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4 Things to Do in The Tough Times—2 Chronicles 16:7-9

Today’s Scripture Reading:   1 Kings 15: 16-22; 2 Chronicles 16: 1-10; 1 Kings 16: 1-34; 1 Kings 15: 23-24; 2 Chronicles 16:11 through 17: 19; 1 Kings 17: 1-7

What do you do when times get tough?

  • Do you deny there’s a problem?
  • Does your problem paralyze you?
  • Do you look to other people to solve your problem?
  • Do you look for a substance, outlet, or person to make you forget you have a problem?
  • Do you try to fix the problem yourself?

King Asa provided a great lesson in right and wrong choices in tough times.  He tried two different approaches.

Which one will you choose?

 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.  Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers?  At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you.  The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” –2 Chronicles 16:7-9

In yesterday’s post we talked about laying down our idols so that we can find God.  One sure-fire way to discover the idols in our life is to look at what we do when times get tough.

The funny thing about Asa…

…early in his reign as king of Judea, when he fought the Ethiopians and the Libyans he relied on the Lord and his enemies were handed over to him.  He knew what to do.

What changed?

Why did he buy King Aram’s services instead of trusting God to fight his battles?

Looks like a serious case of pride to me.  After God specifically called Asa out on not seeking His help, Asa never changed.  How sad.  It is so easy for a successful person to think they are so powerful that they can buy, talk, or pressure others to get their way.

It seems to me that if God was offended by Asa replacing His power for manpower, then He’s probably offended when we go to people, substances, outlets, or to our own power to handle life’s tough times.

So what should we do?

1. Build a relationship with God when things are going well through prayer, Bible study, and corporate worship.

Friends, we’re either in a crisis, getting over a crisis, or headed into a crisis—we can’t wait until we’re in trouble to get to know the Lord

2. Get involved in some type of small group where you develop deep friendships—Godly counsel and encouragement are a lifeline in tough times.

3. Begin to look for ways to serve others—there’s no better way to survive tough times than get your mind off yourself by helping someone else.

4. Once the storm passes and God helps you through it, testify to His goodness—your testimony could be the encouragement that helps someone else get through their tough time.

 

Bottom Line:  When tough times come, run to your Heavenly Father first and ask Him what to do next.

Praying for you!

 

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

 

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  1 Kings 17:8 through 1 Kings 20:22

Are You Having Trouble Finding God?—2 Chronicles 15: 15

Today’s Scripture Reading1 Kings 13:1 through 1 Kings 14:24; 2 Chronicles 12:13-14; 2 Chronicles 11: 18-23; 2 Chronicles 12: 1-12; 1 Kings 14: 25-28; 2 Chronicles 12: 15-16; 1 Kings 14: 29 through 1 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 13:1-22; 1 Kings 15: 6-8; 2 Chronicles 14: 1-8; 1 Kings 15: 9-15; 1 Kings 14:19-20; 1 Kings 15: 25-34, 2 Chronicles 14:9 through 2 Chronicles 15: 19

Do you find yourself envious when you hear people talking about their relationship with Jesus?

Have you tried to pray and feel as though you’re talking to yourself?

Do you want to know Him more but you just haven’t figured out how to do it?

Don’t feel alone if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I think we all feel this way from time to time.

We definitely saw great examples of how “not” to find God in today’s maze of scriptures.  It seems as though the children of Israel chose to worship an idol quicker rather than worship the Living God .  We’ve seen this many times throughout our journey.

It’s easy to stand in judgment of their idol worship, but I think we better choose not to go there… today’s children of God do the same thing.

I heard a definition of an idol years ago that has stuck with me:  Anything (time, talent, treasure) I give myself to more than my Lord is an idol.

Israel had to lay down their idols before they could find God.  They had to earnestly seek Him.

All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into with all their heart.  They earnestly sought after God, and they found him.  And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.  –2 Chronicles 15:15

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  –Hebrews 11:6

If you feel like God is a million miles away, pursue Him.  Push other things aside and spend time with Him.  Turn off all distractions, and be truly alone with Him.  Expect to find Him. I promise you, He will exceed your expectations!

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. —Jeremiah 29:13

Learning to seek Him!

 Blessings!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

 

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading1 Kings 15: 16-22; 2 Chronicles 16: 1-10; 1 Kings 16: 1-34; 1 Kings 15: 23-24; 2 Chronicles 16:11 through 17: 19; 1 Kings 17: 1-7

Are You Addicted to These Three Things? –1 Kings 11

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ecclesiastes 7:1 through Ecclesiastes 11:6

1 Kings 11 is critical in understanding how Solomon got to the place to write the sad book of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon did exactly what the Lord told him

NOT

to do.

The Lord had clearly instructed Israel not to marry foreign women, because they would turn their hearts to their gods.

What did Solomon do?

He married women from Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon and the Hittites.  He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and they did exactly what the Lord said they would do—turned Solomon’s heart away from his God.

Success, power, and prestige are as addictive as heroin.

That’s the only explanation for Solomon “needing”so many woman—just one more fix and I’ll be happy!

Solomon’s problem is an epidemic in today’s world.  Leaders both in the political world and the church world start out with the purest of motives but when they get a taste of power and prestige they exchange their noble motives for an enticing ego trip. They start to believe man’s laws AND God’s laws don’t apply to them.

I’m so thankful God shows the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Bible.

Solomon started out with a heart for his people and for God but ended up seeing his life as “meaningless.”  God knows we learn best from “real-live” examples—Solomon showed us what NOT to do.

Here are some of my favorite words of wisdom from today’s reading:

  • A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume (Eccles.  7:1)
  • Finishing is better than starting (Eccles. 7:8)
  • Patience is better than pride (Eccles. 7:80)
  • If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!  A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes. (Eccles. 9:4)
  • Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade.  That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. (Eccles. 9:10)
  • Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. (Eccles. 11:5)

I think we should pencil in Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 at the end of Ecclesiastes:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Heavenly Father, help us to live a Matthew 6:33 life that is pleasing to you!  Help us to know that this world isn’t about power and prestige, but about knowing You and causing others to know You!  Help us to learn from the mistakes of Solomon!

In Jesus Name.  Amen and Amen!

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Ecclesiastes 11:7 through Ecclesiastes 12:14; 1 Kings 12: 1-20; 2 Chronicles 10:1-19; 1 Kings 12: 21-24; 2 Chronicles 11: 1-4; 1 Kings 12: 25-33; 2 Chronicles 11: 5-17

5 Steps to Getting Over the Mistakes of Your Past? –Ecclesiastes 5:20

Today’s Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:12-6:12

Are you living in the past?

    • 5 minutes ago
    • Yesterday
    • Last week
    • Last year
    • 5 years ago
    • 10 years ago

I have an assignment for you:

1. Read the book of Ecclesiastes, learn from someone who had it all, and did it all.

2. Confess your sins to God and those you’ve wronged, own up to your responsibilities for those sins and turn in the opposite direction of those sins

3. Underline Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 5: 18-20…

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life.  And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.  God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

4. Find some work that you enjoy, accept and embrace your life–be present in your present!

5. And stop brooding over the past!

Heavenly Father, we make life so complicated.  We don’t appreciate the simple things like being physically able to work, having a good meal and something to drink.  Lord, help us to realize these simple pleasures are from Your hand (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Lord, Solomon said that most of us have the wrong motivation for work and success:

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. –Ecclesiastes 4:4

Jesus, make us into Your image today.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

 

 

 

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 7:1-11:6

Is Your Life Meaningless?–1 Kings 11:1-3


Today’s Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 11:1-43; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31; Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.  The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.  —1 Kings 11:1-3

Have you ever insisted and persisted to do something “anyway” when you knew that You were going against your conscience, the law, your parents, your supervisor or your God?

How did that work for you?

Probably about as good as it did for Solomon…

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command.  So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.   –1 Kings 11:9-11

    • God chose Solomon to be the king
    • God was so impressed with Solomon that he offered to give him anything he asked for
    • Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave it to him, plus riches, and so much more
    • Solomon did amazing things: Built a beautiful temple for the Lord, built a gorgeous home for himself, rebuilt the city of his father, ruled justly, wrote all the amazing Proverbs that are still guiding us today
    • Solomon worked very, very hard
    • But, then Solomon forgot where his wisdom and riches came from
    • He began to believe his own press and decided to go against the will of God
    • He thought he was above it all
    • He thought he needed to experience it all…so he did

The great thing for us is Solomon did it all and told us what he learned from the thrill of going directly against the will of the Living God…

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?  

Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.  The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.  

Everything is wearisome beyond description. 

No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.  —Ecclesiastes 1:2-9

I wonder how many of you feel this way today?  Never satisfied.

There’s only one thing that can truly satisfy–filling that place in the deep, quiet, depths of our soul with a relationship with the One, True, God.  Not just a head knowledge of God, not just a “Santa Claus” mentality of God, but knowing we have a Friend, Savior, King, and Trusted Advisor who knows what’s best for us…

Then, life is never meaningless. It’s an adventure, a wild ride, a well-thought out plan with the perfect destination!

Heavenly Father, forgive us for wanting to go our own way.  Forgive us for never being satisfied.  Call us out to be different.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


 

©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:12-6:12

Are You Depressed? Take these 6 Medicines — Proverbs 17:22, Proverbs 18:14

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 17:1 through 19:29

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

                                                                                                                         Proverbs 17:22

The human spirit can endure a sick body,

but who can bear a crushed spirit?

                                                                                                                         Proverbs 18:14

Have you ever had a broken or crushed spirit?

These two scriptures tell us a lot about what our Heavenly Father thinks about the hard times of our lives.

God knows…

  • It’s hard
  • It sucks the life out of you
  • It’s worse than being physically ill
  • You can’t bear it on your own

It’s interesting, the Lord didn’t tell us to pray, read our Bibles, or go to church during these tough times, even though they’re a crucial part of getting through the hard places in life; what He did was give us a prescription, a medicine He said was good.

How amazing is this, the only medicine mentioned in all the Old Testament is a cheerful heart!

How can we have a cheerful heart when our spirit is broken and crushed?

Why am I discouraged?

Why is my heart so sad?

I will put my hope in God!

I will praise him again—

my Savior and  my God!

Psalm 42: 5-6 

 I think a cheerful heart is a hopeful heart.

The times in my life when I have been the most depressed were times when I had lost hope for the future.

How can we have hope for the future in today’s crazy world?

What do we do when we can’t see past tomorrow, much less next week, or next year?

  1. Put our hope in Jesus Christ–settle this once and for all
  2. Evaluate our level of brokeness–are  you having a bad day or is this something serious?
  3. Seek spiritual counseling and/or psychological counseling–don’t try to handle this alone
  4. Find something or someone to make you laugh–don’t run away from people
  5. Seek the joy in the day (nature and music are a couple of my favorites-God meets me in these places )
  6. Believe tomorrow will be a better day

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my friends on this journey.  I feel  there is someone reading this post who has a broken heart.  Holy Spirit, meet them today.  Relieve the pressure.  Give them the tools to bring hope into their lives.  Thank you for hearing my prayer!  In Jesus Name.  Amen and amen!

Have you taken your medicine today?

 

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 20:1 through 22:16

Are You Plotting Evil or Planning Peace? –Proverbs 12:20


Today’s Scripture Reading: Proverbs 11:1-13:25

 

Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace! –Proverbs 12:20

Do you have  joy in your life?

When I hear the word joy, I immediately think of two songs:

I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

and

Joy to the World–Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog

*Clink on these links with caution. These songs will get stuck in your head, believe me!

 

When I got serious and tried to define joy I had difficulty, so I looked it up:

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines joy as a positive human

condition that can be either feeling or action. The Bible uses “joy”

in both senses.

When the Bible speaks of joy as a feeling, it’s is a feeling called

forth by well-being, success, or good fortune. A person automatically

experiences it because of certain favorable circumstances. It cannot

be commanded.

When the Bible speaks of joy as an action, it’s something that

Scripture commands. That joy is action that can be engaged in

regardless of how the person feels.  —Tyndale Bible Dictionary

 

“Planning peace” is joy in action and the sense of well-being we have when we “plan peace” give us joy as a feeling.

I’ve always had it backwards. I prayed for joy so that I could be joyful when I should have been thinking and planning ways to sow peace into my life and the lives of those I come in contact and then I would have joy!

Like so many things, joy is a choice:

Sow evil, reap deceit.

or

Sow peace, reap joy.

Heavenly Father, help to plan peace for this day! Help us to remember what we send into the lives of others comes back into our own. Use us as a peacemaker today. We want Your joy!

 

In Jesus’ Name. Amen and Amen!

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Proverbs 14:1-16:33

Are You Like Vinegar and Smoke to Your Boss? –Proverbs 10:26

Today’s Scripture Reading: Proverbs 8:1-10:32

Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes. Proverbs 10:26

The Bible has a lot to say about lazy people and none of it is good.  One of the worst things a professing Christian can do for the cause of Christ is to be lazy in the workplace.

You may be seen as lazy by your boss if…

    • You are often late for work or walk in the door at the exact minute you are supposed to be starting your day
    • You overlook things like picking up a piece paper in the parking lot or filling the copier with paper because “that’s not your job”
    • You stop working an hour before your day’s over so that you can watch the clock and walk out the door exactly at 5 o’clock
    • You have to be told what to do; you have no initiative
    • All you care about is your paycheck and never think about the success of the business
    • Your boss sees you standing around doing “nothing” when he/she comes into your area
    • You don’t work “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23)

What would you add to this list?

If you said, “Yep, that’s me” to more than one or two of these statements your boss may see you as lazy.  You may be irritating her/him like vinegar to the teeth or smoke to the eyes.

The day-to-day, routine, and mundane things in life are where we show our character and integrity.  Excellence in the workplace is one of the ways we worship God…

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  –Colossians 3:23

Heavenly Father, in this world of mediocrity teach us to stand out above the crowd as a child of the One, True, God who does everything with excellence!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Proverbs 11:1-13:25

Things God Hates…It May Surprise You–Proverbs 6:16-19

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 5:1 through Proverbs 7:27

When my kids were little I was a fanatic about teaching them to respect other people.  I literally had them thinking words like dumb, stupid and shut up were curse words.  Another biggie was the word, “hate.”  They would definitely get in trouble if they said they hated another person.

In today’s reading God used the word “hate.”

God didn’t say He hated a person or a people group, but there are some things people do that really irritate Him.

So, if we are Christ followers and He hates “stuff,” we should probably hate it too.

Here are seven things God hates in Proverbs 6: 16-19

  • Haughty eyes
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that kill the innocent
  • A heart that plots evil
  • Feet that race to do  wrong
  • A false witness who pours out lies
  • A person who sows discord in a family

In verse 16, Solomon said there are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests.  The commentaries I read said this pattern of writing (six…seven) was to let the reader know that this wasn’t an exhaustive list.  In other words, there are more things the Lord hates.  But I think this list deserves our attention.

The last one struck a chord with me.

  “A person who sows discord in a family”

This says a lot about the importance God places on the family. We all know that the biblically created family unit is under tremendous attack. From this scripture it should be clear we need to fight to protect it. But before we get our signs and head to Washington, we need to sweep around our own front door.

Do you know of any mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters who refuse to speak to one another?

Do you know family members who gossip back and forth to stir up trouble?

How about adult brothers and sisters whose hearts are filled with jealousy?

Do you know divorced moms and dads who make life miserable for their children because they’re too selfish to “let it go?”

God hates this; we must stop it!

If you have been divorced make every effort to let the past go; your kids have suffered enough.  Let their weddings, children’s’ births, and birthdays be joyous occasions that aren’t about you and your ex’s “stuff.”  Get over it!

Let’s make a pack that we will guard our families at all costs and work with everything we have to create peace.  Don’t major on minors and ask God for grace and guidance to keep discord from growing like a cancer in our families.

Holy Spirit, illuminate the areas in our lives that you hate.  Show us, then help us to overcome it.  Jesus, I especially pray for families; help us as Christians to realize our family is our first mission field.

Help us to love like you love!

In Your Holy Name.  Amen and Amen!

 ©2013, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 8:1 through Proverbs 10:32

9 Things to Do When You Feel Hopeless–Psalm 143

Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalms 131, 133; Psalms 138-141, 143

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepensDon’t turn away from me, or I will die. —Psalms 143:7

Have you ever been in this place?

King David, “The man after God’s own heart,” who wrote these words knew about depression.  He probably didn’t call it depression. Depression is a term that has become a household word only in the last 40-50 years, but he certainly mentioned one of the common characteristics of depression–hopelessness:

What do you do when you’ve lost all hope?

God allowed David to go through times of depression and hopelessness. He also  had David journal these times in the Psalms so that you and I can make it through our times of hopelessness.

If you are severely depressed by all means seek medical help, but for many of us following David’s example could be the missing piece in our pursuit of hope.

Here’s what David did:

1. Go to GodHear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea (Psalm 143:1).

2. Tell Him exactly how you feelMy enemy has chased me.  He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to lie in darkness like those in the grave.  I’m losing all hope; I’m paralyzed with fear (Psalms 143:3-4).

3. RememberI remember the days of old, I ponder all Your great works and think about what You have done (Psalms 143:5).

4. Spend time worshiping GodI lift my hands to You in prayer.  I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain (Psalms 143:9).

5. Update God on your ProgressCome quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depressions deepens.  Don’t turn away from me, or I will die (Psalms 143:7).

6. Trust God for the outcomeLet me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You (Psalms 143:8).

7. Ask for directionShow me where to walk, for I give myself to you (Psalms 143:8b).  May Your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing (Psalm 143:10b).

8. Be teachableTeach me to do Your will, for You are my God (Psalm 143:10).

9. Have the right motiveFor the glory of Your name, O Lord, preserve my life.  Because of Your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress (Psalms 143:11).

Heavenly Father, I pray for my friends who feel hopeless tonight. Pursue them. Come close.  Lord, help them to know that Your Word is their lifeline. Holy Spirit, speak to them. Give them hope.  Heal their sadness.  Replace it with Your joy.  Lord, do it for the Glory of Your Name.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!



©2013, Dianne Guthmuller
 
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Psalms 144-145; Psalm 88-89

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