July 2020 Archives

Wise Planning

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Today's reading: Esther 5:1-8

After accepting the charge from Mordecai to approach the king about his deadly edict, Esther spends time planning, thinking through, and preparing for the task that lay ahead of her. The result is a God-directed strategy that saves the Jews from annihilation.

Esther's God-directed plan begins to unfold in verses 1-8, and although we only see a small portion of it at this point, there are lessons and examples for us to draw on from these verses. Here are some things that drew my attention:

  • Esther didn't waste time taking action once she landed on a plan. She took immediate action once her time of fasting was completed.
  • Esther kept her cool. In the middle of a tense and highly charged situation, she kept her emotions in check, which let her calmly approach the king. Her calm demeanor was appealing to Ahasuerus, and so he was willing to hear and grant her request.
  • Although Esther immediately set her plan in action, she didn't rush the plan. Her plan progressed with steps, and each step was paced and intentional, allowing her to make adjustments if necessary. Additionally, she used anticipation to highlight how important the request was to her.

What's one wise action that Esther did or perhaps refrained from doing that stood out to you in this dangerous situation? What did Esther's example reveal about the wisdom of planning when we find ourselves needing to navigate a difficult situation? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Yesterday we looked at Mordecai's thinking and actions in a crisis situation. But Esther 4 also gives us a look at how Esther processed and responded when she encountered crisis.

When Esther hears about the king's order, she immediately considers the facts—Ahasuerus has issued a deadly edict, and there is a law in place that prohibits her from approaching the king. She then comes to the human conclusion that there isn't anything she can do in this situation.

But Mordecai knows that God is in control and believes that Esther can impact the situation. So he boldly sends back the thought-provoking and challenging message that perhaps God has placed Esther in the palace for "such a time as this" (vs. 14). Mordecai's message causes Esther to reassess the situation. With a changed perspective and her eyes on God, she steps up, just as Mordecai has done, to take what action she can in this dire situation.

What does the relationship between Mordecai and Esther demonstrate about the importance of having close relationships with other believers (especially in times of crisis)? How have you been helped by a Christian support system—mentors, friends, prayer partners, a Bible study group—when you've gone through trials and hardship? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Encountering and dealing with crisis is part of life. It's not enjoyable, but it happens. And when serious and unexpected circumstances present themselves, emotions and feelings like fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and worry can consume and cripple us.

Mordecai and the Jews living in Persia are facing an extreme crisis—a literal death sentence as the result of the edict signed by King Ahasuerus at Haman's urging. At first glance, the situation appears hopeless. But even though Mordecai is distressed—tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth, and crying out to God—he doesn't allow those feelings to consume him. Instead, Mordecai draws strength from God and pushes through this grave situation to take what action he can to help save his people.

How do you tend to respond when a crisis situation arises? Is it your habit to cry out to God and seek His guidance? When you encounter difficulty, how does getting involved and looking for solutions to your situation positively impact your thinking and emotions? Tami

How Not to Lead

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Today's reading: Esther 3:7-15

Haman's vengeful scheming against the Jews takes on structure and form as we move further into Esther 3. But rather than Haman's evil plan of annihilation, it was King Ahasuerus and his poor example as a leader that drew my attention today. The information Haman tells the king about the Jews is a lie. His recommendation to wipe out an entire race of people is completely evil. You would think the king would want to know more, and yet Ahasuerus doesn't ask even one searching follow-up question. Additionally, we don't see any objections from the king about taking such horrific, drastic, and deadly action, nor does the king seem to be concerned about how taking such action will ultimately impact how he is viewed or his relationship with all the people he leads ("And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion," vs. 15). Instead, Ahasuerus blindly accepts Haman's representation and issues the edict approving the reprehensible slaughter of every innocent Jew residing in the kingdom.

Sometimes the Bible gives us lessons from someone's poor example, and this account definitely falls within that category. It provides a valuable lesson on leadership from a "how not to lead" perspective. Ahasuerus's actions highlight a self-centered king with a disregard for human life (except his own) as well as a leader who lacked care and concern for those under his rule. It also shows us that while Ahasuerus enjoyed the status of being at the top and "leading" with the title of king, he wasn't fully engaged in fulfilling the task the office required. Lastly, it tells us that discernment was not an area of strength for him.

What's one thing you learned about making decisions and leading from Ahasuerus (perhaps different from what I saw)? What does this account reveal about the importance of being cautious in choosing advisors, counselors, and friends? Tami

Fueled

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Today's reading: Esther 3:1-6

After Esther is chosen as the new queen, King Ahasuerus elevates Haman, one of the members of the king's team of leaders, to be second in command over the kingdom. As part of Haman's promotion, the king issues the command that those in his service bow down and pay homage to (worship) Haman. As a Jew following the commands of God, Mordecai will not take part in this unlawful worship. When Haman becomes aware of Mordecai's actions (actually his inaction in refusing to worship him), he is furious. In this enraged state of mind, Haman's anger quickly turns to hatred and then to his vengefully seeking to destroy ALL the Jews residing in the kingdom.

Identify a time or situation when you were prideful. How did your pride influence your thinking and actions? What are some of the dangers of operating with a prideful attitude? What does Haman's example show us about the relationship between pride and anger? Tami

Naming God

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Today's reading: Psalm 113:1-9

I love the way the first three verses of Psalm 113 highlight the name of the Lord. Verse 3 is my favorite because it issues the call to "praise the name of the LORD" at all times.

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!" (vs. 3)

Is it your practice to be verbal about "praising the name of the LORD" before others? How do you proclaim and praise God to your coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family members? How do you praise Him privately or inwardly each day? Tami

Rightly

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Psalm 112 is basically a commending of living rightly for God. So what does living rightly look like according to the psalmist? Here are few of the qualities I noted as I read.

  • Revering the Lord
  • Taking delight in God's commands
  • Acting with grace and extending mercy
  • Being generous
  • Making honesty a lifestyle
  • Trusting in God and putting confidence in Him

As I looked over my list and read back through this encouraging psalm, verse 5, "It is well with the man who lives generously," and verse 9, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor" resonated with me. An important part of living for God is being generous with both our time and our resources as we help those in need around us.

Is being generous and helping people in need something you're intentional about? What's one example of you living generously for God in the past few weeks? Were there any other elements or qualities of living rightly that stood out to you from this psalm, and why? Tami

Teachable

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Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 18:15; Proverbs 12:15

Earlier this week we met Esther and familiarized ourselves a bit with this young woman. One particular thing that caught my attention about Esther is what we see when it was Esther's time to go to the king. Esther 2:15 says:

"When the turn came for Esther to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised."

Esther was mature beyond her years. How wise that rather than relying on her own thoughts and devising her own plan (which for most teenage girls would likely be full of beautiful and glitzy clothing, professionally applied makeup, and perhaps some premeditated witty conversation to attract the king), she relied solely on the counsel and advice of her caretaker Hegai.

Esther didn't allow herself to get caught up in what was taking place around her. That's pretty significant given the situation she was in. She kept her eyes on God, and as a result, her humble, authentic, and obedient heart were evident and shone through for all to observe.

Several verses found in Proverbs align nicely with Esther's actions. I've included them below for some extra reinforcing of the importance of being teachable and seeking out advice.

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future" (Proverbs 19:20).

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice" (Proverbs 12:15).

"An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge" (Proverbs 18:15).

Is it your practice to look for opportunities to learn from others? How open are you to listening to and taking advice from someone who has knowledge in a particular area? What role does humility play in being teachable? Tami

Mordecai

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Today's reading: Esther 2:5-23

One of the main characters in the Book of Esther is Mordecai, a relative who stepped in to take care of and raise young Esther after the death of her parents. We'll learn more about Mordecai as we move further into Esther, but from the initial information we see in chapter 2, he certainly fits the bill of being what I would call a "good man" on pretty much every front. Although they are few at this point, the details we're given about Mordecai reveal quite a bit. Two times in just a few verses we're told that he had taken Esther to be his own daughter. A genuine love and concern for Esther are already evident, and we'll see that love, care and concern for Esther even more as the Book progresses.

How would you describe Mordecai based on the details contained in Esther 2? What lesson(s) about family, adoption, and/or parenting did you see from his example? Tami

Hadassah

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Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18

As we move into Esther 2, we finally get to meet our leading lady--Hadassah, that is Esther. Following the advice of his attendants, King Ahasuerus is now in search of a new queen from among all the beautiful, young virgins of the land. Young Esther fits the bill ("beautiful figure and lovely to look at" vs. 7), and so she is taken into the king's harem as part of the selection process. Once she arrives at the king's palace, things go well for Esther. Through her actions, attitude, and words, Esther wins favor with her primary overseer and those she encounters.

It's hard to imagine being thrust into such a situation, and I cringe a bit as I think about the reality of what Esther was going through. Although it sounds a bit fairytale-like on the surface, this incredibly different world she was now a part of had to have been scary, lonely, and a difficult adjustment for her. But Esther, who was likely in her early teens, handled herself extraordinarily well. What an example she gives us of godly living in the middle of a circumstance she couldn't change. Here are a few of the things I noticed/learned about Esther:

  • She didn't think too highly of herself.
  • She was respectful to others and treated people well.
  • She sought out and then took counsel from her overseer.
  • She was a good listener, observer, and learner.
  • She was obedient to Mordecai even after leaving his household.

What did you take note of about Esther? What stood out to you most from Esther's example about coping with and responding to unexpected and difficult circumstances? Tami

In Anger

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Today's reading: Esther 1:10-2:1; Proverbs 19:11; Proverbs 15:18

After a week of partying, King Ahasuerus decides to show off a bit more by parading his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, in front of his male guests wearing her royal crown. There is debate here whether "with her royal crown" meant only her royal crown (in other words naked except for her crown) or clothed and also with her royal crown. Either way, in his intoxicated state, the king makes a poor decision that is inconsiderate of and demeaning to his wife.

When Vashti refuses to comply with his command, King Ahasuerus becomes angry. Verse 12 tells us, "At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him." Ahasuerus is more than a little miffed--he's consumed with anger! And in his emotionally unstable state (intoxicated and now angered) he launches into action, following his first rash and poor decision with yet another. When the dust settles (Esther 2:1), it's a sad day because Vashti, the king's cherished wife, is banished from his presence forever.

What are the dangers of reacting and responding to someone or to a situation when you're angry? When are you most likely to get angry and respond poorly (in what situations, with what people), and why is it important for you to be aware of this? What's one thing that helps you respond appropriately when someone or something makes you mad? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 1:1-22

I received a request for us to blog through the Book of Esther. So for the next couple of weeks that's where we'll be focusing. Esther records the fascinating, real-life account of a young Jewish girl whose actions literally save the Jewish people from annihilation. It's a good Book with much to show us, not only through Esther, but also through the examples of some of the other individuals who were key players in this storyline.

While the first chapter of Esther gives us quite a bit of information, none of it is about Esther. We don't actually get to meet her until chapter 2. Chapter 1 is mostly about King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes, depending on what version of the Bible you're reading), Queen Vashti, and the reigning officials of the Persian Empire where this account takes place. Chapter 1 is important because it sets the background and gives us context for the rest of this amazing story.

Day 1 assignment: Read Esther 1:1-22 looking for details--where the account takes place, the political situation, who is in control, identifying key people, determining what is taking place at this specific time, etc. Make a list or highlight things in your Bible as needed. As you read, pay close attention to King Ahasuerus and what this chapter shows us about him. Then tomorrow, we'll jump into looking for specific lessons from Esther. Have some fun reading. Let your imagination lead as you learn about the king's grand party. Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 111:1-10

The very first verse of Psalm 111 is so appropriate for a Sunday morning. I love its urging and the challenge it puts before us to praise God with ALL we have in us as we gather together for church (literally at church if your church is meeting, or at home if you're watching services online).

"Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation" (vs. 1).

Are you praising and thanking God with your whole heart today? Why is this so important, even when we're in the middle of a difficult circumstance? If you're struggling with praising and thanking God with an "all-in" heart, do some soul searching and then talk with God about it. He knows and understands you better than you do, and He's waiting to talk with you. Tami

In Perpetuity

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Today's reading: Psalm 111:1-10

One of the messages contained in Psalm 111 is that God is steadfast and unchanging. In only ten short verses, we're told four times that God and His promises are FOREVER. This truth is repeated throughout the Scriptures, and yet it seems like we often overlook it (perhaps because we're familiar with it?).

  • his righteousness endures forever (vs. 3)
  • he remembers his covenant forever (vs. 5)
  • all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever (vs. 7-8)
  • he sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever (vs. 9)

Let's take some time today to think about the fact that God and His promises are permanent, endless/timeless, imperishable and unchanging. What a comforting truth, especially during these odd times where our world situation feels so chaotic and out of our control. Tami

Bountiful Eyes

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Today's reading: Proverbs 22:9

Rather than jumping into a new book on a Friday, I decided to focus our thoughts on helping, serving, and encouraging others as we head into the weekend. Proverbs 22:9 spoke to my heart today:

"Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor."

If you look up the word "bountiful" in a thesaurus, you'll see words like generous, giving, and open-handed. These are all very understandable words of what our attitudes and actions should be as a follower of Christ. More than ever there are hurting people all around us as we battle through this coronavirus pandemic. While many needs are financial, there are also many people struggling emotionally and physically. As I observe social media posts, watch television, and listen to the radio, it's evident to me that feelings of fear, anxiety and depression are abundant.

As such, the call for Christ-followers to have a "bountiful eye" is especially relevant and needed right now. If you haven't been intentionally looking for people you can help—whatever that help looks like—I urge you to start today. In such a hurting world, people need to see the love of Jesus, and they should be seeing that in us.

Will you join me in asking God to give each of us "bountiful eyes" as we are out and about going to work, running errands, grocery shopping, picking up food orders, etc.? Who will you help today? Tami

Today's reading: Colossians 1-4

I trust you enjoyed the last couple of weeks reading through and considering Paul's letter to the church in Colossae. Before we move on to a new book, I'd love to hear about one thing that God revealed to you as you reflected on the book of Colossians.

For me, the passage that I kept coming back to was Colossians 3:12-17, particularly verses 16-17 when Paul instructs to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" and then to "do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus." These words continued to impress on me that in order for me to model Christ and live a Godly life, I must be intentional about spending daily time in God's Word and then pressing toward the goal of doing everything for the Lord as I move through my day.

What did God reveal to you in Colossians? I'd love to hear about your favorite passage, including the why. Tami

Community

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Today's reading: Colossians 4:7-18

I love how everything we read in the Bible contains lessons for us, and that is certainly the case with Paul's "signing off" paragraphs to the believers in Colossae. Although Paul's purpose in these final comments wasn't instructional teaching, what he had to say still contains some important lessons.

One dominant message that came across was that the body of Christ and the Christian community are necessary for each of us. Paul was a strong and solid Christ-follower, and yet it's obvious from his words that he absolutely needed other people. We see him naming his friends who were supporting and encouraging him—Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas.

God is a relational God, and He created us in His image to function at our best in community, working alongside and supporting and encouraging one another. These words found in verse 11 speak volumes about our need for relationships at many levels with other Christ-followers, whether it's up close and personal or with those in other parts of the world or even among different churches.

"These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me" (vs. 11).

Who is your "community"? In other words, who is or has been a Christian friend and support for you? Think of an actual face or two. If you're having difficulty identifying your community, what steps can and will you take this week to get more connected with other Christ-followers? Tami

P.S. I realize that COVID-19 complicates things a bit, but if we ever needed the support that community offers, it is now! I have been intentional about being part of two Bible studies since the coronavirus ramped up in March. We have been connecting via phone and Zoom, and both have provided all of us with much-needed encouragement. All that to say, we need each other!

Seasoned

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Today's reading: Colossians 4:6; Proverbs 17:27; Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 18:6-7

Talk is cheap, especially in today's world where uncensored verbal combativeness is prevalent. Wherever we look or go, we are exposed to it all—the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. It's gotten to the point where I no longer want to turn on the news or look much at social media because of all the what I call "spewing" taking place.

As I read back over Colossians 4 today preparing to write another blog, Paul's instruction in verse 6 caused me to pause and think about the significance of the words we allow to come out of our mouths and, even more importantly, the manner in which we deliver them. There are a good number of passages in the Bible that give us wise instruction on our speech. I've included several below, and I encourage you to spend a few minutes reflecting on these and other verses about speech today. Then be intentional to put them into practice.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits" (Proverbs 18:21).

"A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul" (Proverbs 18:6-7).

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding" (Proverbs 17:27).

Remember, once words come out of our mouth they can NEVER be taken back or erased. As such, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6).

Wishing you a good and positive word-filled day! Tami

Attractive

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Today's reading: Colossians 4:5-6

We hear a lot these days about the importance of branding as it pertains to business and product recognition and awareness. As I read Colossians 4:5-6, it struck me how these two verses are, in some sense, describing for us what our brand should look like as a follower of Christ and how if our lives reflect what Paul instructs, we should be easily recognizable as such.

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."

These final instructions to the church in Colossae are all about how we should conduct ourselves as we interact with people who don't yet have a relationship with Christ. Paul urges each of us to be mindful of both our actions and our words. I like the picture Paul paints for us to model. A few of the things that come to mind when I think about "walking in wisdom" and being "gracious in our speech" are being kind, concerned, caring, and loving. We should especially be mindful of each person's physical situation and spiritual condition as we encounter and engage with them. When we do these things, we are then in a better position to be able to share the Gospel message and make being a Christ-follower attractive rather than a turn off.

Take some time today to think about what you are showing others as a Christ-follower (the "brand" you are portraying). Do your actions and words represent being a follower of Christ well and in an attractive manner? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 110:1-7

Psalm 110 is referenced or cited a number of places in the New Testament. Written by David, this "song" is rich with information about Christ and the future. So read through it carefully, looking for what this passage reveals about Jesus. As I read, I pulled out a study Bible so I could take in explanatory comments, and I also looked at an online commentary. This was helpful in that it provided me with a fuller picture and better understanding of what I was reading. I encourage you to do this as well, not only for this passage but also for others as we read and consider the Bible together each day.

What's one thing you learned or saw about Christ from this Psalm? Tami

Hurting Response

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Today's reading: Psalm 109:1-5

Being wronged, attacked, or betrayed by someone you love and trust cuts deeply. It's emotionally and mentally painful! And in our pain, oftentimes our gut reaction is to lash out and defend ourselves, sometimes by responding in kind with our words and actions. But that's not the example of David here in Psalm 109. In his distress, he turns fully and completely to God. What David writes in verse 4 is key.

"In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer" (emphasis mine).

David brings all of what he is thinking and feeling to God—his hurt, anger, and disappointment with others and how he is feeling discouraged and depressed. He candidly cries out to God, and in so doing, he receives comfort and reassurance from telling God about everything happening to him.

Is it your practice to "give yourself to prayer" when you encounter hardship or difficulty? When you pray, how does it influence you emotionally, spiritually, or even physically? Tami

Pray, Pray, Pray

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Today's reading: Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Paul was certainly a prayer warrior. He understood and had experienced firsthand the power of prayer. So as he comes to the close of his letter to the church in Colossae, he instructs them to:

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (vs. 2).

He delivered a similar instruction in a letter to the church in Thessalonica:

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Nothing has changed over the centuries. Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with God, who wants to talk with us. What an incredible privilege it is to be able to openly converse with our Maker anytime and anywhere.

How often do you talk with God? What hinders you from praying, or praying more often? What are some of the benefits of praying regularly and frequently (praying without ceasing)? Tami

Submitted

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:18-25

I always cringe a bit whenever I blog or am asked about Colossians 3:18-25 because of the dreaded "submit" instruction contained in this passage. If we're honest, none of us like the word submit. We want to be the master of our own little universe, doing whatever we want to do.

But that's not the way God calls us to live. The life of a Christian is really about submission, and it starts with each of us surrendering our hearts and lives to Christ, then to each other. In Colossians 3:18-25 Paul is simply laying out a properly functioning family, starting with Christ at the head. My favorite portion of this passage is verses 23-24.

"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."

How are you submitting to God and working heartily for the Lord? Tami

P.S. If you struggle with the word "submit," I encourage to talk to God about it. Ask Him to change your heart.

Everything

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:17

Colossians 3:17 is one of several staple verses for me. The message is clear and powerful, and it translates well into a daily prayer.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

What did God impress on your heart as you read Colossians 3:17? What's one example of how you are demonstrating this verse in your daily life? Tami

Dwelling Richly

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:16

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

With life feeling a bit crazy and out of control right now, the powerful message contained in the opening phrase of Colossians 3:16—"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly"—brought some good perspective today.

My immediate thought as I read this verse was, "God's Word can't dwell in us, let alone dwell in us richly, unless we are committed to taking it in (reading or listening to it), reflecting on it, and then responding with our actions."

With that said, thank you for being part of Powered by 4 and spending time with me each day engaging God's Word. It brings me joy to know that there is a group of us reading the Bible and learning from it together.

How would you explain the importance of having God's Word "dwell in you richly" to someone? What are you currently doing to make sure you are filling up your mind and heart with God's Word? Tami

Putting On

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:12-14

As we move further into Colossians 3, Paul gives us a list of specifics to "put on" as followers of Christ. As I read through and considered each of these qualities, I did a little evaluating of how I was doing with each of the listed items. I felt like I was doing a fairly good job in some areas (having a compassionate heart, being kind, loving people, bearing with one another), but not so good in others (patience, meekness, humility). Whatever the case, I can certainly improve in all of these areas. Each one needs my consistent and regular attention in order for me to live well as a representative of Christ.

I invite and encourage you to do a little self-assessing with Paul's "putting on" list as well. Be honest with yourself. Then set some goals to improve in the areas where you're not as strong. Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 108:1-2

"My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn" (vs. 1-2).

What a motivating message and example David provides through his opening verses of Psalm 108. Our day can start with joy and a hope-filled heart when we're intentional about making our first waking thoughts and actions about God.

Why is filling your mind with God so important first thing in the morning? When you think of God, pray, or praise Him with your waking thoughts and words, how does it impact your day? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 107:1-43

The command in verse 2 to "let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble" is a call to action that I absolutely champion. The psalmist drives this point home by showing a number of situations where God helped after the people cried out to Him, then giving this repeated directive:

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

When we talk with others about how God has protected, guided, provided for, and walked alongside us through difficult times, we are being a witness to those around us. As we share our story, we're sharing our faith by proclaiming God and His love and goodness to a world that needs to know about God and have a relationship with Him. So today, don't listen to Satan's whispers that you are not equipped to talk about Jesus and how your life has changed through your relationship with Him. That's a lie. Let's get out there and start talking about Jesus!

Take time today to look back and identify how God has worked in your life with the specific purpose of honing in on a number of experiences with God you can share with others. The moment you made the decision to receive Christ as your Savior is a critical part of your story that you will want to share. But each of us also have multiple stories of God's goodness we can use to tell others about God and ultimately what Jesus did for us on the cross. So what's your story? And who will you tell it to this week and beyond? Tami

Action Required

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:1-11

Living a Christ-centered life takes effort and intentionality. Paul makes this clear by his use of action verbs in his instructions in Colossians 3:1-11 (emphasis below mine).

  • "Seek the things that are above" (vs. 1).
  • "Set your minds on things that are above" (vs. 2).
  • "Put to death therefore what is earthly" (vs. 5).
  • "You must put them all away" (vs. 8).

Living rightly for Christ is not a once and done type of thing. It's something we choose to do and make a priority each and every day.

How are you "seeking the things above" and "putting away" earthly desires and temptations? How does your "new self" (your attitude, mindset, lifestyle, etc.) differ from the world around you and your old self before you received Christ as your Savior? Tami

Things Above

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Today's reading: Colossians 3:1-4

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2).

Paul's instruction to focus our thoughts on things above—God, His plan, His power and control, spiritual and eternal matters—is a good verse for today, particularly with what's taking place around the world right now with the coronavirus. Things seem a bit crazy and chaotic, and feelings of fear are widespread. Given this, I was thankful for how God brought us right to this verse today.

I've learned over the years that one of the best ways to combat feelings of uncertainty and fear is to turn to God's Word, fill my mind with the truths I find there—literally set my mind on things above—and then pray. While doing so doesn't change my physical situation or circumstance, it does change my perspective and impact my emotions. Refocusing on God and the fact that He is in control and watching over me is calming. It gives me a sense of peace, right in the middle of whatever is taking place.

Have you been "setting your mind on things that are above" over the last few months? How has spending time in God's Word and in prayer helped you better cope with new and unexpected conditions? Do you have a specific chapter, passage, or verse that you turn to when feelings of fear start pushing in? Tami

Do Not

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Today's reading: Colossians 2:16-23

Man-made rules, regulations, rituals, and legalism are a few of the names for what Paul warns against in Colossians 2:16-23. As part of this warning, Paul poses a good question for us to consider: why do we submit to human, self-made regulations pertaining to worship when God's Word tells us that we have freedom in and through Him once we've made the decision to follow Christ (see vs. 20-23)?

I spent a few minutes thinking about Paul's question. I'm a rule follower. When I follow the rules, particularly in an area that is important to me (my faith), it makes me feel good about myself for being disciplined, diligent, and obedient. I am also drawn to rule following because of the sense of control it provides for me, and I love feeling like I'm in control.

But here's the thing. God doesn't require, nor is His interested in, our ability to follow man-made rules. God only wants us to be in a genuine and intimate relationship with Him where we freely worship Him in spirit and truth (see John 4:23-24). Nothing we do or don't do makes us more or less loved or valued by Him, and our actions are not a factor in having a saving relationship with God through Christ. As it says in Galatians 2:16, "Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. . . because by works of the law no one will be justified."

I invite you to spend a few minutes like I did pondering Paul's question about the attractiveness of rule following. I think you'll find it helpful, and I hope you'll come away from this time spent with God feeling a bit freer. 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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