August 2019 Archives

Today's reading: Psalm 39:1-13

David's request for God to make him aware of the brevity of life is a good one (vs. 4). I say that because for a lot of years, I didn't give much thought to how long I would live or, more importantly, how I was serving God with the time I had left. At some point (around twelve or so years ago) I committed to consistently spending time in the Word, and as a result, my relationship with God took on a healthy growth pattern and my thinking in this area shifted. For that I am thankful, because as I write today, my top priority is serving God fully with the amount of time He has allotted to me. My goal is to live each day to the fullest as a representative of Christ.

How often do you think about the time you have left on earth and how you are using that time to serve God? Where would you rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to being productive for God with your time? What can you start doing this week to increase that number? Tami

One

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Today's reading: Ephesians 4:1-16

Paul's message in Ephesians 4:1-16 turns to the necessity of having and maintaining unity among believers. To help emphasize and drive home his point, he highlights the word "one" by repeating it numerous times as he explains unity (emphasis mine).

"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (vs. 4-6)

Paul then turns to the functioning of the body of Christ, setting out how when this group is in unity, it "makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (vs. 16).

Is it your goal to be in unity with other believers with whom you regularly interact, especially those in your local church? Think back over the past few weeks. Have your actions and words promoted a spirit of harmony? If not, why? What's one thing you can do over the next few weeks to foster, promote and/or maintain unity within your church, a Bible study group or a particular ministry? Tami

Walking Worthily

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Today's reading: Ephesians 4:1-3

Immediately after praying for spiritual strength for the Christ followers in Ephesus, Paul urges each of these believers to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (vs. 1). Some of the things that includes are an attitude of humility, acting with gentleness, responding with patience and bearing with one another in love—all with the mindset of creating unity throughout the body of Christ.

How would you describe your daily "walk" as a follower of Christ? In what area(s) could you improve or do better? Are there any additional qualities you might use to describe living in a worthy manner for Christ? How does having a goal of unity help you in your daily walk? Tami

Complete Love

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Today's reading: Ephesians 3:14-21; Job 11:8-9

There's a lot of talk about the love of Christ, at church, in Bible study groups, in sermons and messages, and even on Facebook. But how much do we truly understand and comprehend God's love? In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul writes about being rooted and grounded in love and having the strength and power to understand God's love for us. I like how Paul helps us better understand God's love by breaking it down into the tangible components of breadth, length, height and depth. God's love is complete, and there is no place that it does not reach.

To help us grasp the completeness of God's love for us even better, fill in the blanks below, drawing on something you're familiar with so the phrase is meaningful to you. For example, here's one of my sentences: "God's love is deeper than the deepest sea wall I've ever scuba-dived on."

  • God's love is wider than _______________.
  • God's love is longer than _______________.
  • God's love is higher than _______________.
  • God's love is deeper than _______________.

What's one example of how you have experienced the deep, high, low and wide love of God? Tami

P.S. Last week I wrote about spiritual prayers for our Christian friends. If you're not quite sure how to go about doing that, read back through Ephesians 3:14-21 and take note of how Paul prays a complete prayer all about spiritual matters for the believers in Ephesus.

Stewards of Grace

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Today's reading: Ephesians 3:1-13

In Ephesians 3, Paul relays to the believers in Ephesus how God called him to deliver and take the Gospel message of Christ beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. As he explains this calling, he writes about God's grace—receiving the gift of God's grace and being made a minister of it (vs. 7) and being a steward or agent of the message of God's grace (vs. 2).

Paul's talk of being a steward spoke powerfully to me because of the reminder it provided that I too am a steward for God (and you are as well, if you've received Christ as your Savior). All believers are charged with spreading the Gospel message (see Matthew 5:13-16, Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19-20), which makes us stewards of God's amazing grace.

Do you think of yourself as a steward (agent or caretaker) of the Gospel message of Christ? Why is this important? How active are you about telling others about God's love, grace, forgiveness and free gift of salvation through Christ? Will you talk with someone and tell them about Jesus today? Tami

With Purpose

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Today's reading: Ephesians 2:10

"We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Our significance to God flows all the way down to our work. How cool is it that each and every one of us--according to God's plan--are masterpieces created with good work to do? I love this verse because it lets me and you know that God didn't just create us on some whim. Rather, He lovingly created each of us with a definite design and purpose.

Do you think of yourself as being a worker for God? What are some of good things God has put before you to accomplish? How does knowing that you were created "in Christ Jesus for good works" encourage or motivate you today? Tami

Regular Confession

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Today's reading: Psalm 38:1-22

In addition to being drawn to the way David so powerfully describes the impact of making sinful choices, I also like the example he provides of candidly talking with God and asking Him for forgiveness when we have sinned. God knows everything about us--EVERYTHING--our actions, our thoughts, our words. Our sin and the consequences that follow are not a surprise to Him ("my sighing is not hidden from you" (vs. 9)). So the sooner we confess and ask for forgiveness, the better.

"I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin" (vs. 18).

Is it your practice to regularly seek forgiveness from God? What's your experience been with asking God for forgiveness immediately after an offense versus waiting until sometime later? What are the benefits of keeping a short account with God when it comes to asking for forgiveness? Tami

Serious Effects

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Today's reading: Psalm 38:1-22

Throughout Psalm 38 David describes, with vivid imagery, the negative impact that sin has on our lives. The message is clear: When we choose to sin there will be consequences--spiritual consequences (our relationship with God is hindered), physical consequences ("no soundness in my flesh" and "no health in my bones" (vs.3)) and emotional and mental consequences ("I groan because of the tumult of my heart" (vs. 8)).

What from this psalm stood out to you most about the effects of sin, and why? When and how have you experienced the impact of unconfessed sin? When you asked God to forgive you (like David did in verse 18), what happened? In other words, how did you feel and how did it impact you? Tami

Work NOT Required

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Today's reading: Ephesians 2:8-9

Our salvation is not dependent on us doing good things ("working") to earn God's favor. Instead, the Gospel message is all about faith. If we choose (we have free will) to place our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be saved.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (vs. 8-9).

Nothing we do in our own strength can ever save us. However, once we've placed our faith in Christ, doing good things--because we are God's representatives to the world--should be a regular part of our living.

Based on Ephesians 2:8-9, how would you explain faith versus "doing good things" to someone who doesn't yet know Christ? What helps you keep a proper perspective on working for and doing good things for God? Tami

But God

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Today's reading: Ephesians 2:1-10

Ephesians 2:1-10 is arguably one of the most well-known and often used passages to present and explain salvation. The portion of this passage quoted most frequently is found in verses 8-9, and what a powerful message those two verses deliver. But as I read Ephesians 2:1-10 today, my eyes kept coming back to verses 4-5 because of the descriptive view they provide of God and His incredible plan of salvation.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ---by grace you have been saved . . ."

When I'm out taking a long walk or running, I listen to Christian music. One of the songs on my playlist is Big Daddy Weave's "Alive." I've included a link to the music video below. It's all about the message of Ephesians 2, and the video even starts out showing Ephesians 2:4. I encourage you to take four minutes to watch and listen to this song today. It will stir your heart and inspire you to worship, and who doesn't need that? Enjoy!!

What stood out most to you about God from this passage, and why? What does this passage reveal about our human nature, our need for God and our purpose on earth? Tami

Prayer Matters

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Today's reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

Paul was a prayer warrior. He knew the power and importance of prayer, and as a result, he constantly talked with and brought requests to God as part of his daily routine.

Paul's example in the area of prayer is something we would all do well to follow. One thing that repeatedly stands out to me from Paul's prayers (and we see it here in Ephesians) is his diligence in praying for others. And his others-focused prayers contain more than what I call the typical earthly needs requests (health, finances, jobs, relationships). Paul's requests also include spiritual matters--requests for God to help and move people forward in the areas of spiritual knowledge, wisdom and growth--all critically important things for believers.

What's your prayer routine? Does it include regularly praying for others? When you pray for yourself and others, is it your practice to ask God for help with spiritual matters--spiritual growth, wisdom, knowledge, discernment? Why is this important? How might/will you draw on Paul's example in Ephesians 1:15-23 going forward? Tami

God's Family

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Today's reading: Ephesians 1:1-14; Galatians 4:1-7

We're going to spend the next couple of weeks reading through and considering Ephesians. This Book is one I turn to often because it is rich with lessons, examples and teaching. I'm excited for what God is going to reveal to each of us as we work through its six chapters.

Both Ephesians 1:1-14 and Galatians 4:1-7 let us know that we are children of God, that God chose us and adopted us, and that we are sons (and daughters) and heirs of God. Being a child of God or being part of the family of God is talked about commonly in Christian circles. But how often do we really stop and take time to consider what a privilege it is to be a child of God, and what that really means--not only to us but to God? These passages caused me to do that today. It was a good exercise that prompted a thankful prayer to God for His incredible love for me (and you).

What does being a child of God (an heir) mean for you personally? How would you explain or describe it to someone? What does Ephesians 1:3-14 show you about how much God values and loves you? Tami

Lessons from Ruth

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Today's reading: Ruth 1-4

No matter what I'm reading in my Bible (a real life account like Ruth, Old Testament laws, genealogies, instructions on living for Christ, etc.), my approach is to ask myself, "What can I learn from this particular verse, passage, chapter or book? What is it that God wants me to see and grasp from what I've read today?"

I'm a firm believer that every word contained in the Bible is important for us to take in and process. Even if we don't feel like we understand it well or fully, if we're obedient to reading His Word, God will reveal to us truth and lessons for living.

So before moving on to another book, let's take today to look back at the book of Ruth and think about what truth and lessons God revealed to each of us. The big lesson for me was actually a reminder that I need over and over again—that God is bigger than my circumstances, that His plan (which includes His timing) is best for my life and that I must trust fully in Him, regardless of how I might feel at the moment.

What's one truth or lesson that God impressed on your heart from the book of Ruth? What encouraged you the most from the account of Naomi, Ruth and/or Boaz? What did this story reveal to you about God? Tami

Wise to Do Good

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Today's reading: Psalm 37:1-40

As a former litigating attorney, I enjoy the structure of Psalm 37 and the way it reads. David puts before us an essay of sorts (in poem form) that logically lays out how we should be following after and serving God (doing good). He includes the benefits of doing so contrasted with examples and warnings about what happens to those who choose not to live for God.

"Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous." (vs. 16-17)

If someone asked you why they should follow God and do good, how would you respond based on this psalm? When have you experienced or observed what David describes? How might you use this psalm to share God's love and message of salvation? Tami

Steadfast

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Today's reading: Psalm 36:1-12

David highlights God's incredible love in Psalm 36 by referring repeatedly to His love as "steadfast" (emphasis below mine).

  • "Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens." (vs. 5)
  • "How precious is your steadfast love, O God!" (vs. 7)
  • "Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!" (vs. 10)

If you look up the word steadfast in a dictionary, you'll find descriptions such as: unwavering, committed and fixed in direction or purpose. And if you look at translations of the Bible other than ESV (which is what we're using here), you may see the terms unfailing love or faithful love in the place of steadfast love. So what do all these things show us? God's love for us is firm and established forever!

How often do you take time to think about the fact that God's love for you is unwavering? Think back over the past couple of weeks. How have you experienced God's faithful, steadfast love? Get specific. Then once you've identified some instances, talk with God and thank Him. Tami

Mara No More

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Today's reading: Ruth 4:13-22; Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 23:18

The final chapter of Ruth is encouraging. What a turnaround for Ruth and Naomi since we first met them in Ruth 1, when they were feeling devastated and a bit lost because of the extreme circumstances they were facing.

Although I am drawn to the sweet love story of Boaz and Ruth, my favorite part of Ruth 4 is the final picture we see of a restored and joyful Naomi. Although she didn't understand what was happening to her at the time and she certainly wouldn't have chosen the things she experienced, it was all part of God's plan. God had every detail of Naomi's life in the palm of His hands.

As I finished the final verses of Ruth, Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 23:18 came to my mind. The powerful promise contained in these verses was displayed through the story of Naomi and Ruth.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

"Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:18)

What's your current situation? Whether you're in a place where things don't seem to make sense and you're struggling to see God's plans, you're in a good place serving God fully and well or you're somewhere in between, will you join with me today in telling God that you trust Him and are grateful for His good plans for you? Tami

Wise Operator

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Today's reading: Ruth 4:1-12

Boaz remains the front-and-center character as we move into chapter 4 of Ruth. In this chapter we get to see Boaz as a businessman as he works to redeem Naomi's property, which would include marrying Ruth in order to carry on the family line of Elimelech.

Once again, I was impressed with Boaz. The way he chose to approach the situation and how he handled himself throughout the exchange with his senior relative showed much wisdom on his part. We know that the underlying purpose of Boaz seeking out this relative was to clear the way for Boaz to redeem and marry Ruth. But rather than leading off the exchange with this information (that he had feelings for Ruth and desired to marry her), Boaz chose to initiate the transaction by addressing the item he knew his relative would be most interested in—Naomi's land. Then once the issue of the land was out and addressed, Boaz reminded the man that part of the redeeming process included the obligation to take Ruth and have children with her. Through it all, Boaz was calm, composed and not overly wordy. And I particularly liked that instead of trying to convince his relative not to redeem the land, he framed the situation in a way that he knew would not be attractive to this relative—the fact that any children he fathered through Ruth would share this man's inheritance with his other children.

What wise business practices did you see Boaz use as he met with his relative and the men of Bethlehem? What was the most important lesson you noticed or learned from either Boaz or his relative, and why? When you are facing an important decision or transaction, do you ask God to give you wisdom and discernment? Tami

Real-Life Knight

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Today's reading: Ruth 3:6-18

The story of Ruth and Boaz reminds me a bit of a fairy tale set in a time from long ago where Boaz is the classic knight in shining armor figure. But Ruth and Boaz aren't fictional characters. They're real people, and the book of Ruth sets out the real life story of their relationship.

Up to this point, we've focused on Naomi and Ruth. Today, however, we're turning our spotlight on Boaz. We were first introduced to Boaz in Ruth 2, and everything we've seen about this man from that point through chapter 3 has shown him to be a God-fearing, God-following man. Boaz is obviously respected by his men, and his interactions with those who work for him and then with Ruth demonstrate that he is honorable, considerate, caring, generous and responsible—just to point out a few excellent and desirable qualities.

What stood out to you as good and Godly qualities from Boaz's actions and words? How would you describe being a Godly man and explain why that's so important to a young boy or girl? How might you use and/or incorporate Boaz's example? Tami

Better Together

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Today's reading: Ruth 3:1-6; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

There's no question that Naomi and Ruth had a good relationship before leaving Moab. But moving and then settling together in Bethlehem has drawn this mother and daughter-in-law even closer. These two women have truly become a strong team—each contributes from her own unique life experience and brings to the team her different skillsets, strengths and personality.

God designed us to live and function at our best when we're in relationship with other God-following people. Reading in Ruth 3 today brought to mind this passage from Ecclesiastes:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" (vs. 4:9-10)

As I look back over my life, I can see that relationships have been absolutely vital. They've provided support, guidance, encouragement and, most importantly, spiritual growth. And those relationships have been (and continue to be) with many different people—my parents, my spouse, family members (both blood and through marriage) and special friends. Thank You, God, for creating us to be in relationship with You and with others!

Why is having and maintaining relationships, especially relationships with other Christ followers, so important? Who are the people who have been, or currently are, your support system? How are you reciprocating and returning the benefits of relationship to them? Tami

God's Favor

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Today's reading: Ruth 2:9-23

I like surprises, and there's nothing better than when God responds to a situation in a better and bigger way than I ever expected.

That's precisely what we see in Ruth 2 when Ruth, trusting that God will provide, sets out to find a field where she can glean grain for herself and Naomi. Although Ruth doesn't realize it at the time, God directs her to a field owned by Boaz (who will later become her husband). When she arrives, Boaz's men treat Ruth respectfully and kindly and allow her to glean as they harvest. And then when Boaz comes on the scene, he not only takes note of Ruth but also speaks to her face-to-face to let her know that she is welcome to glean in his fields and that he will protect her while she's there.

Later in the day at mealtime, Boaz again looks out for Ruth quite generously. He invites her to eat a meal of bread, wine and roasted grain with him and his gleaners. He then instructs his men to be lenient with Ruth and to make sure that she will gather an ample amount of grain to take back to Naomi. Verse 17 tells us that at the end of the first day, Ruth had gathered an ephah (about 22 liters) of barley!

What an amazing day that neither Ruth nor Naomi expected. I love how this part of Ruth and Naomi's story highlights God's goodness and shows us how He lavishes His favor on us by watching over, protecting and guiding us in far bigger ways than we prayed for or anticipated!

When has God surprised you by responding above and beyond your expectations? What has God shown you about your present circumstances through Ruth 1 and 2? How have you been encouraged by the story of Ruth and Naomi thus far? Tami

With Trust

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Today's reading: Psalm 35:1-28

One of the reasons I enjoy the Psalms is that we get to see the candid manner in which the writers talk with God. That's exactly the case with David in Psalm 35. Holding back nothing, David pours out his heart, imploring God to deal with those people who have been mistreating him and who are set on repaying his good deeds with evil. My favorite thing about this psalm is the "before the fact" trust in God that David demonstrates. He is fully confident and expectant that God will act on his behalf as he makes his request.

When you ask God for help, is trusting Him fully (being confident and expectant that God will act on your behalf) part of your equation? Tami

Not Our Battle

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Today's reading: Psalm 35:1-28

David's example in Psalm 35 delivers an important reminder and message—the battles we encounter belong to the Lord. So often when we experience difficulty, we react by trying to deal with the situation with our own strength rather than turning it over to God. I was thankful for the strong and clear message contained in David's very first words in this song.

"Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!" (vs. 1-2)

God is our refuge and strength, our shield, our rock, our deliverer and our stronghold (see Psalms 18 & 46). He wants us to trust in and rely on Him in all circumstances.

When you encounter difficulty, is your response to turn your battle (whatever that might be) over to the Lord? Is there a battle you need to relinquish and offer up to God right now? Tami

Trusting Example

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Today's reading: Ruth 2:1-7

As we move into Ruth 2, the focus of this account turns from Naomi to Ruth, allowing us to learn more about the woman Ruth. We know from the opening chapter of this book that Ruth, a Moabite or Gentile, had committed to joining Naomi's people and following Naomi's God (see Ruth 1:16). We see Ruth living this out, quite impressively, in the first few verses of chapter 2. She trusted that God would provide for her and Naomi, and she moved forward expectantly. Her good and Godly example radiated throughout verses 1-7. These are just a few of Ruth's actions and qualities that stood out.

  • She was humble by being willing to gather leftover grain (a position just above begging) in order to get food for Naomi and herself.
  • She was unassuming and respectful in her approach and dealings with Boaz's men.
  • She was a hard worker.
  • She was deferential to Naomi, seeking her approval and guidance, even though she had taken on the role of being Naomi's caregiver.
  • She was proactive and positive in her thinking and actions. She didn't mope, look back and pine for her homeland or talk with longing about what she used to have.

What Godly actions and/or qualities did you notice about Ruth? What stood out to you most about Ruth, and why? How does trusting that God is in control and will provide for you influence your thinking and actions? Tami

No Pretenses

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Today's reading: Ruth 1:19-22

Naomi and Ruth's arrival in Bethlehem doesn't go unnoticed. In fact, verse 19 says the "whole town was stirred" when they arrived. I imagine there was an element of surprise to see Naomi, but I also get a sense that the women of Bethlehem who were familiar with Naomi were a little shocked at her physical appearance. Grief, stress and worry can affect the way we look, and they certainly impact our emotional state. It's no wonder the women say, "Is this Naomi?" because she probably looked worn, even haggard.

Naomi is not in the best place emotionally or spiritually when she arrives in Bethlehem. She's unhappy and depressed about her circumstances, and so her reply to these old acquaintances is terse. But as I thought about what she was experiencing, I realized that although at this point Naomi wasn't particularly pleasant, she was at least honest and straightforward with this group of women. Instead of trying to save face by downplaying or sugarcoating reality, she speaks openly from her broken and distressed heart. Naomi's candid response provides the women with an accurate picture of what's going on in her life and, in turn, lets her old friends and acquaintances know that she is in need of their support and encouragement.

Do you ever feel like you need to put on a "happy face" with Christian friends or when you walk through the doors of your church? Why or why not? When you're distressed and experiencing difficulties, is it your practice to have open and honest dialogue with God? If not, what's holding you back? Tami

Selfless

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Today's reading: Ruth 1:6-18; Proverbs 17:17; Philippians 2:4

Today we meet Naomi, the widowed wife of Elimelech, and her two widowed daughters-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth. The bond between these three women is strong, but as this small group faces the possibility of starving because of the famine in Moab, Naomi decides it's time to return to her homeland. Although all three women begin the journey, Naomi soon instructs her daughters to return to their blood relatives so that they can remarry and have a full life. It's a deeply emotional and tearful exchange. While Orpah decides to follow Naomi's request, Ruth chooses to remain by Naomi's side—in spite of the fact that she and Naomi have no idea what awaits them on a road that will be tough without the protection and financial support of a male family member (husband, brother or son).

Although we've just met Ruth, it's already clear that she is a good and exceptional woman. Some of the words that came to mind as I thought about Ruth were caring, supportive, loyal, kind, responsible and courageous. But there was one word that stood out to me more than all the others—selfless. Ruth willingly chose to put Naomi's interests before her own. It's obvious from this account that she loved Naomi greatly. Thus her steadfast commitment to stay with Naomi no matter what the future held for them (vs. 16-17). What an example for us about loving, helping and serving others.

Would you describe yourself as a "Ruth"? Why or why not? On a scale of 1-10 (1 being selfish and 10 being selfless), where would you rate yourself when it comes to willingly giving of your time, abilities and/or finances to help people? Take a few minutes to think about how you can or will put the interests of someone around you (at home, work, school or church) before your own this week. Then when the opportunity presents itself, take action! Tami

Family Trees

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Today's reading: Ruth 1:1-5; Ruth 4:13-22; Matthew 1:1-17

After hanging out for the past several weeks in the New Testament reading through and considering Philippians, today we're turning to the Old Testament, specifically the book of Ruth. This book is a beautiful, real life account of the love story between Ruth, a widowed Moabite woman and Boaz, a Hebrew man. It's a short book (four chapters) full of lessons and illustrations of God's love and grace. The book of Ruth takes place during the time of the book of Judges and gives us the account of a particular family (the family of Elimelech) who is distressed because they've experienced death and are now facing famine.

Before we jump into the actual story of Ruth, I thought it would be good to look at the family history of the two main characters in this account, Ruth and Boaz, and their family tree going forward. Boaz is a descendent of Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho who helped the Israelite spies (see Joshua 2 and 6), and Ruth is a Moabite (a Gentile). Obed is the son of Boaz and Ruth (see Ruth 4) and the great-grandfather of King David. So, the book of Ruth puts before us the family roots and ancestry of Jesus.

What do these accounts reveal about how God chooses to work through all sorts of individuals? What do these genealogies reveal about God's salvation being for all people? How do you see God working in and through your unique family tree and life situation? Tami

The Whole Book

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Today's reading: Philippians 1-4

When you get a letter in the mail, how do you go about reading it? You read the entire letter at once, right?

We just spent the last week or so reading Paul's letter to the church at Philippi in chunks or segments. So today, before we move on to another book, lets read the WHOLE book of Philippians in one sitting. It's only four chapters, and we're already familiar with it. Yes, it will take a little extra time today, but I promise it will be worth it. (Note: This time through you may want to read in a different version. I did this, and not only was it enjoyable, but it also gave me some added perspective.)

After reading the book of Philippians from beginning to end like a letter, did you see anything that you missed when you read the book in segments? Was there a particular point or message that reading the entire letter highlighted differently than before? How did reading the full book help you get a better overall sense of Paul's tone, intent and heart? Tami

Eyes and Ears

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Today's reading: Psalm 34:1-22

David proclaims God's goodness throughout Psalm 34. I like how he repeatedly delivers the message that God is fully aware of our circumstances and that He is there to sustain and help us in and through our life struggles and difficulties. The following verses convey this message well.

"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. . . When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (vs. 15, 17-18)

How have you experienced God seeing your struggles, hearing your requests and responding, either by changing your situation or sustaining and lifting your crushed spirit? What encouragement did you draw from this song of praise today? Tami

Boastful Praise

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Today's reading: Psalm 34:1-3

David is known for the way he praised God, and we see many of his words and actions of praise through the psalms he wrote. So it's no surprise that Psalm 34 starts out with David's proclamation that he will bless the Lord and praise him continually. Immediately after making this statement, David writes, "My soul makes its boast in the LORD" (vs. 2). I was drawn to this description of David's heart for God as well as the following encouragement to join with him in full-out worship and praise of our magnificent God in verse 3.

"Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!"

If you were to proclaim like David, "My soul makes its boast in the Lord," what would that look like, or how would it play out in your day-to-day life? How would it impact your interaction with people at work, home, church or in the community? What influence would it have on your decision making? Tami

Givers

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Today's reading: Philippians 4:10-23; Psalm 37:21

There are a quite a few passages in the Bible that let us know that God is pleased when we are generous in our giving. Paul's commendation to the church in Philippi is certainly evidence of this. "I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God" (vs. 18).

Just as in Paul's day, people serving the Lord in ministry and ministry organizations in both our local churches and around the world depend on our financial support (our prayer support is important and necessary too). I encourage you to be a generous giver with what God has given to you.

How are you supporting your pastor and local church? What about other people in ministry locally and/or around the world? Tami

Content

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Today's reading: Philippians 4:10-23

As Paul was out ministering and preaching the gospel, he didn't have a set paycheck coming in once a month or every two weeks like most of us. His needs were being met through the financial gifts and provision of other Christ followers. That being the case, there would be times when Paul had an abundance of funds and supplies and other times when he didn't have much at all. So what did this teach Paul? That he could be content in any situation because he was trusting in and relying on God to provide what he needed.

"I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (vs. 12-13)

How has God supplied your needs, both in lean times and when you've had plenty? What role does God's Word and prayer play in you being content in any situation? 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 August 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

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