June 2017 Archives

Not Our Own

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

After addressing a specific situation of sexual immorality within the church in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul returns to this problem in 1 Corinthians 6, but now on a more general level. His message remains the same--avoid sexual sin--but with the added active and personal instruction to "flee from sexual immorality." (vs. 18). He then drives the importance of this point home by reminding us that we were created by and for God and how as followers of Christ, God is residing within us.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (vs. 19-20).

How much thought do you give to honoring God with your body (staying away from sexual sin, keeping your body physically fit, eating healthy, dressing modestly)? Why is this important? How would you explain the importance of honoring and/or glorifying God with your body to someone who is a new follower of Christ? Tami

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Work It Out

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11; Proverbs 18:19

Paul continues relaying a message of unity as we turn to 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 where he condemns and warns against followers of Christ engaging other believers in litigation, especially when it comes to a matter that is minor. His instruction is clear--avoid it if possible.

What's your approach to resolving conflict when the offending party is a Christian? What are the benefits of avoiding lawsuits, both spiritually and practically speaking? What damage can litigation between Christ-followers bring about? Tami

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Strong Message

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

As the church in Corinth grows, it encounters and has to deal with worldly problems--one of them being sexual immorality. So as we come to 1 Corinthians 5, we see Paul delivering a strong rebuking message to the church body for their overlooking and excusing of immoral sexual activity that has been taking place within the body of believers. Paul starts his message by emphatically reminding the Corinthians about sexual sin. He admonishes them for excusing and even condoning such sinful activity within the church and then warns them about the dangerous impact unchecked sin can have on the entire body of believers.

What do Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 5 reveal about God's view of sexual immorality? Why is it important to address sinful behavior (of any kind) within the church body? Tami

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Imitators

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21

Throughout 1 Corinthians 4 Paul conveys what being a minister of the Gospel message looks like and entails to the believers in Corinth--being teachers, stewards, servants, trustworthy, held in disregard, poor, etc. What he describes is not a particularly easy road. Then Paul reminds the Corinthians of his special relationship with them (a spiritual father in that he introduced them to Jesus), and urges them to be imitators of him as they live for Christ.

How would you describe being a disciple of Christ to a new believer? What does being a disciple look like in your day-to-day life? Tami

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

One of the driving factors behind Paul's letter to the Corinthians is to respond to criticism and personal attacks from the believers at Corinth against Paul and some of the other disciples. So as we come to 1 Corinthians 4, what we see front and center, is Paul defending himself as a preacher and teacher for God. One of the criticisms that has been levied against him is that he isn't particularly grand in appearance or eloquent in his speech when compared to other orators of the day. Paul knocks out this complaint right away in verses 1 and 2, by putting forth the proper picture and mindset for those who are committed to following God. The message is a straight forward one--once we become a follower (a disciple) of Christ, we are simply servants and stewards of God's message of love and salvation.

Do you think of yourself as a steward of God's message of love and salvation? What motivation do you draw from knowing that as a follower of Christ, God has entrusted you with keeping and delivering the life-giving message of salvation? Would you say that you are a faithful steward? Tami

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Loving Thanks

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Today's reading: Psalm 18:1-50

David pours out love and gratitude to God in Psalm 18, but he doesn't just say "I love You." He goes further, telling God some of the reasons why he loves Him so much. I was drawn to the way David remembers and then describes, quite specifically, the ways in which God has protected, provided and responded to him. Thank you, David, for showing us such a meaningful way to spend time telling God how much we love Him and what He means to us!

Take a few minutes to recall a time or situation when God was your rock and refuge. Write down (like David did here) some of the specifics of that situation and how God provided, answered and sustained you. Then pray. Tell God how much you love Him, and thank Him for things you just recalled and wrote out. Tami

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Purposeful

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Today's reading: Psalm 17:1-15

As David looks to God and asks for His protection, he declares and reminds God about his right heart and actions. What stood out to me was how David's righteous living was intentional. It didn't just happen. It was the result of David choosing and then purposefully putting into action his choice to live completely for God (vs. 3, 4 and 5 "I have purposed," "I have avoided" and "my steps have held fast").

How intentional or purposeful would you say that you are when it comes to living for God? Do you start your day with a plan or strategy for right living? How does recalling your right thoughts and actions help you stay the course as you move forward? Tami

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Paul turns back to the issue of divisions within the church in 1 Corinthians 3. This time around, however, he goes deeper and expands on this problem by setting out how we are all God's servants and fellow workers, and how we're designed to function in different roles within the Body of Christ. Verses 5-9 were key and conveyed much to me. The example of planting and watering was easy to understand and made a lot of sense since I am an active gardener and also grew up in a farming community. Paul makes it clear that although each of us have different roles, we are all working together for God, and He is the purpose and power behind all that we do.

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (vs. 6-7).

Do you see yourself as being a coworker or in partnership with other believers? In what area(s) has God gifted you? How are you using your gifting to complement and fulfill the needs within your local church? Tami

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

As followers of Christ, we're charged with the job of sharing the Gospel message. So how do we do this? And what should our sharing the message of Christ crucified sound and look like? Because it's such an important task, it must be difficult and complicated--right? Actually, it's not. Sharing the Gospel message simply requires us to be faithful in talking with and telling others about Jesus using plain and simple language.

I love the words and example of Paul that we see in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 as he talks to those in Corinth about his proclaiming Christ crucified to them. He makes the point that things like lofty speech or a glitzy or polished presentation aren't necessary when it comes to proclaiming Christ. The Gospel message itself is powerful, perfect and pure. We just need to convey it using common and ordinary words. And what we often forget is that when we're faithful to talk about Jesus with others, we're not on our own. The Holy Spirit will guide us and supply us with the right words and approach for every situation.

Is it your practice to talk with others about Jesus and salvation? If not, what's holding you back? What encouragement do you draw from knowing that Holy Spirit will guide and direct your words? Spend some time today thinking about how you can use plain words and explanations to tell others about Jesus' love and their need for a relationship with Him. Then-start talking and telling. We can do this!! Tami

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Greatest Work

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

As we finish out 1 Corinthians 1, Paul turns our attention to God's wisdom and power, and highlights how God's thinking and ways are so unlike ours. He isn't focused on or assigning value to us based on our outward appearance, our financial status, our intelligence or the things we've accomplished in the world. Instead, it pleases Him to use all people, and especially those that the world would label as weak, low and of little value, to do His greatest work. Thank you, God, for loving and using us for Your purposes exactly as we are!!

What did this passage reveal to you about God? What encouragement do you draw from the fact that God excels at using ordinary people to do His greatest work? Tami

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Unified

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Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Because we're human, disagreements happen in every area of our lives--even within the Church. And as unpleasant as disagreements can be, there are times when conflict is a good and necessary thing--when we're confronting false teaching or delivering words of correction, for example. But more often than not, disagreement and division between believers arises as a result of personal preferences and choices. When this happens it's not good on a number of fronts. The proper functioning of the body of Christ is hindered. Feelings get hurt, relationships are damaged and we're pulled us off course from the objective of spreading the Gospel and modeling Christ to those around us.

After reading this passage, how should we respond to disagreements and divisions when they arise within the body of Christ? Why is unity among believers so important? Tami

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

After spending the last several weeks in the Old Testament Book of Genesis reading through and considering the life story of Joseph, we're now turning to the New Testament to work our way through some teaching by the apostle Paul in the Book of 1 Corinthians. This Book is filled with instruction relevant for our lives right now. So thank you for being part of Powered by 4 and joining me on this daily Bible engaging journey.

Before Paul jumps into the instructive portion of his first letter to the church at Corinth, he is intentional about encouraging this fledgling group of believers. He conveys his affection and care for them, letting them know that he is thankful for them and that he regularly lifts them up in prayer.

Is it your practice to thank God for your brothers and sisters in Christ and to regularly pray for them? When you pray for someone, do you let them know? How does it impact you when someone lets you know that they're praying for you and that they are thankful for your friendship? Tami

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Today's reading: Psalm 16:1-11

The Christian life is all about choices. Our first and most important choice is to receive Christ as our Savior. But after that initial life changing decision, we are then faced with the daily (actually moment by moment) choice to follow and serve God fully. Psalm 16:5 was a nice reminder about the importance of being intentional about starting our day focused on God and His Word, and then living out the rest of the day for Him.

"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot."

Would you say you're intentional about choosing to follow and serve God daily? How would you explain or describe "the Lord being your chosen portion" to someone who doesn't yet have a personal relationship with Christ? Tami

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Today's reading: Psalm 15:1-5

As David answers the question of who will go to heaven, he provides us with a description of how to live as a godly and upright person in the here and now. He then concludes with the strong and encouraging message that such a person can stand firm in the present knowing that his future is secure.

What action(s) were you encouraged to take after reading Psalm 15? Knowing that we are not capable of being sinless, how would you describe "walking blamelessly" to someone? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 37-50

Well, it's hard to believe that we're finished with Genesis and Joseph. I trust that you picked up some good and helpful lessons from this rich life account. On Monday, we'll be turning to the New Testament Book of 1 Corinthians, but before we move on, let's take today to think back over what we've read and recall some of the lessons we've learned through Joseph's story in Genesis 37-50.

The primary lesson that God impressed on my heart over and over through Joseph's life story was how I need to do what I know is right regardless of the circumstances in which I find myself and/or how other people will respond. Joseph modeled this incredibly. I was encouraged by his unwavering commitment to follow and serve God in and through every situation. Thank you, God, for using Joseph's story to give me a dose of encouragement and direction!

What did God show you through the story of Joseph? What's the most significant lesson you learned, and how will you put it into practice? Tami

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Letting Go

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Today's reading: Genesis 50:15-26; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:9

Have you ever noticed how our minds are adept at recording and then recalling negative actions--either things that are done to us or acts that we have committed against others? Our brains seem to be wired NOT to forget. In times of danger, that can be a good thing because our remembering kicks in to protect us. But when it comes to confessed sin, remembering can be problematic when we choose to dwell on the past action and entertain feelings of guilt that often resurface with the memory. Responding in this manner is not healthy or productive, nor is it Biblical. But...it's exactly where Satan loves for us to go because it pulls us off course from following God, and can lead us right back into sin.

After Jacob's death, Joseph's brothers give in to their past sinful memories and the accompanying feelings of guilt that flood their minds, and the result isn't pretty. They conspire together to lie to Joseph in an effort to protect themselves. Thankfully, Joseph reassures them that he is not vengeful and that he has forgiven them, and then proclaims that God was working in and through the situation for good.

Do you have difficulty letting go and believing your sins are forgiven after you ask for forgiveness? What helps you push aside feelings of guilt when you're reminded of past sinful choices and actions? What encouragement do you draw from Psalm 103:12 and 1 John 1:9? Tami

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With Others

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Today's reading: Genesis 50:1-14; Romans 12:15

After Jacob delivers his parting words to each of his sons, he passes away. Joseph is brokenhearted and openly weeps over the death of his father. Over the next several months the grieving process continues, concluding with the burial of Jacob in the cave of the field at Machpelah located in Canaan.

Adjusting to the loss of Jacob was difficult for Joseph. But thankfully, he didn't have to walk through the grief process alone. He had a good amount of support, from his natural family but especially from his Egyptian friends and co-workers. What a comfort it must have been for Joseph when the "servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, all the elders of the land of Egypt, the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household" (vs. 7-8) came alongside to walk and join with Joseph during this difficult time.

Who, in your circle of friends or family could you encourage by being attentive to their needs (coming alongside to rejoice or weep with them)? Why is having another person join us as we're experiencing life's ups and downs so important and helpful? Tami

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Last Lessons

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Today's reading: Genesis 49:1-33

Genesis 49 is a key scripture passage in that it lays out the foundation of the twelve tribes of Israel and is filled with prophecy that will come to fruition throughout the rest of the Bible. In this chapter we see Jacob's last words to his family. His insightful and powerful messages are unique to each of the specific sons, addressing past actions and consequences and then providing vision and direction for what was to come.

But in addition to the specific instruction to each son, the overall experience also served to provide the sons (and now us) with lessons on parenting and leadership. One of the prominent lessons I noticed was how Jacob wisely orchestrated and then used this final gathering for the benefit of his whole family. Instead of individually summoning and addressing his sons, which would have provided lessons and instructions to each son privately, Jacob calls an open session family meeting. This is important because as he then speaks candidly with each of his sons, the others also get the benefit of hearing about, and in turn learning from, their brothers' mistakes and sins and the resulting consequences.

What lesson(s) about parenting and/or leadership stood out to you from Genesis 49, and why? What do Jacob's words to his sons reveal about our choices and resulting consequences? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob is an old man by the time he is reunited with Joseph in Egypt, and as we reach Genesis 48 Jacob's time on earth is coming to an end. As he is on his deathbed, Joseph visits his father and brings his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, with him. It's a sweet and intimate family time in which, despite being weak, Jacob makes sure that God and His love, goodness and promises are front and center in this interaction with Joseph and his sons.

Reading this account, brought to mind memories of both of my parents and how they remained steadfast in proclaiming God's love and goodness in their final few months on earth. My dad was especially verbal in this regard. One of my favorite memories from his last weeks was taking him for a radiation treatment, and then hearing him immediately engage the nurse in a conversation about God and salvation. The particular incidence I'm recalling went like this. After saying hello to the nurse and her asking his name and a couple of details, I heard my dad say (from across the room and behind the treatment room curtain), "I have an important question for you. Do you know Jesus?" The approach was certainly bold, but it opened the door for him to have an in depth conversation with this woman about God, His love for her and her need for a Savior. You see, my dad knew his time was limited and he was determined to make the most of every moment for God.

None of us know when we'll draw our last breath. That being the case, how are you making the most of the time you have on earth for God? What does you being a bold witness look like--at home with your family, at work, at school, with your friends or neighbors? Tami

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Savior Needed

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Today's reading: Psalm 14:1-7

If I didn't know better, I could think that David was living in the 21st century when he wrote Psalm 14. Why? Because what David is describing is pretty much the ungodly thinking that is rampant in the world we're living in right now. That being the case, David's words serve as a good reminder that there are lost people who are in desperate need of a saving relationship with Christ all around us.

How bold are you when it comes to letting the world around you know that there is a God who loves and cares for them? Who do you know that needs a relationship with Jesus? Will you introduce them to Him this week? Tami

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Long in Trust

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Today's reading: Psalm 13:1-6

Have you ever asked God "How long?" or "God, do you see what I'm going through?" or said to Him "This situation feels like it's killing me. Where are You?" I certainly have, and what I've found is that the best way for me to get through difficult times is to follow David's example of looking back and recalling how God has worked wonders in my life and provided for me over and over again. This gives me the strength to then say to God "I love You. I trust You, and I will wait for You."

How has God "dealt bountifully" with you in the past? Will you join me in telling God how much you trust Him with your circumstances today? Tami

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Business Saavy

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Today's reading: Genesis 47:13-31

Joseph was a gifted leader, both for his family and for Pharaoh. As we finish out Genesis 47, the famine has hit head on and the people of Egypt turn to Joseph again and again as a matter of survival. The situation across the countryside is dire, but Joseph's earlier planning and preparation serves to save his family and preserve and protect Pharaoh and the entire population of Egypt.

Joseph was wise in the area of conducting business. He had what I'd call business savvy. He was able to assess a situation, determine the best course of action and then implement it. And through it all, he was caring, respectful and loyal on all levels. Joseph was a good steward with regard to Pharaoh and his possessions, while at the same time stewarding and overseeing the lives and well-being of the citizens of Egypt in and through this horrific crisis of famine.

Is it your practice to seek God's direction in business matters? Why is this as important as seeking God in personal matters? What does Joseph's example show us about how we should operate in business matters as followers of Christ? Tami

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In Reverse

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:28-47:12

From the time Joseph was sold into slavery until he was reunited with his family in Egypt over 20 years later, his life was filled with trials and difficulty. Joseph couldn't see at the time (looking forward) what God was doing through his life circumstances. But when we reach Genesis 46 and 47, we can see clearly, and so could Joseph (in reverse), how God used every difficulty for Joseph's and his families ultimate good.

Testing, trials and difficulty are all part of God's plan for our lives. They're necessary. I know this, yet I struggle with it because I'd rather be given the easy road. But if I'm honest, if God had simply given me the easy road, I wouldn't be where I'm at spiritually today. I can say without a doubt as I look back over my life, that the most beneficial times of learning and growing were the direct result of periods of trial and affliction. I'm able to see clearly (in reverse) how God used those difficult times to move me out of certain situations (physically, emotionally and spiritually), to provide me with an experience that I would need in order to help me or someone else in the future, and to draw me deeper into His Word and closer to Him.

How does seeing in reverse that God used a trial for your overall good, help you cope when you encounter another difficult situation or season? How has a past trial or difficulty led to your spiritual growth? What impact has Joseph's story had on your perspective about trials and hardships? Tami

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Letting Down

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:28-34

One of things I find attractive about Joseph's example is his authenticity when interacting with those around him. We see this throughout his life, but it's especially observable when his brothers and family arrive in Egypt. Joseph was ruling over and running Egypt, yet he wasn't fixated on or consumed with his status and maintaining appearances. Although he initially hides his identity from his brothers (something I believe was quite uncomfortable for him), once Joseph is able to determine the state of things with his family, he lets down his guard. He is incredibly real and transparent with his brothers and Jacob, as well as with his Egyptian colleagues and Pharaoh ("and he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it." (Gen. 45:2); "Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them." (Gen. 45:14-15); "[Joseph] presented himself to [Jacob] and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while." (Gen. 46:29)).

Do you struggle with letting those who are close to you know how you are truly feeling? If so, why? How does letting down our guard and being genuine with our family and friends foster relationships? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:1-27

After adjusting to the shocking news that Joseph is alive and is ruling over Egypt, Jacob gathers together all of his family and possessions and starts the journey to Egypt. On the way, he stops and offers sacrifices to God at Beersheba, and as God had done several times before, He responds to Israel (Jacob) through a dream. You see, God knows that even though Israel is eager to see Joseph, he is still feeling unsettled and fearful about moving his family and possessions to Egypt. So in response to Israel's worship, God lovingly reassures him about the move by telling him not to be afraid, reaffirming His prior promise of making Jacob into a great nation, and then telling Israel that He would be with him up and until he takes his final breath.

What stood out to you most about God from this passage, and why? How has God shown himself to be a loving Father to you? Tami

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Today's reading: Genesis 45:16-28

The life story of Joseph is primarily focused on accounts involving Joseph and his immediate family. But God has also included in his recorded story some key interactions with other people, one of those being in Genesis 45:16-28. In this passage we get a more in-depth look at the relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh, and from it we can draw some helpful lessons in the area of working relationships outside of the family (employer/employee, owner/worker, teacher/student, etc.).

Pharaoh respected and liked Joseph. We even pick up a sense of friendship between these two men from the text. And although we're not privy to all of the details, I believe we can infer that the healthy and pleasant state of this relationship was largely due to Joseph being a consistently good, wise and diligent worker. So when Joseph's family comes into the picture, Pharaoh embraces them like he has Joseph. He's welcoming and extremely generous toward them, providing for them and offering to give them the choicest land in Egypt. The interactions between Pharaoh and Joseph truly provide us with a picture of what a healthy working relationship can look like from both sides of the equation.

What stood out to you about working relationships from the interaction between Pharaoh and Joseph in this chapter? What's one thing from this account that you can use to strengthen and improve your current working relationships? Tami

Pure Words

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Today's reading: Psalm 12:1-8

In Psalm 12, David is asking God for help and relief because he and those around him are surrounded by wicked, untrustworthy people. The situation sounds bleak. But then, right in the middle of these dark verses, we see this bold message of hope.

"The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever" (vs.6-7).

What does this Psalm reveal about God and His Word? What's your response to verses 6 and 7? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 11:1-7

When bad things happen to us or there are wrongs taking place around us that just don't make sense, there's a temptation to question and doubt God, and turn away to follow our own thinking. That's what we see with David at the beginning of Psalm 11:1-3. But David is able to push this temptation aside by proclaiming what he knows is true of God (verses 4-7).

How does stating what you know is true about God (verbally, through journaling, reading scripture passages aloud) help you push aside the temptation to doubt God and take matters into your own hands? What encouragement do you draw from verses 4-7? Tami

But God

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Today's reading: Genesis 45:1-15

When Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers, they are stunned. In fact, verse 3 says "his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence." I can only imagine the myriad of thoughts and emotions that had to have been running through their minds, first and foremost, being concerned about whether Joseph was going to take revenge on them for what they had done to him years earlier.

But Joseph isn't interested in retaliating or seeking revenge. He recognizes that God has been in control and with him at all times, and that what has taken place--the bad, the ugly and the good--happened for a reason. Twice Joseph tells his brothers that it was God who sent him to Egypt for the specific purpose of preserving the lives of his brothers and family (vs. 5 and 7), explaining further "So it was not you who sent me here, but God" (vs. 8).

I love reading through this portion of Joseph's story. What an amazing picture of what it looks like to be fully submitted to and trusting in God. Thank you, God, for showing us Your goodness, and that You have a plan and a purpose for all we experience!

What have you learned or noticed about God and His ways from the life story of Joseph to date? Do you find it difficult to fully submit to and trust God when you encounter a hard situation? How will you draw on Joseph's story to help you in this area going forward? Tami

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Changed Man

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Today's reading: Genesis 44:14-34

A large portion of Genesis 44 focuses on Judah, and what a different person we see here than what we first saw of him earlier in Genesis when he joined with his brothers against Joseph. Now with the clock fast forwarded twenty years, the fact that God has worked in Judah's life is evident from the picture we see of a mature and responsible man. Here are some of the things I noticed about Judah:

  • He had developed into a man of his word. He told his father he would take responsibility for Benjamin, and he did, even at the expense of his own well-being.
  • He no longer allowed his emotions and jealousy to dictate his thinking and actions. There was no evidence of jealousy toward Benjamin even though Jacob clearly favored him as he did Joseph.
  • Judah's primary concern was Jacob's well-being. He wanted to protect and please Jacob.
  • The overall good of his family was of utmost importance to Judah.
  • Judah courageously stepped up to engage Joseph, facing the troubling situation concerning Benjamin head on. And, he was willing to take responsibility for something he did not do in order to protect his youngest brother.

Think back over the past few years. In what areas and/or ways have you changed and developed? Now look back ten or even twenty years. How has God used and worked through your life experiences, both good and bad, to shape, grow and develop you? 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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This page is an archive of entries from June 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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