January 2019 Archives

Standing the Test

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Today's reading: James 1:12-15

The Bible is quite clear about the fact that as followers of Christ, we will encounter and experience hardships, trials, persecution and difficulties of all sorts. James 1 certainly reinforces this message, but it also lets us know--with certainty--that when those hard times come, we can persevere. And as we draw on God's strength and stand firmly in Him, God takes note and will reward us with the crown of life in eternity.

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him" (vs. 12).

How does spending time reading the Bible help you "remain steadfast under trial"? What about prayer? Christian friends and being involved at church? What encouragement do you draw from knowing that there will be rewards in heaven related to how you live for Christ on earth? Tami

Pursuing God

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Today's reading: James 1:9-11

We live in a material world. Almost everywhere you look, there are online ads, television commercials and radio spots bombarding us with the message that we need and deserve more. And our "smart technology" is only compounding this situation. So as I read James 1:9-11 this morning, it felt like a little breath of fresh air that provided some needed perspective.

"Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits" (vs. 9-11).

"Thank You, God, for this small but needed reminder that pursuing anything but You is ultimately a wasted and useless effort. Help us, God, to resist the commercial pull surrounding us and instead focus our attention on following and highlighting You."

What helps you keep a proper perspective as you navigate life in this commercially-crazed world? How might you explain to someone the folly of pursuing riches and material things? What's one thing you can do to help others see how pursuing God is what brings true and lasting joy? Tami


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Today's reading: James 1:5-8

We need wisdom--godly wisdom--more than anything else when we find ourselves facing a difficult situation or hard-pressed in the middle of a trial. So how do we go about acquiring godly wisdom? We ask for it. We fix our eyes on God and then humbly and wholeheartedly ask Him to provide us with wisdom. And God, being the incredible Father that He is, will "generously" give it to us. Thank you, God!

How are you encouraged or comforted by knowing that God freely offers His wisdom when we (His children) ask for it? Why is keeping your eyes fixed on God at all times so important? In what situation or circumstance do you need God's wisdom and direction? Tami

Seizing Trials

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Today's reading: James 1:1-4

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds . . ." (vs. 2).

A well-known verse, James 1:2 certainly delivers a punch. These thirteen words let us know that difficulties, hardship, challenges and struggles will be part of our lives as we live for Christ. But rather than dreading or trying to run from these trying times, our best course of action is to seize or embrace them--knowing that God will use each trial we encounter to grow and strengthen us.

How do you tend to respond when you encounter trials? Do you think of and approach struggles and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow spiritually? What's one example of how God has used a trial to grow and strengthen you spiritually, emotionally and intellectually? Tami

We Can Sing

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Today's reading: Psalm 137:1-9

Even when times are tough, we can have joy if we keep our eyes on God and continue to praise and sing to Him. Sometimes, though, that can be difficult. There have been plenty of times when I've gone to a church service weary and downhearted to the point that I didn't want to sing or participate in the service--but I left the service with a different attitude. Why? Because I chose to sing to the Lord--even as I struggled. My decision to sing (many times through tears) served to sooth my heart and open my ears to hear more clearly from God, who was right there by my side.

What role has remembering God's goodness played in helping you maintain a joyful heart, particularly in difficult circumstances? Tami

P.S. As I read and considered Psalm 137, the song "How Can I Keep from Singing" by Chris Tomlin came to my mind. I invite you to take a listen and sing along to God!

Today's reading: Psalm 136:1-26

Each verse of Psalm 136 provides a description of God or a description of a mighty deed God has done, followed by the phrase "his steadfast love endures forever." So, 26 times in this psalm we're told that God's love is steadfast and endures forever. That's a powerful promise for us to claim!

The format of this psalm got me thinking about what I could say if I were writing my own poem to God using this format. Here are two of my verses:

  • To him who continued to watch over me even when I thought I knew better and wanted to do things on my own; for his steadfast love endures forever.
  • To him who protected and shielded my family from harm; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Now it's your turn to write a verse or two following the model of Psalm 136. Complete the verse below by filling in the blank with something specific from your life. Give it some thought and have fun! Tami

___________________________________________________; for his steadfast love endures forever.

In Review

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Today's reading: John 1-17

For the past several weeks, we've been working our way through the first seventeen chapters of John. With the approach of Easter in just a couple of months, we're going to take a break from the Book of John until we reach mid-April, where we'll pick back up with Jesus's arrest. But before we move to a new book on Monday, let's take today to think back over what we've read and considered so far in John, identifying at least one significant lesson or passage.

What I find attractive about John (and the other Gospels) is the real life look it gives us of Jesus--fully man and fully God--interacting with people. I particularly like the many passages where Jesus tells those around Him who He is and why He has come. My favorite passage is John 6:35, 39-40.

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. . . 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. 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'" (John 6:35, 39-40).

What one lesson or passage stood out to you most from your reading of John 1-17, and why? Tami

Prayer of Love

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Today's reading: John 17:1-26

John 17 records the heartfelt prayer by Jesus, for himself and His followers, as the events of His arrest and crucifixion are about to begin. Knowing that He will soon be leaving the disciples and those who'd chosen to believe in and follow Him (His crucifixion and then His return to heaven), Jesus lifts up His followers in prayer to God the Father, asking for their protection, spiritual growth and unity as they move forward to spread God's message of salvation to a world in need of a Savior.

What does Jesus's prayer reveal about God's love for us, His children? What example does this prayer provide about praying for others? What component(s) from this prayer might you put into practice in your own prayers? Tami

What's Best

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Today's reading: John 16:5-15

When Jesus tells the disciples He is going away, they don't want to hear it. They want Jesus to stay and continue on as their teacher and leader. Jesus, however, knows that what's best is God's plan--His death on the cross, His resurrection, His return to heaven and then the sending of the Holy Spirit who will help, comfort and equip the disciples as they spread the Gospel message.

Sometimes the thing we think we don't want and try so hard to avoid is actually the very thing we need. As I look back over the past several years, I can see clearly (hindsight is truly 20-20) that some of my biggest struggles and hurts were necessary for me to grow spiritually. God knew best and used those situations to move me forward and into a place where I could serve Him even better. That being the case, my heart went out to the disciples as I read John 16:5-15. However, I'm pretty sure that only a few years later they, like me, could see clearly that God's plan (Jesus leaving and the Holy Spirit coming) was best.

When has God used what seemed like a bad circumstance or situation to draw you closer to Him, grow you spiritually and move you forward in serving Him? What does this passage reveal about God wanting the best for us and putting things in place for that to happen? Tami

Leading with Love

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Today's reading: John 16:1-33

Jesus being a caring and loving leader is what stood out to me as I took in and considered the conversation Jesus has with His disciples in John 16. Jesus knows exactly what will happen to Him in the coming hours (His crucifixion) and days (His resurrection and return to heaven), so He talks with the disciples in order to prepare them for these events that will be life changing for them in a number of ways.

What I liked most from this passage is what Jesus didn't do. Let me explain. The disciples don't comprehend what Jesus is telling them. They have questions but are afraid to voice them to Jesus. Aware of their confusion and reluctance to ask Him to explain His words, Jesus doesn't respond impatiently or with a harsh tone. Rather, He lovingly lets them know that He is aware of their uncertainty and willingly offers clarification and additional explanation. His tone and actions not only ease their fears but also encourage them about how to respond to what the future holds.

What's one leadership quality that you noticed in Jesus in this passage? How do you feel when someone leads you with a loving and caring attitude rather than with impatient and critical words? How will you lead with love this week, and whom? Tami

Today's reading: John 15:1-27

Immediately after instructing the disciples to love one another, Jesus turns the discussion to hatred and persecution--something that the disciples are going to encounter as they follow after and deliver the salvation message of Jesus to the world. What Jesus tells the disciples is also true for us as Christ followers today.

Our choice to follow Christ and live according to God's principles and standards sets us apart from a world filled with people who don't yet have a relationship with God and whose focus is on themselves--accomplishments, possessions, comfort, status, money, etc. That being the case, our differing beliefs and actions will likely lead us to encounter varying degrees of opposition and persecution. Thus Jesus's command to the disciples to love one another. Jesus knows how hard it is to stand alone when under attack or being challenged about spiritual choices. But when we have friendships and are connected with other Christ followers (as part of a church body or belonging to a study or life group, for example), it strengthens us and allows us to stand strong for Christ together.

How has being involved in church or being a member of a small group (life group, community group, Bible study group, etc.) helped you stand firm as a Christian? What encouragement did you draw from Jesus's words to the disciples in John 15? Tami

Living and Active

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Today's reading: Psalm 135:1-21

Psalm 135 is a song of praise to the one and only sovereign God. What I particularly like about this song is the contrast the psalmist provides between the gods of the world--man-made gods who do not speak, hear, see or breathe--and our God, who is living and active and makes the clouds rise, makes lightning for the rains, brings forth the wind and who watches over, provides for and moves on behalf of His children.

What's one thing you learned or noticed about God from this psalm? How does the message of this psalm, and particularly the words of verse 5, encourage and motivate you to praise God today? Tami

Good, Great & Living

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Today's reading: Psalm 135:1-21

Psalm 135 calls us to praise God for who He is--the one and only living God who is good, great and over and above all things.

"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods" (vs. 5).

What stood out to you most about God's greatness from this psalm? How would you describe God being a good, great and living God to someone who doesn't have a relationship with Christ? Tami

Loving Others

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Today's reading: John 15:12

Keeping it super short today. One of the final instructions Jesus gives to and emphasizes with His disciples is to love people like He loves them.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

On a scale from 1-10, how well would you say you're doing in living out this commandment, and why? To whom can/will you show love to as you go about this day? Will you join with me in being extra intentional about offering love to every person we encounter today and this weekend? Tami


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Today's reading: John 15:1-11

Ten times in John 15:1-11 Jesus uses the word "abide" as He talks with His disciples about their relationship with Him and what living a healthy, godly life requires and looks like. According to dictionary.com, the word "abide" (used as a verb like it is by Jesus in John 15) means:

  1. to remain, continue or stay;
  2. to have one's abode, dwell or reside; or
  3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude or relationship.

When I think about Jesus's command in verse 4 to "abide in me," what comes to mind is an interactive and dynamic relationship that requires me to be an active participant. The primary way I can have and maintain that kind of abiding relationship is to spend time with God in His Word, the Bible--taking it in, considering and praying about what I've read and then putting into practice what God has revealed to me and impressed on my heart.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (vs. 4).

What does this passage convey about the importance of regular interaction with God through His Word and prayer? How have you experienced abiding in Christ? How would you describe the experience of abiding to someone else? Tami


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Today's reading: John 15:1-15

John 15:5 is one of my favorite Bible verses (so much so that I had this verse stenciled on my wall for quite a few years). I love how Jesus uses a familiar agricultural example to help us better understand the close and personal relationship He desires with us along with the benefit of this relationship.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (vs. 5).

What's an example of you "bearing fruit" in the last week? Month? Year? How have you experienced Jesus's statement that "apart from me you can do nothing"? How would you explain it to someone else? Tami

Helping Gift

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Today's reading: John 14:15-31

One of the final things Jesus talks about with the disciples is the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. And what an incredible gift He is, once we make the decision to receive Christ as our Savior.

Identify at least three things this passage reveals to us about the Holy Spirit. As a Christ follower, how often do you think about the gift of the Holy Spirit? How have you benefited from the Holy Spirit's presence? Tami

Today's reading: John 14:12-31

As part of Jesus's talk with the disciples preparing them about His impending death and departure from earth, He spends a portion of His time caringly instructing them about believing in, following after and loving Him.

"'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father'" (vs. 12).

"'If you love me, you will keep my commandments'" (vs. 15).

"'Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him'" (vs. 21).

"'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him'" (vs. 23).

Is it your aim to follow Jesus by living out His example in your daily life? In a typical week, how much thought do you give to following the commandments in God's Word and modeling Jesus to those you interact with and encounter? What's one example of you demonstrating a work done by Jesus in the last week or so (physically helping someone in need, offering encouraging and caring words, providing financial support or food where needed, praying with and for other people, telling someone about God's forgiveness and salvation, etc.)? Tami

Blessing God

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Today's reading: Psalm 134:1-3

Only three short verses in Psalm 134 with one call to action--bless the Lord.

What does "blessing the Lord" mean for you? In other words, what are things you do that "bless" the Lord? How will you bless God this weekend (be specific)? Tami

Good and Pleasant

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Today's reading: Psalm 133:1-3

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (vs. 1)

God wants us to be united as we follow after and serve Him. There is something extra special about Christ followers operating in agreement and harmony with one another. It strengthens not only individual relationships but also the Body of Christ as a whole. It's truly a joy to experience and is absolutely pleasing to God.

Are you fostering and contributing to a spirit of unity in your church? How, and could you do more? What's a specific example? What about fostering a spirit of unity in your home, school or work place? Tami

God of Comfort

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Today's reading: John 14:1-14

Even though Jesus has told the disciples on several occasions what must happen to Him (His death and resurrection--see Mark 8:31-32; 9:30-32; 10:32-34), they don't fully understand what He's been telling and teaching them. So after Judas exits the last supper, Jesus continues to talk with His closest disciples and friends in order to comfort and prepare them in advance of the events that are going to commence in just a few hours. Jesus knows that they are going to be hit hard with feelings of fear, doubt, anger, uncertainty and grief. Putting the needs of His disciples first, He lovingly reassures them about who He is and why He came to earth.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him'" (vs. 6-7).

Think of a time when were you in a hard situation and Jesus comforted you through His Word. How can you follow Jesus's example and offer comfort to others in need? Tami

In the Moment

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Today's reading: John 13:36-37

When Jesus tells the disciples that where He's going they cannot follow Him, true to form, Peter immediately responds that he will follow even if it means losing his life for Jesus. Peter has good intentions, and I have no doubt that this is exactly how he felt at that moment. But as Jesus foretells, Peter's actions won't line up with his well-intended words in just a few hours.

All of us are inclined to make "in the moment" promises or commitments. A friend tells us about a difficult situation they're going through, and our response is to say that we'll be praying for them, but then it just doesn't happen; someone we know is going to be moving, and we respond that we'd be happy to help them, but when the day comes, it's inconvenient and somehow we aren't available; we hear about a community project at church, and it sounds exciting and fun so we say we'd love to get involved, but when the preparation or actual event ends up requiring several hours of our time, we opt out because our schedule is too full (you get the picture).

Why are we so prone to offer well-intended, "in the moment" words? When we don't follow through on what we've said, it leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. So how do we guard against making promises we aren't likely to keep? Or better yet, what can we do to help us put actions with our in the moment, well-intended promises? Tami

Foot Washing

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Today's reading: John 13:1-35

After Jesus completes the foot washing of His twelve closest disciples (His ministry team), he talks with them about His actions. He explains that He wants them to take note of and follow His example of lovingly serving others, regardless of status or position. Jesus then addresses His impending betrayal, which prompts the departure of Judas. Turning back to the eleven remaining disciples, Jesus issues the important charge to love one another.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (vs. 34-35).

Would you say that you are a "foot washer"? In other words, is it your goal to and are you actively loving people--the least to the greatest--through acts of service? What's one lesson that stood out to you from Jesus's example in this passage, and why? Tami


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Today's reading: John 13:1-20

As Jesus and the disciples are having their final meal together, Jesus gets up and proceeds to wash the disciples' feet. The disciples are taken off guard because Jesus's actions don't make any sense to them. As Jesus approaches Peter, Peter speaks up, questioning Jesus about what He is doing. Jesus uses Peter's objection as a teaching opportunity, telling Peter and the disciples, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand" (vs. 7).

How Jesus responds to Peter seemed to jump off the page at me this morning. It was such a good reminder that the ways God chooses to move and work are, more often than not, different than how we think or imagine things should happen. As I think back over my past, I can recall numerous times when my circumstances didn't make sense to me and, like Peter, I was unhappy. But then afterward--I understood. Weeks, months and in some cases several years later, it became abundantly clear that my odd, uncomfortable and yes, even painful circumstances were all part of God's good plan for me.

How is God moving in your life right now? Are you willing to trust Him in and through your circumstances, even if you can't clearly see the outcome? Think back over the past few years. What's an example from your life where God moved in a situation that didn't seem to make sense at the time but made perfect sense after the fact? Tami

Mission Statement

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Today's reading: John 3:16-17; John 12:44-50

Jesus came to SAVE the world!

When we think of the phrase "Gospel message," the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus found in John 3:16-17 is likely the scripture passage that comes to mind. That's because in these two verses, Jesus conveys the crux of who He is and why He came to earth (mission statement).

"'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.'"

We see this same message of mission being delivered in John 12:44-50. This address, however, is public and will be Jesus's final declaration of the Gospel message. Jesus knows his death on the cross is near, and so He boldly delivers his life-saving message with passion, urgency and love (a wonderful example for us as we share the same life-giving message).

"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (vs. 46-47).

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Have you invited Him into your life to be your Savior (John 3:16)? You can meet Jesus in a personal and saving way today--right now--by talking with Him through prayer, telling Him that you believe in Him and want to live differently, and inviting Him into your heart. Jesus is eager to have a relationship with you, but the choice is yours. What are you waiting for? Tami

Praying Promises

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Today's reading: Psalm 132:1-18

I love the tone of an earnest seeking after God and His favor that we see in Psalm 132. This petition starts out by looking back at David's fervent following after and service to God. It then turns to the present with the specific request for God to now make good on the oath made to David, paired with a confident declaration that God would do exactly as He had promised.

Is looking for and recalling the promises God has made in His Word something you do as you read your Bible? What are some benefits of declaring and praying promises God has made back to Him? Is earnestly seeking after God's favor a part of your prayers? Tami

State of Mind

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Today's reading: Psalm 131:1-3

In these three short verses of Psalm 131, David gives us a look at having a right state of mind. Rather than focusing on circumstances, material possessions or things he doesn't fully understand, David chooses to focus his attention on God and his relationship with Him. The result is a content and secure David because David knows that God is by his side.

This psalm resonates with my heart. Looking back over the past few years, there have certainly been times when circumstances have seemed to be swirling around me and out of control. But when I chose to focus on God and follow His ways, my soul was "calm and quieted." Thank you, God, for holding me in Your hands and caring about every circumstance and detail of my life!

What impact does knowing that God is with you at all times have on your thinking and attitude? What's one example of you being "calmed and quieted" when you turned your full attention to God? Tami

Eternal Perspective

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Today's reading: John 12:20-43

In the last week of Jesus's life on earth, He talks openly with people who have sought Him out about who He is and His purpose for coming to earth. Jesus lays out the plan of salvation throughout John 12. As part of this conversation, Jesus talks about salvation and what it looks like to follow Him. In verses 25-26, Jesus says this to those listening to Him:

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."

Once we make the decision to receive and follow Christ, our mindset and how we live changes. No longer will our focus be on us and our physical, earthly existence--riches, possessions, comfort, pleasure, status, honors. Rather, as Christ followers, our focus will be set on and dedicated to spiritual matters--serving God to the best of our ability in the here and now for the purpose of eternity.

Would you say that you possess and operate with an eternal mindset/perspective? Why or why not? What impact does possessing an eternal mindset have on your daily decisions and actions? What's one example of how you have modeled following Jesus this week? Tami


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Today's reading: John 12:9-26

With the news of Lazarus being brought back to life spreading through the community, people are now even more eager to see Jesus, and Lazarus as well. Jesus has become the craze of the day, and the Jewish leaders are beside themselves with this latest turn of events. They are completely consumed with jealousy, and the result is that their reasoning is impaired. So much so that the chief priests make plans to KILL Lazarus along with Jesus. Wow! The spiritual leaders of the Jewish people--the very men whom the Jewish community esteems for being moral, righteous and holy--are plotting and putting into action a plan that will result in the MURDER of both Lazarus and Jesus.

Jealousy is a powerful and dangerous emotion that, if left unchecked, will skew and distort our thinking and actions. If we allow jealousy to take root in our hearts, bad things will follow.

Because we're human, we will all experience feelings of jealousy from time to time. What are some ways we can we guard our hearts against letting those unhealthy feelings and thoughts take root? Is it your practice to talk openly with God about what you're feeling--even feelings of jealousy? Why is frequent and candid conversation with God so important? Tami


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Today's reading: John 12:9-26

Jesus and the miracles He was performing were creating quite a stir among the people, both Jews and Gentiles. He had become the phenomenon of the day. So with intrigue, the masses seek out, marvel after and temporarily praise Jesus, but not because He was the Son of God.

As I read John 12:9-26 today, the actions of the people at large--seeking after Jesus because He was the latest phenomenon or sensation--really stood out to me. Not much has changed in a couple thousand years.

This passage served as a good reminder to be cautious about following the crowd, especially when it comes to giving our support and approval to people, trends and the beliefs that accompany them.

What's influencing your thoughts and actions today? How do you keep God and His Word your primary guide as you navigate life? Tami

Established Steps

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Today's reading: Proverbs 16:9

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

While I'm not someone who makes formal New Year's resolutions, I'm still entering 2019 with the expectation and anticipation of experiencing something different--responding well to what I will encounter over the next 365 days and putting into action objectives and goals that I haven't yet accomplished. All my plans seem good to me, but as Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, God has a plan and purpose for each of us, which means that He and He alone "establishes" our steps and plans.

So as I enjoy this first day of 2019 (I can't quite believe it's actually here), it's my prayer that God will shape, guide and direct my thoughts and desires so that everything in my plan will be in alignment with His.

What are some of your plans for 2019? Are you asking God to align your plan with His? Why is this important? 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 January 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2018 is the previous archive.

February 2019 is the next archive.

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