April 2020 Archives

Provider God

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Today's reading: Joshua 5:10-12

Verses 10-12 in Joshua 5 serve as transition verses that give us a glimpse at the Israelites after crossing the Jordan but before taking the city of Jericho. Although brief, these verses contain a clear picture of God's provision over many years. The Israelites celebrated Passover, looking back and remembering how God had delivered them out of captivity in Egypt, followed by the new normal of eating from the land instead of eating the manna God had been providing in the desert.

How often do you think about and recognize God when it comes to the details of your life? Do you see His hand when you receive help from a neighbor or friend? When you get a special price on something you need to purchase? When you leave the house behind schedule only to discover later that your delay kept you out of an accident zone? Take a few minutes and think about how God has provided for you over the past weeks and years. Then, tell Him thank you. Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 5:1-12

The message that the consequences that follow disobedience and sin are far-reaching came across clearly from Joshua 5:1-12.

The original group of Israelites, who were captives in Egypt and freed by God through Moses, were disobedient and disrespectful of God. The result (the consequence) was that they wandered in the Sinai Desert for forty years and lost out on experiencing the joy of entering the Promised Land. (Side note: The Sinai Desert is a pretty miserable place. I've been there and actually got to "wander" through it for an afternoon, which was all the time I wanted to spend there. Forty years living in these conditions had to have been difficult.)

But the sinful attitudes and actions of this original group didn't just impact them—it also effected the next generation. Their children and grandchildren had to experience the pain of adult circumcision because of actions they weren't even a part of. What a good reminder of the effect every choice we make (and especially those that have to do with following God's instruction, direction, and leading) has not only on us but also on those around us and even future generations.

How often do you think about the effect a particular choice you make is going to have on someone else now or down the road? Is it your practice to talk with God about understanding and following His plan for your life and making the best choices? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 4:1-23

God's final instruction to Joshua as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River was for the Israelites to collect twelve large stones from the river and erect a memorial with them. The stone memorial was to serve as a present-day sign to the Israelites of God's sovereignty, protection, and goodness. But the building of this stone memorial was also for the generations to follow. It would provide them with a tangible reminder of the miracle God performed on the Israelite's behalf by parting the Jordan River for safe passing.

"And [Joshua] said to the people of Israel, 'When your children ask their fathers in times to come, "What do these stones mean?" then you shall let your children know, "Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground'" (vs. 21-22).

Why are spiritual memorials (things that help us remember how God provided and/or moved on our behalf) important? Do you have any spiritual memorials to help you remember God's goodness and faithfulness through times like a difficult situation, your salvation, a baptism, your marriage vows, or something else significant? Do you make it a point to tell others, and particularly children, about God's greatness and what He has done for you? Tami

Stepping In

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Today's reading: Joshua 3:7-17

While God is fully capable of changing every circumstance we encounter in the blink of an eye, sometimes He asks us to step into the rushing waters (the problem we're facing) before He takes action on our behalf. And if you stop and think about it, God asking us to be an active player in working through what's going on in our lives is a good example of how all relationships work—with both parties contributing to finding a solution.

Running water, and especially running water in a time of flooding, is powerful. We've all seen the pictures on the news of people getting swept away in floodwater. So as the priests approached the overflowing, rushing Jordan River, following the instruction to step into the Jordan had to have been a bit scary. But they were obedient, and the result was supernaturally amazing! God completely stopped the rushing waters so that all the Israelites could cross over safely. It was a lesson in trust for the Israelites and one for us today.

"The waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away. . . Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan" (vs. 16-17).

What does this account show about the relationship between having faith and taking action? When has God asked you to "step in" or step forward in a tough situation? What did you learn, and how did God grow you through the experience? Tami

Just God

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Today's reading: Psalm 94:1-23

The words being lifted to God by the psalmist in Psalm 94 spoke to my heart. The psalmist is troubled by the sinful behaviors he is observing and experiencing. So he cries out to God, pointing out the injustices taking place. He next offers a warning message to those around him, reminding them about who God is, and then concludes with a personal recognizing and praising of God for being his strength during these difficult times as he waits for God to move.

Is your heart grieved when you see people rejecting God and turning away from His instruction? Does what you see in the world around you motivate you to tell others about Christ? How is God your help and stronghold as you live in a world that isn't following Him? Tami

God Is

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Today's reading: Psalm 93:1-5

Psalm 93 gives us a beautiful depiction of God. God is:

  • In control
  • Strong
  • Everlasting
  • Mighty
  • Trustworthy
  • Holy

Thank you, God, for reminding us that you are all we need and that we can stand firm when we have the God who controls the universe on our side!

What comfort do you draw from knowing that God is, and has been, established forever? What stood out to you the most about God from this psalm, and why Tami

Learning to Follow

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Today's reading: Joshua 3:1-6

Upon receiving a positive report from the two spies from returning Jericho, Joshua takes action by moving the Israelites to the edge of the Jordan river dividing them from the land they were about to enter and take. As I read, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to be a part of this event. Emotions and excitement had to have been running high. The Israelites were well aware of God's promise to give them this land, and now they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Being a wise and discerning leader, Joshua understood this, and so the instructions dispersed to the people included the specific commands to follow after and keep a good distance from the ark so each person would know the correct direction to go.

"As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before" (vs. 3-4).

These instructions caught my attention today. Why? Because I have a propensity to run ahead of God, especially when I'm excited about on opportunity He has put before me. When I do this, though, I end up slowing down the process, muddying the water, or veering off path. God knows the way--ALWAYS. I just need to learn to follow.

Is it your practice to seek God's direction and guidance, especially when you're getting ready to move forward in a particular area or with a certain project? How do you guard against getting ahead of God's plan and timing? Tami

Unusual Provision

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Today's reading: Joshua 2:1-24

Joshua sends two spies to scout out the land across the Jordan. The men are detected as they enter the city of Jericho, but a prostitute named Rahab helps them avoid capture. She tells the spies, "I know that the LORD has given you this land" (vs. 9). She then hides them in her roof in exchange for a guarantee of safety for her and her family when the Israelites attack the city.

The details of this account seem unlikely and unusual to us, but not to God. Joshua 2 gives us a wonderful picture of how God works in and through situations. What stands out to me from this account is how He uses many people, things, and circumstances that are out of the ordinary realm to accomplish His purposes and also provide for and encourage us in the process.

Think back over the past year or so. What's one example of God watching over and providing for you in a way you didn't expect? Who has God unexpectedly used to encourage you in a stressful or difficult situation? Are you in the habit of looking for and recognizing God's provision and then thanking Him for it? Tami

At His Word

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Today's reading: Joshua 1:10-18

After receiving the charge to be strong and courageous, Joshua takes God at His word. He embraces his new role as the leader of the Israelites and doesn't waste any time in moving forward. Upon hearing from God, Joshua calls the officers of Israel together and instructs them about moving ahead to take possession of the land across the Jordan. He then commands the tribes that have already received land to assist in this mission. With his eyes set on God, Joshua is confident and authoritative and Israel receives him as their leader.

Is it your tendency to take God at His word? What situation do you need to trust God with today? What does Joshua's command to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh show us about family helping family and working together as a team with other followers of Christ? Tami

Courageous

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Today's reading: Joshua 1:9; Philippians 4:6-7

A few years back a dear friend gave me two charms that had scriptures noted on them. She didn't know it at the time, but the passages she had selected, Joshua 1:9 and Philippians 4:6-7, are two of my go-to favorites because of how their messages serve to encourage me and refocus my thinking on God being in control and my caretaker. I put those two charms on a chain along with a cross to make a necklace. I love this necklace and wear it a lot. Each time I put it on, I can't help but think about those two passages. But an unexpected benefit of this necklace is how other people notice the charms and comment on them. This has given me the opportunity to talk with quite a few people about my faith and how God is watching over, providing for, and guiding me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

How did these two scriptures and their messages impact and encourage you today? Tami

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Promotion

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Today's reading: Joshua 1:1-9

Since we've been in the New Testament for a number of weeks, it's time to return to the Old Testament for some life lessons, this time from the book of Joshua.

The opening verse of this book sets the scene. Moses has died, and Joshua, Moses's right-hand man, receives a promotion from God. He is now the new leader of the Israelites, who are a massive group of men, women, and children. I can only imagine how Joshua must have felt being given such a monumental task. But God doesn't simply promote Joshua and then leave him to find his own way. God also provides words of reassurance, encouragement, and guidance. He tells Joshua that He will always be with him and then gives the charge for Joshua to be "strong and courageous" as he keeps his focus on God's law and lives in alignment with it.

Think of a time when you felt overwhelmed with or a little fearful due to a job, task, or role that God put before you. How did you respond? How does focusing and meditating on God's Word help you be "strong and courageous"? What does this passage reveal about God's character? Tami

Home-Based Worship

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Today's reading: Psalm 92:1-15

Psalm 92 begins with a call for us to give thanks and sing praises to God, which is always a welcome request for me and particularly appropriate for a Sunday morning. So along with the psalmist, let's be intentional about praising God and telling Him all the things we're thankful for. Make this part of your shelter-in-place church time this morning.

Is thanking God and praising Him for His love and faithfulness something you do regularly? When you praise and thank God, how does it influence your outlook, attitude, and thinking? How does it impact your relationship with God? Tami

Rooted

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Today's reading: Psalm 92:1-15

The closing verses of Psalm 92 describe beautifully what our lives can and should look like as we live for God. The words penned by the psalmist are so rich and expressive that I was able to immediately visualize myself as one of these healthy, flourishing trees. My heart was particularly drawn to the words of verses 13-14.

"They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green."

As I considered this illustration and what it represents, some of the words that came to my mind were healthy, thriving, active, producing, and growing. What an encouragement to know that God wants and expects us to actively serve Him all the days of our life.

Take a few minutes to read back through verses 12-15. What do these verses mean for you personally? What does being "planted in the house of the Lord" convey to you? What encouragement did you draw from verse 14 regarding bearing fruit and being "ever full of sap and green"? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 46:10; Psalm 37:7

The stillness of our current state of imposed shelter-in-place restrictions has been filling my mind lately. I'm not what you would describe as a "still" person. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I like being out and about with a never-ending list of tasks to accomplish. All that to say, you can probably guess that I'm struggling with the requirement of staying home and being still.

Yesterday was a difficult day in our household (I'll spare you the details). So as my head hit the pillow late last night, I talked with God about how much I wasn't liking this imposed still time and asked Him to help my husband and I do our best for as long as this lasts. When I woke this morning, my thoughts went back to "being still" and specifically to Psalm 46:10, which says:

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

I then did a little searching and landed on Psalm 37:7, which contains a similar message.

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!"

My husband and I got a new puppy this past weekend. She is precious and so sweet, but she does not like being still. She wants to be unrestrained so she can interact with and experience her world almost nonstop. When I put her in her carrier for some "still" time, she resists—usually by whining, scratching at the door, or the worst response, full-out crying and howling. As her master I don't enjoy seeing her in this struggling state, but the actions I'm taking are done with her best interests in mind. Although she doesn't yet understand it, I know that boundaries and downtime (stillness) are necessary for her to be safe and thrive.

It dawned on me this morning (i.e. God showed me) that I'm not too different from my little puppy when it comes to being still. The message God impressed on my heart is that I need to settle down (be still) and trust Him. While I may not be able to fully understand it now, God doesn't waste time or any circumstance. I know that He is growing and teaching me through this "being still" time.

How are you doing at "being still" right now? What has God been teaching you through this season of social distancing and sheltering in place? Tami

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Today's reading: Psalm 119:1-176

Yesterday I blogged about the importance of having the habit of regularly and consistently communicating with God through prayer. Soon after waking this morning, thoughts of "regular" and "consistent" filled my mind again, only this time they applied to our need to foster the habit of regularly spending time in God's Word. Why? Because when I made my way to the kitchen for breakfast, I was met with yet another day of negative and sensationalized news reports. Almost every headline in one of the national newspapers we receive conveyed a "glass half-empty" perspective or worse. It didn't take long for my spirits to take a nosedive and my attitude to turn a bit grumpy. Thankfully I realized what was happening, and I knew exactly what I needed—God's Word. I needed the comfort, peace, and encouragement I always experience when I slow down and spend time in it.

With the importance of regularly taking in God's Word fresh on my mind, I turned to my Bible. Today I chose Psalm 119 because of how it tells us so much about God's Word and reveals how vital it is for living. The verses below drew my attention for how they show us that God's Word is truly life-giving and sustaining. I trust they will encourage you like they did me this morning.

  • "My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word" (vs. 25).
  • "My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word" (vs. 28).
  • "This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life" (vs. 50).
  • "Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight" (vs. 76-77).
  • "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word" (vs. 114).
  • "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words" (vs. 147).
  • "Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules" (vs. 156).
  • "Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble (vs. 165).

How is spending time in God's Word helping you during this time of quarantine and isolation? Is there a particular passage or verse that you have found to be especially comforting or encouraging, and why? What is one benefit you've experienced from reading scripture early in the day? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 22:39-46

I decided to spend one more day in the passages about Jesus's crucifixion because the example we see from Jesus in a time of crisis is such a good one for us right now.

With his arrest and crucifixion just hours away, Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray in order to prepare himself for what He knew was going to happen. The words "as was his custom" in verse 39 spoke volumes. They impressed on me not only the importance of prayer but also the importance of the engaging in the practice of regularly talking with God at a regular time and in a regular place.

Do you have an established time and place when you talk with God? Why is this important? What impact does regularly talking with God have on your mindset and attitude as you go about your day? Tami

Today's reading: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-19; Luke 24:36-49

After Jesus's resurrection, he appears to the disciples and reveals to them their mission going forward. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark contain what we refer to as the "Great Commission."

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation'" (Mark 16:15).

And then Luke tells us that Jesus opened the disciples' minds so they could understand the scriptures and that He told them:

"Repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations" (Luke 24:47).

As modern-day Christ followers, the Great Commission—the directive to proclaim Jesus to all people—absolutely applies to us. That means we must tell people about God's love for them by making Jesus Christ known to everyone around us. As we're all doing our best to cope with this temporary "new normal" brought on by the coronavirus, making the saving love of Jesus known is more important than ever.

Is it your practice to tell people (those you know and those you encounter in person and via technology and social media) about Jesus? Who do you know that needs to hear about Jesus? You and I choosing to follow Jesus's directive could change their life forever! Tami

Today's reading: Luke 24:13-35

I love the example Jesus provides for us as He comes alongside Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. Jesus's followers don't understand what took place with Jesus just a few days earlier. They're confused, sad, and disheartened, just like we are many times when things don't happen as we planned or when unexpected hardship or tragedy occurs.

So what does Jesus do? He starts by engaging the two men in conversation, asking them questions and listening to their concerns. And as He interacts with them, Jesus is kind and compassionate. Jesus took extra care with these men, explaining and talking through many things. He gave of His time, even continuing the conversation into dinner to ensure that Cleopas and his friend truly understood the things that had happened to Him and what they had just experienced.

Do you look for opportunities to encourage and help others gain an understanding of God's love and Jesus's sacrifice for them? Do you look for opportunities to come alongside people to encourage, support, and help them better understand and apply God's Word? How willing are you to give of your time to help someone meet and then grow closer to Christ? Tami

Our Sacrifice

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Today's reading: Matthew 27:24-44; Mark 15:16-40; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:1-30

I struggle with anything to do with physical abuse, cruel treatment, and torture. It's hard for me to read or hear details of these sorts of actions, and I don't watch programs or movies that contain extreme brutality or violence. That being the case, I have to prepare myself for the images that will come into my mind and the emotions I'm going to feel whenever I read the account of Jesus's crucifixion.

Jesus endured merciless beating and excruciating physical, emotional, and mental torture so that you and I could spend eternity with Him. He willingly took on the punishment for ALL of our sins—every single one of them! He was a perfect, sinless sacrifice for us. Thank you, Jesus, for your great love and your sacrifice for me!

Read through at least one of the accounts of Jesus's crucifixion, doing your best to imagine what this event was like for all involved, but especially for Jesus. How does knowing that Jesus willingly took on the punishment that each of us deserve make you feel? What does Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection mean for you personally? Tami

Today's reading: Luke 23:26-43

Two thieves are crucified alongside Jesus. One thief defiantly taunts Jesus about being "the Christ," but the other has a different heart. He reprimands the first thief for his self-centered, worldly thinking, saying:

"Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:40-41).

I was struck by this man's understanding of the situation. His words were a powerful reminder of God's grace and the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for all of my sin (my "due reward") as he hung and died on the cross.

Take some time today to think about Jesus's sacrifice on the cross. How has knowing Jesus (having a personal relationship with Him) changed your life? This weekend, would you thank Him for His sacrifice and then tell someone else about Jesus and His love for them? With our country essentially being shut down because of the coronavirus (which means no going to church), you may be the only voice delivering the message of God's truth and hope for someone in need. Tami

No Immunity

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Today's reading: John 18:1-40; Luke 22:1-6; Matthew 26:1-5

Earlier this week, I read through the crucifixion account in John, and one weighty message kept reverberating in my head—SIN. As I thought about what was taking place and how it was all driven by sin, my heart was heavy. No one is immune from the powerful pull of sin, and when sin gets its grip on us, we are capable of doing some pretty horrific things.

The chief priests, elders, and scribes—the highest ranking religious officials, the very men who were supposed to be upholding God's perfect Law—were actively plotting to murder Jesus!

"[They] plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him" (Matthew 26:4).

"And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death" (Luke 22:2).

And then there's Judas, one of Jesus's twelve disciples, a man who had benefitted from the love, kindness, and teaching of Jesus. And yet he was willing to throw Jesus to the wolves for financial gain. He was willing to bargain away an innocent man's life for a mere thirty pieces of silver.

In what areas are you most likely to give in to sin? Why is it important to be aware of our areas of weakness? What's one thing you noticed about sin from the examples in these passages? Tami

A Good Word

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Today's reading: Proverbs 12:25

As I was scrolling down my Facebook feed today, I saw that one of my friends had posted an image with Proverbs 12:25 on it. What a timely and helpful verse today.

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad."

With worry, stress, anxiousness, fear, and feelings of depression widespread right now, we could all benefit from "a good word."

Who will you encourage today? In addition to definitely being good for them, it will brighten your day as well. Tami

Focused Thinking

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Today's reading: Philippians 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 10:5

If there's one thing I'm experiencing during this downtime caused by the coronavirus, it's that I have plenty of time to think. While that can be a good thing, in our current environment filled with negative news reports and all kinds of posts on social media, it's not too difficult for our thinking to take a negative turn south and keep on going. That being the case, the need to be proactive about what we are putting into our minds and allowing to influence us really hit me this morning.

Today two scripture passages, both authored by Paul, came to my mind concerning how we need to approach our thinking—Philippians 4:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 10:5. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul talks of the intentional act of "tak[ing] every thought captive to obey Christ." And then in Philippians 4, immediately after the instructions to rejoice, not be anxious, and put our requests before God through prayer, he writes:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (vs. 8-9).

Filling our minds with and then focusing on good things—particularly the truth of God's Word—is especially important right now. During this time of change, when nothing feels quite normal and our emotions are heightened on a number of fronts, let's join together and be intentional about filling our minds with God's Word. Then focus on the truth God reveals to us from His Word each day. Tami

Learning

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Today's reading: Philippians 4:10-13

As soon as I woke up this morning, Paul's words about being content as he was sitting in prison filled my mind. Why? Because the way our current world situation with COVID-19 is impacting us personally—quarantining, social distancing, job loss, uncertainty, not having control of many areas of our lives—is somewhat similar to what Paul was likely experiencing sitting in prison. And yet in the middle of his difficult, unpleasant, and unwanted circumstance, Paul was able to confidently write:

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).

Two times in these three verses Paul uses the word "learned" concerning being content. And God kept bringing the word "learn" to my mind as I considered this passage. I felt like God was saying to me, "I love you and am right beside you. I know you're not enjoying this experience, but through this difficult time I will sustain you and teach you even more about me."

So the question for each of us to ask ourselves today is, what is God showing or teaching me through this different and difficult season of the coronavirus?

I spent a bit of time wrestling with this question, and here's where I landed. There are a number of things God is showing me (and I am learning) through this time. But the predominant thing right now is that I have to be submitted to and at peace with God's timing. This is something I struggle with, and it's a recurring lesson for me. I am a doer. I'm always busy and on the go, so being forced to stay at home and put my new full-time baking business on hold feels unnatural and frustrating to me. Although it took me a couple of weeks to finally get to this point, this past weekend I realized that my conversations with God were sounding different (in a good way). After praying for other people, the focus of my prayers were all about recognizing how everything I have is a gift from God. Until this period of quarantining passes and I sense His leading to start moving forward again, I will be content exactly where I'm at.

Okay, it's your turn. What is God showing or teaching you through this different and difficult season of the coronavirus? Tami

2 Timothy Wrap

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 1-4

Thanks for spending the last few weeks reading through 1 and 2 Timothy with me. These two books are packed full of words instruction and encouragement to stand strong and press on as we live for Christ.

Although this is not a very long letter, it contains one of my favorite passages, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. God's Word must be front and center in our lives, and these two verses reinforce this so well.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

What was the most significant lesson you took away from Paul's instruction in 2 Timothy? What encouraged you most from this book, and why? Tami

Love for You

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Today's reading: Psalm 91:1-16

While the words of Psalm 91 deliver a message of comfort, security, and peace, they also put before us an incredible picture of a mighty and powerful God who adores and cares for us as His children. I was drawn to the verses that describe God as being our "dwelling place" (vs. 9) and "dwell[ing] in the shelter of the Most High" (vs. 1). I encourage you to read through this beautiful song again, this time thinking purposefully about God being your dwelling place and you dwelling in God's shelter, and what that means for you personally.

What does this psalm communicate about the personal nature of God and His love for and desire to be in relationship with you? Tami

Our Refuge

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Today's reading: Psalm 91:1-16

As I watched the news last night, I felt God impressing on my heart the need to trust Him. That same feeling hit me this morning as I checked in with some friends. Right now feelings of fear are rampant around the world because of uncertainty, imposed changes in routine, lack of control, and the danger of sickness and death as a result of the coronavirus. While fear can function in a good way in small doses (it's a God-given emotion and defense mechanism), in times of distress, this powerful emotion can actually be harmful to us on several fronts—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

So as feelings of fear press in from what seems like all sides, we need to turn to God and His Word now more than ever. There we will find over and over again words of comfort and guidance and evidence of a faithful, trustworthy, and loving Father.

As I opened my Bible to write my blog this morning and saw that Psalm 91 was the next scheduled psalm (Coincidence? I think not!), I was thankful because of how this psalm reveals God's great love for each of us. While what the psalmist wrote in this psalm thousands of years ago can be literal, the Bible shows us time and again that many faithful followers of God suffered and even died (see Hebrews 11, for example). But I know that when we choose to keep our eyes on Christ, no matter our circumstances or its outcome, we can still have peace and joy. God tells us again and again that He is our refuge, and because of that, we can stand strong as the storms of life rage around us.

"God, thank you for loving, watching over us and for giving us your Word to look to for guidance, comfort, and peace. Please help us keep our focus on you during this time so that there is no room for fear. Amen."

What comfort did you draw from this psalm? Was there a particular verse that moved your heart, and why? What's one example of how God's Word has calmed your fear in the past month? Tami

Support System

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:9-22

As human beings, God designed us to function at our best when we're in relationships with others. Having close relationships beyond our immediate family is especially important for us as followers of Christ. Paul certainly knew this, as evidenced by the list of people he references in 2 Timothy 4 (and in other books as well). There's no doubt in my mind that Paul valued people and relationships and that he was a proactive relationship builder.

Relationships and people are important to me too, so I'm constantly looking for opportunities to get together with others (electronically right now, due to the temporary coronavirus limitations)—socially, in Bible study groups, through retreats, you name it. If other people are involved, I want to be there.

Over the years, I've been part of a number of women's Bible study groups, and I'm in one right now (we're meeting over the phone for the time being). I have to say, my favorite day of the week is always the set meeting day for my group because I get to spend time with other women. One of the wonderful things about these groups is how they provide an interactive support system for the women involved. We aren't just interacting on the night or morning we meet. On days in between meetings, it's very common for us to encourage each other through Facebook, emails, texts, or phone calls. And praying for each other, lending a helping hand where needed, and meeting for coffee or lunch for some extra support and encouragement are all the norm. All that to say, the women in these different groups have become part of my life in a significant way, and even though I may not live near many of them any longer, I still love each of them dearly.

Do you have a support system or network of Christian friends and family with whom you regularly interact? Why is having Christian friends so important? What benefits have you experienced from having Christian friends and also being one to others? Tami

Reflecting Back

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Knowing that his life will likely be taken from him in the near future, Paul looks back and reflects on his spiritual past. He writes about his life as an example of encouragement for Timothy to follow in his footsteps, and the example is surely a good one. Paul tells Timothy he has served God fully and well—fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith. Then Paul shares how because of his faithful service to God, he (and others like him) will be a recipient of a special reward (the crown of righteousness) in heaven.

Reflecting back on our spiritual lives is a good exercise to help us live even better as we move forward. Our spiritual growth is an ongoing process that includes setbacks, hardship, and difficulties. So if you're thinking, I'm no Paul. I've had a bunch of stumbles. I've let God down. I don't feel like I've done my best, you're not alone. None of us (including Paul) have lived perfect lives. It's impossible, because we're all human. We can't go back and change something we did yesterday, last month, last year, or beyond that. The past is the past.

But we do have the power and the ability to do our best from this moment forward. And when we ask God to help us and then follow His leading, we will be able to say, like Paul, "I am fighting the good fight. I am running the race, and I am keeping the faith!"

Would you take a few minutes today to do some reflecting with me? Ask yourself: "How am I doing spiritually? Am I fighting the good fight? Am I keeping the faith?" Then, no matter what your answer, ask God to help you do even better. Ask Him to show you some specific ways you can be bolder for Him, how you can live with more confidence, and if there are things He wants you to do. Ask Him to give you wisdom, strength, and power so you can run the race of life to the best of your ability! Tami

Ready

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Today's reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul charges Timothy to boldly proclaim and teach Christ as he continues to move forward with ministry. That same charge applies to us as well. Even if the jobs we work at each day aren't for an established ministry (accountant, mom, teacher, painter, truck driver, store clerk, salesperson, etc.), we are all still in full-time "ministry" for the Lord. As such, just like Timothy, God wants us to share Him—His truth, His love, and His plan of salvation—with everyone we encounter.

Would you say you are ready at any time to tell others about Christ and God's gift of salvation? Do you see yourself as doing the "work of an evangelist" wherever God has you placed at this time? 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 April 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2020 is the previous archive.

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