July 2019 Archives

Coming Joy

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Today's reading: Psalm 30:1-12

As I read through Psalm 30 today, the worship song "Trading My Sorrows" by Darrell Evans, which talks about turning over our sorrow, shame and pain for the joy of the Lord, came to mind. Both David's song and "Trading My Sorrows" deliver the message that when we go through times of trial and hardship, we can still be joyful because God is our helper, healer and restorer, and because our dark times won't last forever.

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (vs. 5)

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness." (vs. 11)

When and how has God sustained and walked with you through a trial or hardship? What encouraged you most from this psalm, and why? How might you use this psalm paired with a personal experience to boost someone's spirits? Tami

Today's reading: Philippians 2:1-11

Over the past ten years or so God has been impressing on my heart and mind more and more how He wants me to help and serve others. One of the passages that has helped me grow in this area is Philippians 2:3-4, where Paul tells us:

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Our human nature doesn't default to putting others first. It's just the opposite. Our immediate tendency is to jump to "me-centered" thinking: How does this impact me? What am I going to get out of this situation? Is this going to cost me money, time or effort, and how much? Is this important to me, and if not, why bother? Putting aside self-centered thinking to consistently respond in humility and operate with a mindset of "how can I help and serve others" takes intentionality and a good bit of effort. But it is so worth it.

Take a few minutes to think about Paul's instruction to "humbly count others more significant than yourselves." How can you put this into practice this week at home, at work, at church or in your neighborhood or community? What helps you get and maintain a mindset and attitude of humility? Tami

One

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Today's reading: Philippians 1:27-30

The message Paul delivers in Philippians 1:27 is such an important one. We weren't designed to do life alone. We need each other. We are at our best when we come together in unity—with one spirit and shared beliefs and values, working together to advance the message of God's free offer of salvation through Jesus.

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel." (vs. 27)

What does this passage show about the importance of being part of a local church body? What about having Christian friends to do life with outside of the Sunday church experience? How has being involved in a church or small group been of help to you? Tami

Living Honorably

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Today's reading: Philippians 1:19-26

Philippians 1:21, where Paul states, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," is a well-known verse for most Christians. But today, it was verse 20 that drew my attention. Why? Because of Paul's bold declaration that it is his earnest desire that Christ will be honored through his life example. I must shout out "Amen!" to that.

"It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." (vs. 20)

How have you honored Christ with your life example in the past week? Get specific. Identify one action you took, words you spoke or right choice you made for each of the past several days. Then ask God to help you be even more like Paul—full of eager expectation of representing Him well and honorably! Tami

Broadcasting

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Today's reading: Philippians 1:12-18

One of my favorite things about Paul is his passion for proclaiming Christ and advancing the Gospel, which we see clearly in today's passage. Paul doesn't let anything or anyone limit or hinder him from telling others about Christ and salvation. Even in prison, Paul is actively proclaiming the Gospel. Did you notice the incredible news Paul shares in verses 12-13, which is a result of his being a "broadcaster" of Jesus?

"What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ."

Telling others about God and what Jesus has done for each of us is something I'm passionate about too. I'm always looking for opportunities to talk with people about life and spiritual matters. But reading Paul's words in Philippians today helped me see that I can do more—when I'm on planes and in airports, when I'm at a community event, when I'm taking a walk through my neighborhood and in many other scenarios.

On a scale of 1-10 (with Paul being a 10), where would you place yourself when it comes to actively telling others about Jesus? Whatever the number, think about how you can increase it starting this week. What are some things you can do to be an effective broadcaster of Christ—right where you're at? Tami

Today's reading: Philippians 1:1-11

Since we've spent the last few weeks in the Old Testament, I thought it would be a nice change up for us to now spend a couple of weeks in the New Testament, taking an in-depth look at Paul's letter to the church in Philippi. This is a book I turn to often for instruction and encouragement. And speaking of encouragement, that's our focus today as we begin our trek through Philippians.

Paul is someone I would call a total encourager. But what makes his encouraging message in this letter even more impressive is that Paul is writing from prison. Even so, there's not even a hint of discouragement about his situation. Paul's demeanor is joyful, pleasant and positive. His focus is on lifting up, inspiring and helping his friends in Philippi stay the course for Christ.

An important part of being in the body of Christ is encouraging, reinforcing and lifting up other believers. I love it when I receive a text, email or a handwritten note from someone from my Bible study group or church family letting me know that they're praying for me, or that something I've done has encouraged or helped them. Those simple acts impact me in a huge way. They confirm my living for Christ, but more importantly, they motivate me to keep at it.

I'm issuing what I'm calling an "Encouragement Challenge" for us this week. Will you join me in committing to build up other Christ followers on a daily basis? Who can you encourage today, and how will you go about it? The goal is for each of us be an encourager to at least one person every day, starting today and continuing for the next six days. Have fun with this. Encouraging others will encourage you as well! Tami

Giving Glory

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Today's reading: Psalm 29:1-11

In the first two verses of Psalm 29, David issues the command to give glory to and worship the Lord. Then in the verses that follow, David does just that. He records, describes and proclaims through the words of his song example after example of God's magnificence, power and splendor.

Is it your practice to acknowledge God's sovereignty and praise Him for who He is as you go about each day (taking in what you observe happening around you)? Why is this important? Tami

Helped

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Today's reading: Psalm 28:1-9

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." (vs. 7)

When we read verses that state or convey that God is our help, so often our tendency is to interpret the word "help" to mean fixing, solving or changing our physical situation. But that's not always the case. In fact, it usually isn't the case. What I'm learning more and more is that when I turn to God and trust Him with my circumstances, the "help" I receive is His peace. And when I have His peace, it's then that my heart can exult and I can give Him thanks—regardless of my circumstances.

Think back over the past few months. When and how has God been your help? When you choose to trust God with your circumstances, how does it impact your attitude, actions and outlook? Tami

One More Time

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Today's reading: Judges 21:25

Today is our final day in Judges, and for this ending day, I've chosen to focus on the very last verse in Judges where God tells us—one more time—"In those days. . . everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). This has been a recurring statement throughout the book (we considered it earlier here on P4), so it seemed appropriate to turn our focus back to this problem, especially with as much as God has highlighted it for us.

What have you seen, noticed or learned from the book of Judges about the problem of relying on and following our own understanding and desires? Was there any particular story or scenario that especially highlighted this problem for you and helped you understand it better? And lastly, a more general question to consider: What did reading about the judges of Israel reveal to you about God? Tami

Hazardous Pride

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Today's reading: Judges 21:1-24

The consequences of the horrific abuse and killing of the Levite's concubine continue postwarfare (that ripple effect that I wrote about yesterday). As we arrive at Judges 21, almost the entire tribe of Benjamin has been killed in an awful battle between relatives—one that could have been avoided. And now damage control kicks in.

What do the conflict, warfare and postwarfare activity we see in Judges 20-21 reveal about the dangers of prideful thinking and actions and of being unwilling to confront sinful behavior? Tami

Ripple Effect

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Today's reading: Judges 20:1-48

Have you ever thrown a rock (or some other item) into a lake, pond or even a puddle? The rock hitting the water initiates a ripple effect. It disrupts the surface by creating a bit of a wave, which then starts moving outward to create other smaller waves, and so on and so on. The same is true of our actions and words. This can be a good thing when our choices are rightly motivated and carried out wisely. But it can also be a bad thing when we choose to do or say something sinful.

The example of a negative ripple effect came across strongly in this final recorded story of Judges. The sinful actions of the men of Gibeah (abusing and killing the Levite's concubine) set in motion ripples that would have devastating consequences for the Israelites (the tribe of Benjamin's refusal to turn over the guilty men and a civil war that results in the death of thousands of people and nearly wipes out an entire tribe).

We'll never be perfect, but if we stop and consider the ripples and ask for God's help, He will help us do better. Think back over the past few days. What ripple effects have you created? Have they been good ones? What have you learned from those that weren't so good? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 19:1-20:48

The further we get into Judges, the worse things seem to get. Today's reading about the Levite and his concubine is disturbing, to say the least. This passage is difficult and sobering, and it's one I always struggle with. Once again, we're given a picture of how our thinking gets completely messed up when we're not in a proper relationship with the Lord. We see that with the Levite, with the man that opens his home and with the men from Gibeah.

My focus went to the Levite in this passage. His attitude and actions were so off course, so off center and so skewed. This man is an active participant in his concubine's death. He knew what the men were going to do, but he still "seized his concubine and made her go out to them" (Judges 19:25). Then when he finds her dead in the morning after sleeping through the night (seriously?!), he's angry and demands justice from the tribes of Israel. Israel responds, and the situation continues to go downhill from there.

What does Judges 19:1-20:48 reveal about the dangers of getting and being out of alignment with God? What are some of the things you do that help strengthen and keep you in a right relationship with God? Tami

Self-Importance

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Today's reading: Judges 17:7-18:20

When Micah meets a young Levite who has left Bethlehem in search of another place to live, he offers him employment as his family's personal priest. Judges 17:11-12 tells us, "And the Levite was content to dwell with the man [Micah], and the young man became to him like one of his sons. And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah."

At some point after this, five men on a scouting mission from the tribe of Dan stop by Micah's house for lodging, where they then meet and learn about Micah's Levite. Not long after this, the five men, along with 600 warriors, again stop at the home of Micah. This time, however, their visit is not for lodging but for the sole purpose of taking Micah's priest, his ephod and the other idols he possesses. But the method the men of Dan use to secure the Levite and spiritual items isn't warfare. They simply appeal to the Levite's ego. They entice him away by puffing him up, telling him how much more status, power and importance he will have by being a priest for a whole tribe versus one little family. And their approach works wonderfully. They get what they want and no blood is shed.

"'Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?' And the priest's heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people." (Judges 18:19-20)

What a powerful example of how self-centered, self-important thinking—wants, status, possessions, jobs, bank accounts and a need to feel important and noticed—can cloud and corrupt our thinking and decisions. There's a lot to think about today from this passage, particularly the choices made by the Levite.

What's one lesson or point that stood out to you from this account, and why? Tami

Rejecting Fear

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Today's reading: Psalm 27:1-14

Fear is a powerful emotion that can pull our attention right off of God—if we allow it. What I find so attractive about this psalm is how David is able to stand firm even though he's experiencing some difficult and scary circumstances. Instead of giving in to fearful thoughts and feelings, he claims God as his light, salvation and stronghold.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (vs. 1)

What encouragement do you draw from this passage? When life throws you a curve ball and fearful thoughts come crashing in, is it your habit to turn to God and His Word? Do you have a particular verse/passage that helps you stand firmly and overcome fearful thoughts and feeling afraid? Tami

Walking Well

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Today's reading: Psalm 26:1-12

David's greatest desire is to please God. As he opens and closes Psalm 26, David tells God about his past and present integrity and commits to continuing in this manner. In verse 1 he states, "I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering." He then describes his present right living to God in the body of the psalm before closing with the forward-looking declarations of "I shall walk in my integrity" and "I will bless the LORD" (vs. 11-12).

What does walking in integrity mean and look like in your life? What's one example? Going forward, let's join David by each of us declaring, "I shall walk in my integrity." Tami

Thank the Lord

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Today's reading: Psalm 107:1-43

The opening verses of Psalm 107 tell us, "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble" (vs. 1-2). The remainder of this psalm then lays out several scenarios where God rescued and redeemed sinful people. Immediately after each of these scenarios, we see this statement repeated a total of four times:

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" (vs. 8, 15, 21, 31)

Is thanking God for His steadfast and saving love something you do regularly? Why is this important? If you haven't already, tell God how thankful/grateful you are for Him today. Tami

Thankful

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Today's reading: Psalm 50:23

Today is a national holiday in the United States--the Fourth of July, our Independence Day. And while I realize that not everyone that gets Powered by 4 lives in the US, I decided to take a short break from Judges to finish out this week with a call to be thankful and offer thanksgiving to God for ALL that He has done, is doing and will do in the future to provide for, watch over and guide us.

To that end, Psalm 50:23 caught my attention this morning because of how it highlights God's desire for us to make known and offer our thanks to Him.

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" (Psalm 50:23)

Take a few minutes today to recall ALL that God has done for you. Then tell God how thankful and grateful you are for who He is and the ways He has shown His vast love to you. Tami

Today's reading: Judges 17:1-18:31; Jeremiah 17:9-10

We've arrived at the final few chapters of Judges, and I must say, what we are going to read and consider over the next week or so isn't pleasant. Chapters 17 and 18 start off poorly, and things continue to decline through the end of the book. Several times in these chapters we will see this revealing statement: "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).

Moses and Joshua were both strong and remarkable leaders who put in place administrative and spiritual structure and guidelines for the proper functioning (on all levels) of the tribes of Israel. Yet only a few hundred years after their deaths, the people have completely turned away from God and the structure and systems He had put in place after their exodus from Egypt. As I read about Micah, the Levite and the men from Dan in chapters 17 and 18, the internal problem of our sinful nature and the wickedness of our hearts stood out prominently and brought to mind these words from God found in Jeremiah:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 'I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.'" (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

No question for us to answer today. I only ask that you spend some time thinking about our sinful natures that, even as Christ followers whose sins have been forgiven, we will never be rid of as we live on earth. Our sin nature is constantly trying to pull us off course to "do what is right in our own eyes." But with God's power within us, we can resist and do what we know God wants and tells us is right. Thank you for being part of Powered by 4. I enjoy taking in, considering and learning from God's Word along with you! Tami

Today's reading: Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14; 16:28-30

"The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him." (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14)

As we read about Samson, we see the phrase above in several places immediately before the Holy Spirit empowers Samson to do extraordinary acts. This phrase prompted me to think about the Holy Spirit.

In contrast to today, in Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit did not permanently dwell in those who served God. Thus the scriptures like Judges 14:6, 14:19, 15:14 and what we see in the final verses of chapter 16, where Samson had one final burst of superhuman power. It wasn't until after Jesus's death and resurrection that the gift of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit was given to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. And what an incredible and powerful gift (and also a privilege) the Holy Spirit is for us as we navigate life. Thank You, God, for providing us with Your Spirit to guide and help us 24/7!

How aware would you say you are of the Holy Spirit's helping presence in your life? Why is being aware of the Holy Spirit important? Think back over the past few days. How has the Holy Spirit guided, strengthened, prompted and/or encouraged you? Tami

Today's reading: Judges 16:23-31

The Philistine royalty brought Samson out to "entertain" them at a feast where they were celebrating Samson's capture and defeat. They praised their god (little "g"), Dagon, for giving Samson into their hands. But God (big "G") was in control and had different plans for the evening. In response to his prayer, God once again empowers a now humbled and blind Samson, who literally brings down the house on the Philistine lords and guests, killing "more than those whom he had killed during his life" (vs. 30).

What does this passage show about God's power, control and plan? What does it reveal about how God can and does use and work through us in all circumstances? 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 July 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2019 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.