November 2018 Archives

Light of Life

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Today's reading: John 8:12-30

The Jewish leaders don't know what to think about Jesus or how to deal with Him. They're threatened by His power and the confidence and authority with which He teaches the Scriptures. They despise Jesus and want Him out of the picture. So as Jesus is teaching in the temple and makes the statement that He is the light of the world and offers the light of life (vs. 12), they launch a verbal assault on Him in an attempt to discredit Him. However, Jesus responds in His typical manner--He remains calm and focused as He delivers powerful spiritual truth.

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life...' He said to them, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins'" (vs. 12 and 23-24).

What does Jesus being "the light of the world" mean to you personally? What words would you use to explain or describe to someone how choosing to follow Jesus has changed your life from walking in darkness to living in the light? Tami

Hold the Stones

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Today's reading: John 8:1-11, Romans 8:1

When the scribes and Pharisees drag a woman who had been caught in adultery before Jesus seeking his approval and direction to stone her to death, Jesus shakes them up with his unconventional response. Jesus doesn't let the unpleasantness of the circumstance fluster him. Rather than reacting to the weighty offense and the prodding of the Jewish leaders, He calmly addresses the situation and in such a way that it turns the table on these blood-thirsty, condemning men. In order for them to condemn this woman, they would first have to examine and condemn themselves.

"And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her'" (vs. 7).

What I find so attractive about this account is how Jesus shows us that while we aren't to condone a person's sin, we are to love the person (the sinner). Jesus's says to the woman, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (vs.11).

What did you learn from this account about throwing stones of condemnation or judgement? How do you tend to respond when you become aware of the sins of someone you know or love? Spend a few minutes today thinking about hating sin but loving the sinner, and what that response might look like for you the next time you encounter someone making poor choices. Tami

Living Water

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On the final day of the Feast of Booths, Jesus is talking with the crowds. He invites anyone who is spiritually thirsty to come to Him. Referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit that would come after His death and resurrection, Jesus proclaims:

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (vs. 37-38).

Jesus's description of the Spirit as "living water" prompted me to think a bit today about the role and functioning of the Holy Spirit. The moment we surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside us which means that this "living water" is now, and will forever be, part of us. And like the physical impact of actual rivers of water, this "living water" is powerful, active and constantly transforming us spiritually.

As a follower of Christ, how often do you think about the power of the Holy Spirit and the impact the Spirit is having in your life? Why is this important? Take a minute or two to think back over the past couple weeks. What's one example of how the Holy Spirit has empowered, strengthened or guided you? Tami

Don't Jump

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Today's reading: John 7:14-24

When Jesus arrives at the Feast of Booths, he immediately goes to the temple and begins teaching. The people aren't sure what to think about Jesus or his teaching because their assessment of the situation is shallow and based on appearances.

The people know a few things about Jesus: They know He performed miracles, they know where He's from, and they know that He isn't a Pharisee or someone in Jewish leadership. But they don't bother to dig deeper into Jesus's character and the significant message He's delivering. Rather than embracing Jesus and His life-giving message, they are close minded and openly accuse him of having a demon--all because they jumped to a conclusion about Jesus based on circumstantial appearances.

Jesus explains to them their faulty thinking, concluding His reply with this wise statement:

"'Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment'" (vs. 24).

How likely are you to make a snap judgment about someone based on appearances? When has taking action (or failing to take action) based on an assumption led you down a wrong path? Why is it so important not to jump to conclusions about someone's situation or motives--particularly during this holiday season when many people are in need? Tami

Stay the Course

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Today's reading: John 7:1-13

John 7 is another chapter filled with much to consider. Right out of the gate this morning, my attention was drawn to the exchange between Jesus and his brothers. Jesus's brothers didn't believe in Him, and that created tension between them. So with the Feast of the Booths approaching, the brothers take a passive-aggressive approach prodding Jesus to attend the feast and step up to the plate to go public and get noticed with his miracles. They act like they have his best interests at heart, but really, they don't.

I like how Jesus responds. He keeps his focus on his responsibilities and on what God has for Him to do. He doesn't engage in any sort of debate with them about who He is or why He's doing what He's doing or how He's doing it. This is his family, and dealing with family members who don't believe like you do is always touchy and difficult. But at this point and in this situation, Jesus knows the response that will have the most impact is his example.

Family is precious. Yet, our family can also be a source of great tension, especially when we aren't all on the same page spiritually. So as we head into this holiday season where most of us will be spending extra up close and personal time with family, how will you choose to respond? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 121:1-8

David beautifully depicts God as our helper in verses 1-4 of Psalm 121. ("My help comes from the Lord..." [vs. 2]) He then describes God as our keeper in verses 5-8. It's a picture of a rich and strong relationship between us and God.

Thank you, God, for never taking a break from loving, caring for and looking over us!

What does God being your helper and keeper mean to you personally? How would you explain this to someone who doesn't have a relationship with Christ? What comfort do you draw from knowing that God is watching over you 24/7? Tami

Our Recourse

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Today's reading: Psalm 120:1-7

Psalm 120 is one of the psalms that closes without a resoulution to the physical hardship that's impacting the psalmist. However, we can see that God hears the psalmist's cry of distress and answers him (vs. 1). While I prefer a total happy ending package (physical, spiritual and emotional resolution), that's simply not how life typically goes. So I am thankful for the example set out in Psalm 120 because it reaffirms what I already know in my heart that no matter the situation, I can have peace when I choose to rest in and rely upon God!

How do you tend to interact with God when you're in the middle of turmoil or difficulty? Are you comfortable crying out to and talking candidly with Him? What's one example of how prayer has strengthened and sustained you through a difficult situation? Tami

Ascribe

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 16:23-36

Verses 28 and 29 of David's song of praise recorded in 1 Chronicles 16 begins with the command to "Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength," and to "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name."

The word "ascribe" basically means to recognize, credit and/or attribute a quality or characteristic to someone or something. So David is specifically directing us to recognize God for His wonder, splendor and magnificence, and actually includes a variety of ways to do this in the verses surrounding and following verses 28 and 29.

Are you an "ascriber" of God and His glory and strength? How have you recognized the wonder of God in the past week? Who have you recently told about God's power, strength and magnificence? Tami

Giving Thanks

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 16:8-22

With this being Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., we're going to spend today and tomorrow looking at the song of thanks composed and sung by King David when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16:8-36). In addition to being a beautiful musical poem, this song also puts before us various examples of ways we can give thanks to God.

We give thanks to the Lord when we:

  • Talk with Him and tell Him thank you
  • Tell others the amazing things He has done
  • Praise Him through singing
  • Revel in the name of the Lord and place our confidence in Him
  • Seek God's presence and strength
  • Remember what He's done for us as His children

What would you add to the list above of ways we can give thanks to God? Will you join me in celebrting Thanksgiving by verbally giving thanks to God today? Tami

Permanent

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Today's reading: John 6:22-71

There's a lot to take in and consider in John 6:22-71, so we're going to spend one more day here before taking a break from John for Thanksgiving weekend and moving on to John 7 next week. Each time I've read this passage over the past few days, Jesus's statements about the permanency of salvation have come across loud and clear to me. Several times and in several different ways, Jesus makes it clear that once we make the decision to receive Him as our Savior, we are forever saved and will spend eternity in heaven.

"'All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day... I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever... This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever'" (vs. 37-39, 51, 58, emphasis added).

Making the decision to follow Christ doesn't mean that we won't mess things up from time to time or that we'll live without committing sin and having setbacks. We're human. The beauty of God's plan of salvation is that it's all about unconditional love and grace which He freely extends to us, and therefore, living perfectly isn't a requirement. We're all a work in progress. God does, however, want us to continually grow spiritually which means we'll sin less and less, but when we do falter and sin--and we will--He doesn't penalize us by withdrawing or taking away His love and salvation. If we've made a genuine decision to turn our lives over to God by receiving Jesus as our Savior, we are saved for eternity.

How does knowing that salvation is permanent and that you cannot be separated from God and His love and grace give you comfort today? Tami

Bread of Life

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Today's reading: John 6:22-71

In this passage, Jesus lays out who He is and God's plan of salvation for all people. He engages in conversation with the crowd of people who have sought Him out in Capernaum and call themselves His followers.

"'For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day... Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh'" (vs. 40 and 47-51).

It's a message the people aren't expecting to hear and one that they don't fully understand. Jesus is conveying spiritual truth, but those gathered around Him are thinking literally about Jesus's words (bread meaning bread you eat for physical sustenance and life) rather than thinking spiritually (bread of life, eating of his flesh, drinking his blood as meaning Jesus offering up His body and shedding His blood as a sacrifice to enable them to have eternal life).

What does Jesus being the "bread of life" mean to you personally? How would you explain it to someone who doesn't yet have a personal relationship with Christ? Tami

Seeking Jesus

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Today's reading: John 6:22-24

The day after Jesus feeds and then teaches the 5,000, the people come back to that same spot. Jesus, however, isn't there because He and the disciples have crossed the sea to Capernaum. But this doesn't stop the crowd. When they realize where Jesus has gone, they get in boats and go to Capernaum too.

"So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus" (vs. 24, emphasis added).

Two things were highlighted for me as I read this passage. The first was the appeal of Jesus. What these people were feeling and acting on--although they didn't fully comprehend it at the time--was the desire we all have, that internal longing to be in relationship with and connected to God. And yes, while they wanted the physical benefits that Jesus was offering and supplying, the actual draw was much deeper.

The second thing that stood out to me, and what I'm focusing on today, is the phrase "seeking Jesus." Those two words seemed to jump off the page to me. These people don't yet understand who Jesus is--the Son of God and Savior of the world--but they are so eager to know more and be in His presence that they painstakingly row across the sea so they can spend more time with Him. Sometimes as believers, we get lax with the time we spend with God, and before we realize it, we aren't really seeking after Him much at all. So I was thankful for this example and how it prompted me to do some personal assessing.

Would you say that your lifestyle is one of seeking after Jesus? Why or why not? What does the phrase "seeking Jesus" mean for you personally? In a typical week, how often are you interacting with God through His Word or through prayer? Tami

Chosen Delight

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:173-174 (Taw)

Psalm 119 is a psalm I turn to often when I need encouragement, strength and wisdom. I love how every stanza points us to God and His perfect Word. The familiar message delivered in verses 173-174 especially resonated with me today because I have CHOSEN to live according to God's Word, and it is my delight!

"Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight" (vs. 173-174).

Think back over the entire chapter of Psalm 119. What was your favorite stanza and why? What message did God most impress on your heart from this powerful chapter? Tami

Voice It

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:169-176 (Taw)

I'm an extrovert! Without a doubt, there are more than a few people who would describe me as extra verbal. So perhaps that's why I was so drawn to this final stanza of Psalm 119 where we see:

  • "My lips will pour forth praise" (vs. 171).
  • "My tongue will sing of your word" (vs. 172).
  • "Let my soul live and praise you" (vs. 175).

Think back over the past couple of weeks. What's one example of when you verbally praised God or His Word? How will you live out verses 171 and 172 in the coming week? Tami

Always Alongside

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Today's reading: John 6:16-21

Sometimes hard times will come upon us by no fault of our own. But regardless of how the difficulty develops and comes, God is not unaware, and is in fact right there with us, eager to walk alongside and ultimately bring us through our situation.

That's precisely the scenario in this account with the disciples crossing the sea to Capernaum. The disciples are simply traveling to where they knew Jesus wanted them to go when they encounter stormy weather. Part way through the journey they see Jesus walking on the water. He tells them not to fear and then travels with them in the boat to the other side of the sea.

How have you experienced God walking alongside and bringing you through a difficult situation? What comfort do you draw from knowing that, no matter the situation, God is always with you? What situation or circumstance is God walking through with you right now? Tami

Rest

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Today's reading: John 6:15-17

After a full day of engaging with and teaching the masses, Jesus leaves the crowd and his disciples in order to have some alone time with God. Although there's not a lot of detail about this specific action on Jesus part, these few verses spoke loudly to me.

You see, over the past couple weeks my pastor has been teaching a sermon series titled "breathe" about carving out down time and planning for rest and margin. (If you'd like to take a listen, you can find the sermon series at www.ncclagrange.com.) The messages have been spot on and just what I needed to hear.

I'm a crazy "doer." I'm almost always on the go for God. Jesus's example makes it clear that having down time, rest and margin are necessary so we can function at our best as we live for God.

How much alone time do you spend with God in a typical day or week? Do you see this time as a priority? How would your personal and spiritual life benefit from a little more down time, rest and margin in your schedule? What step(s) do you need to take to make more rest happen? Tami

People-lover

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Today's reading: John 6:1-15

One of the things that always stands out when I read passages about Jesus is his love, care and compassion for people--and not just some people or certain kinds of people--ALL people. So as a massive crowd of people follow after and gather around Jesus, his attention instantly turns to the physical needs of the people (food and a place to sit). As Jesus quenches their physical needs, he prepares them to hear about and hopefully receive their ultimate need--salvation.

Do you share a love of ALL people with Jesus? What's one example of how you have shown God's love to someone in need (physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually) in the past weeks? How does coming alongside to help someone with a physical need often open the door for us to then share Jesus's salvation with them? Tami

Son and Savior

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Today's reading: John 5:18-47

Jesus's healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda didn't sit well with the Jewish leaders. In fact, all of Jesus's actions and what He was saying and teaching angered them to the point that they were seeking to kill him. So shortly after this particular healing incident, they confront Jesus in their anger.

Jesus doesn't shrink back or allow this powerful group to intimidate Him at all. Instead He responds mightily as he very clearly and specifically lays out a logical, understandable and evidence-supported case of exactly who He is--the Son of God who came to earth offering the gift of salvation to anyone who believes in Him.

While Jesus's entire response was powerful, I found the final portion especially moving. Jesus is very direct with these men and makes sure they know that they're not saved by knowing the scriptures or following the teaching of Moses. Rather, the ONLY way to spend eternity in the presence of God is through acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God and receiving Him as Savior.

What did you learn about Jesus from this passage? What stood out to you most about Jesus, and why? How might you draw on Jesus' words to tell and explain who Jesus is and why that's important to someone who doesn't yet have a relationship with Christ? Tami

Not About Religion

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Today's reading: John 5:1-18; John 3:16-17

Throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) Jesus repeatedly places the needs of people (physical and spiritual) above following the rules of religion. That's why he chooses to heal the crippled man even though it's the Sabbath--because God isn't focused on, interested in or keeping tabs on how good we are at keeping manmade rules ("So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, 'It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed'" [vs.10]). God's primary concern is people and reaching them with His life-saving message of love.

When I worked for Back to the Bible a number of years ago, we had a ministry aimed at young adults called "Not Religion." The tag line for that ministry was, "It's not about religion...it's about a relationship." I LOVE that phrase and use it often as I talk with people about what being a Christian really means.

"'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him'" (John 3:16-17).

How do you explain being a Christ-follower and what that means to people? How might you use or draw on the phrase "It's not about religion...it's about a relationship" as you interact with someone who's negative or adversarial about Christianity? Tami

GREAT Peace

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:165 (Sin and Shin)

"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165).

The words of Psalm 119:165 moved my heart today because they describe what I've experienced. When I'm in God's Word and focused on and trusting in Him, that's when I truly have great peace. What a comfort to know that no matter our circumstances, we can stand strong and not be pulled off course by what's taking place around us.

How does God's Word bring you peace? What's an example of when being in the Word kept you from stumbling? Tami

Treasure

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Treasure

Today's reading: Psalm 119:161-167 (Sin and Shin)

Every verse of Psalm 119:161-168 (Sin and Shin) addresses God's Word in some form--describing it, explaining its impact, commenting about it.

  • Verse 161 talks about respecting Gods Word (in awe).
  • Verse 162 tells us that the psalmist takes joy in God's Word and reveals how he values it (great spoil or treasure).
  • Verse 163 shows us the psalmist's love for God's Word.
  • Verse 164 talks of God's Word being upright and good.
  • Verse 165 reveals the peace we can have when we make taking in and studying God's Word our habit.
  • Verses 166-168 all demonstrate that obeying and following God's laws and instructions should be our regular practice.

Do your feelings about God's Word line up with those of the psalmist? In a sentence or two, how would you describe God's Word and the way it impacts your daily life? Tami

Yes, But...

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Today's reading: John 5:1-9

Jesus encounters a man who has been unable to walk for most of his life (at least 38 years). His days have been spent by the side of the pool at Bethesda--a pool known for its power and capacity to heal. (Side note: I love the fact that when Jesus comes to Bethesda he chooses to put himself in the middle of and engage with the least of the people, those who are sick and destitute.) Jesus sees this man who has been lame for decades, and has compassion for him. So He asks the man if he wants to be healed. But rather than answering with a "Yes, absolutely!" the man immediately starts telling Jesus why he can't be healed. (Hmm...)

How this sick man responds got me thinking about how we (including myself) respond to difficult circumstances. So often our minds jump to and focus on a human solution when we find ourselves dealing with extreme difficulty (a cancer diagnosis, prolonged unemployment, relationship conflict, bankruptcy, divorce, death and loss, etc.). Yes, we want God to help us... but then we're reluctant to fully relinquish the situation to Him. As we hold on to our circumstances, all the while God is right there with us, eagerly waiting for us to turn and give our difficulties over to Him.

What a good reminder this account provides that nothing is impossible with God--which means that in stark contrast with little old me and you, no situation we're going through is too big or too much for Him to handle.

How has God brought you through what you thought was an impossible situation? Is "yes, but..." presently a part of your thinking or your responses to God? If so, will you turn your seemingly insurmountable situation(s) over to Him? What's one thing that encouraged you from this passage? Tami

Faith Stepping

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Today's reading: John 4:46-54

Sometimes Jesus doesn't answer our requests in the manner WE WANT for our comfort zone. That's because Jesus wants us to take a step forward in faith by believing wholeheartedly that He is in control and has our best interests at heart.

When Jesus reaches Capernaum, an official whose son is deathly ill approaches and earnestly petitions him come back to his home and heal his son. Jesus declines to go, instead telling the man, "Go; your son will live" (vs. 50). Although things don't come together the way this father envisions or wants, he believes and trusts in Jesus. So he turns and starts on his way home only to be met by servants partway through his journey. They tell him that his son is recovering and that the recovery started at precisely the time Jesus had told the man his son would live.

Where or in what area(s) is God asking you to take a faith step right now? Will you trust Him and be intentional about moving forward? When have you taken a step forward in faith and then experienced God's faithfulness? Tami

Spiritually Minded

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Today's reading: John 4:31-45

Although Jesus has been traveling on foot all day and is physically weary and hungry, he puts off satisfying his physical wants because of the spiritual opportunity that's right before Him in Sychar. The message Jesus delivers to his disciples is clear. Spiritual opportunities are abundant all around us, and we need to be intentional about looking for them and then taking action in order to impact lives for eternity.

"Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together" (vs. 35-36).

On a scale of 1-10, how intentional would you say you are about looking for opportunities to demonstrate or tell others about Christ? Is it your practice to ask God to open your eyes to spiritual things and the spiritual needs of others as you go about your day? Why is this important? Tami

ALL Welcome

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Today's reading: John 4:1-29

As we move into John 4, we reach the well-known account of "the woman at the well."

Toward the end of the day, Jesus stops at a well in the city of Sychar in Samaria on his way to Galilee. Jesus is physically tired from traveling on foot and stays at the well while the disciples go to purchase food. The well is pretty much deserted at this time of the day, but a woman from Samaria comes to draw water. When she reaches the well, Jesus tells this woman to give him a drink. The woman is a bit stunned that Jesus speaks to her given that Jesus is a Jew and she is a Samaritan, but a dialogue begins. Jesus quickly turns to talk about spiritual matters--specifically salvation.

What immediately stood out to me from this account was Jesus's "all are welcome" mindset and actions. True to form, Jesus breaks the rules--in a good way. He doesn't care that this woman is a Samaritan, a people group with whom the Jews don't associate. He doesn't care that he's engaging in conversation with a woman, something rarely done at this time in history. He doesn't care that she's a woman with a poor reputation and low standing in the community. Jesus only sees a lost soul that needs saving, and He reaches out and welcomes her in.

How do you view the people you encounter on a daily basis? Are you inclined to assess them based on their appearance, social status, education, financial condition, ethnicity, political affiliation, age or gender? What do Jesus's actions show us about valuing ALL people? How can and will you be more like Jesus--welcoming and showing love to ALL--as you're out and about this week? Tami

Boldly Humble

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Today's reading: John 3:22-36

John had quite a ministry and following. Yet when Jesus comes into the scene, he immediately recognizes and proclaims Jesus as the all-powerful Son of God, and he willingly submits himself and his ministry to Jesus. John's followers don't understand John's support of and enthusiasm for Jesus's growing ministry, so John explains quite plainly that is he not the Christ, but that Jesus is, and that means that John's rightful place is being submitted to Jesus and to point people to Him as the Son of God and Savior of the world. One of the most powerful statements John makes to his disciples is this:

"'[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease'" (vs. 30).

The same is true for us. If we truly want to live for Christ, our earthly desires must decrease so our first and foremost desire is to serve God and point people to Jesus. That sounds easy enough, but our flesh (that's our sin nature) is always there in the background urging us to elevate ourselves so we take God's place--telling us that we should be the boss of our life, that we should be calling the shots, that we deserve the best car, house, job, etc., that we are more important than others--you get the picture. So the example of John the Baptist was such a good reminder today of our need to elevate Christ and put Him first, and then in that surrendered position to boldly proclaim and represent Him to others.

What does Jesus increasing and you decreasing mean for you personally? How will you exalt (promote, elevate, proclaim) Jesus this week? Tami

Truth

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:153-160 (Resh)

Trials, suffering and affliction continue for the psalmist in this passage. Yet through it all, the psalmist is able to stand firm because he trusts God and the truth found in His Word.

"The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever" (vs. 160).

What comfort do you draw from knowing that the words and promises found in the Bible are truth? How has knowing that God's Word is truth helped you in times of distress? Tami

Total Reliance

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:145-152 (Qoph)

When we experience trials and we and/or our families are in distress, there's no better response than turning to God. The psalmist is totally dependent on God and presents the entirety of his situation to Him, holding nothing back ("with my whole heart I cry"). He boldly asks God to help and save him, while dedicating and spending time meditating on God's Word in order to keep a constant focus on God (rising before dawn and being awake before the watches of the night).

When you feel distressed and overcome by your circumstances, how do you respond? Do you talk with God and give all your stress, worries and burdens over to Him? How does relying on God give you strength? Tami

Direct Truth

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Today's reading: John 3:1-21

Shortly after the start of Jesus's public ministry, Nicodemus, a powerful and high ranking Jewish leader, seeks out Jesus at night to ask him questions and to learn more about him. Despite the lateness of the hour, Jesus welcomes this atypical guest, and a dialogue begins. Nicodemus begins the conversation by complimenting Jesus, stating that he recognizes that Jesus is a teacher sent from God and how the miracles he has been performing are of God.

While Jesus receives the compliments, he isn't interested in them. So instead of joining in the discussion Nicodemus started, Jesus immediately and abruptly changes the direction of the conversation. He cuts right to the heart of the matter--the eternally lost condition of Nicodemus' soul. At first, Nicodemus doesn't understand Jesus's words about the need to be "born again," but Jesus explains that he isn't talking in physical terms but rather his (and our) need for spiritual rebirth. As the discussion continues, Jesus lays out the Gospel message, the Good News--that every person is in need of hearing.

"'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him'" (John 3:16-17).

We all have a "Nicodemus" (maybe several) in our lives. Who is it that you know who needs to hear the good news of God's love for them and understand what Jesus did on their behalf? You could change someone's life for eternity, so don't delay. Will you take action and tell someone about Jesus this week? Tami

Amiss

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Today's reading: John 2:13-25

When Jesus arrives at the temple in Jerusalem, things are amiss. The prominent thing happening at the temple, the house of God, is the selling of goods and the exchanging of money instead of the worship of God. Jesus is grieved and angered by what he sees and immediately takes corrective action.

"And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, 'Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade'" (vs. 15-16).

What does this account convey about the need to keep God first in all areas of life? What are those things (and we all have them) that can pull your focus off of God if you're not careful? If you're in need of some corrective action so that God is your first and primary focus, will you pray and ask God to forgive your wandering heart and help you get back on course? 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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