June 2019 Archives

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Today's reading: Judges 13:8-14; Psalm 25:4-5; Psalm 32:8

After Manoah learns about his wife's encounter with the angel, he prays. And what he prays is revealing about his attitude (humble and yielded) and spiritual condition. Rather than questioning God about the encounter--its validity or its meaning--he prays for teaching, and God hears and responds.

"Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, 'O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.' And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field." (vs. 8-9)

Is asking God to teach you a regular part of your prayers? Why is this important? What's one example of how God responded when you asked for teaching and/or growth through a situation? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 13:1-14

For the next several days we'll be reading about and considering the life of Samson, probably the best-known judge of Israel. But before we turn to Samson, we're going to take a little time first to learn about (and learn from) Samson's parents, whom I like to refer to as Mr. and Mrs. Manoah.

What struck me most about Manoah and his wife was the absence of many of the responses or reactions you might expect to see. Samson's mom was barren, and both she and Manoah knew that, yet when this stranger (whom neither one recognized as being an angel) informs them of Samson's birth, they don't show any signs of disbelief, distrust, doubt, ridicule, skepticism. Instead, they simply believe. Manoah's words to the angel in verse 12 speak volumes.

"Now when your words come true, what is to be the child's manner of life, and what is his mission?"

Imagine yourself in the place of Manoah or his wife. How do think you would have responded to this incredible news? Do you believe that, with God, all things are possible? Tami

25-Year Drift

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Today's reading: Judges 12:8-13:1

Not a lot of activity or intrigue happens in the final verses of Judges 12. That being the case, it's tempting to skim over it... but if we did that, we'd miss something that God most certainly intended for us to know about. There are facts and details here that are important to God, so we should approach these types of passages (and all of His Word) as important as well.

What stood out to me from this passage was the lack of any mention of following after, seeking or looking to God during this 25-year period. That's an indicator that spiritual drift was likely happening again. And thus we see in verse 1 of Judges 13 these disappointing words:

"And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years."

Spiritual drift happens to all of us. It starts slowly and subtly, and then before we know it, we're way off track from God. That being the case, take some time today and do some candid spiritual self-assessing. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself: Am I diligent in seeking God through His Word? Am I in regular communication with God, and what do my prayers look like? How have I grown spiritually over the past months? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 22:1-31

We've all been there at some point--going through a difficult time when things just don't seem to make sense and what we're experiencing feels awful. One of the best things we can do when we find ourselves in this type of situation is to talk candidly with God--asking Him to help us trust Him and to sustain us as we move forward.

It was comforting to read David's back-and-forth prayerful conversations with God about his circumstances in this psalm. In essence David asks God, "Are You here? Because this seems like craziness. Where are You?" But then David steps back, takes a breath and gathers his thoughts to say, "I know You're still here, God. I know You're faithful and trustworthy, so help me stand strong." "Thank you, David, for this heartfelt example."

Is it your practice to talk openly with God? If not, what holds you back? What encouragement or comfort did you draw from David's communication with God in Psalm 22? Tami

Personal Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 21:1-13

David is praising God for His power, strength and sovereignty, and in so doing recognizing how God has loved, provided for and watched over him his entire life. Since God loves, provides for and watches over each one of us too, to help me get a better understanding and feel for this Psalm I read back through verses 1-7, but this time I inserted my name wherever David had referred to himself. This made the passage personal for me. I was especially moved when I worked through verse 7 using my name.

I encourage you to make this Psalm personal as well. Go back and read verses 1-7 inserting your name where appropriate. I'd love to hear if there was a particular verse or phrase that impacted you, and why. Tami

Dangerous Pride

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Today's reading: Judges 12:1-7

Jephthah's woes continue as we turn to Judges 12. Shortly after his victory over the Ammonites, the men of Ephraim (fellow Israelites) angrily confront Jephthah. They're upset to the point that they plan to kill him ("We will burn your house over you with fire," vs. 1) because Jephthah defeated the Ammonites without them. (Seriously?)

The Ephraimites had a pride problem. They thought quite highly of themselves and acted foolishly as a result. Instead of offering thanks to Jephthah for helping Israel, they're ticked off (in a huge way) simply because they aren't in the spotlight receiving the glory for the victory. They are more concerned with themselves than the overall good and safe state of Israel. The Ephraimites are jealous, and their anger is unwarranted. Jephthah stands his ground, pointing out that what the Epraimites are claiming isn't factual (he had asked them for help and they declined), and the situation deteriorates from there. Fighting between the two tribes ensues, and at the end of this sad day, 42,000 men of Ephraim have been slain--all brought about by pride.

Identify a time when you gave in to pride. How did your pride influence your thinking and actions? In what area(s) are you most vulnerable to prideful thinking? What's one thing that helps you keep prideful feelings, thoughts and actions in check? Tami

Oh. . . Jephthah

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Today's reading: Judges 11:29-40

I have a hard time with this portion of Jephthah's story. Every time I read this account, I think to myself, "Why in the world would Jephthah have offered up such a seemingly foolish oath to God? After all, who or what did he think would greet him upon his return?" Furthermore, it perplexes me that Jephthah felt he needed to bargain with God through a vow in order to be victorious in battle.

Jephthah's story is a tragic one. God didn't require or ask Jephthah for an oath, nor does He require or ask for them from us. In fact, the Bible instructs us not to make oaths (see Matthew 5:33-37 and James 5:12). Instead, God simply desires and asks for our love, trust and obedience.

No question today. I just ask you to think about this sad passage and the lessons it has for us. Tami

Engaging Wisely

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Today's reading: Judges 11:12-28

Jephthah was a wise warrior and leader. I say that because of the way he approaches the situation with the Ammonites. A confrontation with the Ammonites is unavoidable. But instead of presuming that the conflict between them can only be resolved through a battle, Jephthah chooses a different approach. Rather than rallying the troops and charging in to start a war, he first engages the king in conversation with the following question.

"What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?" (vs. 12)

Not only is the question an appropriate one, it's also delivered in a respectful tone to prevent the already tense situation from escalating. When the response comes back from the king, Jephthah listens to and considers the answer. And then, when Jephthah doesn't agree with what the king says in his response, he again responds wisely. Maintaining a civil tone, Jephthah sets forth facts and speaks truth in an effort to avoid unnecessary war and bloodshed between the two nations. Unfortunately, the king chooses not to listen to Jephthah and war ensues anyway--but it is only after taking these wise measures that Jephthah enters into battle.

What's the most important lesson about conflict that you noticed or learned from Jephthah's exchange with the king of Ammon, and why? What's one thing you noticed or learned about being a leader from Jephthah's example? Tami

None Too Low

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Today's reading: Judges 11:1-11

Jephthah was looked down upon, considered a "lowlife" and run out of town by his half-brothers. But when the situation in his homeland takes a turn for the worse, the elders of Gilead (who didn't care one bit about Jephthah previously) change their tune. They know they are facing a dangerous and life-threatening situation and that they need help. So they reach out to Jephthah because they know that he is tough and a fighter, and they believe he is their only hope of defeating the Ammonites. That turns out to be a good move because Jephthah was not only a mighty warrior, he was also a follower and respecter of God.

What does the account of Jephthah reveal about how God views, uses and works through people? Do you believe God can use you in a powerful way? What encouragement did you draw from today's passage? Tami

Repeating Cycle

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Today's reading: Judges 10:1-18

After Abimelech exits the scene, Tola and Jair judge Israel back-to-back for a total of 45 years. We aren't told much about these two judges, but sometimes what we're not told is as revealing as what we are told, and I believe that's the case here. There's no mention of following after God, or for that matter, God at all in connection with either of these judges. This lack of discussion is an indicator that the Jewish people were, once again, experiencing spiritual drifting away from God.

As soon as Jair dies and Israel is without a judge, that drift turns into a complete turning away from God. Judges 10:6 tells us, "The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD." So God then "sells" the Israelites into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites under whom they are severely oppressed.

What we're told in verse 8 truly reveals how far the Israelites had moved away from God. It says, "For eighteen years they [the Ammonites] oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead." So the Israelites endured severe oppression for 18 years, before they cried out to God--18 years! And it's not until God refuses to come to their immediate rescue and reminds them of their rebellious hearts that they finally "put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD" (vs. 16).

What an eye-opening passage. The Israelites didn't really want to live for God. They wanted to live for themselves (thus the 18 years of suffering as they tried to manage life themselves). And when they finally did call out to God, they treated Him as a "problem fixer" instead of the ultimate Ruler, Authority and Guide for their lives.

What's one thing you noticed or learned from the Israelites' example about our human nature? How we view of God? Our propensity to go after other gods? What did God impress on your heart after reading this account? Tami

I Trust

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Today's reading: Psalm 20:1-9

Psalm 20 is a great reminder of God's power and sovereignty. What a comfort to know that, as believers, we have full access to God and His power by calling on the name of the LORD. The words of verse 7 (which are quoted often) say it well.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (vs. 7).

Are you fully trusting in God today? What's the impact on your life when you "trust in the name of the LORD"? Tami

Perfect

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Today's reading: Psalm 19:1-14

If you've been part of P4 for very long, then you know I'm all about taking in, considering and then living out God's Word. That being the case, my attention was absolutely drawn to verses 7-11 where David describes God's Word along with its impact and benefits. I underlined them in my Bible and then wrote them down as a list so that I could consider them further.

  • Perfect--reviving the soul (vs.7)
  • Sure--making wise the simple (vs.7)
  • Right--rejoicing the heart (vs.8)
  • Pure--enlightening the eyes (vs.8)
  • True and righteous altogether (vs.9)
  • More desired than fine gold (vs.10)
  • Sweeter than honey (vs. 10)
  • Warned--great reward in keeping God's law (vs.11)

My favorite from this list is: Perfect--reviving the soul. Why? Because of the reminder that no matter my circumstances, taking in God's Word will recharge, refresh and refuel me.

How do you view God's Word? Do you desire it "more than gold" and find it "sweeter than honey"? What role does God's Word play in your daily life? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 9:1-57

Abimelech, Gideon's son with one of his servant's, is the primary figure in Judges 9. He was cunning and ruthless, ensuring his succession as ruler after Gideon by murdering every one of his brothers that he could get his hands on (70 brothers except for one, Jotham the youngest, who hid when the killing was taking place). Abimelech was not a God-fearing or God-following man. Rather, his god was power. Abimelech was all about elevating himself and being in control. His thirst for power ruled his thinking and actions and ultimately brought about the senseless end of his life.

When or in what situation(s) are you most tempted to abuse the power you have (whatever power that is, since we all have some)? How do you guard against the pull of power? Who do you know who handles power and being in authority well? How do they differ from Abimelech? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 9:22-57; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Proverbs 14:29

Anger is a powerful, God-given emotion that was designed for our good (as a protection mechanism against danger and a motivator to help us respond to suffering and wrongdoing). But all too often, instead of harnessing and controlling our anger so that we can use it for good, we allow it to hijack our thinking in the most negative way possible. When that happens, things can get pretty ugly and sinful--fast.

"Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools." (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly." (Proverbs 14:29)

Abimelech illustrates the teachings of Ecclesiastes 7:9 and Proverbs 14:29 well. He was a prideful, power-hungry man who allowed his emotions, and specifically anger, to dictate his thinking and actions. As a result, we see massive destruction, damage and death (as well as Abimelech's own bizarre death), all fueled by his foolish and sinful response to anger.

When something angers you, how do you tend to respond? What impact does slowing down and seeking God when you're angry, irritated or frustrated have on your demeanor, your response and the situation as a whole? Identify one or two things you can do to ensure a slower and better response the next time something or someone angers you. Tami

Babbling Fool

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Today's reading: Judges 9:22-41; Proverbs 10:10; Proverbs 18:6-7; Proverbs 21:23

Abimelech encounters opposition when Gaal moves into Shechem. Gaal, who doesn't respect Abimelech, actively campaigns against Abimelech's authority and rule, and as a result, the men of Shechem turn to Gaal and "put confidence in him" (vs. 26). Unfortunately for Gaal, however, he isn't very wise in how he behaves. He's prideful and likes to blow smoke. Gaal openly defies Abimelech to the men of the city and mocks him as a leader, declaring boldly and publically, "Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him?" (vs. 28).

Gaal's boastful words come back to bite him when Zebul, Abimelech's friend and leader of the city of Shechem, overhears Gaal's mocking threats. Zebul alerts Abimelech about Gaal and his plans. Abimelech then promptly deals with issue by engaging Gaal and his men in battle and ultimately running them out of the city.

This portion of the account of Abimelech's rule immediately brought to mind Proverbs 10:10, which warns us that "a babbling fool will come to ruin." Gaal was a babbling fool. His inability to keep from boasting and promoting himself by mocking Abimelech derailed his hopes of leading the people of Shechem and brought about much destruction and death.

Here are a few additional verses from Proverbs for a bit more food for thought about watching and limiting our words.

"A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating." (Proverbs 18:6)

"A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul." (Proverbs 18:7)

"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." (Proverbs 21:23)

How have you experienced the messages from Proverbs and/or the lesson we saw with Gaal (our words bringing about a fight or ruin) in the past? What's one thing that helps you watch your words before you speak or respond to a situation? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 9:7-21

I tried to put myself in Jotham's shoes today. It's hard to imagine the horrific slaying of his brothers and being the lone survivor of such a brutal attack. What I noticed was that Jotham didn't simply tuck his tail between his legs and run silently away. Although he did have to leave for his own safety, before fleeing to Beer, he boldly spoke out against the sin and evil acts that had been committed. Even when fearing for his life, he confronted the wrongdoing of the men of Shechem, all the while trusting God to bring about justice. That took real courage.

What does Jotham's example show about trusting God when life seems out of control? What's one thing you saw, noticed and/or learned about responding to sinful behavior from this account? Tami

Evil Desires

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Today's reading: Judges 9:1-6

The sinful nature of man shines through in the account of Abimelech. With Gideon no longer living, his son, Abimelech, puts in place and then executes a plan to take control and lead Israel as king. It's a heartbreaking story, but it's also a revealing one. It provides a powerful example for us of what we are capable of when we choose to give into and act upon our sinful desires. Power hungry and full of himself, Abimelech rounds up and murders his brothers--70 in total--in order to eliminate any challenge to his rule.

What does this passage show about power--having power, the impact and influence of power, and handling power once we possess it? What does this account reveal about how and for what reasons we choose whom we follow or put in place as a leader? Tami

Loving Thanks

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Today's reading: Psalm 18:1-50

David pours out love and gratitude to God throughout Psalm 18, but he doesn't just say, "I love You," and then leave it at that. He goes further, telling God the reasons why he loves Him so much.

David's example got me thinking about my relationship with my husband as well as the ones I have with family and close friends. It feels so good to have someone tell you that they love you. But it means even more and makes the experience so much richer when that person includes why and how they love us. The same is true with God. When we express why and how we love God to Him, the experience is richer--both for God and for us.

Thank you, David, for showing us such a meaningful way to spend time telling God how much we love Him and what He means to us!

Take a few minutes to recall a time when God was your rock and refuge. Write down (like David did here) some of the specifics of that situation and how God provided, answered and sustained you. Then pray and tell God how much you love Him, and thank Him for things you just recalled and wrote out. Tami

Purposeful

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Today's reading: Psalm 17:1-15

As David looks to God and asks for His protection, he reminds God about his right heart and actions. What stood out to me was how David's righteous living was intentional. It didn't just happen. It was the result of David choosing and then purposefully putting into action his choice to live completely for God ("I have purposed," "I have avoided," "My steps have held fast," vs. 3, 4, 5).

How purposeful would you say you are when it comes to living for God? Do you start your day with a plan or strategy for doing what is right? How does recalling your prior right thoughts and actions help you stay the course as you move forward? 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 June 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2019 is the previous archive.

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