and overall spiritual condition? Tami

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Reciprocal Delight

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Today's reading: Psalm 1:1-6

When we choose to make God and His Word what we value and cherish most (delight in his law and meditate on it), God will bless us. In other words, when we choose to bless God by worshipping, honoring, following and serving Him wholeheartedly, God reciprocates (He delights in and blesses us) by showing us His favor-guiding, strengthening, protecting, providing, walking alongside and unconditionally loving us in and through every life circumstance.

What does delighting in God and His Word mean for you personally? How would you describe it to someone? Is it your practice to meditate on Scripture? How is your day-to-day life impacted when you're regularly and consistently spending time in God's Word? Tami

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Toxic Environment

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Today's reading: Genesis 29:30-30:24

Jacob's family life was a mess. As I tried to imagine the environment in his home, the phrase "war zone" came to mind. Conflict, tension, contempt, unrest and a spirit of competitiveness were prevalent all because of Leah's and Rachel's jealousy toward each other. And as time goes on and those jealous feelings are left unaddressed, the situation only gets worse. It's a dysfunctional and toxic environment that results in damage to everyone in the household. And as we'll see later in Genesis with the account of Joseph, the tension and conflict passes on to the children.

No one is immune to having jealous feelings, and those feelings can crop up in an instant. How do you guard against acting on your jealous feelings? What helps you rid your mind of jealous thoughts so that they don't take root? What was the most important lesson about jealousy that you learned from this account? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 29:15-30; Galatians 6:7-8; Job 4:7-8; Proverbs 22:8

After working seven years, motivated by the anticipation of taking Rachel as his bride, Jacob's wedding day finally arrives. But when he awakes the morning after the celebration, he discovers he's been duped. Instead of being given Rachel, Laban has given his older daughter Leah to Jacob to be his wife. As you can imagine, this doesn't sit well with Jacob. He's angry, and confronts Laban about his underhandedness, only to be told that in order to get Rachel he must commit to work another seven years. Ouch!

What immediately came to mind as I read this account is how we reap what we sow (see Galatians 6:7-8, Job 4:7-8 and Proverbs 22:8). Jacob, who had been a manipulator and deceiver with his father and brother years earlier, is now experiencing being on the receiving side of deception firsthand. A hard and hurtful lesson for sure.

How have you experienced reaping what you've sowed--both good and bad? What other lessons did you see or learn from this account? What does Jacob's and Laban's interactions reveal about the wisdom of being cautious and careful in all dealings with people--even family and other Christ-followers? Tami

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Family

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Today's reading: Genesis 29:1-20

When Jacob reaches his final destination of Haron, he is able to locate Laban and his family fairly quickly. At this point, Jacob and Laban had never met. But once the family relationship is confirmed, Laban welcomes and invites Jacob to be part of his family, and Jacob reciprocates by working for his uncle. A win--win situation for both men.

The exchange between Jacob and Laban highlighted for me the importance and beauty of family (blood, adopted, through marriage or friendship), as well as the lifeline that family can be to us in times of difficulty.

How often do you think about the importance of family relationships? Do you actively work to maintain family connections? Would you take some time this week to reach out to your family (whatever your "family" looks like) and let them know that you care for and love them? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 28:10-22

Almost immediately after mistreating and deceiving his father, Isaac and Rebekah send Jacob away to Rebekah's family to help diffuse the volatile situation Jacob's actions had created with Esau. When we reach Genesis 28:10-22 Jacob is alone in the desert with little to no supplies for comfort, and most likely feeling isolated, discouraged and downhearted. But what he's about to discover is that he wasn't alone at all because God was with him and watching over him all along. As he lays down and falls asleep (with a rock for his pillow), God uses a dream to show Jacob that He sees him, that He knows what's taken place and what's going on, that He is in control of the situation and that in spite of Jacob's shortcomings, God has not and will not abandon him. It's a huge encouragement to Jacob who responds by submitting his life to following after God and giving back to Him.

How have you experienced God's presence, encouragement and support in and through difficult times? How did you respond? What did you learn or notice about God from this account? Tami

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Easter Review

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Today's reading: Luke 22:1-24:53

I hope you all had a good Easter weekend, and trust that you benefitted from reading the account of Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, burial and resurrection in Luke.

Before returning to Genesis and the life story of Jacob, we're spending one final day considering what we took in, considered and learned from Luke 22-24. As I read through these chapters, God's love for us was so evident leading up to Jesus' ultimate act of love through crucifixion. Here are some of Jesus' "I love you" actions and words that stood out to me.

  • The caring and tender way Jesus interacts with the disciples in the upper room (Luke 22:14-23).
  • How Jesus telling Peter that Peter will deny Him includes these reassuring words, "when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32).
  • Jesus showing compassion during his arrest by healing the guard's ear (Luke 22:51).
  • The manner in which Jesus bears the hatred and cruel treatment that has come upon Him as He stands before Pilate and Herod and is taken away and handled by the soldiers.
  • Jesus' care and concern for the women who were mourning his imminent crucifixion (Luke 23:28-31).
  • Jesus' interaction with the criminal who asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:43).
  • Jesus' words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

How grateful I am for God's love, and what Jesus willingly did for me.

What did God impress on your heart from Luke 22:1-24:53? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 24:1-53

After Jesus' resurrection he appears to the disciples. At first they're startled and a little fearful, but in typical fashion, Jesus lovingly and caringly through his actions and words, reveals to the disciples their mission going forward. Luke tells us that Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures, and that Jesus put forth this directive: "that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations" (vs. 47). As 21st century Christ-followers, we are subject to that same directive, which means we should be telling people about God's love for them by making Christ known to everyone around us.

Is it your practice to tell people you know and those you encounter about Jesus? What does you making Jesus known look like? I know I ask this often, but it's important--Who do you know that needs to hear about Jesus and His love for them? Will you talk with them this week, because it could change their life forever? Tami

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Alive

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Today's reading: Luke 24:1-12

When the women arrive at the tomb to finish preserving Jesus' body for burial, they're surprised to find it empty. Then shortly after entering the tomb, two angels appear and say to the women, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen" (vs. 5-6). As the angels continue to speak to the women about what Jesus had told them prior to his crucifixion, they remember Jesus' words, and they now understand what had taken place and its significance.

What does knowing that Jesus is risen and alive mean for you personally? When did you first understand the importance and significance of Jesus being our risen and living Savior? Is it your practice to tell others about Jesus' death, burial and resurrection? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 24:13-35

I love the example Jesus provides for us as He comes alongside Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. Jesus' followers don't understand what took place with Jesus just a few days earlier. They're confused, sad and disheartened (just like we are many times when things don't happen as we planned or unexpected hardship or tragedy occurs). So what does Jesus do? He starts by engaging the two men in conversation, asking them questions and listening to their concerns. And as He interacts with them, Jesus is kind and compassionate. But what stood out most to me was Jesus' "let me help you understand" approach. Jesus took extra care with these men, explaining and talking through many things. He gave of His time, even continuing the conversation into dinner to ensure that Cleopas and his friend truly understood the things that had happened to Him and what they had just experienced.

It's an example we should strive to follow. We need to be alert and looking for opportunities to talk with others about God, Jesus and Scripture, particularly other Christians--encouraging them, helping them grow, maybe even moving into a mentor role with them. It's pretty cool when you think about it--Christians helping, supporting and encouraging each other to grow closer to Christ.

Do you look for opportunities to encourage and help others have a better understanding of God's Word? Why is this important? Are you willing to give of your time to help others grow closer to Christ? Tami Tami

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Today's reading: Luke 23:1-56

Two thieves were crucified alongside Jesus. One thief defiantly taunts Jesus about being "the Christ," but the other has a different heart. He reprimands the first thief for his self-centered worldly thinking saying, "'Do you not fear God for you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong'" (Luke 23:40-41). I was struck by this man's understanding of the situation. His words were a powerful reminder to me of God's grace and the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for all of my sin (my "due reward") as he hung and died on the cross.

Take some time today to think about Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. What does Jesus' death and resurrection mean for you personally? Would you thank Him for His sacrifice, and then tell someone else about Jesus and His love for them this weekend? Tami

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Today's reading: Luke 22:39-71

To adequately prepare himself for his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The words "as was his custom" in verse 39 spoke volumes, because they impressed on me not only the importance of prayer, but the importance of regularly talking with God at a regular time and in a regular place.

Do you have an established time and place when you talk with God? Why is this important? How does regularly talking with God impact your mindset and attitude as you go about your day? Tami

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The Grip of Sin

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Today's reading: Luke 22:1-53

With Easter coming this Sunday, we're going to break away from Genesis to read the account of Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, burial and resurrection from the Gospel of Luke in chapters 22-24. There's a lot taking place in each of these three chapters, so each day as you read ask God to reveal something of significance or something new that you haven't noticed before.

Sin and its powerful influence stood out clearly to me from the first few verses of chapter 22. The chief priests and scribes, the highest ranking religious officials whose lives were supposedly dedicated to upholding God's law, are actively seeking to murder Jesus. Then Judas, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, betrays Him to the Jewish leaders in exchange for money.

Today's passage shows us clearly that everyone sins. That being the case, in what areas are you most likely to give in to sin? Why is it important to be aware of this? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 12-27

Over the past few weeks we've read about and considered the lives of Abraham and Isaac, and are now turning to the life of Jacob. But before we delve deeper into the story of Jacob, Laban and Rachel, let's take today to look back and think about some of the life lessons we've seen from Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebekah. Then, we'll spend the remainder of this week looking at passages in the Gospels concerning Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

What was the most significant lesson God impressed on your heart from Abraham's and/or Sarah's life? What about from the lives of Isaac and Rebekah? Tami

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Use Your Breath

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Today's reading: Psalm 150:1-6

An exuberant call for us to praise the Lord is evident from Psalm 150.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" (verse 6).

When you praise the Lord is it exuberant like what we see in Psalm 150? God wants us to praise Him fully, so what can you do to take your praise to another level this week? Tami

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Fresh Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 149:1-9

The clear instruction in Psalm 149 is to sing a "new song" to the Lord, which communicates to me that we need to be fresh and creative with our praise. In other words, the words we use to praise God and even the manner in which we praise shouldn't always be the same routine.

Think about your normal routine when it comes to praising God. What can you do to praise God in a fresh and different way this weekend? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 28:1-9

Even though Isaac's heart is broken over the episode with Jacob and Esau, he continues to push forward to do what he knows is right in a hard situation. He calls Jacob in and then sends him away to Rebekah's brother, Laban, with instructions to find his wife among relatives rather than to marry a Canaanite woman. And Jacob, likewise, does what he knows is right in this awkward and difficult situation. He heeds his father's instruction, obediently leaving all he's known behind him to travel to Paddan-aram to start a new and very different life for himself.

Esau, on the other hand, doesn't respond well. He can't let go of the hurt he's feeling, and lets his anger dictate his actions. He knows that Isaac and Rebekah do not want their daughter-in laws to be Canaanite. So he deliberately chooses a wife from the clan of Ishmael to defy and inflict a hurtful blow on his parents.

What helps you do what you know is the right thing--even when you've been wronged, hurt or disappointed? How have anger, resentment, hurt or similar emotions influenced past choices, and with what result? What lessons on parenting did you see from this passage? Tami

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Family Matters

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Today's reading: Genesis 27:1-46; James 2:1; Proverbs 28:21

Because the story captured in Genesis 27 is such a rich one, we're going to spend one more day there, this time focusing on family matters and relationships. There are no perfect people, which means that every family will have relationship difficulties from time to time. But what we see taking place between Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27 goes well beyond everyday difficulties, to full-blown dysfunction. Isaac and Rebekah were not on the same page regarding their sons, and specifically what would take place in their futures. Isaac favored Esau, and Jacob was clearly Rebekah's favorite. And the disunity between parents was evident and filtered down to the two brothers, so much so that their relationship was unhealthy and adversarial.

What stood out to you about family and relationships from this account and why? What does Genesis 27 reveal about the dangers and consequences of playing favorites and treating people differently, especially within family circles? What helps you resist the urge to show partiality between your children, employees or co-workers, extended family members, friends and/or church members? Tami

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Wicked Web

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Today's reading: Genesis 27:1-; Proverbs 12:22

Rebekah and Jacob working together to deceive Isaac and steal Esau's birthright is truly a sad event with far reaching consequences. There's a lot going on in this account and most of it is sinful. This chapter is quite revealing about family and relationship problems (between Isaac and Rebekah, between Jacob and Esau, and between both sons and their parents), but even more revealing about the sin problems of deception, lying and stealing.

The well-known quote, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive" immediately came to mind as I read this account. Nothing good ever comes from lying, as one lie leads to another and another. It' s a slippery, sinful slope that not only hurts many parties but is offensive to God.

"Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight" (Proverbs 12:22).

When or in what type of situations are you most tempted to lie? What helps you stay the course with regard to telling the truth and being honest when you're human nature pulls you toward lying? What lesson(s) about lying did you notice or learn from this account? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 26:15-34

God blesses Isaac and Rebekah as they live in the country of Gerar. And as God continues to show Isaac favor, Isaac keeps his focus on following and serving God in and through all circumstances.

As I read Genesis 26:15-34, I was struck how the things of the world (money, power, possessions, conflict) didn't seem to tempt or impact Isaac. He's wealthy, but he isn't consumed with seeking after and acquiring more money. He's powerful, yet he isn't power hungry. He's treated unfairly by Abimelech asking him to leave, but he doesn't lash out or seek any sort of revenge. He's wronged by Abimelech's men, yet instead of fighting back and creating tension over wells, he chooses to move on to another spot. Isaac's actions and words in this passage put before us a picture of someone who has chosen to rely fully on God and because of this reliance, he is content to grow and thrive exactly where God has placed him. "Thank you, God, for the reminder that relying on You, no matter our circumstances, is always the best choice."

How are you relying on God right now, in your current circumstances? What did you learn from this account about being content and thriving in your present situation? Tami

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Forgiving God

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Today's reading: Genesis 26:12-14

Isaac wasn't perfect. Neither was his father, Abraham, before him. But God doesn't ask us for perfection (which is unattainable this side of heaven, by the way). He asks us to obediently follow and serve Him. And when we do this, even though there will be bumps along the way (because, remember, we're not perfect), God will shower His blessings on us in many different ways--watching over us, protecting and guiding us, giving us joy, providing for our needs.

I couldn't help but smile as I read our three verses for today which show a God who loves us and doesn't hold back forgiveness when we seek it. We aren't privy to the details of the exchange between Isaac and God, but God forgave Isaac for lying about Rebekah, and the relationship between Isaac and God grew even stronger as a result.

What are some of the ways God has blessed you as you've followed him (bumps and all)? When you ask God for forgiveness, how does it impact you? How does it impact your relationship with God? Tami

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Hand-On

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Today's reading: Psalm 147:1-11

As I read through Psalm 147 I couldn't help but notice how God is all about the details. In fact, I'd say His management style is "hands-on" God is truly up close and personal. So much so that He heals our broken hearts, binds up our wounds (verse 3) and takes pleasure in us when we recognize Him for who He is and hope in His steadfast love (verse 11).

How have you seen God in the details of your life this week, this month, this year? What does verse 3 ("He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.") mean for you personally today? Tami

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Trustworthy God

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Today's reading: Psalm 146:1-10

After the psalmist declares his praise of God, he then issues the instruction not to place our trust in man. I suppose he could have ended his song right there, but he doesn't. Instead, the psalmist spends the remainder of his song showing us the extreme contrast between mortal man and our sovereign and trustworthy God.

How have you experienced God's trustworthiness? If someone asked you why you trust God, how would you respond? What would you say to them? Tami

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About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

About My Blog

I'm passionate about engaging God's Word! And my blog is about just that--giving you opportunities to receive, reflect on and respond to Scripture. Each day you'll find a short passage as well as thoughts, challenges and application questions for you to think about and respond to. I look forward to interacting with you and learning together, so post comments as often as you'd like. You can even sign up to get the blogs delivered to your inbox each day!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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