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Lord, These Four Things Could Change The World—2 Corinthians 13:11

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Today’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12

Heavenly Father, I know You know this, but our world is in a mess. When I look at the desperation, it’s overwhelming. What can I do? I’m only one person.

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. —2 Corinthians 13:11

Paul, knew about changing the world. He knew that being an example was the only way to usher in change. He gave the Corinthians four ways to live that will cause others to know You.

1. Be joyful

2. Grow to maturity

3. Encourage each other

4. Live in harmony and peace

Lord, help me not to expect these things of unbelievers. They only have one problem, they don’t know You. Help me to use these four things to reach out to the lost and hurting of this world.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. Holy Spirit, help me to hold myself to a higher standard than the world. —1 Corinthians 9:22

Lord, these four things are my desire. Let each one be displayed in my life today!

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!
 

 

 

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 20:13-21:36

Lord, I Have Regrets—2 Corinthians 7:10

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Today’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

Heavenly Father, for many November 30th signals the Christmas season. While that’s true for me as well, it also begins a month where my introspective nature rehashes the previous year’s choices and looks forward with excitement to a new year. Unfortunately, this year my mind wants to focus more on failures than successes.

Lord, when I read this verse I immediately began to mentally list some of my 2014 regrets.

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. — 2 Corinthians 7:10

The more I looked at the sentence, there’s no regret for that kind of sorrow, I realized that my failures had led me to repentance and that’s a good thing. Lord, my feelings of failure, worthlessness, and worldly sorrow aren’t coming from You.

Jesus, Your Word tells me You are kind, tolerant, and patient with me:

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? –Romans 2:4

You do not condemn me.

 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. –Romans 8:1

 

Godly sorrow is tender, thankful, and hopeful not self-deprecating, unworthy, and embarrassing.

Holy Spirit, when negative thoughts cloud my thinking help me to ask myself, are these thoughts…

Kind?

Tolerant?

Patient?

If the answer is “no,” give me the boldness to knock down the stronghold of human reasoning and destroy false arguments.

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. –2 Corinthians 10:3-6

If the answer is yes, then may I have godly sorrow that will destroy every proud obstacle that would attempt to keep me from knowing You.

 

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!
 

 

 

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12

Lord, I Thought I Had Earned My Forgiveness Badge —2 Corinthians 2:5-8

 

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Today’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13

Heavenly Father, in 2010, my first year of leading “The Journey” You taught me a powerful lesson about forgiveness. This was the scripture that illuminated the page of my Bible on November 29, 2010:

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. —2 Corinthians 2:5-8

On that day these verses were a sign to me that I had made it through the Phases of Forgiveness. As I read each word, I knew that was the way I felt; I no longer wanted that person who had hurt me to suffer or be overcome by discouragement. I was finally free from the hurt. I had truly forgiven.

Lord, I thought I had earned my forgiveness badge and was on to other lessons…

You must have laughed.

Unfortunately, this year I returned to forgiveness school. Thankfully, I can say that I’m about ready to graduate from this session but it has been very hard; maybe harder than the last time.

Lord, thank You for forgiving me for not wanting to forgive. Thank You for Your grace while I was in the process. Thank You for walking with me on my journey through the Phases of Forgiveness.

Thank You for never giving up on me.

 

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!
 

 

 

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

Lord, I Need to Stop _______ Before I Can Start ________ —2 Corinthians 1:9-10

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Romans 15:1-16:27, 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4

Heavenly Father, I have always been strong, independent and self-reliant. You have used hard times to chisel away my strength and force me to rely on You. The funny thing is I “thought” I was relying on You before those hard times hit. Little did I know…

In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. —2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Holy Spirit, in this verse Paul tells us that relying on You is learned, it doesn’t come natural. Like Paul I had to reach the point where no human, including myself could rescue me, before I released control.

Lord, I know I still have a way to go, but I am learning to stop relying on myself and rely only on You.

Thank You for Your grace while I’m learning.

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!
 

 

 

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
 
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13

Lord, Give Me Your Words of Wisdom—Isaiah 50:4-5

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 48:12-52:12

Heavenly Father, everywhere I turn I find weary people, people weighted down by the cares of the world. Just yesterday I spoke with a dear friend who found out her husband’s cancer is back with a vengeance. My post 9 Things to Do When You Feel Hopeless has been viewed over 12,000 times. At least once a week I receive desperate comments from people who find this devotion and think because I wrote it I somehow can give them words of encouragement and hope. Lord, I do not have the strength, words, or understanding to comfort anyone. I am weary myself from the challenges in my life.

But…

I stand on this promise:

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away. —Isaiah 50:4-5

Lord, today’s a new day with new opportunities to comfort and encourage the weary. It’s a great day to share Your comfort and hope with others. Give me Your words. Give me Your wisdom. Open my understanding.

Jesus, give me the strength and wisdom to comfort others as You have comforted me.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. —2 Corinthians 1:3-5

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller

*Unless noted all scripture references are from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 52:13-57:21

Are You the Real Deal? 4 Questions to Check Your Faith — 2 Corinthians 13:5

Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12

“Is it a counterfeit?”  That was the big question when twenty-dollar bills came through my teller window.

I was a teller for only a short time, so I needed a counterfeit pen to sort the real from the fake, but some of the experienced, life-long tellers could “feel” the counterfeit bills.  I would watch in amazement as they would say, “this one’s a fake.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had an instrument we could use to test our faith?

In Paul’s final words to the Corinthians he told them to examine themselves to see if their faith was genuine.

It seemed that Paul could spot the counterfeit Christians as easy as my teller friends could feel the fake money.

Here are some of the reasons he was concerned about the Corinthians:

  • They happily put up with whatever anyone told them, even if they preached a different Jesus, or a different Spirit or a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4)
  • They were being disloyal to Paul by listening to false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:12-13)
  • Some were falsely accusing Paul of taking advantage of them (2 Corinthians 12:16-17)
  • Paul suspected quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorderly behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20)
  • Many had not given up their old sins (2 Corinthians 12:21)
  • They had not repented of their impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure (2 Corinthians 12:21)

Friends, Paul could have been talking to the 21st century church.

He could have been talking to you and me.

Paul’s desire was to strengthen the Corinthians, not tear them down. Sometimes we all need a good dose of reality.  Paul prayed that they would NOT do what was wrong by refusing his correction.

Paul closed his letter with four outward signs of a genuine Christian  (2 Corinthians 13:11).

  1. Are you a joyful person?
  2. Are you growing and maturing in your faith in Jesus Christ? (Do you “know Him more” than you did a year ago?)
  3. Do you encourage others?
  4. Do you seek to live in harmony and peace with others?

Let’s stop our world, our brain, and our body and take some time to examine our faith.

The world can spot a counterfeit Christian without a special tool; being around a genuine Christian just “feels” different!

Heavenly Father, forgive us for following in the footsteps of the Corinthian church.  Thank you for Your Word that corrects us.  Help us to be people of action and make the changes in our lives that move us closer to being more like you Jesus.  Help us to be the “real deal” to those who don’t know You.  Help others to “feel” Your love for them through us.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 20:13-21:36

What is Godly Sorrow? 2 Corinthians 7:10


Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

“Jeremy, tell Allison you’re sorry!”

Jeremy muffled under his breath, “sorry.”

Then  in my “Mom” voice I sternly said, “Nope, that’s not good enough.”

“Say it like this:  ‘Allison, I’m sorry for ___________.  Please forgive me.’”

Jeremy would grudgingly mouth the words. Was he really sorry? At that time, probably not.

When is the last time you told God you were sorry?

How did you say it?

What did your body language say?

Were you really sorry?

Were you just going through the motions?

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. —2 Corinthians 7:10-11

Godly sorrow, is this a worn-out term that’s no longer relevant for today’s “educated and intellectual culture?”

I say a very loud “NO!”

Do we really believe God sees and disapproves of our sinful behavior (and we all have it, by the way)?

I remember a time in my life when I was completely deceived.  No, I wasn’t a young Christian, I knew better.  I was like Eve in the garden… Satan said, “God really didn’t mean “that” was a sin.  Try it, you’ll like it.”

I bit the apple.  The funny thing about it… I was so deceived that I didn’t feel bad about it.  I knew the Word of God. I knew this was one of those black and white areas of the Bible; there was no question about God’s stand on this topic.  But somehow I thought, “This situation is different, it’ll be okay.”

There was no sorrow and certainly no godly sorrow.

Until…

… Some time had passed and the Holy Spirit began to show me my sinful state.  It was like a supernatural magnifying mirror, you know one of those kinds that show every wrinkle, bump, and imperfection.

With tear-filled eyes I can say that the godly sorrow came that day.  The depth of God’s disappointment hit me in a way I’d never felt before; it felt like physical pain.

“Sorry” wasn’t good enough for this situation.  I spent days and weeks journaling, crying, and grieving over my sin.  Yes, the Lord forgave me as soon as I asked but my sorrow over my sin still lingers today.

There is no regret for this kind of sorrow…it led me away from sin and to true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your conviction.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Please continue to show me the things in my life that aren’t pleasing to you.  Lord, use me for Your Glory, in spite of my failings and shortcomings.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

If you have a couple of extra minutes read Psalm 51.  King David gave us a great example of godly sorrow:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy upon me, O God,

According to Your lovingkindness;

According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,

Blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,

And my sin is always before me.

Against You, You only, have I sinned,

And done this evil in Your sight—

That You may be found just when You speak,[a]

And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,

And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness,

That the bones You have broken may rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins,

And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence,

And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,

And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

And sinners shall be converted to You.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

The God of my salvation,

And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips,

And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;

You do not delight in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,

A broken and a contrite heart—

These, O God, You will not despise.

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;

Build the walls of Jerusalem.

Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,

With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;

Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12

The Phases of Forgiveness—2 Corinthians 2:5-8

Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13

“Nana, I’m sorry.”

“Of course I forgive you.”

It’s so easy to forgive my grandkids.

But what about the people in our lives that aren’t so easy to forgive, the people who have deeply hurt or disappointed us?

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me.  Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough.  Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.  So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. —2 Corinthians 2:5-8

Forgive and Comfort?

The last thing I want for my grandchildren is discouragement.  I can’t stand it when their hearts are broken because they’ve disappointed me; so it’s easy to comfort them.

But forgiving and comforting an adult, who should know better, so they won’t be discouraged—WHAT!

I’m the one who needs comforting…

I thought forgiving was hard, but forgiving and comforting…

How is that possible?

There’s only one way… with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Depending on the depth of the hurt it may take a while.  In the past I’ve gotten upset when I couldn’t instantly forgive and forget, but over years I’ve learned that there are phases of forgiveness.

As Paul said, in today’s reading…it’s time to forgive.

Let’s get started:

A phase is a distinct stage of development.  The phases may be different for each person.

Here are the 10 phases of forgiveness I’ve experienced:

Phase 1—I can’t forgive.  I’ve been hurt, I’m angry, I want to hurt back.

Phase 2—I don’t want to forgive. The other person(s) doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

Phase 3—I should forgive (Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 17:3-4) but it’s so hard—Lord help me!

Phase 4—I’m trying to forgive but I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it (Luke 6:45).

Phase 5—I have moments of forgiveness, a minute here a second there.

Phase 6—I have periods of forgiveness.  The pain is starting to going away!

Phase 7—I am completely free of the pain of unforgiveness!

Phase 8—I want the person(s) who hurt me to be free of the pain as well.  I don’t want them to be overcome with discouragement (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).

Phase 9—I make an effort comfort and encourage the person(s) who hurt me.  I free them from the responsibility of the pain they caused me (Job 42:10).

Phase 10—I forget the pain (not necessarily the event) the person(s) caused me.

The example from the Bible that comes to mind is Job.  Job was so angry at his three friends for accusing him of sinning against God.  Job worked through the phases of his anger throughout the forty-plus chapters of Job.  In Job 42:10, Job prayed for his “friends” and released them from their responsibility of hurting him and then the Lord made Job prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

One of the biggest mistakes we make in the area of forgiveness is thinking we can go straight to phase 10.  This is the reason so many people are still living with the pain of the past–they don’t want to work through it, they just want to forget it.  That’s just not possible!

If you allow the Holy Spirit to walk you through each phase of forgiveness you will be truly free from the pain and sincerely want the best for those who’ve hurt you.

What a mighty God we serve!  Only through Him can we forgive and comfort!

Heavenly Father, I pray for my friends who are struggling with unforgiveness today.  Holy Spirit help them walk through each phase of forgiveness until they are truly free from the pain of the past.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

Can You Tell An “Encouraging” Story? 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Today’s Scripture Reading: Romans 15:1-16:27; 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Not exactly an encouraging and motivational message, unless you hear the whole story.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die. 

But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.  And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

–2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Here are the highlights of the story:

  • We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure
  • We thought we would never live through it
  • We expected to die

Lessons Learned:

  • We stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God
  • God rescued us from mortal danger
  • God will rescue us again, if needed
  • We have placed our confidence in Him
  • God will continue to rescue us

Paul shows us the proper way to share our stories in today’s scripture reading.

Don’t get me wrong, when we’re in the midst of a trial we need someone with whom we can share the good, the bad and the ugly. You know, kick, scream, throw dirt, pout, etc.

But when we’re sharing to encourage, we need to spend more time sharing about the lessons learned than the trouble itself.

Sharing our lessons learned through life’s hard times is one of our greatest witnessing tools, if we do it in a way that shines the light on the greatness of God and not our problems.

Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Spirit.  Speak through us.  Help us to use our lessons learned through life’s difficult times to point others to Jesus.

In Your Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13

Are You the Real Deal? 4 Questions to Check Your Faith — 2 Corinthians 13:5

Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12

“Is it a counterfeit?”  That was the big question when twenty-dollar bills came through my teller window.

I was a teller for only a short time, so I needed a counterfeit pen to sort the real from the fake, but some of the experienced, life-long tellers could “feel” the counterfeit bills.  I would watch in amazement as they would say, “this one’s a fake.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had an instrument we could use to test our faith?

In Paul’s final words to the Corinthians he told them to examine themselves to see if their faith was genuine.

It seemed that Paul could spot the counterfeit Christians as easy as my teller friends could feel the fake money.

Here are some of the reasons he was concerned about the Corinthians:

  • They happily put up with whatever anyone told them, even if they preached a different Jesus, or a different Spirit or a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4)
  • They were being disloyal to Paul by listening to false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:12-13)
  • Some were falsely accusing Paul of taking advantage of them (2 Corinthians 12:16-17)
  • Paul suspected quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorderly behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20)
  • Many had not given up their old sins (2 Corinthians 12:21)
  • They had not repented of their impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure (2 Corinthians 12:21)

Friends, Paul could have been talking to the 21st century church.

He could have been talking to you and me.

Paul’s desire was to strengthen the Corinthians, not tear them down. Sometimes we all need a good dose of reality.  Paul prayed that they would NOT do what was wrong by refusing his correction.

Paul closed his letter with four outward signs of a genuine Christian  (2 Corinthians 13:11).

  1. Are you a joyful person?
  2. Are you growing and maturing in your faith in Jesus Christ? (Do you “know Him more” than you did a year ago?)
  3. Do you encourage others?
  4. Do you seek to live in harmony and peace with others?

Let’s stop our world, our brain, and our body and take some time to examine our faith.

Paul’s list of concerns is a great starting point but let’s make sure we also have the outward signs.  The world can spot a counterfeit Christian without a special tool; being around a genuine Christian just “feels” different!

Heavenly Father, forgive us for following in the footsteps of the Corinthian church.  Thank you for Your Word that corrects us.  Help us to be people of action and make the changes in our lives that move us closer to being more like you Jesus.  Help us to be the “real deal” to those who don’t know You.  Help others to “feel” Your love for them through us.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 20:13-21:36

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