April 2018 Archives

Wise Planning

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Today's reading: Esther 5:1-8

After accepting the charge from Mordecai to approach the king about his deadly edict, Esther did some planning. She thought through and considered the situation before her, and the result was a God-directed plan that saved the Jews from annihilation.

Esther's God-directed plan begins to unfold in verses 1-8, and although we only see a small portion of it at this point, there are a number of lessons and examples for us to draw on in these verses. Two wise actions that drew my attention were:

  • Esther didn't waste time in hesitation. Once her time of fasting was complete, she took immediate action with her plan; and
  • Esther kept her cool. In the middle of a tense and highly charged situation, Esther kept her emotions to in check. No drama.

What's one wise action that stood out to you (that Esther did or perhaps refrained from doing) in this touchy and dangerous situation? What did Esther's example reveal about the wisdom of planning when we find ourselves needing to navigate a difficult situation? Tami

About God

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Today's reading: Psalm 90:1-17

In addition to providing us with an example of how to approach God in prayer, Psalm 90 is also rich with information about God and our relationship with Him. So today, let's read through and consider Moses' words in this prayerful song one more time, being intentional to look for details and information we can learn about God. Ask God to show you something new this time through, and then take your time reading each verse.

What are some of the things you noticed or learned about God from Moses' prayer? What one detail, specific phrase or verse drew your attention most, and why? Tami

Prayer Structure

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Today's reading: Psalm 90:1-17

Psalm 90 is a prayer by Moses, a man who had an exceptionally personal and close relationship with God. What a privilege it is to see an example of how this great and godly man approached God in prayer. One of the things I notice right away is how in the first half of this prayer, Moses is recognizing God for who He is--all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, not bound by human time and present at all times. It's only after telling God what Moses knows about Him that Moses then turns to his requests--asking God to satisfy the people with His constant and steadfast love, to make them rejoice and be glad, to let His favor be upon them and to establish the work of their hands.

How does telling God what you know about Him help you get perspective? What impact does praising God as you start your prayers have on your attitude, and ultimately how and what you communicate with God? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Yesterday we looked at and considered Mordecai's thinking and actions in a crisis situation. But Esther 4 also gives us a look at how Esther processed and responded when she learned about the king's edict.

When Esther hears about the king's order, she immediately considers the facts--that Ahasuerus has issued a deadly edict and that there is a law in place that prohibits her from approaching the king. She then comes to the "human" conclusion that there isn't anything she can do in this situation. But Mordecai knows that God is in control and believes that Esther can impact the situation. So he boldly sends back the thought-provoking and challenging message that perhaps God has placed Esther in the palace for "such a time as this." Mordecai's message causes Esther to reassess the situation. With a changed perspective and her eyes on God, she steps up to take what action she can in this crisis situation.

What does the relationship between Mordecai and Esther demonstrate about the importance of having close relationships with other believers? How have you been helped by a Christian support system--mentors, friends, prayer partners, Bible study group--when you've gone through trials and hardship? Tami

Active in Crisis

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Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Encountering and dealing with crisis is part of life. It's not enjoyable, but it happens. And when serious and unexpected circumstances present themselves, emotions and feelings like fear, uncertainty, anxiety and worry can consume and cripple us if we're not careful.

Mordecai and the Jews living in Persia are facing an extreme crisis--a literal death sentence as the result of the edict signed by King Ahasuerus at Haman's urging. At first glance the situation appears hopeless. But even though Mordecai is distressed--tearing his clothes, putting on sack cloth and crying out to God--he doesn't allow those things to consume him. Instead, Mordecai draws strength from God and pushes through this grave situation to take what action he can to help save his people.

How do you tend to respond when a crisis situation arises? Is it your habit to cry out to God and seek His guidance? What does Mordecai's example show us about being an active participant in God's plan? When we encounter difficulty, how does getting involved and looking for solutions to our situation positively impact our thinking and emotions? Tami

Weak Leading

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Today's reading: Esther 3:7-15

Haman's vengeful scheming against the Jews takes on structure and form as we move further into Esther 3. But it wasn't Haman's evil plan of annihilation that drew my attention today--it was King Ahasuerus and his poor example as a leader. The information Haman tells the king about the Jews is a lie. His suggestion to wipe out an entire race of people is absolutely horrific and evil. Yet, Ahasuerus doesn't ask even one searching follow-up question, nor do we see any objections from the king about taking such drastic, deadly action. Instead, Ahasuerus blindly accepts Haman's representation and then issues an edict approving the slaughter of every Jew residing in the kingdom.

Ahasuerus was not a good or responsible leader in this situation. His actions highlight a lack of care for those under his rule, that he wasn't fully engaged in his role as king, and that discernment was not an area of strength for him. This account certainly provides a valuable lesson on leadership, but from a "how not to lead" perspective.

What did you learn or notice about making decisions and leading from Ahasuerus? What does this account reveal about the importance of being cautious in choosing advisors, counselors and friends? Tami

Fueled

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Today's reading: Esther 3:1-6

After Esther is chosen as the new queen, King Ahasuerus elevates Haman, one of the members of the king's team of leaders, to be second in command over the kingdom. As part of Haman's promotion, the king issues the command that those in his service bow down and pay homage to (worship) Haman. As a Jew following the commands of God, Mordecai will not take part in this unlawful worship. When Haman becomes aware of Mordecai's actions (actually his inaction in refusing to worship him), he is furious. In this enraged state of mind, Haman's anger quickly turns to hatred and then to his vengefully seeking to destroy ALL the Jews residing in the kingdom.

Identify a time or situation when you were prideful. How did your pride influence your thinking and actions? What are some of the dangers of operating with a prideful attitude? What does Haman's example show us about the relationship between pride and anger? Tami

Mordecai

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Today's reading: Esther 2:5-11 and 19-23

One of the main characters in the Book of Esther 2 is Mordecai, a relative who stepped in to take care of and raise young Esther after the death of her parents. We'll learn more about Mordecai as we move further into Esther, but from the initial information we see in chapter 2, he certainly fits the bill of being what I would call a "good man" on pretty much every front. The details we are given, although they are few at this point, reveal quite a bit about this man. His example is one we can all strive to follow.

How would you describe Mordecai based on the details contained in Esther 2? What lesson(s) about family, adoption and/or parenting did you see from his example? What one thing stood out to you most about Mordecai, and why? Tami

Remarkable God

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Today's reading: Psalm 89:5-18

As part of recognizing who God is and praising Him, Ethan the Ezrahite spends quite a bit of time describing God--looking to Him as the Creator of all things and as a God who is powerful, mighty, faithful and just. I liked how this passage shows us Ethan's petition to God in a difficult time, but I also liked how it gives us a fairly detailed picture of God while pointing us to His greatness.

What are one or two things you learned or noticed about God from the psalmist's descriptive words in verses 5-18? What stood out to you the most about God from this psalm, and why? Tami

Glorify First

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Today's reading: Psalm 89:1-4

Ethan the Ezrahite is the writer of Psalm 89, and as he begins his prayerful song, we see a praising and glorifying of God. But what we discover as we read through the remainder of this psalm is that circumstances for Ethan the Ezrahite and those living at this time aren't good. That being the case, he is calling out to God, asking Him for help and to take action in a distressing situation.

So often when we find ourselves facing trouble or when we're in distress, our prayers consist primarily of pleas for help and to fix our situation with little, or even no, praising, thanking or recognition of God for who He is. So these opening verses serve as a good reminder and example of our need to recognize and glorify God--first, before we ask Him to watch over, guide and provide for us in and through every circumstance.

How does starting out your prayers with thanksgiving and praise impact your attitude, thinking and ultimately the requests you put before God? Tami

Teachable

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Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18

Yesterday we met Esther and familiarized ourselves with this young woman. One particular thing that caught my attention was verse 15 where we see these words about Esther when it was her turn to go to the king.

"When the turn came for Esther... to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised."

Esther was mature beyond her years. How wise that rather than relying on her own thoughts and devising her own plan (which for most teenage girls would likely be full of beautiful, glitzy clothing, professionally applied makeup and perhaps some premeditated witty conversation to attract the king), she relied on her caretaker, Hegai, to guide and direct her.

Esther didn't allow herself to get caught up in what was taking place around her. She kept her eyes on God, and as a result, her humble, authentic and obedient heart shined through for all to observe.

Is it your practice to look for opportunities to learn from others? How open are you to listening to and taking advice from someone who has knowledge in a particular area? What role does humility play in being teachable? Tami

Hadassah

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Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18

As we move into Esther 2, we finally get to meet our leading lady--Esther. King Ahasuerus is now in search of a new queen, and as a result of the king's order, a young Esther is taken into the king's harem as part of the selection process. It's hard to imagine being thrust into such a situation. Each time I read this account I cringe. But at the same time, I'm struck by the extraordinary way Esther (who was likely in her early teens) handled herself in a foreign environment that had to be scary, lonely and difficult. There are quite a number of lessons we can learn from this God-fearing young lady.

What did you notice about Esther--appearance, status, family situation, virtues, attitude, character--from this passage? What's one lesson that stood out to you from Esther's example about coping with and responding to unexpected and difficult circumstances? Tami

In Anger

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Today's reading: Esther 1:10-2:1; Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26-27

In his intoxicated state, King Ahasuerus becomes angry when Queen Vashti refuses to comply with his command to come before him and his male guests. Verse 12 tells us, "At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him." So from the sounds of it, Ahasuerus is more than a little miffed. He's consumed with anger! And in this emotionally unstable state (and remember, he was also intoxicated) he launches into action with the result being that Vashti, his beautiful and cherished wife, is banished from his presence forever. Reacting in anger made a bad situation even worse.

What are the dangers of responding to someone or reacting to a situation when we're angry? When are you most likely (in what situations, with what people) to get angry and respond poorly? What are one or two things that help you respond appropriately ("be angry and do not sin") when someone or something makes you mad? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 1:1-22

For the next couple of weeks we'll be in the Book of Esther, which records the fascinating, real-life account of a young Jewish girl whose actions literally save the Jewish people from annihilation. We're going to read through and consider what we can learn from this Book, looking not only at Esther, but also at some of the other individuals who were key players in this story.

The first chapter of Esther gives us quite a bit of information, but none of it is about Esther. We don't actually get to meet her until chapter 2. Chapter 1 is mostly about King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes, depending on what version of the Bible you're reading) and Queen Vashti, the reigning officials of the Persian Empire where this account takes place. Chapter 1 is important because it sets the background and gives us context for the rest of this amazing story.

Day 1 assignment: Read Esther 1:1-22 looking for details--where the account takes place, the political situation, who is in control, identifying key people, determining what is taking place at this specific time, etc. Make a list or highlight things in your Bible as needed. As you read, pay close attention to King Ahasuerus and what this chapter shows us about the king. What lesson(s) did these verses reveal about money, wealth and/or pride? Tami

Lamenting Prayers

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Today's reading: Psalm 88:1-18

Affliction, trials and troubles will find their way into our lives, sometimes by no fault of our own and other times as a result of our sinful choices and actions. And when these times come, we can talk with God through our sorrow and mourning to seek comfort, forgiveness, restoration and peace.

Psalm 88 is a psalm filled with lamenting. The psalmist is in distress. He's dejected, his "soul is full of troubles," he's lost his strength, his "eye grows dim through sorrow." He feels helpless and rejected. Yet, even in this despondent condition, the psalmist knows that God is his refuge. So he continues to recognize God for who He is, and cry out to Him for help.

How does talking with God when you are hurting, discouraged, afraid or depressed impact your thinking and attitude? What did Psalm 88 show you about communicating with God in and through troubled times? Tami

Special Place

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Today's reading: Psalm 87:1-7

Many things take place in and around the city of Jerusalem in the Bible. It's a special place in God's eyes, and that's precisely what is communicated through this short song.

If you'd like to learn more about Zion (or many other Bible topics, places, teachings, etc.), there are a number of Bible dictionaries and commentaries available online. A couple of sites you might find helpful are: www.biblegateway.com and www.blueletterbible.org.

What did you learn or notice about Jerusalem from this psalm? How might you draw on or use Psalm 87 as you read stories that take place in Jerusalem and/or reference or speak of this special place? Tami

Connected

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Today's reading: Titus 3:12-15

One of the things that always strikes me about Paul is the fact that he was connected to all sorts of people--everywhere. We see evidence of this through his many letters, including this one to Titus. I'm fairly certain Paul could strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone, which is one of the reasons why he was so effective at preaching, teaching and sharing the Gospel message. Paul understood the importance of relationships and Christ-followers working together in community to grow the Body of Christ.

Are you part of a local church body? How involved are you with your church and/or with other Christians? Why is this important--for you personally as well as for the Body of Christ? Tami

Ready

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Today's reading: Titus 3:1-11

The message that God wants us to do good works as a follower of Christ runs throughout Paul's letter to Titus. And Titus 3 focuses in even more on believers doing good and being good people. One of the things that drew my attention from this final chapter was Paul's charge to Titus to make sure that the believers in Crete were aware that they needed to "be ready for every good work" (verse 1).

While planning is definitely a part of our doing good things for God (for example: signing up to serve at a shelter, helping at church, volunteering for a community service project, making a donation to a needy cause, etc.), the words "be ready" convey that, many times, our doing good needs to happen on the fly. In other words, much of our good works should happen spontaneously, as a natural response to our observing or becoming aware of a need. But what I've discovered over the years is that being ready to take action spontaneously requires some preparation on my part. Spending time with God through His Word and prayer is a must, and then I need to focus my thoughts on the goal of doing good and how I might accomplish that goal. One of my daily prayers is to ask God to help me be more aware of people who are hurting and needs I come across, and that I take action right then and there as needed.

Is it your practice to look for opportunities to help others and do good as you go about you day? How spontaneous would you say you are when it comes to doing good works? What's one thing you can start doing that will help you be even more "ready to do good" for God? Tami

Forever Changed

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Today's reading: Titus 3:1-11

Two pictures of life are described in Titus 3. The first is based on a relationship with Christ and is characterized by a positive mindset and the desire to do good works. The other is a pre-salvation picture that's characterized by negativity and self-centered thinking and actions. It's quite a stark contrast. Thank you, God, for saving us and changing our lives forever!

"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior..." (verses 4-6).

Why is it important to look back and remember the transforming of your life through a relationship with Jesus? How often do you thank God for saving you? Who do you know that needs a new life in Christ? Ask God to help you share Jesus with them this week. Tami

Godly and Good

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Today's reading: Titus 2:1-15

In Titus 2, Paul issues the charge to Titus to teach sound doctrine. He then offers a variety of characteristics that should be part of a godly lifestyle: being sober-minded, honorable, self-controlled, firm in faith, loving, committed, careful with our words, submitted, kind, respectful.

I was particularly drawn to verses 7-8 where Paul highlights for Titus (and us) how people who are not Christ-followers, and who may adamantly oppose our choice to follow Christ, are watching and taking note of our actions and behavior.

"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us."

Think back over the past week or so. What's one example of you being a "model of good works"? Would you say that the people around you--co-workers, classmates, neighbors, family--recognize that you are a follower of Christ by your words and actions? In what area(s) could you use some improvement, and how might you accomplish that this week? Tami

Self-control

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Today's reading: Titus 2:1-15

The teaching and command to be "self-controlled" is found throughout Titus 2--first for older men, next for older and younger women, and lastly for younger men. Then as Paul concludes this section of instruction, he once again points out that being self-controlled needs to be part of who we are as followers of Christ.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age..." (vs. 11-12).

As a follower of Christ, why is having self-control important--in our personal lives (with family and friends), as we're out in the world (doing business, at school, encountering strangers)? In what areas do you struggle with self-control? What can/will you do going forward to help regulate yourself so that you can respond with self-control when a difficult situation arises? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 86:1-17

The loving and personal way David interacts with God always moves my heart. In this particular psalm, I was drawn to the way that David intertwines praising God with his request for help. Rather than filling his prayer with "please help" or "please fix" requests, he spends a good portion of his song recognizing God for who He is--His love, greatness, mercy, faithfulness. David is so focused on praising God that his entire request for help is framed in the context of highlighting God.

"Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me" (vs. 17).

What do your prayers typically look or sound like? Do you talk openly and passionately with God (like David)? Do your prayers include an element of recognizing and praising God for His goodness, His love, His provision, His sovereignty and greatness? Why is this important? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 85:1-13

As I took in Psalm 85 this morning, praying and living with "holy anticipation" immediately came to mind. This is a concept that Mark Batterson talks about in his book "Draw the Circle" and the corresponding study "The 40 Day Prayer Challenge," that means our mindset should be one of expecting God to take action on our requests when we pray.

As the psalmist puts forth his prayerful request, he recognizes God's past provision, acknowledges the poor state God's people are currently in, and asks for God's restoration. All of this done with confidence that God will indeed respond. In other words, the psalmist is praying with "holy anticipation" that God WILL act.

"Yes, the LORD WILL give what is good, and our land WILL yield its increase. Righteousness WILL go before him and make his footsteps away" (vs. 12-13).

Do you pray with the expectation that God will respond? If not, why not? What does or might the phrase "holy anticipation" mean for you and your communications with God? Tami

Constant Goal

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Today's reading: Titus 1:5-16

As Paul sends back instructions to Titus about appointing and putting in place church leaders in Crete, two times in the span of just two verses he uses the phrase "above reproach" to describe to Titus the type of person he should be seeking out to hold these positions.

Those two words--above reproach--speak volumes to me as a follower of Christ. Because regardless of whether we're under consideration for a position of church leadership, striving to live according to God's Word and doing what we know is right in all situations (being above reproach) should be our constant goal.

When you read the words "above reproach" what comes to mind? Is it your heart's desire to do what is right in all circumstances? What impact does praying and taking in God's Word have on your daily decisions and lifestyle? Tami

Fellow Workers

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Today's reading: Titus 1:5; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

As we move into the body of Paul's letter to Titus, Paul's first instructive words to his young, Greek trainee are:

"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you..." (Titus 1:5)

What a picture of how we should operate as we're about the business of spreading the message of Jesus to those around us. Similar to the situation described in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 concerning the church in Corinth, Paul was the planter of the faith in Crete. That planting season is now completed and he has moved on to plant elsewhere, leaving Titus behind to water, nurture and guide this group of new believers.

What do these two passages reveal about our need to work alongside other believers to reach and then teach others about Jesus? What role are you presently fulfilling as you serve God? What's one example of you either planting (sharing your faith, leading someone into a relationship with Christ) or watering (teaching, mentoring, discipling others)? Tami

Today's reading: Titus 1:1-4

Paul was definitely a writer. I say that because of the way he composed his letters. Instead of simply starting his letters with "Dear Titus" (like I would) and then turning to the issue at hand, Paul typically opened his letters with some sort of informative, detailed introduction. And that's exactly what we see here in Titus. Before Paul gets into this letter to his co-worker, he wraps in quite a bit of beneficial and useful information about God. Before we ever get to the "meat" of Paul's letter, he already has us thinking about God.

What did you notice or what stood out to you about God from Paul's opening words to Titus? What encouragement did you draw from the message conveyed in these few verses? Tami

I Love You

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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 starting into a new Book this week, let's spend one final day considering what we took in, considered and learned from the account of Jesus' arrest, death, resurrection and his final time on earth. 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 from Luke's account.

  • 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 22:28-31).
  • Jesus' interaction with the criminal who asks 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 "I love you" actions or words stood out to you from one or more of the accounts of Jesus' final days on earth? How will you pass on God's love to someone this week? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 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. 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.

Do you look for opportunities to encourage and help others gain an understanding of God's love and Jesus' sacrifice for them? Do you look for opportunities to come alongside other Christ-followers to encourage, support and help them better understand and apply God's Word? How willing are you to give of your time to help others meet and then grow closer to Christ? Why is this so important? Tami

Risen and Living

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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 begin to understand what had taken place and its significance.

What does knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and overcame death mean for you personally? When did you first understand the importance and significance of Jesus being your risen and living Savior? How often do you tell others about what Jesus did for them? 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 April 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2018 is the previous archive.

May 2018 is the next archive.

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