February 2018 Archives

Sacrifices

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 11:1-36

As I read the first two verses of Nehemiah 11, the fact that living for God requires us to move out of our comfort zone and make sacrifices came across loud and clear.

"And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem" (vs. 2).

I like it when my life feels comfortable--when all things are in order, I have a routine, I know what to expect and I have a sense of being in control. (Can you relate?) But what I've discovered over the years is that NOT remaining "comfortable" is a good thing because it's when I move out of my comfort zone that my relationship with God is enhanced on a number of levels. Moving out of this zone of comfort and making sacrifices: heightens my awareness of God; reinforces my reliance on God as provider and director of my life; increases and intensifies my communication with God.

Earlier this week, someone messaged me this wise phrase that really drives home this point. "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone." If we want to live fully for God, sacrifices and making changes and moves have to be a part of the equation of our life.

In what area(s) might God be asking you to make some moves or sacrifices in order to serve Him more fully? Identify one thing (a possession, a habit, an opinion or mindset, a physical location) that if you gave it up (sacrificed it) would benefit your relationship with God and your service to Him. Tami

Mighty God

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Today's reading: Psalm 76:1-12

Psalm 76 is a song of thanksgiving that recognizes and praises God for His strength and power. The psalmist, through his praise, shows us quite a bit about God and the mighty works of protection He has shown to His people by giving them victory over their enemies.

What did you notice or learn about God from this psalm? Is it your practice to thank and praise God for how He goes before and protects you? Tami

All Authority

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Today's reading: Psalm 75:1-10

In Psalm 75, the psalmist recognizes and praises God as being over and above and in control of all things. That message was particularly clear in the words of verse 7:

"But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another."

How often do you give intentional thought to the fact that God is all powerful and has authority over all things? What impact does knowing that God is in control have on your relationship with Him and trust in Him? How does it factor in to your daily life and decisions? Tami

God First

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 10:1-39

Nehemiah 10 provides us with the details of the covenant the Israelites entered into with God. The people commit "to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his rules and his statutes" (vs. 29). A primary emphasis of fulfilling this covenant was giving back to the Lord through a variety of offerings, giving of firstfruits and tithing.

Reading about the details of this covenant was good for me today because it prompted me to do some self-assessing about my own spiritual condition and my actions and words as I follow and serve God. If our goal is to grow spiritually and serve God more fully, it's to our benefit to occasionally pause, do some self-assessing and then take corrective action.

Think about following God fully and giving Him your best offerings and firstfruits. On a perfect day/week/month, what would that look like in your life? In what area(s) do you need to make adjustments so that you are following and serving God to the fullest? Tami

Right With God

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 9:1-38

Nehemiah 9 gives us a glimpse of the Israelites observing a time of fasting and confessing to God. In addition to the humble, submitted posture and approach of the people, I was drawn to the picture of worship that was displayed throughout this chapter. The people set aside a day to come together to recognize God and to confess and spend time in fellowship with Him. The day begins with the reading of God's Law, followed by a time of confessing, worship and a looking back and recalling of God's constant goodness, love and provision, as well as a remembering of the Israelite's history with God through both obedient and disobedient times. The Israelites then conclude this special time with the signing of a covenant in which they pledge to wholeheartedly follow and serve God

How often do you look back and think about how God has walked alongside you through ups and downs, and not abandoned you even when you've been disobedient? Why is it important for us to remember how God has worked in our past, and to have a conversation with Him about it? What stood out to you most about the Israelite's day of confessing and worshipping, and why? Tami

Focused On, Following and Delighting In

Today's reading: Nehemiah 8:13-18

As we finish out Nehemiah 8, God's Word continues to be the central focus of the people. After spending the first gathering day listening as a large group to the reading of God's Law (vs. 1-8), the heads of households then spend the following day, together with the priests and Levites and Ezra, studying the words of the Law. As they dig in to God's written Law, they discover the command God had given Moses to have a Feast of Booths, a celebratory feast that had fallen by the wayside over the years. The people immediately respond by carrying out this Feast. Ezra continues to read God's Law to the people each of the days of the feast, and as the people take in God's Word and carry out His commands for the feast, "there was very great rejoicing" (vs. 17).

What does this passage reveal about the importance of being in and knowing God's Word? What does it show about the joy and delight we can have when we are obedient to follow the instruction we find in the Bible? Tami

Affective Word

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 8:9-12

Yesterday I wrote about how I was motivated and convicted by the scene of Nehemiah 8:1-8--the gathering of all the people to listen to the reading of Scripture for the better part of one day. And that happened to me again today. As I took in verses 9-12, which is a continuation of the powerful opening scenario, we see that the people are greatly moved by hearing and understanding God's Word.

"For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law" (vs. 9).

This verse got me thinking about how I respond to Scripture. There are times when I am moved to tears as I'm taking in God's Word and it washes over me. But there are also times when I struggle to feel connected to God as I read. Why is that? I know that God and His Word are constant and never changing, so that means that the only thing that is different between the two scenarios is me--my attitude as I turn to read, my mood, my mindset, the busyness of my day, where I'm at, if I'm alone, noise levels--you get the picture. Which brings me to the conclusion that if I want to get the most out of my time in God's Word (and I do) then I need to be intentional about preparing myself (emotionally, mentally, physically) so that I can have quality time with God every time I pick up His Word.

How much time or thought do you give to things like setting, location, circumstances, mood, time of day, noise, etc. when it comes to reading your Bible? Why is this important? How can you improve the quality of the time you spend with God in the Bible going forward? Tami

Today's reading: Nehemiah 8:1-8

One of my favorite passages in Nehemiah is Nehemiah 8:1-8 because of how it highlights the importance of God's Word and our need to know and understand it. The picture that came to mind from reading this passage was moving for me--in a motivating way, but also in a convicting way. Ezra stands before all the people (men, women and all who could understand what they heard) and publicly reads God's Law from morning until the middle of the day, and "the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law" (vs. 3). That's almost unheard of in our modern, packed full, self-centered, always on the go culture. Think about it with me. If we were invited to an event where we knew the Bible was going to be read out loud for six or more hours, would we be excited about it and inclined to attend? (This was the convicting part for me.)

Now the motivating part. God is for us, and He gave us His Word so we can know who He is and have a close and intimate relationship with Him. How awesome is it that we don't have to wonder about God and what He desires for our lives? The Bible is the primary way God speaks to us, and through its pages we can hear and understand His heart, His mind, His voice and His absolute love for us. So if we want to know God better, regularly spending time reading, considering and studying the Bible is a must.

How would you describe your attitude or mindset toward God's Word? Are you eager to hear, read and understand it? Why or why not? Will you join me in committing to spend a little more time each day connecting with God through His Word? Tami

Difficult Petitions

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Today's reading: Psalm 74:1-23

When we're in the middle of a difficult situation, our prayers to God can take on a whiney tone in pretty short order (and, yes, I am speaking from experience). So I was thankful for Asaph's example in Psalm 74. As he petitions God for help, he unquestionably lets God know how bad the situation is, yet he doesn't approach God with a complaining attitude or convey his request with a whiney tone. Instead Asaph's approach is one of reverence toward God where he recognizes God for who He is and His power and authority over all. Asaph approaches God respectfully, tells Him all that is going on and asks for His help. He then concludes his prayer with an expectant call for God to take action in defense of His sovereign plan.

How do you approach God when you pray? Is it your practice to recognize God's greatness and praise Him for what He has done as part of your prayers? What's one thing that stood out to you from Asaph's prayer, and why? Tami

Until

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Today's reading: Psalm 73:1-28

If you asked me to describe Psalm 72 in a word or two, what comes to my mind is "grounding" because of how candid Asaph is as he writes about his very human thoughts and emotions. Right from the start, I'm drawn in because Asaph describes a familiar scenario.

We've all been there from time to time. We look around and people are doing wrong things yet they're prospering financially and socially. So our minds go to questioning our right choices for living--UNTIL--we give some intentional thought to the situation and draw on what we know is true from God's Word. That's what we see with Asaph in verses 16-17. "But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end." And only a few verses later, we see a change of perspective after Asaph has had some refocusing time with God.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (vs. 25-26).

How did Asaph's candid words impact you today? What helps you stay focused on God and His truth in a world that isn't always fair and doesn't live by God's standards? Tami

More Work

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 7:5-73

After the completion of the rebuilding of the wall and its gates, God prompts and then guides Nehemiah to continue his efforts of helping Jerusalem. As a result, Nehemiah turns his attention to the ongoing upkeep and care of the city and the need to grow the population of Jerusalem. He does this by the compiling of a census. At first read, taking a census may not seem too important or exciting, but it would have had quite a positive impact.

First, the taking of the census would have required the people to physically come back to Jerusalem, and once there, many people would have been inclined to stay or make a permanent move back. Additionally, as the people arrive and start gathering in the city, it would have created energy and excitement. I can totally imagine the joyful reconnecting of relatives and friends and how this would have served to unify the people and help families reorganize. And finally, the census would have been a powerful reminder to the people of their roots and historical past, and even more importantly, their spiritual history and foundation.

What does this account reveal about the value of community and gathering together? How often do you take time to think about your past--both historical and spiritual? Why is this important and how is it beneficial? Tami

Give It Away

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 7:1-4

Good leaders know they can't do it all. They understand that leading well requires them to give away some of their responsibilities to others. It makes better use of time, skills and talent (of the leader and the one receiving the new responsibility), and the giving away of duties and the responsibilities that come with them is one of the best ways to teach and develop new leaders.

"I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many" (vs. 2).

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank yourself when it comes to delegating responsibilities and tasks? If you're not in the high numbers (8 and above), what is it that is holding you back? What's one thing you can do TODAY to take a step forward in this area (start small)? Why is delegating so important in our role as a leader? Tami

Displaying God

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 6:15-19

A determined and focused effort by Nehemiah and the Jews resulted in the wall and its gates being completely rebuilt in only fifty-two days. Quite an impressive accomplishment considering the run-down physical condition of the city, the low emotional state and lack of unity of the people upon Nehemiah's arrival, and the strong and steady opposition that Nehemiah and company combatted throughout the rebuilding process. But it's precisely because of these difficult circumstances and the way in which Nehemiah and the workers responded that God gets the glory. At the end of the day, God's greatness, power and control are recognized by all.

"And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God" (vs. 16).

How much thought do you give to the fact that people are watching and making an assessment about God through ALL of your actions--in the good times, low times, stressful times, trouble-filled times? What's one thing you can/will do this week to display God and His goodness to others? Tami

Refusing to Fear

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 6:1-14

As Nehemiah's rebuilding of the wall continues to progress, Tobiah, Sanballat and Geshem crank up the heat on their efforts to stop the work. The tactic they choose is a powerful one--fear. But Nehemiah isn't fazed. He doesn't allow the positioning, lies and threats to consume his thinking or turn his focus away from serving God and finishing his God-given task.

Refusing to give in to fear can be challenging. We've all experienced it. Something unexpected happens that rocks our world--bad health report, job loss, car accident, financial setback, house fire, divorce, death and the list goes on and on. And when we find ourselves facing one of these situations, our human instinct is to respond in fear. Our propensity is to take action based on our own thinking and power, which is the worst thing we can do. Nehemiah's words in verse 13 capture this well.

"For this purpose he [Shemaiah] was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me."

The good news is that we don't have to fear when we encounter opposition and difficulties of any kind because our sovereign God is with us. He is aware of every detail of our lives, and if we keep our eyes on Him, He will walk with us to guide and bring us through our circumstances.

What did you learn or notice about not giving in to fear from Nehemiah's example? Is it your practice to pray and talk with God about the things and circumstances that cause you to fear? Why is this important? Tami

Leading Generously

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 5:14-19; Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 19:17

One of the qualities of a good leader (and remember, we're all leaders in some manner) is having a heart attitude that is caring and generous towards others. Nehemiah certainly modeled this. No matter what situation he was in, he was intentional about assessing the needs of the people around him and then helping with and providing for those needs as he was able. Nehemiah's generous lifestyle was, without a doubt, pleasing to God.

"Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him" (Proverbs 14:31).

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed" (Proverbs 19:17).

On a scale of 1-10, where would you rank yourself when it comes to being generous (lending a helping hand, offering a listening ear, helping someone financially, etc.)? Why do you choose, or what motivates you, to be generous? How do we benefit when we choose to live and lead generously? Tami

Again and Again

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Today's reading: Psalm 71:1-24

Psalm 71 is yet another song of affliction in which David is seeking God's protection and deliverance. It appears that David wrote this psalm later in life since we see references to old age, gray hairs and still proclaiming God's goodness from his youth (vs. 17-18).

What I like about this psalm is that while it shows us that David has encountered difficulty throughout his entire life (and lets us know that will we too), it also reveals how God has been faithful to David throughout his entire life (and that He will be faithful to us too). This gives David confidence that God will indeed act again, and prompts him to proclaim God's goodness, telling those around him about God's complete protection and provision in the past, and praising Him in the present.

Is it your practice to look back and recall God's faithfulness when you encounter difficulty? How does God's past goodness to you impact you in the present? How can and will you use your current situation to proclaim God's goodness and be a witness to others? Tami

Help Me, Great God!

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Today's reading: Psalm 70:1-5

When we're going through tough times, we can call out to God and ask Him to help, comfort and strengthen us. That's exactly what we see David doing here, but a big part of David's prayer (and I believe his help) is a recognizing and praising of God for His goodness in the middle of his distress.

"May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, 'God is great!'" (vs. 4)

It's so easy to turn our focus inward on ourselves when circumstances aren't the best in our lives. So making sure praising God--regardless of our situation or what we're asking of Him--is important. Praising should be part of each of our prayers because it serves to properly focus us on God rather than fixating on our circumstances.

What do your prayers look like when you're in the middle of trying circumstances? How does praising God when you're hurting positively impact your attitude and thinking? Tami

Today's reading: Nehemiah 5:14-19

When I was growing up one of the things my parents told me often about being a Christian was that, "We need to practice what we preach." And my parents made every effort to live according to that principle. Nehemiah followed this principle too.

In the first part of Nehemiah 5, Nehemiah confronts the officials and leaders for using their position to oppress and take advantage of the people over whom they have authority. So when Nehemiah finds himself in a position to take a daily food allowance at the expense of the people, he refuses to take it. And not only does he choose not to take the allowance, he goes even further. Nehemiah instead chooses to feed 150 men each day from his personal funds. He models--in a huge way--the godly leadership that he called his predecessors to practice.

"Now what was prepared at my expense for each day as one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people" (vs. 18).

Would you say that you "practice what you preach"? What's one example of you doing this from the past week or so? Why is it important for your actions to line up with what you say and assert as a follower of Christ? Does your example make following Jesus attractive to others? Tami

Today's reading: Nehemiah 5:1-13

Nehemiah's primary purpose for returning to Jerusalem is the rebuilding of the wall around the city. And Nehemiah is certainly focused on this task and diligent about completing it. But because Nehemiah is a good leader, he is also attentive to other conditions in Jerusalem that need to be addressed and corrected.

So when he learns of how some of the wealthy and prominent Jews (nobles and officials) are financially oppressing the less fortunate among them, Nehemiah knows he must take action. So he gathers his thoughts and then confronts the offending nobles and officials face-to-face. Not an easy task, but one he does well. When Nehemiah comes before this powerful group of leaders, he is composed and speaks plainly. He presents them with the facts of their unjust behavior and then challenges and directs these men to correct the oppression by halting the charging of interest and returning all property that had been taken to the rightful owners.

God moved the hearts of these powerful men through Nehemiah. They responded, "'We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.'"...'And all the assembly said "Amen" and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised'" (vs. 12-13).

When you're focused on an important task, how attentive are you to other matters that may need addressing? Why is this important as a leader? What helps you avoid "tunnel vision" as you are working for and serving God? What's one lesson you saw or learned about confrontation from today's passage? Tami

About Me

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

About My Blog

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

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2018 is the previous archive.

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