February 2019 Archives

Greeting Details

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Today's reading: Galatians 1:1-5

For the next couple of weeks, we'll be working our way through the book of Galatians, which is packed full of lessons for us. But before we jump into the meat of this book, let's take a day to camp out and get some context from the greeting verses of Paul's letter. Read them with an inquisitive approach. I think you'll be a little surprised at how much is packed into these five introductory verses.

What do the first five verses of Galatians 1 reveal about Paul, who the letter is for, God the Father and Christ? What else did you notice from these opening verses? Tami

Clear, Strong, Useful

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Today's reading: James 1-5

The book of James is one I turn to often because of its clear, strong and useful instruction. It's not a particularly long book, but it sure is packed full of practical teaching and advice that provides perspective paired with actions I can put into practice immediately.

My favorite portion of this letter is James 3 because of its candid examples and warnings about what we do with our words. We all speak many words each day. The more aware we are of the power of our words, the better job we can do keeping what comes out of our mouths in check.

What did God impress on your heart from the book of James? What one message or instruction stood out most to you, and why? How are you putting that instruction or message into practice? Tami

Prayer Works

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Today's reading: James 5:13-20

Prayer is our direct line of communication with God. When we pray, it draws us closer to God, encourages and inspires us, and is one of the ways we can support our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, we don't always take full advantage of this powerful instrument. So I was thankful as I reached the final verses of James, where we're reminded about praying with faith and taking hold of this incredible power to pray.

"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (vs. 16)

How often do you talk with God? Do you pray with the expectation that God can and will respond to your prayers? What's one example of how have you witnessed or experienced the power of prayer as it is working? Will you join me in praying more boldly, more focused and more often? Tami

True Words

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Today's reading: James 5:12

"But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." (James 5:12)

This verse always draws my attention because it contains a message that I strive to live by: "let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no." It's a call for us to be truthful, responsible and respectful of others in all of our dealings with people. Talk by itself is cheap. We should mean what we say and follow through on our commitments. And when we do, it sends a positive and encouraging message to those who are watching about being a follower of Christ.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you say you're doing in letting your "yes" or "no" mean exactly that? Do you think other people view you as a person who follows through on your word? Are there any outstanding commitments you need to follow through on? Tami

Near

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Today's reading: Psalm 145:14-20

Woven within the clear message of our need to openly praise God and tell others about His goodness are several verses from Psalm 145 that lay out the benefits of following God and being in a relationship with Him. Life is full of hardships--those we bring on ourselves by the choices we make and others that aren't caused by us at all. Whatever the case, God is with us--walking alongside, guiding and protecting us, calming our fears, extending kindness, holding us in His hands and satisfying our desires. Thank you, God!

"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (vs. 18)

Are you taking full advantage of God's love and goodness by calling on Him in and through ALL situations? What encouragement did you draw from verses 14-20 today, and why? What's one example of how God was near to you in the past few weeks? Tami

Speaking Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 145:1-21

"My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD." (Psalm 145:21)

There's no question that God wants and expects our praise, and from what we see throughout Psalm 145 (and specifically verse 21), a good portion of our praise should be verbal. That means telling others about God and His goodness, which also doubles as witnessing to those around us about God's incredible love and the benefits of having a personal relationship with Him.

Would you describe yourself as a verbal praiser of God? What does your praise sound like (in addition to singing at a church service)? In the last week, who has heard you praising God with your words? What's one example of how talking about God's goodness allowed you to be a witness to someone around you? Tami

Waiting... Patiently

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Today's reading: James 5:7-11

The Bible has shown me time and again, both with specific teaching and through examples, that God's timing is perfect. Yet waiting patiently for God to move or answer a request is one of my biggest areas of struggle. I want resolution quickly, especially if I'm wrestling with a difficult situation.

Despite knowing that God is in control and that He has only good plans for me, I can head down the road of feeling depressed or doubting God if I'm not intentional about taking my thoughts captive. So I'm thankful for James's reminder of God's love and compassion and his encouragement to remain focused on God as I wait--with patience--on His timing.

When you're in a waiting period, do you have any scripture verses that you turn to for encouragement? Do you pray and tell God that you're struggling and need His help to stand strong? Do you reach out to Christian friends for support? How can/will you take your thoughts captive for God today? Tami

Right Kind of Rich

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Today's reading: James 5:1-6; 1 Timothy 6:9-10

The Bible addresses the topic of money--a BUNCH. It gives instructions, warnings, cautions and examples about using money. And at first glance, it seems like money is a problem. But money itself really isn't the problem. The problem is us, when we choose to focus on, desire and seek after money instead of focusing on, desiring and seeking after God. Thus James's stern words against loving and pursuing money and possessions in James 5:1-6. It's God's desire for us to be rich toward Him (in our hearts and through our actions) rather than being rich according to the world's standards (having money and possessions).

Do you find it difficult to keep your focus on God in a world that is obsessed with wealth and possessions? What helps you keep a proper perspective about the money and things you own? How are you using (or how can you use) what money and possessions God has given you to build up treasure in heaven? Tami

If God Wills

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Today's reading: James 4:13-17; Proverbs 16:9

None of us know what tomorrow holds for us, our family, our friends, or even the world. And whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the fact of the matter is, our lives run according to God's timing and plan. Yet, we often fall into thinking that we're in the driver's seat when it comes to life. We make plans without consulting God and then expect God to bless our efforts after the fact. Sometimes our "solo" plans line up with God's plan. But typically they don't, and we end up discouraged, disappointed, frustrated and unprepared for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. So I was thankful for James's reminder to seek God's direction in all of our visions for the future and the plans we make. His words of instruction brought to mind Proverbs 16:9, which tells us:

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."

What's your approach when it comes to making plans (for next week, next month, next year)? Is seeking God's will and direction your first action as you plan for the future? Are the words "if the Lord wills" part of your thinking as you work toward determining the best course of action for your life? Tami

Humble

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Today's reading: James 4:1-12; Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 3:34

Woven throughout James's warning against being friends with the world, we see the message that God wants us to be humble and looks favorably on those who are. The choice is ours, and it really is an ongoing one as each day we make hundreds of decisions and choices. We can follow the way of the world and focus on ourselves ("It's all about me") or we can submit ourselves to God and follow after Him.

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4:10)

"Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor." (Proverbs 3:34)

"He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way." (Psalm 25:9)

In a world that tells us that we, and we alone, are the masters of our own life, how do you maintain a God-focused and humble heart? Describe what humbly serving God looks like in your life (give a specific example). Why is being humble a necessary component of living a Christian life? Tami

Beware. Be Wise.

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Today's reading: James 4:1-12

"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?" (James 4:4)

We live in a world full of people who don't know God and as a result don't recognize, believe in or follow God's standards and values. But even though we reside in this world, we don't have to live and act like those of the world. Following after God and living according to His standards is a daily choice and undertaking. It takes effort for sure, but when we keep our eyes focused on God and draw fully on the power of the Holy Spirit residing within us, we can live a life that is pleasing to God and in so doing, be a bright and shining light for Him.

How intentional are you about regularly praying and taking in God's Word? What are some things you do (actions you take) that help you stand firmly for God when you're tempted to give in to the pull of worldly thinking? Tami

Song of Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 144:1-15

Psalm 144 is a beautifully penned song or poem of praise from David to God. David begins his song by praising God for who He is to David--his rock, steadfast love, fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, person in who he takes refuge. Then David moves on to recognize God's authority, control and power using examples from nature. Next we see David calling out and asking God to act on his behalf. And to conclude the song, David asks God to provide for and bless His children.

If you wrote a song of praise to God this weekend, what are some of the things you would say? What are some of the words you'd use to describe who God is to you? What's one phrase you'd use that would recognize His power, authority and control? How, and in what areas, would you ask for God's blessing? Tami

Personal Conversations

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Today's reading: Psalm 143:1-12

David had a personal and intimate relationship with God, which is precisely what we see throughout Psalm 143. David is distressed. He's weary. And in this dark and needy state, he pours out his heart to God, looking fully and with confident expectation to Him for his support, provision and direction.

Is it your practice to lay everything out on the table before God when you pray? When you talk candidly and honestly with God, how does it influence your attitude and mindset? How does it impact your relationship with Him? Tami

Marks of Wisdom

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Today's reading: James 3:13-18

By the world's standards, wisdom is typically equated with having knowledge that is academically acquired or gained through life experiences. God's perspective on wisdom, however, goes beyond having acquired knowledge to include our good and godly conduct.

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (vs. 17-18).

When you think about wisdom and ask God for it, what comes to mind? Are you asking for wisdom as James describes it in James 3:17? Why is peace an important element of godly wisdom? Tami

Powerfully Positive

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Today's reading: James 3:1-12; Proverbs 18:21

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits" (Proverbs 18:21).

Whenever I read James 3:1-12, I like to pair it with Proverbs 18:21 because of how this wise proverb highlights that we do have the ability to use our tongues for good. People often ask me if I have a life verse. I don't have one specific verse, but Proverbs 18:21 is a top ten and one of my absolute favorites.

A few years ago, I began repeatedly turning to Proverbs 18:21. Being intentional about reading this verse has upped my awareness of what is coming out of my mouth. While I'm not perfect (and as James points out, I/we never will be), I am definitely speaking more and more life-giving words. What a joy it is to encourage and lift others up with our words.

We have a choice about every single word that comes out of our mouths. Will you join with me in being intentional about taking our tongues captive? Who can and will you encourage with your words today--at home, school, work, on Facebook or as you're out running errands? Tami

Power to Curb

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Today's reading: James 3:1-12

Our tongues are powerful, and we can turn them into weapons of destruction in an instant. James 3:8 says, "No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." Ouch! Every time I read that verse and those surrounding it (James 3:1-12), I cringe because James is dead-on. It pains me to admit it, but I can give plenty of examples of words I have spoken that weren't God honoring--insensitive words, gossip, harshly delivered words, corrective words not spoken with love, reactive and retaliatory words of anger (you get the picture).

But our inability to completely tame our tongues doesn't mean we can't curb what comes out of our mouths in a pretty significant way. In fact, we absolutely can! It definitely takes effort, but if we commit to spending time with God by taking in His Word and talking with Him through prayer, getting better control over what comes out of our mouths will naturally follow. God wants and expects us to represent Him well with our words, and we can when our eyes, hearts and minds are focused on Him.

Do you think of your tongue as "a restless evil, full of deadly poison"? When are you more likely to allow negative or hurtful words to come out of your mouth? How does regularly spending time with God (reading the Bible and praying) influence your heart and ultimately your words? Tami

Evidence

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Today's reading: James 2:14-26 (NLT)

Once we make the decision to follow God by placing our faith in Christ as our Savior, doing good works for God should naturally follow. In other words, once we enter into a personal relationship with God, there should be outward evidence of our decision. While James gives us several examples of this in James 2, what he writes in verse 18 explains this best:

"Now someone may argue, 'Some people have faith; others have good deeds.' But I say, 'How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.'"

How would the people who know you best (family, friends, coworkers) describe you when it comes to your actions? Would they say you are a Christ follower because of how you act/behave and what you do for others? What "good work" will you do this week in your home, workplace, school, church or community so others will see Christ in and through you? Tami

Appearances

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Today's reading: James 2:1-13

James calls us out in James 2 about harboring prejudices, particularly the prejudices we hold and act upon with regard to a person's wealth or lack thereof. He point blank tells us that when we treat people differently based on how much money they have, the clothes they wear, the job they hold, their status in the community--it's a sin. God doesn't rank people according to their worth. He loves and values each of us equally, and He wants us to do the same.

I decided to read some commentary on this passage today, and one point in particular stood out to me. It described a way for us to deal with and overcome our prejudices. The commentary (by Matthew Henry, which you can find at BibleGateway.com) talked about doing some self-assessing by looking back and tracing our prejudiced feelings until we uncover those hidden and often deep-seated thoughts which accompany and support them. Once we do that, we can then take action to correct our wrong thinking.

All of us have prejudices, whether we realize it or not, and they do run deep. So my challenge for us (me and you) this week is do some self-assessing as we encounter people. Let's be more aware of how we react or respond to people (especially people we meet for the first time) and ask ourselves, "Why did I come to the conclusion I did about that person?" If what we uncover is prejudiced thinking, then let's ask God to forgive us and help us see them as He sees them and love them as He loves them. Tami

Eyes Toward God

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Today's reading: Psalm 141:1-10

David's passionate petition to God to keep him from being drew me in. David is so intent on steering clear of wrongdoing that he even prays for God to provide corrective counsel through other God-following people. It's clear that David loved God and His ways above all else and trusted Him with all of his circumstances. What an example for us to follow.

Is it your practice to ask God to help you avoid temptation and stay away from sin? What does David's request in verse 5 reveal about having godly friends? Tami

Personal Protector

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Today's reading: Psalm 140:1-13

What do you do when you find yourself in a bad situation? Is your first instinct to call out to God? Or do you tend to rely on your own thinking and strength? I've certainly done both, and I can say with certainty that the best course of action is ALWAYS to look to God first.

David's words in Psalm 140 reveal that he was experiencing extreme adversity. And in the middle of his struggles and distress, David calls out to God to protect and deliver him from his adversaries and enemies, who are many. Although his circumstances are dire, he knows that God is aware of all that is taking place, and he trusts God with every ugly, painful and tear-producing detail.

What about trusting God did you learn or notice from David's words? How has God been your personal protector in and through difficulty? Tami

Genuine Following

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Today's reading: James 1:27

In the final verse of James 1, James tells us that "pure and genuine religion"--believing in Christ and wholeheartedly following God's instructions and laws (not man-made rules and laws)--is evidenced by helping those in need around us and standing firm on God's Word as we live and navigate life in a sin-filled world.

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you" (James 1:27, NLT).

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27, ESV).

What does James 1:27 convey about God expecting us to act differently than the world we live in? How active are you when it comes to offering care, support and/or help to people in your neighborhood, community, school, church and family? When we reach out to and walk alongside people in need, what message are we sending to the world? Tami

Disciplined Words

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Today's reading: James 1:26; Proverbs 17:27

I like the straightforward approach of the book of James. One of the primary topics found in this book is instruction about what we allow to come out of our mouths. James hits this hard in James 3, but we get a little sample of that teaching here in chapter 1:

"If anyone things he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless" (vs. 26).

This verse clearly communicates that we need to be aware of and control our thoughts, emotions and ultimately the words we speak as a result. What comes out of our mouths reveals much about who we are. Reading James 1:26 prompted me to turn to Proverbs to look at some other verses about our speech. Proverbs 17:27 parallels today's verse from James well.

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding" (Proverbs 17:27).

What do these two verses convey about the importance of being controlled and disciplined in how we interact with and respond to others? What do they communicate about the relationship or correlation between having control of our emotions and words and our spiritual maturity? Tami

Action Required

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Today's reading: James 1:22-25

A while back, I was having problems with the word processing program on my computer not allowing me to print. It was super frustrating and hindering to my work. My husband discovered how to fix the problem (caused by an upgrade glitch) and corrected the issue a number of times for me. He also told me how to correct this issue each time this happened. I listened to him, but I never actually sat down at the computer and executed the fix myself. Consequently, if my husband wasn't home when the problem occurred, I was stuck. How foolish on my part. I knew there was a fix, but because I never took the time to be a "doer," what knowledge I had was pretty much rendered useless.

It's the same way with God's Word. It's vital that we read and take in God's instructions--but that's only PART of the equation. We also need to consider what we've read and then take action (be a doer). In other words, we need to ENGAGE God's Word--spend time reading the Bible, reflect on it and then respond to it by putting what we've learned into action in our daily life. When we consistently follow this pattern, our relationship with God will grow, our faith will strengthen and our attitude, actions and words will change for the positive.

When you read your Bible, do you ask God to show you truth and then help you put what you've read into action? What's a recent example of how you were a "doer of the Word"? Will you join me on an intentional journey to be a "doer" this week? Tami

Regulated Responses

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Today's reading: James 1:19-21; Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 16:32

When we encounter trials--something unexpected happens, someone takes advantage of us, we're mistreated--our human impulse is to immediately react in anger. But God wants and expects us to respond differently. The clear message James delivers in verse 19--that we should be "quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger"--is a vital one for us as followers of Christ. While responding in this manner can feel like a tall order, God is with us, and we can draw on His strength to help us slow down to process the situation and then respond in the most appropriate way.

What benefits have you experienced when you've responded by being quick to hear but slow to speak or get angry? Why is following this command so important when we're dealing with people who don't yet know Christ? What about with other Christ followers? Tami

Treasured

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Today's reading: James 1:17-18 (NLT); James 1:17-18 (ESV); James 1:17-18 (MSG)

God's exceptional love and goodness came across loud and clear to me as I read James 1:17-18. I was particularly drawn to verse 18 and its description of how God views mankind. I looked up these verses in several versions of the Bible and found these beautiful descriptive words for us, God's creation, in each.

  • New Living Translation: prized possession
  • English Standard Version: a kind of firstfruits
  • The Message: the crown of all his creatures

What an excellent and uplifting reminder of just how much God loves you and me. Thank You, God, for Your great and never ending love!

Do you think of and view yourself as being treasured by God? What does James 1:17-18 convey about the special place we hold in God's heart? What do these verses reveal about the extreme love He has for you? Tami

Hemmed In

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Today's reading: Psalm 139:1-24

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite psalms because of how it shows us that God is indeed personal. Throughout the verses of this song, we're given detail after detail of the extent of God's awareness of and involvement in every single part (no matter how large, small, private or public) of each of our individual lives. There is no place we can go where God isn't right there with us. Wow! I was drawn to verse 5 today because of the way it seems to capture the essence of this psalm.

"You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me" (vs. 5).

What does this entire psalm and particularly verse 5 reveal about God's love and care for you? How does knowing that God has you "hemmed in" impact your trust in Him? Tami

Trust God

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Today's reading: Psalm 138:1-8

Psalm 138 is another beautifully personal psalm of David where he talks openly and intimately with God. As I read, verses 7 and 8 were especially impactful to me. How incredible to know that even though we may be in the middle of a horrific life storm, God will deliver us and fulfill His purpose for each of us. Thank You, God!

Are you trusting God with the circumstances swirling around in your life today? Was there a specific verse that spoke to you? What encouragement did you draw from this psalm? Tami

Wholly Good

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Today's reading: James 1:12-18; Psalm 86:5

The phrase "God is good all the time" popped into my mind as I read through James 1:12-18. In these verses, James makes it absolutely clear that God is in no way involved in, nor is He the instigator or author of, our sin. Rather, our choice to do wrong comes from within, stemming from our sinful nature. Even so, God in His goodness is right there to help us overcome.

Identify one thing you learned about God from James 1:12-18. What stood out to you from today's verses about temptation and sin, and why? 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 February 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

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