December 2018 Archives

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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About this Archive

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

November 2018 is the previous archive.

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