January 2020 Archives

Glory Giving

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Today's reading: Genesis 40:1-23

One of the things I love about Joseph is his diligence in highlighting and giving God the glory whenever he's brought into the spotlight because of the things he's able to do. Joseph was a slave in a foreign country with its own religion and gods. Yet each time he was given the opportunity, he intentionally and specifically highlighted his God.

It certainly would have been easier, and much safer, for Joseph to have simply interpreted the dreams of the baker, butcher, and Pharaoh without talking about God. The opportunity to promote himself was undoubtedly present, but Joseph kept his eyes on God and didn't entertain the temptation. He honored God by giving Him all the glory and, in so doing, was a witness to those around him.

How often do you think about the fact that God is the author and giver of every single one of your abilities and talents? Do you publically recognize Him for them? Why is this important? What's one example where you've given God the glory for something you were able to do in the past month? Tami

Doing What's Right

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Today's reading: Genesis 39:1–40:9

While Joseph was in Potiphar's house, he did what he knew was right—from taking care of Potiphar's possessions and business affairs to refusing the invitation of an affair from Potiphar's wife. Yet even though he acted rightly, Joseph gets the raw end of the deal and finds himself unjustly thrown into prison. Now with most people, you might expect to see a bad attitude once they land in prison. But not with Joseph. Instead, he continues to trust God and do what he knows is right.

The first few verses of Genesis 40 reveal that Joseph had gotten the attention of the captain of the guard (in a good way) and was assigned to help with Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and baker after they were put under house arrest. As we've seen before, Joseph embraces his assignment (working heartily for the Lord). When he notices that the two men seem unsettled, he immediately asks them what's wrong and then offers to interpret their dreams after verbally recognizing God as the author of their visions.

How does Joseph's example of choosing to do right, regardless of his circumstances, encourage you today? What helps you stay the course and continue doing right things, especially in difficult situations? Tami

Handling Temptation

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Today's reading: Genesis 39:1-23; 1 Corinthians 10:13

After working diligently and being elevated to the highest position in Potiphar's house, Joseph finds himself in a difficult and awkward situation with Potiphar's wife, who has taken note of his "handsome. . . form and appearance" (vs. 6). Potiphar's wife was apparently accustomed to getting what she wanted, as evidenced by her extremely bold and relentless pursuit of Joseph.

Joseph's response is nothing short of impressive. After Mrs. Potiphar's initial advance, Joseph immediately rebuffs her proposition, telling her that he cannot sin against God (notice that he puts God first) or her husband. Joseph's words go unheeded and the advances continue—daily. Potiphar's wife then ups her pursuit to a physical level, and at this point, Joseph chooses to remove himself from the situation rather than give in to temptation.

Facing temptation (whatever that temptation may be) is part of everyday life. That being the case, Joseph's example is one we'd all do well to follow. Here are some of things that stood out to me about handling temptation from this account.

  • Joseph didn't entertain the invitation to sin—at all. Instead, he immediately rejected the offer. (I believe this is key. When we dwell on something that is tempting to us, it's much more difficult to resist.)
  • Joseph went beyond just saying "no" to voice the reasons for his refusal to Potiphar's wife in an effort to stop further advances. The verbalizing of his decision also served to strengthen his resolve.
  • Joseph made up his mind that he was not going to sin and stood his ground.
  • When Potiphar's wife intensified her advances, Joseph intensified his response by physically leaving the premises.

Despite being removed from his position and put in prison, doing what he knew was right was the best decision. Yes, it came with hardship, but God was with Joseph and used his time in prison to move him another step closer to his ultimate destination as second in command to Pharaoh.

What did you learn about managing temptation through Joseph's example? Is there a particular temptation you're facing today that you need to reject, or a situation from which you need to remove yourself? How does praying and reading scripture help you resist temptations? Tami

Difficult Petitions

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Today's reading: Psalm 74:1-23

When we're in the middle of a difficult situation, our prayers to God can take on a whiny tone in pretty short order (and yes, I am speaking from experience). So I was thankful for Asaph's example in Psalm 74. As he petitions God for help, he unquestionably lets God know how bad the situation is, yet he doesn't approach God with a complaining attitude or convey his request with a whiny tone. Instead, Asaph's approach is one of reverence toward God. He recognizes God for who He is and His power and authority over all. Asaph approaches God respectfully, tells Him all that is going on, and humbly asks for His help. He then concludes his prayer with an expectant call for God to take action in defense of His sovereign plan.

How do you approach God when you pray? Is it your practice to recognize God's greatness and praise Him for what He has done as part of your prayers—even when you're hurting? What's one thing that stood out to you from Asaph's prayer, and why? Tami

Until

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Today's reading: Psalm 73:1-28

If you asked me to describe Psalm 73 in a word or two, what comes to my mind is "grounding" because of how candid Asaph is as he writes about his very human thoughts and emotions. Right from the start, I'm drawn in because Asaph describes a familiar scenario.

We've all been there from time to time. We look around and people are doing wrong things, yet they're prospering financially and socially. As a result, sometimes our minds begin to question our right choices for living—UNTIL we give some intentional thought to the situation and draw on what we know is true from God's Word. When we do this, we're shifting our thinking from short-term, earthly matters to a long-term, eternal, and proper perspective. That's what we see with Asaph in verses 16-17 when he writes, "But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end." And only a few verses later, we see that change of perspective after Asaph has had some refocusing time with God.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (vs. 25-26).

How did Asaph's candid words impact you today? What helps you stay focused on God and His truth in a world that isn't always fair and doesn't always live by God's standards? Tami

Heartily for the Lord

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Today's reading: Genesis 39:1-6; Colossians 3:22-24

Joseph being sold to be a slave and eventually a worker in Egypt was not a circumstance he would have chosen. Yet he made the most of his situation, and Genesis 39:1-6 makes it quite clear that God blessed his efforts.

As I thought about how difficult it must have been for Joseph to be a captive in a foreign country, missing his family and all the things he was accustomed to (food, relationships, clothing, religion, etc.), Paul's instruction from Colossians 3 came to mind.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).

Is your daily mindset one of "working heartily for the Lord"? If not, what's one thing you can do differently today to start changing your attitude/mindset? Why is it important for our outlook to be one of working for God? Tami

With Us

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Today's reading: Genesis 39:1-6

Upon his arrival in Egypt, Joseph ends up at the household of Potiphar, a well-to-do officer of Pharaoh. One of the first things we read is that "the LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man" (vs. 2). This is then followed by verses telling us that Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his household and all that he had (vs. 5-6).

From Genesis 37 to Genesis 39, Joseph's situation has definitely improved. In fact, it sounds pretty amazing, so much so that I tend to forget the horrific things that Joseph recently experienced—being violently attacked by his brothers, sold into slavery, and then hauled across the countryside as a prisoner away from his father, family, and friends. And even though he lands in a good situation when he arrives in Egypt, the transition couldn't have been an easy one. Joseph was by himself in a foreign country. That means a completely different culture with its own social structures, customs, styles, and religious practices. The situation would have certainly been overwhelming, and I can only imagine the sense of loss and loneliness Joseph endured.

But then I come back to these all important words in verse 2: "The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man."

How have you experienced God's presence and His watching over and providing for you in/through a difficult situation? What encouragement did you draw from this passage today? Tami

Sin and Grace

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Today's reading: Genesis 38:1-30

The account of Judah and Tamar is definitely not one of my favorites as far as the actual story is concerned. But when I look beyond the details and start focusing on God, what takes place through this chapter is quite appealing. Both Judah and Tamar foolishly and sinfully acted in their own self interests. Yet when Judah repents his behavior, what we see is God extending grace and then choosing to use Judah and his family in foundational and mighty ways.

How has God extended grace to you when you've chosen to make your own way rather than follow His? What does this account show about God's willingness to use flawed and sinful people for His purposes? What does it reveal about God's perspective of our past actions, thoughts, and behaviors? Tami

Green-Eyed Monster

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Today's reading: Genesis 37:1-36; Proverbs 27:4

There's a reason jealousy is referred to as a green-eyed monster, and do we ever get a glimpse of that through the account of the early days between Joseph and his brothers. Family was certainly important to Jacob's sons, but when feelings of jealousy sparked and then grew, rational thinking went right out the window. And with hatred running rampant, the situation turned all too easily to violence against Joseph.

What's one lesson about jealousy you learned from Genesis 37? Why is allowing jealousy to take root so dangerous? What did this account reveal about the contagious nature of negativity and the powerful influence of groupthink? Tami

Playing Favorites

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Today's reading: Genesis 37:1-4

As wise and good a man as Jacob (Israel) had developed into, he wasn't perfect. Just like you and me, he had his shortcomings. We see one of those shortcomings as we turn to the storyline of Joseph in Genesis 37.

Israel had sons with several wives, and while he loved his sons, he didn't love them all to the same degree. Genesis 37:3 tells us that Israel loved Joseph, the son of his favored wife Rebekah, more than his other sons. And his favoritism was evident, such as when he made Joseph a special multi-colored robe. As you can imagine, Joseph's preferential treatment didn't sit well with his brothers. In fact, it caused them to hate him.

What do these few verses reveal about the dangers of playing favorites—as a parent, teacher, leader, or boss? How do you deal with and what helps you control feelings of anger and/or jealousy when you aren't treated the same as someone else? Tami

Important People

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Today's reading: Psalm 72:1-20

I decided to camp out on Psalm 72 this weekend because of the way David's prayer focuses on people. David's life example is one of caring for those around him, and throughout this psalm, his love and concern for others are absolutely evident. His prayer serves as an example of how we should view, feel about, and behave toward people as a whole, especially those whom we live by and do life with.

What does this psalm reveal about how God values people? What does it reveal about doing good for others? Was there a particular verse that stood out to you from this psalm, and why? Tami

Godly Leading

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Today's reading: Psalm 72:1-20

In his old age, David writes a prayer for his up-and-coming son and the future king of Israel, Solomon. This prayer is full of wise instruction and really lays out before us a number of qualities of a godly leader. (And if you don't think you're a leader, let me challenge your thinking on that.)

While most of us aren't kings and may not even hold a formal leadership position, we all have a powerful influence on the people around us. Furthermore, people who don't yet know Christ are watching us. As such, many of the principles David prays that Solomon will follow are good for each and every one of us to follow too. I was particularly drawn to verses 4 and 12-14, where David's love for people shines through as he writes about helping those in need.

"May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!" (vs. 4).

"For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight" (vs. 12-14).

Is helping and caring for people who are in need a priority for you? Who in your neighborhood, at work, at school, or at church can you reach out and help this week? Tami

Promises Kept

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Today's reading: Genesis 36:1-43

Although Genesis 36 may not be the most exciting chapter to read in the storyline of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, it is an important one because it displays a faithful God who keeps His promises. We've seen God's faithfulness to Jacob over the past few weeks, and now when we reach Genesis 36, we see that God has been faithful to Esau too.

The detailed information given to us about Esau's family and descendants highlights the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:5-6:

"For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."

It also fulfills God's words to Rebekah in Genesis 25:23 after she asked Him why her twin babies were struggling inside of her:

"Two nations are in your womb, and two people from within you shall be divided."

Lastly, Genesis 36 shows the fulfillment of Isaac's words to Esau in Genesis 27:39-40 shortly after Jacob had stolen Esau's blessing:

"Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: 'Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.'"

How does knowing that God keeps His promises encourage you today? How does it impact your thinking about God and His Word? What's one example of how God has been faithful to you? Tami

Pressing On

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Today's reading: Genesis 35:16-29

The second half of Genesis 35 records several sorrowful and difficult times for Jacob. Rachel, who Jacob loved with all his heart, dies giving birth to Benjamin, Reuben commits adultery with Bilhah, and lastly, Isaac passes away and Jacob and Esau attend to his burial. This passage serves as a good reminder that pain, hurt, sorrow, death, and grief are inescapable parts of life, but with God as our foundation, we can endure and continue onward.

When and how has God sustained you through a time of great pain, loss, or grief? How can or how have you used your experiences in these areas to come alongside and help another person or to share the Gospel with someone who doesn't yet have a relationship with God? Tami

Today's reading: Genesis 35:1-15

God once again instructs Jacob to move his family and possessions, and Jacob obediently responds. This time the destination is Bethel, the place where Jacob encountered God in a dream on his journey to his mother Rebekah's homeland (Genesis 28).

Jacob's demeanor and his attitude toward God encouraged me today. I was especially moved by his verbal recognition and praise of God as being his ever-present help.

"Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone" (vs. 3).

When you start out each day, do you think about and recognize that God is with you wherever you go? Why is this important? What's one example of how God has been a present and answering God to you in the past week? Tami

Striking Back

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Today's reading: Genesis 34:1-31; Proverbs 20:22; Romans 12:17-19

When someone wrongs us, our human instinct tells us to get even. But God tells us in His Word to "repay no one evil for evil" (Romans 12:17) and that He will administer justice in His timing (Proverbs 20:22). In other words, wrong behavior toward us doesn't justify a similar vengeful response from us.

Jacob's sons (as well as Dinah and, of course, Jacob) were absolutely justified in being angry over the awful raping of Dinah. But after learning of the offense, the brothers allowed their anger to grow into rage, which then turned their thoughts and hearts to full blown hatred and revenge. The end result is a tragic chapter in the life story of Jacob's family.

The events recorded in Genesis 34 are quite revealing about the influence that unchecked anger and resentment can have on our thinking and actions. Jacob's sons are indignant about Shechem violating the law of Israel (God's law). Yet they then cheaply use that very law as a pretense to lie to Hamor and Shechem and murder hundreds of innocent people. By taking matters into their own hand, and in so doing blatantly violating God's law, they destroyed their witness for God and the reputation and standing of their family.

What's one lesson about anger and/or revenge that stood out to you from this account? How do you control the desire to get even with someone when they hurt you or your family? Is it your practice to turn angry situations over to God? Why is this important? Tami

Gifts

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Today's reading: Genesis 33:1-5

As I was thinking through the entire scenario of Jacob and Esau reuniting, the first words Jacob speaks to Esau touched my heart. I kept going back to them. Because Jacob is on the move with all of his family, servants, and possessions (it was a large caravan), Esau asks Jacob who all the people are with him as soon as they meet. Without hesitation, Jacob replies in a way that is quite telling.

"And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, 'Who are these with you?' Jacob said, 'The children whom God has graciously given your servant.'" (vs. 5)

Jacob could have conveyed to Esau that this large group of people and possessions were his using many other descriptive words, but he didn't. Instead, his immediate and default response highlighted God. Jacob chose to give God the credit for all that he had. I love how in less than a few seconds, Jacob is able to communicate to Esau—first and foremost—that he is a follower of and relying upon God and, as a result of this, that he is a changed man.

When someone asks you about your life and the things you have—your family, your positive attitude, your job, things you possess, etc.—is your default response to give God the credit (and in so doing open the door to sharing God's love through salvation in Christ with them)? How intentional are you about highlighting God as being your provider and the director of your life? Tami

Again and Again

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Today's reading: Psalm 71:1-24

Psalm 71 is yet another song of affliction in which David is seeking God's protection and deliverance. It appears that David wrote this psalm later in life, since we see references to old age, gray hairs, and how God had been teaching him since his youth (vs. 17-18).

What I like about this psalm is that it both shows us that David has encountered difficulty throughout his entire life (and lets us know that will we too) and reveals how God has been faithful to David during that time (and that He will be faithful to us too). This gives David confidence that God will indeed act again and prompts him to proclaim God's goodness. He tells those around him about God's complete protection and provision in the past and praises Him in the present.

Is it your practice to look back and recall God's faithfulness when you encounter difficulty? How does God's past goodness to you impact you in the present? How will you use your current situation (good or difficult) to proclaim God's goodness and be a witness to others? Tami

Help Me, Great God!

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Today's reading: Psalm 70:1-5

When we're going through tough times, we can call out to God and ask Him to help, comfort, and strengthen us. That's exactly what we see David doing here, but a big part of David's prayer (and I believe his help) is recognizing and praising of God for His goodness in the middle of his distress.

"May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, 'God is great!'" (vs. 4)

It's so easy to turn our focus on ourselves when circumstances aren't the best in our lives. As such, making sure praising God—regardless of our situation or what we're asking of Him—is important. Praising God serves to focus us properly on God rather than fixating on ourselves and our circumstances, which is why it's such a necessary part of every prayer.

What do your prayers look like when you're in the middle of trying circumstances? How does praising God when you're hurting positively impact your attitude and thinking? Do you have any examples you'd care to share with us? Tami

Family Reunion

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Today's reading: Genesis 33:1-20

The account of Jacob and Esau's reunion is one of my favorites. Every time I read it, my heart is moved by the reconciling of two brothers who have been separated and at odds with each other for many, many years. This story is rich with lessons about and examples of repentance, humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation. But what stood out most prominently to me today was God's goodness to both Jacob and Esau as well as His faithfulness to heal and restore this family in spite of their ugly and painful past.

What's one thing that you learned or saw about reconciliation from this account? What about the importance of family? How would you describe the condition of your family relationships (immediate and extended)? Would you ask God to help you restore relationships where healing and restoration are needed? Tami

Heavenly Tussle

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Today's reading: Genesis 32:22-32

After reminding himself and God of the promises God had made to him, Jacob separates himself from his family, giving him some alone time with God. What happens next is what I find to be one of the oddest passages in the Old Testament. A man (really an angel in human form) appears, and he and Jacob wrestle with each other through the night. The wrestling match ends in an impasse with neither party prevailing. But then the angel, to remind Jacob who he had been dealing with and perhaps to provide him with a lasting reminder of the event, touches Jacob's hip, which immediately pops it out of joint (ouch). Jacob then demands a blessing from his heavenly visitor, which results in the angel commending Jacob for his steadfastness and giving him the new name of Israel.

Jacob had already turned to God and was trusting Him to guide, direct, and bring him through the impending meeting with Esau. So why the wrestling match with an angelic visitor? As I considered this odd encounter, it was Jacob's faith that stood out to me. Yes, his trust and faith in God were solid, but this all-night power struggle served to grow and strengthen Jacob's faith even more. And as the morning dawns, we see a strong and encouraged Jacob who demands a blessing from God before heading out to take on the task of making things right with his brother.

How has struggling and wrestling through a difficult decision or situation served to strengthen your faith? Tami

Repeating Back

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Today's reading: Genesis 32:3-21

Immediately after working through the difficulty of permanently parting ways with Laban, Jacob turns toward his homeland faced with the prospect of encountering his long- and much-offended brother, Esau. Jacob humbly sends word to Esau of his journey (calling Esau "my lord" and referring to himself as Esau's "servant"), hoping that his kind words and actions will be reciprocated. But the first information that Jacob receives back is not a welcoming or forgiving message from Esau. Rather, the word he receives is that Esau is approaching with an army of 400 men! Jacob is filled with fear, and in this state, he wisely turns to God in prayer.

What a beautiful example of prayer Jacob gives us. Jacob humbly approaches God--yet his request and conversation are bold. He pours out his heart, very specifically telling God what he wants and what he fears will happen. What I found most noteworthy about this dialogue was how Jacob repeats back to God the very promises that God had earlier made to him (see Genesis 29 and 31). God certainly didn't need the reminder, but Jacob did. His verbalizing of God's promises served to strengthen and reinforce Jacob's trust in and relationship with God.

Do you repeat back to God promises He's given us in His Word? What's one promise (verse/passage) from God's Word that you claim and repeat back to Him when you're feeling afraid (Romans 8:38-39 and Psalm 34 and 103 are some of mine)? What about when you're lonely or sad? Tami

About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

About My Blog

I'm passionate about engaging God's Word! And my blog is about just that--giving you opportunities to receive, reflect on and respond to Scripture. Each day you'll find a short passage as well as thoughts, challenges and application questions for you to think about and respond to. I look forward to interacting with you and learning together, so post comments as often as you'd like. You can even sign up to get the blogs delivered to your inbox each day!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2019 is the previous archive.

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