December 2018 Archives

I Hope

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Today's reading: Psalm 130:1-8

Psalm 130 gives us a beautiful picture of God's offer of forgiveness and the hope that we have for eternity as a result. And yes, while there is waiting now (verses 5 and 6), knowing that we are forgiven and redeemed allows us to wait eagerly and with expectation of our incredible heavenly future.

What does hoping in God's Word (vs. 5) and hoping in the Lord (vs. 7) mean to you? How do you explain or describe your hope to someone who doesn't know Christ? How about to a believer who is struggling? Tami

Hope-filled Hardship

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Today's reading: Psalm 129:1-8

Psalm 129 speaks of great hardship and suffering being experienced by Israel ("'The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows'" [vs. 3]). Yet in the middle of affliction and adversity, we see the proclamation of God's righteousness paired with a hope-filled calling out to a sovereign, loving and faithful God.

More often than not, our earthly circumstances will bring us face-to-face with hardship and trials. And when we find ourselves "greatly afflicted" what a comfort it is to know that God is in control, He is always and forever good and faithful, and we can confidently place our hope in Him.

How does looking back and remembering how God has provided for and protected you in the past help you when you encounter hardship? Is it your practice to have candid conversations with God about your difficult circumstances? Why and/or how is this important and helpful? Tami

It Is Well

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Today's reading: Psalm 128:1-6

"Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you" (Psalm 128:1-2).

There's nothing better than when my eyes are fully on God and I'm intentional about taking every step with God so that I'm walking in His ways. That's when I experience God's blessing through having peace, joy, contentment, rest and a sense of completeness.

How intentional are you about your walk with God? How would you explain the importance of this to a new Christian? What's one example of you living out and experiencing Psalm 128:2? Tami

Valuable Wisdom

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:13-35

In the second half of Proverbs 3 Solomon turns to wisdom, a subject he was certainly knowledgeable about as the wisest man to ever live (see 1 Kings 3:1-12). So in verses 13-35, Solomon schools us a bit on wisdom, giving us three different looks at this valuable quality.

  • Look 1: Verses 13-18 lay out before us the value of wisdom--better than gain from silver and gold, more precious than jewels, bringing pleasantness and peace, being a tree of life to her possessors.
  • Look 2: Verses 19-20 highlight God's wisdom from the perspective of His creation.
  • Look 3: Then in verses 21-35 we are given practical instruction on wise living, paired with benefits of living wisely and rightly--life to our soul, helps us walk securely and not be afraid.

What benefits from possessing wisdom stood out to you from Proverbs 3:13-35, and why? What motivation do you draw from knowing that "the wise will inherit honor" (vs. 35)? How are you seeking and pursuing wisdom? Tami

Growing Pains

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:11-12

Because we aren't perfect and never will be this side of heaven, we sin. Sometimes we're blatant about it, intentionally choosing to do things our way. Other times our moving away from God is more subtle, like a wandering or drifting away. In both situations and everything in between, if at some point we don't turn back to God, He will eventually use discipline to get our attention and bring us back in alignment with Him.

I doubt I'm alone in saying that I don't particularly enjoy being disciplined. In fact, I try to avoid it. But Proverbs 3:11-12 delivers the message that being disciplined is a necessary part of living for God.

Even though the experience of being disciplined may not be pleasant, we should be thankful for it because God's discipline is evidence of His great love and care for us. Instead of writing us off like a lost cause, He lovingly uses discipline to teach, protect and guide us, and through it all, our relationship with this wonderfully personal God grows and matures.

In times or seasons of discipline, how do you tend to respond, and why? How have you benefitted from God's discipline? What's one example? Tami

Acknowledging God

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Today's reading: Proverbs 3:5-8

With another new year fast approaching, Proverbs 3 came to mind today. Proverbs 3:5-8, and particularly verses 5-6, are quoted often as guidelines for having a good and healthy relationship with God. The words "in all your ways acknowledge him" in verse 6 speak loudly to me.

Sadly, the social climate in our country is becoming less and less tolerant of anything to do with God or standing up for godly principles. So the instruction to acknowledge God in ALL our ways is likely one that will challenge and stretch those who have placed their faith in Christ as we engage with a society that seems determined to turn away from God.

So here are a couple of questions for us to consider as we navigate today's world:

Am I willing to proclaim, like Paul, that "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (see Romans 1:16; Philippians 1:20)? Am I willing to take a stand and speak up for what God says is right, even if it brings ridicule or unfair treatment? What does acknowledging God "in all your ways" mean and look like for your life? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-40; Matthew 1:18-2:23

We just spent the last week reading through the Christmas account occurrence by occurrence. So with today being Christmas day, look back over these passages and the different characters, considering what God revealed to you through your reading of this story.

Which character (besides Jesus) from this story impacted you most, and why? Did you see or notice anything new (a detail, response, setting, etc.) as you read this familiar story? What's the primary message God impressed on your heart as you read through the Christmas story this year? Tami

God's Protection

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Today's reading: Matthew 2:13-23

After the wise men visit Jesus, God warns Joseph through a dream of Herod's intent to find and kill Jesus. So Joseph, Mary and Jesus head to Egypt where they stay until they receive another divine message instructing them to return to Israel because Herod had died.

This part of the Christmas story beautifully and clearly depicts how God watches over, cares for and protects us.

Thank you God!

Think back over the past several years. Identify at least one situation or scenario where God protected you or your family physically, financially or emotionally. How does remembering God's past protection give you encouragement as you go forward? Tami

Advancing the Plan

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Today's reading: Matthew 2:1-12

On their quest to find Jesus, the wise men come to Jerusalem and end up meeting with King Herod, who's the current residing king over the Jewish people. When Herod discovers that the purpose of the wise men's visit is to find the baby who had been born "king of the Jews" (as scripture foretold), he feels threatened and immediately puts in motion a plan to kill this baby boy who would be king. So Herod deceptively tells the wise men that he is also excited about this child, and sends the wise men off with instructions to immediately let him know where the child is once they locate him so that he can worship him too.

God's ability to be in control of all things while using good, bad and even ugly people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes is the message that came across loud and clear to me as I took in this passage. Although Herod wanted to snuff Jesus out of the picture--and he did his best to accomplish this--it didn't in any way thwart God's plan. Instead, God used Herod, the wise men and the upcoming exodus to Egypt for Mary, Joseph and Jesus (Matthew 2:12-23) to advance and accomplish His overall purpose.

The same is true in our lives. We live in a sinful world, and that means that as we are striving to live for and serve God, things won't always be easy or play out as we'd like. We will encounter opposition. We will face spiritual warfare. But just as God was presiding over the situation with the wise men and Herod, He is watching over and advancing His plan through each of us right now. There's no opposition or roadblock that's too big for God.

What's one lesson about God that you learned or noticed from the account of the wise men? What situation do you need to turn over and entrust to God and His way of doing things today? Tami

Confirmations

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Today's reading: Luke 2:22-38

Shortly after Jesus's birth, Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present their firstborn son to the Lord and offer sacrifices as required under Jewish Law. I can only imagine how Joseph and Mary were feeling at this early point in life as the new parents of baby Jesus. Although they were trusting and following God, I'm guessing they were wondering how life was going to progress as the parents of God's son and what exactly that would look like.

So in this passage, God does what He does so often: He orchestrates a life-changing encounter. God intersects the lives of Simeon and Anna with Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they arrive at the temple. And through those interactions, God fulfills the promise He made to Simeon and also provides confirmation and encouragement to Anna and the young couple--Joseph and Mary.

What does this account reveal about God and His faithfulness to us? What's one example where God provided confirmation and encouragement to you through another person? Tami

Good News Cycle

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Today's reading: Luke 2:8-21

My favorite part of the Christmas story is the shepherd's interaction with the angel of the Lord and then the appearance of a large assembly of angels. I love that God chose common, working people to be the first to receive the news of Jesus's earthly arrival paired with the message of salvation for ALL people.

"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'" (vs. 10-11).

Today as I read this familiar passage, God impressed on my heart what I'll call the cycle of Good News. Let me explain. The angel of the Lord brings the message of Jesus--the Good News of salvation--to the shepherds. So the shepherds hear and receive the salvation message. Then they go to Bethlehem where they have a personal encounter with the Good News, Jesus Christ. That encounter changes their lives forever, and they respond by immediately going and telling the Good News message to whomever they encounter.

Hearing the Good News of salvation leads to personally encountering the Person of the Good News, Jesus, and our response is to then share (go and tell) the Good News with others.

The Christmas season provides many opportunities to tell others about Jesus and salvation. There are countless people all around us who need to hear the Good News. There's still plenty of time to invite someone to church this weekend. Who can and will you invite to encounter Jesus in a personal way this Christmas? Tami

The Journey

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Today's reading: Luke 2:8-21

No matter how much we desire for our life journey to be routine and steady, it just doesn't play out that way. We live in an immensely active world, and while we like to think that the world centers around us and our plans, the truth is we're really only one of billions of people navigating life simultaneously. That being the case, unexpected and sometimes unwanted changees are inevitable. The good news is that as followers of Christ, God is with us--guiding, encouraging, providing for, protecting and watching over every single step we take.

Luke 2 tells us of Mary and Joseph's inconvenient journey to Bethlehem for the census. As I took in these verses I spent a few minutes imagining myself in their shoes. I guarantee they would have preferred to skip this arduous journey, but their situation dictated otherwise. So they set out, not knowing what to expect with Mary's pregnancy, not knowing what they would find in Bethlehem, not having a reservation at an Inn once they arrived.

Scary, tiring and stressful are just a few of the words that came to my mind as I considered this experience. But this newly married couple pressed on, choosing to trust God in and through every step of the journey--and God provided.

What does this passage show about how God can use difficult circumstances to teach us to more fully rely on Him? How has God guided, protected, provided for and sustained you in past hard circumstances? Will you join me today in trusting God with our journeys--our physical location and situation as well as our spiritual state and place? He will sustain and provide!! Tami

Godly Man and Husband

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Today's reading: Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph was one amazing man! Even though we aren't told much about Jesus's earthly father, Joseph, the few details we're given coupled with what we can infer actually reveal quite a bit. The scriptures tell us point blank that Joseph was "a just man" (good, moral, upright) and that he was considerate of Mary--even without knowing she was carrying the Son of God. And when Joseph heard from God through a dream, he obediently did as he was instructed.

Upon learning of Mary's pregnancy, Joseph found himself facing a highly unpleasant and certainly unwanted situation. Yet instead of responding to the gamut of emotions that he was probably experiencing (think about it--anger, hurt, depression, anxiety, frustration), Joseph responded with wisdom.

He kept his emotions in check, which allowed him to contemplate the situation and determine the best outcome, for not only himself, but for Mary. Then after Joseph receives instruction from God to go through with the marriage, he changes his plans and does exactly as directed--despite the disapproval, ridicule and scorn that would undoubtedly come from family, friends and community members.

What's one lesson that stood out to you from Joseph's example, and why? What does Joseph's example show about the importance of taking time to think before responding to an unsettling or unpleasant situation? What did this passage reveal to you about God and His ways? Tami

Heart Song

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Today's reading: Luke 1:39-56

Mary believed what was told to her by the angel Gabriel. And not only did she believe, she rejoiced in the favor God was showing her.

So when young Mary goes to visit her aunt, Elizabeth (who was pregnant with a baby boy who would grow up to be John the Baptist), Mary recognizes Elizabeth's excitement about the child Mary was carrying (Jesus) and the important role Mary was carrying out, and Mary responds with a song of praise. Mary's song or "Magnificat" is Mary's way of putting into words the joy in her heart for what God had done, was doing and would ultimately do through Jesus who was coming as the Savior of the world.

The very first phrase of this song spoke loudly to me today, lifting my spirits and encouraging me to be intentional about highlighting God to others.

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."(vs. 46-47).

How did Mary's song of praise impact you today? How have you "magnified" (highlighted, amplified, augmented) Jesus and His coming to earth in the past couple of weeks? What's your song of praise going to look and sound like from now until Christmas? Tami

Unexpected Visit

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Today's reading: Luke 1:26-38

With Christmas a little over a week away, we're going to take a break from John (and its focus on Jesus' final days on earth) and turn to the Christmas story found in the opening chapters of Luke and Matthew. The Bible is rich with details about Jesus' human arrival on earth. So let's read this miraculous account with inquisitive eyes so we can get an even fuller grasp of the unfolding of God's love for us.

I'm always moved by Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel. Mary's response upon receiving such incredible news--and most definitely shocking news--(that she is going to conceive a baby by the Holy Spirit who would be the Son of God in human form) is nothing less than amazing. This young, teenage girl is so committed to God that she believes what she's told and immediately and willingly submits her all to carrying out God's purpose and plan.

So often when God introduces change into our lives, our initial response is not submission but is instead to doubt and question, arguement and negotiation with God, delay in taking action, ignoring the situation or to following our own path. We see none of this with Mary. She asks a question because she doesn't comprehend how she could have a baby as a virgin--but her question isn't asked with a tone of doubt, but rather with a tone of clarification given the strangeness of the news she has just received. And once Gabriel explains how she will conceive and what that means, her immediate response is, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (vs. 38).

"God, thank you for giving us the details of this encounter and showing us Mary's beautiful example. Help us respond like Mary as we live for You."

How do you tend to respond when life circumstances change unexpectedly? What stands out to you most from Mary's example, and why? What did this passage reveal to you about God? Tami

Unless...

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Today's reading: Psalm 127:1-5

Psalm 127 makes it absolutely clear that unless we make God and His Word our foundation, ultimately our efforts will be in vain, unproductive and ineffective.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (vs. 1).

Would you say that your "house" (your life, relationships, goals, how you spend your time) is built upon God? What's one example of this? What are you doing to keep your "foundation" strong? Tami

Restored

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Today's reading: Psalm 126:1-6

The message of tears to joy in verses 5 and 6 resonated with me because I've experienced that very thing. There have been so many times over the years where I've found myself in a difficult situation that, at the time, was heavy and miserable. But then weeks, months and in a some cases even years later, it's resolved.

I can look back and see how God guided and supported me through the situation with the end result being a stronger and more joyful me.

How has God restored you from tears to joy in the past? What encouragement do you draw from this passage, especially if you're in a place of "sowing tears" right now? Tami

Offerings

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Today's reading: John 12:1-8

In this Christmas season with its heavy focus on gifts and presents, the affirming gift-giving to Jesus in today's passage drew my attention. With the Passover (and Jesus's crucifixion) just a few days away, Jesus and the disciples come to Bethany where they connect with Lazarus and his family.

Lazarus, Martha and Mary all show their respect, gratitude and great love for Jesus through various offerings. They provide, prepare and serve an evening meal, they make time to grow closer to Jesus, and Mary brings Jesus expensive nard ointment and personally anoints Him with it.

What do your offerings to Jesus typically look like? Do you give financially (tithe) on a regular basis? Do you give your time to serve at church or help those in need in your community? Do you think of spending time getting to know Jesus (in prayer and time in His Word) as being an offering? What's one specific gift or offering you are going to present to Jesus this Christmas season? Tami

Consuming Power

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Today's reading: John 11:45-57

While many people celebrate Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead, some people--the Pharisees and chief priests--aren't pleased at all by Jesus's miracle. In fact, they were downright angered by it. Upon learning of yet another and even more astounding miracle from Jesus, the Jewish leaders are in an uproar.

Despite God's plan of salvation as foretold in the Scriptures playing out right before their eyes, they seem blind and/or extremely hardened to it, and they want nothing to do with Jesus.

Being in a position of power is a good thing when we choose to use the power we have appropriately. But when we allow the power we possess (and we all possess and have power of some sort) to go to heads, bad things happen. Our judgment slips, our perspective changes, and at some point, the decisions we make become about protecting and maintaining our power, even at the cost of hurting others. That's the situation I see in our passage for today. The positions of Pharisee and chief priest were important ones to the Jewish people, and the power they possessed had its grips on the hearts and minds of these Jewish leaders.

What's one thing this passage revealed to you about power? What are some things that help you keep a proper perspective on power and/or position? What's an example of how you handle or use the power or position you have well (at work, home, church, community)? Tami

Jesus Wept

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Today's reading: John 11:17-44

When Jesus finally arrives in Bethany, Lazarus's lifeless body has already been placed in the tomb and has been there four days. The family and community are in full grieving. Jesus first speaks with Martha and then Mary who both tell Him how if He had been there Lazarus would not have died. Twice in verses 33-38 we're told that Jesus was "deeply moved" by the mourning taking place--so much so that Jesus also wept for Lazarus... even though He knew that in just a short time He was going to bring his friend back to life.

Rather than simply swooping in and fixing the situation (which He ultimately did), Jesus chose to experience this sad and hard situation with Mary and Martha. He lovingly came alongside them, listened to their concerns, offered consoling words and grieved with them before going to the tomb where He acknowledged God the Father for His greatness and goodness and then called Lazarus back to life.

There are grieving and hurting people all around us, and oftentimes the holidays have a way of magnifying those hurts. So who will you show the love of Jesus to this holiday season? Who do you know that could use a listening ear, an encouraging card, an invite to coffee or lunch, a phone call or text letting them know they are on your mind and being prayed for, a helping hand around the house or yard or an invitation to join you for Christmas dinner? Tami

Different Ways

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Today's reading: John 11:1-16

One of Jesus's followers, Lazarus, becomes quite sick. His sisters, who are also followers of Jesus, send word to Jesus so He can come and heal Lazarus. But Jesus doesn't respond like they expect or how they want. When the news reaches Him, instead of jumping right up and attending to the matter, Jesus stays where He's at for two more days, and in that time Lazarus dies.

Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, yet he allowed each of them to go through an agonizing and painful situation (both physically and emotionally) before He took action and set things right.

This passage provides such a good reminder about how our perspective and desires typically operates differently from the way God works. I can think of numerous times when God allowed me to go through a hardship so that when I came out the other side, it was evident that He was in control, watching over and teaching me the entire time. While I don't enjoy pain, hardship and difficulties I can honestly say that these times have a way of showcasing God to me and drawing me even closer to Him.

What did you notice or learn from this account about God's ways, timing or perspective? What's one example of how you've learned and grown spiritually through a difficult circumstance or situation? How was God highlighted in and through the experience? Tami

Today's reading: John 10:22-42

As we come to the middle of John 10, Jesus has yet another encounter with a group of Jews in the temple. These men don't want to accept Jesus because He isn't lining up with their expectations. He isn't saying and doing things like they want. He's professing, teaching and modeling a different way to live. Simply put, Jesus is "rocking" their comfortable world and they don't like it. So although they absolutely see the incredible supernatural things Jesus is doing in their presence, they choose to cling to their prejudices and doubts, and thus we see these men challenging and verbally attacking Jesus with the hope of getting Him to say something that would lead to His demise.

Jesus knows what's going on, and responds to their calculated inquiries in His typical manner--graciously speaking truth. Yet, many in the crowd were angered and wanted to stone Jesus and have Him arrested. But not everyone had that response. Jesus's actions and the truth He spoke reached and changed many hearts.

"And many came to him. And they said, 'John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.' And many believed in him there" (vs. 41-42).

Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are His ambassadors--we are called to tell others about Jesus's free offer of salvation. But as we saw in this passage, not everyone we encounter will be open to or excited about our message. Some may be downright adversarial and even ugly to us. But as we graciously deliver God's message of life-giving truth, some will receive it and make a decision to follow Christ. So we must faithfully press on!

Why is keeping our composure and responding graciously so important as we engage in conversation with others about Jesus? Would you join me in asking God to help us view every person we encounter (even those behaving poorly) with His love this Christmas season? And then... let's ask God to help us be bold in delivering His message of love and hope to them. Tami

Surrounded and Strong

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Today's reading: Psalm 125:1-5

The first two verses of Psalm 125 are powerful! How awesome it is to know that God has us surrounded. And as a result, we can stand on solid ground and not be moved or shaken regardless of our circumstances or what is taking place around us. Thank you, God!

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore" (Psalm 125:1-2).

What encouragement and hope do you draw from these verses? What's an example of how God has "surrounded" you in and through a difficult circumstance? Is there something (a situation or area of your life) you need to turn over to God today so that you can stand strong with God's strength and not be moved? Tami

Our Help

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Today's reading: Psalm 124:1-8

In Psalm 124 David looks back and recalls how God has been Israel's helper. He then turns to praising God for what He has done and what He will continue to do.

"Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (vs. 8).

Why is it important to regularly look back at what God has done and thank Him for it? When you've done this, how has it impacted you and your relationship with God? Take a few minutes to recall how God has been your help. Write it down and then thank God for being your helper. Tami

Good Shepherd

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Today's reading: John 10:1-21, Psalm 23:1-6

Using the metaphor of a shepherd and his flock of sheep (an image that would be very familiar to those around Him) Jesus delivers the message that He is the Savior whom they have been waiting for.

"'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep... I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture... I came that they may have life and have it abundantly'" (vs. 7, 9-10).

What a powerful depiction and explanation of who Jesus is and the loving relationship He has with those who choose to follow Him, as well as His desire for all people to have a personal relationship with Him. Thank you, Jesus!

"'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd'" (vs.11, 14-16).

What does Jesus being "the good shepherd" mean to you? What's one example of how you've experienced Jesus being your shepherd (as described in John 10 and/or Psalm 23)? What does this passage convey about God's care for and interest in you? Tami

Your Story

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Today's reading: John 9:1-41

Jesus's healing of the blind man in John 9 was a great reminder for me that one of the best ways for me to share Christ with others is by telling my story. In other words, how having a personal relationship with Jesus changed my life when I first made the decision to follow Christ, and how my life continues to be impacted since making that pivotal decision--how God has watched over, protected, guided, comforted, taught and grown me through difficult circumstances, how I have seen Him work in my family, etc.

The blind man who encountered Jesus was changed forever--first physically and then spiritually. And he was vocal about his experience, telling his story to those around him. What stands out to me most about this account is the power of this man's story. Despite being confronted and interrogated by the religious leaders who wielded much authority, this man was able to calmly and confidently communicate his story. And no matter how hard they pressed against him (and they pressed hard), the Jewish leaders cannot negate or discredit this man's experience with Jesus. The details of what happened are factual, and because of that, this man is able to bodly and confidently relay the truth of his life-changing experience to all those around him--even with those who are opposed to Jesus. The same is true for us.

What is your story? How did encountering Jesus in a personal way change your life (physically and spiritually)? How is your relationship with Jesus (since making the decision to receive Christ as your Savior) continuing to impact your life? The way you answer these questions is your story, and it's a great way to introduce and share Jesus with others. So take some time today to think about your story (not just when and how you were saved, but how God continues to work and move in your life) so you're prepared to boldly and confidently share your experiences with others. Then, get out there and start talking. Who can/will you share your story with in the coming week? Tami

God Displayed

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Today's reading: John 9:1-41

The disciples and Jesus come upon a man who has been blind since birth. Immediately, the disciples jump to the conclusion that this man's sin was the cause of his blindness. But Jesus informs them otherwise, telling the disciples that neither the man's sin nor the sin of his parents brought about the circumstance. Rather, the man's blindness was necessary for God and His work to be highlighted and shown to others.

There are a variety of different reasons for difficult circumstances in our lives. Yet when something unpleasant arises (in our life or in someone else's), we often jump to the conclusion that poor choices and actions brought about the bad circumstance and that God is disciplining us or them. That can be the case--but not always.

You see, sometimes God allows tough circumstances to come into our lives as a way to teach and grow us so that we have a better understanding of who He is--ultimately leading us closer to Him. Other times God uses hard circumstances so that His moving in our lives--the way He provides, sustains and protects us--is made known to us and others. There will be times when the ugly situation we're facing is because of us and a poor choice we've made. Regardless of how we end up in the hard situation, God is in control and will use our circumstances to accomplish His purposes and ultimately bring Him glory.

When you encounter extremely difficult circumstances, do you think of them as opportunities to highlight God and grow even closer to Him? What's one example of how God used a difficult situation to teach you more about Him and His love for you? What's an example of how God was highlighted to someone else through a bad or tough circumstance you experienced? Tami

Game Changer

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Today's reading: John 8:12, John 8:39-59

As Jesus continues to dialogue with the people who are opposing Him about being the Son of God, the crux of their argument is that Abraham is their father and they follow him. In other words, their assertion is that their salvation is through their Jewish heritage or birthright as direct descendants of Abraham. Jesus, however, very clearly informs them otherwise, pointing out that while they are physical descendants of Abraham, they are in fact still sinners who are in need of a Savior.

"'Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies... Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God'" (vs. 43-44, 47).

Prior to making the decision to turn our lives over to Christ (entering into a personal relationship with Him), we are totally and completely slaves to sin. We are our own god. We're self-centered, and our will is to follow our sinful desires. BUT JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

With December upon us we are now in the Christmas season and its message of love and hope. Who do you know who needs to hear about, see and personally meet Jesus? (I guarantee you that you know someone--and probably several someones.) Will you step out and talk to these people (friends, co-workers, store clerks, family) about God's love for them? Invite someone to church this Christmas season--this Sunday, next Sunday, Christmas Eve. You could change someone's life for eternity! Tami

Abiding

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Today's reading: John 8:31-38

"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'" (John 8:31-32).

Oh, the incredible benefit of abiding in God's Word (dwelling, remaining, staying). When we choose to be intentional and consistent about engaging God's Word--taking it in, spending time considering it, committing it to memory, putting what we've read and learned into practice through our actions--we'll know God's truth and that truth will indeed free.

Truth sets us free from the bondage of sin and the things of this world that are constantly bombarding us in an attempt to bog us down and get us off track spiritually. God's Word empowers us!

Are you regularly taking in God's Word, considering it and then putting it into practice in your daily life? If not, what steps do you need to take to make that happen? (Take a few minutes to think about what "abiding" in God's Word would look like in your life.) What's an example of one of the freedoms that knowing God's truth has given to you? (For example: freed from feelings of guilt and shame, freed from some sort of addiction, free to love all people, freed from living in fear, etc.) Tami

Looking Up

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Today's reading: Psalm 123:1-4

Although it only has four verses, Psalm 123 delivers a strong message. For me, it provided a recognition of who God is--Master and Creator--and reminded me that He alone is in control.

What did this passage reveal to you about your relationship with God? What does "lifting up your eyes to God" mean or look like for you? Tami

Glad Heart

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Today's reading: Psalm 122:1-9

The very first verse of Psalm 122 immediately got me thinking of Sundays and going to church.

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'"

It caused me do some reflecting on my attitude about church and how I recognize God and give thanks to Him while I'm there as well as why coming together corporately to worship God is so important.

Does Psalm 122:1 describe how you feel on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings or whenever you're on your way to a church gathering? David talks about giving thanks to the name of the Lord in verse 4. What are some specific ways you do this? 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 December 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

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