February 2020 Archives

Calling on God

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Today's reading: Psalm 83:1-18

The Israelites are in a dangerous situation, one they don't have the physical resources or power to adequately defend themselves from. So they do all that they are able to do—they petition God to act on their behalf and on behalf of His mighty name.

What a good reminder that regardless of our circumstances (even when they seem enormous to us), we are not powerless when we are in relationship with God! As a follower of Christ, we have direct access to the God of the universe. We can bring our petitions before Him with confidence knowing that He is in control of all things.

How does talking with God about circumstances that you can't control help your thinking, emotions, and attitude? Do your prayers include asking God to contend with sinful situations in the world around you? Tami

For Others

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Today's reading: Psalm 82:1-8

Psalm 82 is a calling out for people in a place of authority and/or leadership to act rightly and wisely as overseers of people. In a time of need, the psalmist earnestly prays, not specifically for himself but for the people around him that Godly justice would be given to the weak, afflicted, and poor. The psalm ends with a direct appeal to God for His justice for an unjust world.

How aware are you of people in need? Is it your practice to pray for the welfare of others—for those in need in your community, nation, or other places around the world? In addition to prayer, how are you helping the weak, afflicted, and poor? Tami

Today's reading: Genesis 50:22-26

The final verses of Genesis give us a record of Joseph's death at 110 years of age. As I read through these final few verses again today, I found myself reflecting on the life of Joseph. I thought about what lessons I learned from his example and contemplated what I need to put in place in my life to be a bit more like this incredible, God-serving man. Two lessons stood out prominently to me this morning.

Lesson 1: Like his father (Jacob/Israel), Joseph's final thoughts and words recognized and proclaimed God as a sovereign, faithful, and caring God. Although Joseph ended up basically running all of Egypt under Pharaoh, his journey getting to this point was filled with hardship. Some of the words that come to mind as I ponder what he endured at the hands of others include trauma, sorrow, grief, betrayal, loss, isolation, and abandonment. Those are all pretty awful words. And yet through it all Joseph never took his eyes off of God. He knew that God was with him, and he made the choice to trust God wholeheartedly in and through whatever he encountered. So for me, the biggest message from Joseph's life story is the importance of choosing, each and every day, to turn to God and trust Him with my life—all of it, all the time!

Lesson 2: The second message was Joseph's eternity-focused mindset. Rather than allow his circumstances to consume his thoughts and control him (which is so easy to do), Joseph chose to focus on God and eternity, which served to give him a proper perspective and keep what was important—following after and serving God—his first priority. The consistent example we see is Joseph working as if he was working for God (Colossians 3:23). It was a good reminder for me of the significance of starting each day with God to make sure I get my mind focused on eternal versus earthly matters (the proper perspective).

How did God use Joseph's life story to show you lessons or messages? Take a little time today to think back over Joseph's journey. What stood out to you most from his life example, and why? Tami

Letting Go

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Today's reading: Genesis 50:15-26; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:9

Have you noticed how our minds are adept at recording and then recalling negative actions—either things that are done to us or acts that we have committed against others? In times of danger, that can be a good thing, because our remembering kicks in to protect us. But when it comes to confessed sin, remembering can be problematic when it leads us to dwell on the past action and entertain feelings of guilt that resurface with the memory. Responding in this manner is not healthy or productive, nor is it Biblical. But it's exactly where Satan loves for us to go because it can pull us off course from following God and can lead us right back into sin.

After Jacob's death, Joseph's brothers give in to their past sinful memories and the accompanying feelings of guilt that flood their minds, and the result isn't pretty. They conspire together to lie to Joseph in an effort to protect themselves. Joseph is grieved with the situation, as evidenced by how he comes to tears when the brothers speak with him. He reassures them that he is not vengeful and that he has forgiven them. He then proclaims how God was working in and through a bad situation to bring about good.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (vs. 20).

After you've asked God for forgiveness, do you have difficulty letting go and believing your sins are forgiven? What helps you push aside feelings of guilt when you're reminded of past sinful choices and actions? What encouragement do you draw from Psalm 103:12 and 1 John 1:9? Tami

With Others

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Today's reading: Genesis 50:1-14; Romans 12:15

After Jacob delivers his parting words to each of his sons, he passes away. Joseph is brokenhearted and openly weeps over the death of his father. Over the next several months the grieving process continues, concluding with the burial of Jacob in the cave of the field at Machpelah located in Canaan.

Adjusting to the loss of Jacob was difficult for Joseph. But thankfully he didn't have to walk through the grief process alone. He had a good amount of support, from his natural family but especially from his Egyptian friends and coworkers. What a comfort it must have been for Joseph when the "servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household" came alongside to walk with Joseph during this difficult time (vs. 7-8).

Why is having another person join us as we're experiencing life's ups and downs so important and helpful? Who in your circle of friends or family could you encourage by being attentive to their needs (coming alongside to rejoice or weep with them)? Tami

Last Lessons

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Today's reading: Genesis 49:1-33

Genesis 49 is a key scripture passage in that it lays out the foundation of the twelve tribes of Israel and is filled with prophecy that will come to fruition throughout the rest of the Bible. In this chapter we see Jacob's last words to his family. His insightful and powerful messages are unique to each of the specific sons, addressing past actions and consequences and then providing direction for what is to come.

In addition to the specific instruction to each son, the overall experience also served to provide the sons (and now us) with lessons on parenting and leadership. One of the prominent lessons I noticed was how Jacob wisely orchestrated and then used this final gathering for the benefit of his whole family. Instead of summoning each son individually to provide lessons privately, Jacob calls an open session family meeting. This is important because the others also get the benefit of hearing about, and in turn learning from, their brothers' sins and the resulting consequences.

What lessons about parenting and/or leadership stood out to you from Genesis 49, and why? What do Jacob's words to his sons reveal about our choices and resulting consequences? Tami

Constant and Faithful

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Today's reading: Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob's life was not an easy one. Upon leaving—actually, being sent away from—his childhood home with Isaac and Rebekah, the life he experienced was filled with difficulty. He was no longer by his family and experienced hard work and change as well as times of uncertainty, loss, and grief. So for Jacob to proclaim to Joseph at the end of his life about God's greatness, goodness, and how God had been so constant and faithful throughout the years is significant.

I was encouraged by what Jacob shared with Joseph. His words were a good reminder of how God uses every situation—ordinary experiences, new experiences, good times, difficult circumstances, sadness, sorrow, and loss—to move us forward and, in so doing, make us wiser about life here on earth and most importantly to grow us spiritually.

How were you encouraged by Jacob's message to Joseph in Genesis 48? Take a few minutes today to think back over your life experiences. Identify at least one situation where you could see after the fact that God used it to make you a little wiser and move you forward spiritually. Tami

Open Wide

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Today's reading: Psalm 81:1-16

Asaph begins with a call to praise in Psalm 81 before taking an historical look back at what God had done. He then moves on to our responsibility to listen and submit to God. He finally concludes by showing us the blessing God wants to give us when we choose to be obedient in following Him. While there were several verses in this psalm that touched my heart, I found my eyes repeatedly going back to the words in verse 10.

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."

So much is conveyed in these few words. The first half of the verse highlights the personal relationship God desires to have with us and how He is in control, guides us, and protects us in and through our circumstances. But the final sentence was my favorite because of the way it so clearly communicates that if we simply surrender to God, He is there waiting to shower His love upon us and give us all we need. Thank you, God!

What does God being "the Lord your God" mean for you? Would you describe yourself as having your "mouth open wide" when it comes to receiving God's instruction? If not, what's hindering you, and what changes do you need to put in place to get to a point of full surrender? Tami

LOUD for God

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Today's reading: Psalm 81:1-3

In the first three verses of Psalm 81, Asaph lays down the call for us to praise God in a LOUD way! Being the extrovert that I am, I love celebrations, especially when they include dynamic music. That being the case, this picture of enthusiastic public recognition and honoring of God absolutely resonated with me and has motivated me to be intentional about using my voice (through conversations and in song) to praise God openly and with exuberance this weekend.

How did Psalm 81:1-3 impact you today? Is it your practice to "shout for joy" to the Lord? What does being "loud for God" look like in your life? Could (or should) you perhaps be a little louder? Tami

Faithful to the End

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Today's reading: Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob is an old man by the time he is reunited with Joseph in Egypt, and as we reach Genesis 48 Jacob's time on earth is coming to an end. As his father is on his deathbed, Joseph visits him and brings his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, with him. It's a sweet and intimate family time in which, despite being weak, Jacob makes sure that God and His love, goodness, and promises are front and center in this interaction with Joseph and his sons.

Reading this account brought to mind memories of both of my parents and how they remained steadfast in proclaiming God's love and goodness in their final few months on earth. My dad was especially verbal in this regard. One of my favorite memories from his last weeks was taking him for a radiation treatment and hearing him immediately engage the nurse in a conversation about God and salvation. After saying hello to the nurse and giving her his name and a couple of details, I heard my dad say (from across the room and behind the treatment room curtain), "I have an important question for you. Do you know Jesus?" The approach was certainly bold, but it did open the door for him to have an in-depth conversation with this woman about God, His love for her, and her need for a savior. You see, my dad knew his time was limited, and he was determined to make the most of every moment for God.

None of us know when we'll draw our last breath. That being the case, how are you making the most of the time you have on earth for God? Do you think of yourself as a bold witness? And what does (or should) being a bold witness look like—at home with your family, at work, at school, with your friends, or with your neighbors? Tami

Business Savvy

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Today's reading: Genesis 47:13-31

Joseph was a gifted leader, both for his family and for Pharaoh. As we finish out Genesis 47, the famine has hit head-on, and the people of Egypt turn to Joseph again and again as a matter of survival. The situation across the countryside is dire, but Joseph's earlier planning saves his family and protects Pharaoh and the entire population of Egypt.

Joseph was wise in the area of conducting business. He was what I call "business savvy." He was able to assess a situation, determine the best course of action, and then implement it. And through it all, he was caring, respectful, and loyal on all levels. Joseph was a good steward with regard to Pharaoh and his possessions while at the same time overseeing the lives and well-being of the citizens of Egypt in and through this horrific famine crisis.

Is it your practice to seek God's direction in business matters (i.e. things concerning finances, purchases, employment, or work)? Why is this as important as seeking God in personal matters? What's one thing regarding business decisions and matters that stood out you from Joseph's example, and why? Tami

Reputation

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Today's reading: Genesis 47:1-12

As we did in Genesis 45, here in Genesis 47 we again get to see the relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh, which includes a closer look at Pharaoh. I was drawn to Pharaoh's interactions with Joseph, his brothers, and then with Jacob because of how these exchanges revealed so clearly the respect Pharaoh had for Joseph.

Joseph had a reputation—and it was a good one! But his strong moral reputation didn't just happen. Joseph was diligent in following after God and making sure his lifestyle and choices were in alignment with what he knew was right in God's eyes. What a great reminder that all the choices we make—big, small, and everything in between—are important. We don't live in a vacuum, particularly in today's world. People are always observing us, so how we choose to live our lives matters.

What would you say your reputation is with other people—in your family, neighborhood, at work, at school, and at church? Do your actions, choices, and words reflect that you are a follower of Christ? Tami

Hindsight

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:28–47:12

From the time Joseph was sold into slavery until he was reunited with his family in Egypt over 20 years later, his life was FILLED with trials and difficulty. In the moment, Joseph couldn't see what God was doing. But when we reach Genesis 46 and 47, we can see clearly—and so could Joseph (in hindsight)—how God used every difficulty for Joseph's and his families ultimate good.

Testing, trials, and difficulty are part of life. These tough situations and seasons serve to stretch, grow, train, and mature us. I absolutely know this, yet I still struggle with it because if I'm honest, I'd rather be given the easy road. But the truth is that if God had simply given me an easy road, I wouldn't be where I'm at spiritually today. I can say without a doubt as I look back over my life that the most beneficial times of learning and growing were the direct result of periods of trial and affliction. I'm able to see clearly how God used those difficult times to move me out of certain situations (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) in order to provide me with an experience that I would need to help me or someone else in the future and to draw me closer to Him and deeper into His Word.

One example of God working for my ultimate good through a hard circumstance happened just a few years ago. My husband and I uprooted and moved across the country for my job. But within a year of that major event, we both found ourselves unemployed. Our situation didn't make any sense to us. Both of us were confident that God had directed us to make this move. Yet almost immediately upon arriving in our new state and city, things didn't go well. It was stressful, scary, and emotionally painful. All we could do was lean into God and His Word—and lean in we did for three years, until God moved us to a different location.

It took me over a year in our new location before I could look back and see the tremendous spiritual work God had done in my life during this season of difficulty. God had provided us with a wonderful church and a strong small group that supported and encouraged us through this hard season. He also orchestrated things so that I could head up a women's Bible study group that was like no other group I've been a part of—women eager to gather together in close friendship, delve into God's Word, and then support each other in prayer and through their actions each and every day between our meeting times.

Those three years (that I would have elected to skip over if given the choice in advance) were so beneficial and critical for me spiritually (and my husband too, by the way). As I write today, I am thankful for God's faithfulness and how He used an extremely difficult season to draw me closer to Him and, in so doing, teach me His truth, reveal Himself more fully to me, and elevate my desire to serve Him.

How does seeing in hindsight that God used a trial for your overall good help you cope when you encounter another difficult situation? How has a past difficulty led to your spiritual growth? What impact has Joseph's story had on your perspective about trials and hardships? Tami

Restoration Prayer

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Today's reading: Psalm 80:1-19

Psalm 80 puts before us yet another prayer dealing with Israel experiencing hardship as a result of turning away from God. The psalmist begins by recognizing God for His greatness and past actions. He then talks with God about the hardships which He has brought on them because of the people's sinful actions and implores God to please turn again to look on His people and save them.

What does this psalm reveal about turning away from God? What did you learn from this psalm about repentance and seeking God's forgiveness? Tami

Jealous over Us

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Today's reading: Psalm 79:1-13

Psalm 79 gives us a glimpse of the Israelites at a time when they were in a difficult circumstance—as a consequence of their turning away from God, their country had been overthrown and was being ruled by enemies. As the psalmist writes, he notes that God is a jealous God (vs. 5) and then turns to recognize the people's wrongdoing, proclaim their recommitment to following God, and call on God to act on their behalf.

How often to you think about God being "jealous" about your relationship with Him? What does this psalm reveal about God's disciplining love for us? Tami

Letting People See

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:28-34

One of things I find attractive about Joseph's example is his authenticity when interacting with those around him. We see this throughout his life, but it's especially apparent when his brothers and family arrive in Egypt. Joseph is ruling over Egypt, yet he isn't fixated on his status and consumed with maintaining appearances. Although he initially hides his identity from his brothers (something I believe was quite uncomfortable for him), once Joseph is able to determine the state of things with his family, he lets down his guard. He is incredibly real and transparent with his brothers and Jacob as well as with his Egyptian colleagues and Pharaoh: "And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it" (Gen. 45:2). Here are a two more examples: "Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them." (Gen. 45:14-15); "[Joseph] presented himself to [Jacob] and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while" (Gen. 46:29).

Life isn't struggle free, yet for whatever reason, we tend to think that we have to present a solid front at all times. While it can be hard to open up and share what we're feeling and how we're struggling with other people, I've learned over the years that letting others see what I'm experiencing can be a good thing both for me and for the other person (of course, we must use discernment about who we share information with).

Here's one example. I have a propensity toward anxiety, and there was a period of years where anxiety had a strong hold over my life. It was a miserable time. I was embarrassed and felt stupid and weak because I couldn't control it. I certainly didn't want anyone to know.

After living and dealing with anxiety "quietly" for several years, it did get better, so I decided to talk about this struggle as I was speaking to a women's group. In the talk, I shared about God using anxiety—as painful as it was—to draw me closer to Him. I have to be honest, I was a little scared to open up about having anxiety with these women, but it was (and still is) a part of my life experience and testimony. I'm so glad I decided to open up that day because it was freeing for me to finally talk about my anxiety. But more importantly, after I spoke several women came up to tell me that they too suffered with anxiety, that they had not told anyone, and that the quiet struggle was awful. They told me that my sharing made them realize that they were not alone and that they could talk about their struggle too without having to be ashamed. Wow! I in no way expected that response.

All that to say, talking about anxiety and other struggles is now a regular part of my ministry. I love how God has allowed me to use the difficult, painful, and sometimes downright awful experiences to encourage and help others.

Do you tend to struggle with letting those close to you know how you are truly feeling? If so, why? How does letting people (particularly family and close friends) see what we're going through foster relationships? What about helping the other person? Tami

Loving Father

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Today's reading: Genesis 46:1-27

After adjusting to the shocking news that Joseph is alive and is ruling over Egypt, Jacob gathers together all of his family and possessions and starts the journey to Egypt. On the way, he stops and offers sacrifices to God at Beersheba, and as God had done several times before, He responds to Israel (Jacob) through a dream.

You see, God knows that even though Israel is eager to see Joseph, he is still feeling unsettled and fearful about moving his family and possessions to Egypt. In response to Israel's worship, God lovingly reassures him about the move by telling him not to be afraid, reaffirming His prior promise of making Jacob into a great nation, and then telling Israel that He would be with him up until he takes his final breath.

What stood out to you most about God from this passage, and why? What's one example of how God has shown himself to be a loving Father to you? Tami

Working Well Together

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Today's reading: Genesis 45:16-28

The recorded life story of Joseph is primarily focused on accounts involving Joseph and his immediate family. But God has also included some key interactions with other people, one of those being in Genesis 45:16-28. In this passage we get a more in-depth look at the relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh, and from it we can draw some helpful lessons in the area of working relationships outside of the family (employer/employee, owner/worker, teacher/student, etc.).

Pharaoh respected and liked Joseph. We even pick up a sense of friendship between these two men from the text. And although we're not privy to all of the details, I believe we can infer that the healthy and pleasant state of this relationship was largely due to Joseph consistently being a good, wise, and diligent worker. So when Joseph's family comes into the picture, Pharaoh embraces them like he has Joseph. He's welcoming and extremely generous toward Joseph's family, providing for them and offering to give them the choicest land in Egypt. The interactions between Pharaoh and Joseph truly provide us with a picture of what a healthy working relationship can look like from both sides of the equation.

What stood out to you about working relationships from the interaction between Pharaoh and Joseph in this chapter? What's one thing from this account that you can use to strengthen your current relationships? Tami

But God

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Today's reading: Genesis 45:1-15

When Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers, they are stunned. In fact, verse 3 says, "His brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence." I can only imagine the myriad of thoughts and emotions that had to have been running through their minds, first and foremost concern about whether Joseph going to take revenge on them for what they had done to him years earlier.

But Joseph isn't interested in retaliation. He recognizes that God has been in control and with him at all times and that what has taken place—the good, the bad, and the ugly—all happened for a reason. Twice Joseph tells his brothers that it was God who sent him to Egypt for the specific purpose of preserving the lives of his brothers and family (vs. 5 and 7). He explains further in verse 8, "It was not you who sent me here, but God."

I love reading through this portion of Joseph's story. What an amazing picture of what it looks like to be fully submitted to and trusting in God. Thank you, God, for showing us your goodness and that you have a plan and a purpose for all we experience!

What have you learned about God and His ways from the life story of Joseph to this point? Do you find it difficult to fully submit to and trust God when you encounter a hard situation? How will you draw on Joseph's story to help you trust God going forward? Tami

Changed Man

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Today's reading: Genesis 44:14-34

A large portion of Genesis 44 focuses on Judah. What a different person we see here than what we first saw earlier in Genesis, when he joined with his brothers against Joseph. With the clock now fast-forwarded 20 years, the fact that God has worked in Judah's life is evident from the picture we see of a mature and responsible man. Here are some of the things I noticed about Judah.

  • He had developed into a man of his word. He told his father he would take responsibility for Benjamin, and he did, even at the expense of his own well-being.
  • He no longer allowed his emotions and jealousy to dictate his thinking and actions. There was no evidence of jealousy toward Benjamin, even though Jacob clearly favored him as he had Joseph.
  • Judah's primary concern was Jacob's well-being. He wanted to protect and please his father.
  • The overall good of his family was of utmost importance to Judah.
  • Judah courageously stepped up to engage Joseph, facing the troubling situation concerning Benjamin head-on. And he was willing to take responsibility for something he did not do in order to protect his youngest brother.

In what areas and/or ways have you changed and developed over the past two or three years? Now look back 10 or even 20 years. How has God used and worked through your life experiences, both good and bad, to shape, grow, and develop you? Tami

Telling Forward

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Today's reading: Psalm 78:1-72

The song of Psalm 78 is an historical one that provides an overview of God's provision for the Israelites from the time of Moses to David. Looking back and remembering how God has walked with us as our provider and protector is important, because it helps us keep our focus on God and His greatness and goodness. And as we look back, we need to be not only reminding for ourselves but also passing on God's history along with our personal history with God to those around us, especially to children and the next generation.

"Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done" (vs. 4).

Is looking back and remembering God's history, as well as your specific history with Him, something you do regularly? What impact does this have on you? Why is it so important to share this information with the next generation? Tami

Power in Remembering

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Today's reading: Psalm 77:1-20

Sometimes our hurt is so intense and our discouragement feels so heavy that it's hard for us to even speak. And when we find ourselves in this painful emotional state, the temptation is to doubt God and perhaps even to turn away and try to solve our problems in our own strength. That's the starting scenario in Psalm 77. But the psalmist resists the temptation to turn from God and instead chooses to think back about all the previous times and ways God has been faithful. By the time we reach the closing verses, the psalmist's outlook has changed from one of seemingly utter despair to one of hope and continued trust in and dependence on a good and sovereign God.

How has remembering God's past faithfulness helped you through a difficult time? Do you (or will you) talk about how God has guided, protected, and provided for you as a way to help and encourage others who are struggling? 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 February 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2020 is the previous archive.

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