July 2018 Archives

Taking a Stand

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 3:31-39

When David discovers that Abner has been murdered by two men who are leaders in his administration and also his friends, he is stunned and mortified. But he doesn't let the fact that these two men are close to him stop him from taking immediate action to show that he was not aware of or involved in any way with this sinful wrongdoing.

He publicly recognizes Abner's life of service by joining the funeral process, singing a song about Abner's murder and refusing to eat the day of the funeral. He then speaks openly with his officials about the sinful and problematic actions of Joab and Abishai who are part of their group of leaders--not an easy or pleasant task for David.

When have you taken a stand for something that you knew was right? Was it difficult? How did God help you? How does standing up for what's right impact your relationship with God? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Samuel 3:26-39

When someone wrongs us or hurts us badly, we want justice. We want the situation righted. But sometimes our desire for perceived justice becomes so strong that it takes on an unhealthy life of its own by turning into a blinding force for revenge.

Joab and Abishai are intent on settling the score with Abner for killing their brother. They want Abner dead. So much so that even after learning that King David has joined forces with Abner to solidify his rule over all of Israel (something very important for their people and nation), they refuse to turn from their vengeful thinking. So behind David's back, they take matters into their own hands to ambush and kill Abner.

What a vivid picture of the harm and damage that can be done when we don't properly acknowledge and deal with our anger and grief, and make a point keep our emotions, words and actions in check.

What did God impress on your heart about holding grudges, revenge, anger and/or hatred after reading this passage? Identify some of the dangers of holding on to anger? How do we guard against giving in to the powerful temptation to get revenge? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 110:1-7

Written by David, Psalm 110 is about Jesus and is referenced and cited a number of places in the New Testament. This "song" is rich with information about Christ and the future. So read through it carefully, looking for what this passage reveals about Jesus.

As I read, I pulled out a study Bible so I could take in explanatory comments, and I also looked at an online commentary. This was helpful in providing a fuller picture and better understanding of what I was reading. I encourage you to do this as well, not only for this passage but others as we read and consider the Bible together each day.

What's one thing you learned or saw about Christ from this Psalm? Tami

Hurting Response

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Today's reading: Psalm 109:1-5

Being wronged, attacked or betrayed by someone you trust and love cuts deeply. It's just painful! And in our pain, often times our gut reaction is to lash out and defend ourselves or to respond in kind with our words and actions. But that's not the example David puts before us in Psalm 109. In his distress--he turns to God. David writes in verse 4 "but I give myself to prayer." And that's precisely what we see--David candidly crying out to God, seeking comfort as he tells God about everything happening to him.

Is it your practice to "give yourself to prayer" when you encounter hardship or difficulty? When you pray, how does it influence you emotionally, spiritually and/or even physically? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Samuel 3:1-25

Abner provides us with a pretty good example of self-absorbed thinking and living. We've gleaned a little information about him prior to today's passage, but here in 2 Samuel 3 we get an up-close and personal look at this man's sinful attitudes and ways. I jotted down the following unappealing things I noticed about Abner: arrogant, bully, powerful and power hungry, people user, disrespectful of others, answers to no one, thinks highly of himself. What a picture of how power and position can spiral out of control when we've made ourselves, our goals and our personal desires our number one priority rather than living to follow and serve God.

When are you most susceptible to self-centered thinking and acting? How does being in God's Word, praying, having friendships with other believers and being involved in church help you combat the temptation to elevate your interests and wants above all else? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Samuel 3: 1-11

When Abner crosses the line through an inappropriate relationship with Rizpah, Ish-bosheth confronts him about his wrongful behavior. Although Abner clearly knows his actions have crossed the line, he refuses to acknowledge his wrongdoing. Instead, he responds indignantly, flaunting his importance and power in full-blown disrespect of Ish-bosheth.

I was reminded by Abner's example of how our human tendency is to respond defensively when confronted about sin. We want to justify our behavior so we get angry, we act offended, we use sarcasm, we throw what power we have into the mix, we try to deflect the conversation in another direction, we may even try to take advantage of our relationship with the person confronting us--all poor responses driven by our sinful human nature.

There are no perfect people, which means we will never be sinless this side of heaven. But the good news is--if we acknowledge our sinful thoughts, behaviors and actions and confess them to God, He is eager to forgive us. And the sooner we reach this point--of seeking forgiveness for our sin (whatever that sin is)--the better.

What's one message or point that God impressed on your heart as you read and considered the exchange between Ish-bosheth and Abner? What does this account show us about the importance of being prepared when we choose to confront someone about sin? What does it reveal about our need to be open-minded and to listen when someone confronts us? Tami

Today's reading: 2 Samuel 1:12-32

As we come to the second half of 2 Samuel 2, Abner initiates a confrontation between his army and David's army that's being led by Joab. The preliminary challenge results in the senseless death of all twenty-four men involved. Next thing you know, the situation turns into a full out battle with David's army thoroughly defeating the warriors led by Abner.

As Abner and his men retreat from the battle, Joab's brother Asahel sets his sights on Abner, following after him. It seems that as a continuation of the battle he either wants to take Abner prisoner or kill him. Aware of Asahel's pursuit, Abner calls out to Asahel and warns him not to continue after him. Asahel ignores the warning. Abner tries again, this time even telling Asahel "don't make me kill you." But Asahel is fixated on Abner and refuses to listen. What happens next is tragic--Abner, a skilled and seasoned warrior, kills Asahel in self-defense. Yet another senseless death on a sad day for Israel.

Have you ever been so fixated and focused on something that you missed warning signs of something dangerous and/or took action that wasn't the wisest? What's one lesson you learned from Asahel's rash example? What does this passage show about taking action without seeking direction and guidance from God? Tami

Round Two

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 2:1-11

With Saul no longer in the picture and David being the man God has chosen to be the next king of Israel, you'd expect David to move into the position of king right away. But that's not how things shake out--at all. In his typical fashion, David seeks God's direction and follows it. The result is that David only assumes the position of king over the house of Judah. He doesn't become the king of Israel because Abner, the powerful commander of Saul's army, chooses to continue opposing David even though he knows that God has chosen David to be king, that David is honorable and that David never sought to harm Saul or remove him from the throne. And so begins another season of waiting and facing challenges for David.

Do you find it difficult to wait on God's timing and trust in His plan when things unfold differently than you anticipated? What does David show us, yet again, about continuing to serve God and move forward with life regardless of our circumstances? Tami

Godly Grieving

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 1:1-27

After years of craziness with regard to his relationship with Saul, David receives word that Saul and his sons have been killed in battle. So how does David respond? Well, not like the world would expect. Instead of rejoicing or even showing relief that his days of running are over, the news devastates David. He openly and publically mourns, tearing his clothes, weeping and fasting. He even composes a lament (a poem or perhaps a song) in honor of Saul and Jonathan and their rule over, and protection of, Israel. I was struck by the fact that nowhere in this passage do we see David thinking of himself or pondering when he will move into his rightful place as king.

Were you surprised by David's response to Saul's death? Why or why not? What does this account show us about humility and respecting and valuing the life of others? Tami

First Thing--God

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Today's reading: Psalm 108:1-2

"My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!" (Psalm 108:1-2)

What a motivating message and example David provides through his opening verses of Psalm 108. Our day can start with joy and a hope-filled heart when we're intentional about making our first waking thoughts and actions about God.

Why is filling your mind with God so important first thing in the morning? When you think of God, pray and/or praise Him with your waking thoughts and words, how does it impact your day? Tami

Tell Your Story!

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Today's reading: Psalm 107:1-43

The command to "let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble" (vs. 2) is a call to action that I absolutely champion. The psalmist then drives this point home as he shows several situations where God helped when the people cried out to Him, followed by this repeated directive:

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" (vs. 8, 15, 21 and 31).

When we talk with others about how God has protected, guided, provided for and walked alongside us through difficult times, we are being a witness to those around us. As we share our story, we're sharing our faith by proclaiming God and His love and goodness to a world that needs to know about God and have a relationship with Him. So don't listen to Satan's whispers that you are not equipped to talk about Jesus and how your life has changed through your relationship with Him. That's a lie.

Take time today to look back and identify how God has worked in your life--with the specific purpose of honing in on a number of God experiences that you can share with others. When you made the decision to receive Christ as your Savior is a critical part of your story that you will want to share. But each of us also have multiple stories of God's goodness that we can use to show and tell others about God and ultimately what Jesus did for us on the cross. So what's your story? And who will you tell your story to this week? Tami

Soft and Gentle

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Today's reading: Proverbs 15:1 & 4

Proverbs 15:1 and 4 let us know without a doubt that what we say and how we say it are important to God. I was drawn to the appealing picture painted by the words in these two verses.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit" (Proverbs 15:4).

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

Attracting Flies

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Today's reading: Proverbs 16:21 & 23

"The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness" Proverbs 16:21

"The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips." Proverbs 16:23.

Remember the old English proverb, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar"? That's immediately what came to mind when I read Proverbs 16:21 and 23. Every time we open our mouths to talk, it's our choice to pour out either honey or vinegar. When we choose to use "sweet" words--words that are genuinely kind, good, encouraging, positive, gracious, thoughtful, caring and pleasant--it's attractive. That being the case, "sweet speech" should be a daily objective as we live for God and strive to make being a follower of Christ attractive to those we encounter.

How much "sweet speech" have you chosen to pour out this week? How and to whom will you offer "sweet" words today? Tami

In Check

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Today's reading: Proverbs 21:23

Before turning to 2 Samuel, I decided we'd take a short break and look at a few verses in Proverbs to finish out this week. One of the things I always notice about Proverbs is the large number of verses having to do with our words, which conveys to me that this is an important topic that I would be wise to take note of and focus on. If you were to open my Bible to the Book of Proverbs, you'd find verse after verse having to do with our speech circled or underlined.

Today as I looked through this instructive Book, God drew my attention to Proverbs 21:23 which says:

"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble."

It's a wise directive. At first glance it seems simple enough, but keeping what comes out of our mouths in check can be challenging--especially when we find ourselves in a situation that involves disagreement or conflict and our emotions are running high.

In your experience, how has keeping your words in check kept you out of trouble? On a scale of 1-10, how well would you say you're doing at keeping what you say in check? What helps you, or how do you guard the words (and don't forget your tone) that come out of your mouth? Tami

1 Samuel Lessons

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 1-31

We just spent the last month reading through and considering the rich book of 1 Samuel. I hope you enjoyed and learned from the up-close and personal look we received of Samuel, Saul and David as much as I did. We definitely saw a picture of three very different men who all provided important lessons for us. Yesterday we looked at Saul, so today let's close out 1 Samuel by looking back and recalling what we learned from Samuel and David.

Identify the most significant lesson that stood out to you from the life example of Samuel. What's one important lesson you took away from David's life (up to this point)? Tami

Final Defeat

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 31:1-13

In this final chapter of 1 Samuel, Saul and his sons are killed in a battle with the Philistines. It's a sad ending for the first king of Israel. Saul's reign started well but then progressively deteriorated as a result of his choice to take his eyes off of God to focus on himself. Although the account of Saul's life is disheartening, his life story provides us with some valuable lessons in a number of areas--leadership, fear, disobedience, pride, and relationships--to name a few.

Take a few minutes to think back over the life example of Saul. What was the most important lesson God impressed on your heart from Saul's example, and why? Tami

Faithful God

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Today's reading: Psalm 106:1-48

God is good and His "steadfast love endures forever!" is the opening proclamation of Psalm 106. The psalmist then shows us the truth of this declaration in the remaining verses of his song by looking back at the Israelites' journey. Despite being God's chosen people for whom God had performed wondrous miracles and works, the Israelites were repeatedly unfaithful to God. Yet God didn't turn away or abandon them, even in His anger. These words in verses 43-45 spoke volumes to me:

"Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity. Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love." (Psalm 106:43-45)

What does Psalm 106 reveal about God as our Father and His love for us? How has God shown himself faithful to you and your family, even in times when you've turned away or been disobedient? Tami

History Lesson

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Today's reading: Psalm 105:1-45

Psalm 105 gives us a condensed, mini history lesson of the nation of Israel from Abraham through Moses. What a storyline it is! As I progressed through the timeline, my thoughts were drawn to God's extraordinary plan and provision. I was reminded, once again, of how so often God's ways are beyond our human way of thinking.

What does this Psalm reveal about God's ways? What does it reveal about His character and faithfulness? What comfort do you draw from this look back at God's plan and His provision? Tami

Generous

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 30:16-31, Proverbs 11:24-25, Psalm 112:5

David and his men overtake and defeat the Amalekites, rescuing all captives and recovering all lost property, plus additional flocks and herds. The people are ecstatic and openly proclaim, "This is David's spoil" (vs. 20). But David doesn't see it that way. He recognizes that everything they recovered and received was given by God. So when the men who fought with him respond selfishly by wanting to penalize the men who had remained behind, David will have none of it. He declares that the entire spoil is to be shared among those who kept watch and those who went with him to fight. David demonstrates God's love to the people by his care for them and his generousity with what God had given.

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:24-25).

"It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice" (Psalm 112:5).

What has the Lord given you? On a scale of 1-10, how generous would you say you are toward others with your possessions and money? Why is having a generous heart and mindset important? Tami

Strengthened

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 30:1-15

As David and his men return to their home city of Ziklag, they are met with a shocking and horrific scenario. In their absence, the Amalekites have attacked Ziklag, burning the city and carrying off all the women and families. Distressed, David and his men weep until they are physically unable to shed further tears. But David doesn't remain in this emotional state very long. In the middle of this time of seeming despair, He turns to God for strength and direction. These words came across powerfully to me this morning.

"But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God" (vs. 6).

How has God strengthened you when you or your family has experienced crisis? How would you explain or describe God being your strength to someone who is observing you go through a difficult situation? Tami

Protected

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 29:1-11

The situation isn't a good one in 1 Samuel 29. David, the man God chose and anointed to be the next king of Israel, is aligned with the Philistines and getting ready to go to war against his own nation! Neither King Achish or David think this is a problem (what?), but Achish's men think differently and demand that David not take part in the battle. As I considered and processed that was taking place in this passage, I was struck by God's goodness and how He protected David through the demands of Achish's men.

God has done the same for me a number of times over the years. The most memorable time of protection was quite a number of years ago when I was getting ready to start a new job that was going to require me to put in massive hours away from my husband. I knew in my heart that the situation wasn't the best for me, but was blinded by the prestige and large salary that came with the position. Right before I was supposed to start, a complication arose and I could no longer accept the position. I was devastated, but looking back I can now see very clearly that God was protecting me and my marriage. Thank you, God!!!

When has God stepped in and protected you (I'd love to hear about your experience)? What does this chapter show us about God being a loving, caring Father who watches over us? Tami

Rock Bottom

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 28:1-25

What a sad picture of how distorted our thinking can become when we intentionally turn from God. Saul has continued to follow his own ways and now finds himself facing a strong Philistine army. In his fear, he inquires of God but gets no response, and things go downhill rapidly from there. Saul turns to a medium or necromancer (someone who calls on spirits of the dead) so he can speak with Samuel. The message Samuel provides confirms what Saul already knows in his heart--that God has turned from him and that the kingdom will be David's. Samuel also puts forth that Israel will be defeated and that Saul and his sons will perish in the battle. (Yikes!)

Saul's response to this serious and distressing news is disheartening. Instead of crying out to God and asking for forgiveness, he accepts the news with an attitude of "it is what it is." In my eyes, this was rock bottom for Saul. In the most critical time--a life or death situation--he still chooses not to repent, submit or turn to God.

What does this account reveal about the blinding effect of sin? What did God impress on your heart as you took in this passage? Tami

Worn

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 27:1-12

One of the things I love and find fascinating about the Bible is how God gives us a complete picture of real life--successes, mistakes, complete failures, plateaus, joy, pain, sin, obedience. And so we see accounts like that in 1 Samuel 27 where David, anointed by God to be king and a man after God's heart, makes some poor choices while experiencing a low time in his life. He's weary and discouraged from his prolonged running from Saul, and in this weakened emotional and physical state, takes his focus off of God and His promises. (Can you relate? Because I sure can.) Doubt creeps in and influences his thinking and actions. The next thing you know, David is drawing on his own strength and following his faulty emotions, which leads him to seek refuge with and then live among the Philistines.

What does this account show about the need to keep our eyes on God when we're going through a long period of trial or difficulty? When you feel worn, weary or discouraged, what helps you stay focused on God? Tami

Great Maker

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Today's reading: Psalm 104:1-35; Genesis 1:1-31

"O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Psalm 104:24).

I decided to stay with Psalm 104 one more day because of the rich information it gives us about our great and sovereign Creator. The expressive descriptions brought to mind the creation account found in Genesis 1. These two passages certainly highlight God's greatness. There's no question that God is our Maker and that He has absolute power, authority and control over all.

What's one thing you learned about God from Psalm 104? Take some time this weekend to focus on your surroundings. How would you describe the beauty of what God has made? Tami

God of Creation

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Today's reading: Psalm 104:1-35

I'm an outdoor kind of girl. I absolutely love anything and everything to do with nature, so reading through the details of God's creation and contemplating how God so perfectly orchestrated it all brought a smile to my face and refreshed my heart this morning. What an incredible reminder of God's greatness, His goodness and His exceptional care for all that He has created. As I reached the final verses of this incredibly descriptive song, I, like the psalmist, was eager to sing praises to God and proclaim His works to those around me.

How often do you take time to think about God as the Creator and Caretaker of all things? Why is this important? What encouraged you from this psalm today, and why? Tami

High Road

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 26

Once again, David chooses to take the high road by refusing to take Saul's life even though the opportunity presents itself and his army commander urges him to do so. Instead, as he had done before, David respectfully confronts Saul about his continued pursuit and wrongful intent and actions. Saul openly admits that he has sinned and asks David to return, but David wisely doesn't take action based on Saul's words. He continues to leave his situation fully in God's hands. I love the words we see in verses 23-24, where David points out that he has lived righteously and faithfully and then proclaims his trust in God for protection and deliverance.

How have you experienced God's blessing or reward for acting rightly and responding in faith? What does living with righteousness and faithfulness look like in your life right now? Tami

David

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 25:1-44

Today is our third and final day looking at 1 Samuel 25, and our focus is now on David. We see something a little different than what we're accustomed to for this chosen man of God. David has been greatly insulted by Nabal, and his immediate response is anger and indignation. So much so that he gathers together his men to repay Nabal for his mistreatment with the intent of wiping out his entire household. Thankfully, his anger doesn't blind him enough to stop him from receiving and then listening to Abigail (a woman in a male dominated culture). And, he not only listens to Abigail, he changes his mind about getting revenge on Nabal, and then thanks God for sending this incredibly wise woman whose words stopped him from killing many innocent people.

What was the most important thing you noticed or learned from David in this passage? What does this passage show us about the danger of unchecked anger? Tami

Abigail

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 25:1-44

Today our focus is on Abigail, who is one of my favorite female characters in the Bible. She was quite a woman. Staying with the format I used yesterday, here's my list of what stood out to me from Abigail's example:

  • Discerning
  • Humble yet bold to speak when necessary
  • Trusted and respected by those around her
  • Decisive
  • Good communicator
  • Influencer
  • Recognized God and that David was chosen by Him

The way Abigail chose to handle the potentially catastrophic situation presented to her by the servants highlights what a wise and discerning woman she was. And the fact that Nabal's servants trusted, respected and reached out to her conveys volumes about Abigail.

What stood out to you the most from Abigail's example, and why? What does this passage reveal about the value of having discernment and importance of operating with discretion? Tami

Nabal

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Tuesday, July 3

Nabal

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 25:1-44

We're going to spend the next couple days in 1 Samuel 25 looking at and considering the three main characters--Nabal, Abigail and David--to see what we can learn from them. Today our focus is on Nabal, a not so nice person. As I read this chapter, I wrote down what the passage said about Nabal as well as some things I noticed. For me, it provided a disheartening picture of what a life apart from God's guidance can look like. Here are few things I noted about Nabal:

  • Rich
  • Stingy
  • Arrogant
  • Rude
  • Uncaring
  • Ungrateful
  • Disrespectful
  • Not respected by others

What does Nabal's example show about living for self? What about focusing on things in the here and now? What does this passage reveal about the impact of striving after and loving money? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 24:1-22

David was seemingly presented with the perfect opportunity to take Saul's life, and in so doing, put himself in the position to become the king of Israel. His men even urged him to take this action. I can imagine how tempting that thought must have been. But as soon as David begins to move in this direction, he realizes that his feelings about harming Saul are just his human emotions, and that killing Saul is not the plan God has for him. So instead of taking Saul's life, David humbly and respectfully confronts Saul, and then steps back to wait on the Lord's timing.

I was thankful for David's example, because being patient and waiting for God are areas in which I struggle. And this reminder through David was particularly timely today, as I am in one of those waiting situations and resisting the temptation to push forward in my timing. Thank you, God, for providing the exact message I needed today!

Do you find it difficult to wait for God to respond or move in a situation? What lesson stood out to you most about patience, waiting, listening for God's direction or something else from David's example today? Tami

Steadfast

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Today's reading: Psalm 103:1-22

Throughout Psalm 103, David tells us about God having "steadfast love."

  • In verse 4, God crowns us with steadfast love.
  • In verse 8, the Lord is abounding in steadfast love.
  • Verse 11 shows us that God's steadfast love is exceedingly great.
  • In verse 17 David writes, "But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him."

What does God having and showing "steadfast love" mean to you? What's one example of how you've experienced God's steadfast love? Tami

About Me

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

About My Blog

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

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

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