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Lord, Revive Me for Your Purpose—Ezra 9:9

 

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Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezra 9:1-10:44, Nehemiah 1:1-2:20

Heavenly Father, You spared a remnant of Your people for a purpose. They may have thought they were coming home to settle down to a way of life that was secure, familiar, and comfortable but You had other something bigger in mind. Your people were revived for a purpose.

For we were slaves, but in his unfailing love our God did not abandon us in our slavery. Instead, he caused the kings of Persia to treat us favorably. He revived us so we could rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins. He has given us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem. —Ezra 9:9

Lord, when I think of the word revive, my first thought goes to the defibrillator machines hospitals use to shock a person’s heart into beating properly. I would think the Jewish exiles needed a supernatural jolt to revive them to have the energy, passion, or strength to rebuild the Temple.

Holy Spirit, like the Jews returning from exile, I need to be revived. The world is a hard place these days and it’s easy to allow discouragement to leave us feeling overwhelmed.  I need to be revived by Your supernatural power.  Lord, I don’t just ask this for my comfort. My greatest desire is to be revived and anointed to carry out the plans You have for me.

Lord, I know You have a purpose for this day. Revive me, then use me for Your Glory!

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:Nehemiah 3:1-7:3

Lord, Please Lay Your Hand of Blessing on My Life Today—Ezra-7:6-10

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Ezra 4:7-23, Ezra 7:1-8:36

Heavenly Father, in today’s reading King Artaxerxes of Persia ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem to be stopped. He thought the rebuilding would harm his interests (Ezra 4:17-22). Years later this same king gave Your servant Ezra everything he asked for as he led the second group of exiles home to Jerusalem.

What changed?

Your gracious hand of blessing and favor came upon Ezra and that season.

This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him. —Ezra 7:6

Lord, I’m not sure I can expect to have Your hand of favor on every season of my life, but it’s definitely my desire. Ezra knew You through Your Word and because of that Your gracious hand was upon him.

He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year,and he arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. —Ezra 7:9-10

Lord, I want to know You. I want to move when You say move, speak when you say speak, and be silent when you say hush! 🙂

I want Your gracious hand of blessing and favor on my life today. If there something I need to start, stop, or change, please show me.

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: Ezra 9:1-10:44, Nehemiah 1:1-2:20

Lord, Thank You for Watching Over Me—Ezra 5:5

 

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Zechariah 6:1-15, Ezra 5:3-6:14a, Zechariah 7:1-8:23

Heavenly Father, knowing that You see everything I do and know every thought I have is both comforting and scary. You know the best and worst of me. You are constantly watching over me.

But because their God was watching over them, the leaders of the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision. —Ezra 5:5

I would rather You know the good, bad, and ugly than to take Your eyes off me for one second.

There have been so many times, like the Jews in today’s reading ,You watched over me and intervened in my life and made a way where they seemed to be no way.

Lord, You see me. You know where I am. You know what I’m feeling. You know the places I’m struggling. You know where You are taking me.

Your presence in every moment of my day is my greatest gift.

Thank You for watching over me.

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: Zechariah 9:1-14:21

Lord, Why is There No Unity? —Ezra 3:1-2

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Ezra 2:1-4:5, 1 Chronicles 3:19b-24

Heavenly Father, every time Your people unite great things happen.

In early autumn, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. Then Jeshua son of Jehozadak joined his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family in rebuilding the altar of the God of Israel. They wanted to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. —Ezra 3:1-2

Lord, it must break Your heart to see division, discord, and strife among Your children. In my natural mind unity of believers seems like something only reserved for heaven. I’ve been a Christian all my life. It seems with every passing year Christians are becoming more polarized. Today’s Christians have different ideas about EVERYTHING! Some things don’t really matter, but many of our differences are changing our world.

Lord, what do You think about this?

Is this part of the downward spiral pointing to Your return?

What can I do about it?

I feel the number one thing I need to do is to get as close to You as I can. Your Word is very complex. It can easily be manipulated to support any cause. Holy Spirit, without Your direction, coaching, and counsel, I can easily be deceived.

Jesus, You kept Your message very simple. In our day of information overload, we have a tendency to complicate things. Help me to simplify my life and my message. The more information we have the more opportunities we have to disagree.

Lord, one more thing that comes to mind is the power of living a peaceful life.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. —Romans 12:18

It’s no wonder the enemy of our soul works tirelessly to steal our peace. Peace unifies! Lord, help me to promote peace instead of discord.

Jesus, I need Your discernment. I need Your wisdom.

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: Daniel 10:1-12:13, Ezra 4:24-5:1, Haggai 1:1-15

Can Your Boss Say This About You?—Nehemiah 2:1

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezra 9:1 through Ezra 10:44, Nehemiah 1:1-2:20

What’s one word your boss would use to describe you?

Nehemiah’s boss probably described him as happy.

Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I (Nehemiah) was serving the king his wind.  I had never before appeared sad in his presence. —Nehemiah 2:1 (explanation mine)

How important is a positive, happy attitude in the workplace?

Positive-attitude-tips.com says a resounding “it’s very important” and offered ten benefits of a positive attitude in the workplace:

  1. Career Success
  2. Stress Reduction
  3. Less sick days and better productivity
  4. Improved customer relations and/or sales
  5. Become a better leader
  6. Improve the attitude of other employees or those who report to you
  7. Improve teamwork
  8. Improve motivation for yourself and others
  9. Improve decision-making and overcome challenges
  10. Improve interpersonal relations

Nehemiah hadn’t been to business school and hadn’t read a book on success in the workplace, EXCEPT God’s Word (which is where all good leadership principles come from). Nehemiah knew enough to make sure he displayed a happy, positive attitude before the king. In his youth Nehemiah was appointed to the important office of royal cup-bearer at the palace of Shushan; a privileged position.

In Nehemiah 2:1-10, the king noticed Nehemiah was unusually distraught and asked him why he was looking so sad.  When Nehemiah told him that Jerusalem, the city of his ancestors was in ruins the king said, “Well, how can I help you?” (v.  2-4)

And with a prayer to the God of heaven Nehemiah boldly asked the king

  • For a leave-of-absence from his job to build the wall
  • To provide endorsement letters instructing the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River to allow Nehemiah to travel safely  through their territories
  • For the needed timber to build beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for himself

And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on Nehemiah.

God’s favor in the workplace is an amazing thing, but we have to do our part.  If your boss has a choice between a negative, complaining employee or a positive, happy person, he will choose the positive person every time.  This is especially true when bosses are choosing their inner circle of leadership.  They want to feel better about themselves and their company and having people on their team who have a good attitude and enjoy life helps to build a great team.

 

There’s one more reason for having an attitude like Nehemiah; it’s what Jesus would do.

 

Heavenly Father, help us to live a life in our homes, workplaces, and churches that will cause others to know You more.  Help us to strive to be the best employers and employees so that the name “Christian” will be synonymous with character and integrity in the world today.

In Jesus’Name.  Amen and Amen.

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller


Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3:1 through 7:3

The Number One Predictor of Success—Ezra 7:8-10

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezra 4:7-23; Ezra 7:1 through 8:36

Are you getting ready to begin a new project, business, or field of study?

Would you like to know if you will be successful in that endeavor?

We all know people who have started something and quit or “seemingly” failed.

Is there one predictor of success?

Paul Graham, an essayist, programmer, and investor believes there is…

The most important predictor of new business start-up success is determination. At first we thought it might be intelligence. Everyone likes to believe that’s what makes startups succeed. It makes a better story that a company won because its founders were so smart. The PR people and reporters who spread such stories probably believe them themselves. But while it certainly helps to be smart, it’s not the deciding factor. There are plenty of people as smart as Bill Gates who achieve nothing.

In most domains, talent is overrated compared to determination—partly because it makes a better story, partly because it gives onlookers an excuse for being lazy, and partly because after a while determination starts to look like talent.

Ezra agrees with Paul Graham:

Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August of that year.  He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year, and he arrived at Jerusalem on August for the gracious hand of his God was on him.  This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. —Ezra 7:8-10

How many times do we look at someone and think, “Wow, everything seems to come so easy for them!”

It’s never “easy” to be successful; easy means with little or no effort.  It certainly wasn’t easy for Ezra.

Most people in his day couldn’t read or write. The majority of the Israelites were disobeying the Law rather than obeying.

But Ezra was determined to be what God had called him to be.

If you’ve been on our journey one day or all year, you can personally attest to the difficulty of developing a habit of reading, studying, and applying God’s Word.  Compared to Ezra we have it so easy, Bibles are everywhere and study helps are in abundance, but it takes just as much determination in our day-to-day study to obey God’s Word as it did in Ezra’s day.

Friends, let’s make a choice to be an Ezra and determine to know God through His Word!

Heavenly Father, help us to determine to be a student of Your Word.  Holy Spirit, teach us how to apply it to our daily lives. Help us to live a life that preaches Your Word to others.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Ezra 9:1 through Ezra 10:44; Nehemiah 1:1 through 2:20

Is Today Your “Such a Time as This” Moment? Esther 4:14

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezra 6:14b-22; Ezra 4:6; Esther 1:1 through 4:17

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die. —Esther 4:15-16

Esther did not seem like a person who could change the course of a nation.  She certainly wasn’t the Joan of Arc type:

  • She was accustomed to being taken care of and pampered.
  • Her life was one big beauty pageant
  • Most women in her place would have been a queen of selfishness and self-centerness
  • Most decisions were made for her

Etiquette in the Persian court was very strict. Except for the “seven nobles” (Esther 1:4), no one could approach the king unless they were summoned by him. The punishment for entering without being summoned was death, the same punishment given for murder or rebellion. The intruder was instantly put to death by the court attendants unless the king extended his golden scepter to the person to show approval, or at least acceptance, of the act. It was well understood, therefore, that whoever so appeared before the king risked his life. (Manners and Customs of the Bible)

What caused Esther to rise up with courage and accept Mordecai’s challenge to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people?

I believe Esther was inspired by Mordecai’s faith in God and belief in her…

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? —Esther 4:14

Have you ever had a time when one sentence from someone changed the course of your life?  I can’t count the times in my life when God used a seemingly casual comment to move me to change direction, vocation, or mindset.

In our day-to-day life we’re either an Esther or a Mordecai.  We’re either being led by the encouragement of others or leading others through our encouragement.

Who knows if perhaps a seemingly casual conversation or chance meeting was your “such a time as this” moment?

But we can’t have what Esther had unless we’re willing to do what Esther did—die to our selfish desires and agendas.

Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. –John 12:25

Heavenly Father, what a privilege it is to be used by You.  Help us to grasp the understanding that we were placed on this earth for “such a time as this” moments.  Help us to expectantly look for them and be willing to say with Esther, “if I must die, I must die.”  Use us to make a difference in the lives of others.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Esther 5:1 through Esther 10:3

Two Words That are Big Deals to God…Zechariah 8:14-17


 

Today’s Scripture Reading: Zechariah 6:1-15; Ezra 5:3-6:14a; Zechariah 7:1-8:23

Have you ever wanted to do something special for someone but because you know them so well, you are concerned they will either–

  • Not appreciate it
  • Use it for harm
  • Brag about it and cause dissension
  • Lie about the reason you did it to them

In today’s reading our Heavenly Father had  those same feelings about His people, the Jews.  He had been so angry with them that He abandoned them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who destroyed the Temple and exiled the people to Babylonia (Ezra 5:12). After 70 years God’s heart is once again tender towards His people.

“But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings. Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. 

But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!

For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 

But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 

But this is what you must do: 

  1. Tell the truth to each other. 
  2. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 
  3. Don’t scheme against each other. 
  4. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. 

I hate all these things, says the Lord.”  —Zechariah 8:11-17

 

Friends, this isn’t the first time God mentions justice and mercy. These 2 qualities are a big deal to our Heavenly Father; He doesn’t use the “hate” word that often.

 

Today’s Christian has a way of prioritizing sin, deciding which ones are worse than others.

God’s priorities are different than ours.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:

  • To do what is right, 
  • To love mercy,
  • And to walk humbly with your God.  –Micah 6:8

Heavenly Father, help our hearts to be tender to the things that are most important to You.  We want Your blessings. Help us not to tie Your hands.  Help us to do what’s right; to love mercy and show it to everyone we come in contact with and to walk humbly before You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Zechariah 9:1-14:21

Be Strong All You People Still Left in the Land– Haggai 2:3-5

Today’s Scripture Reading: Haggai 2:1-9; Zechariah 1:1-6; Haggai 2:10-19; Ezra 5:2; Haggai 2:20-23; Zechariah 1:7-5:11

Like most of you, I have been reflecting on that day twelve years ago that changed our world. As I read today’s reading I noticed something that God said through the prophet Haggai that could be said to Americans on September 11th:

Does anyone remember this house–this Temple (this country)–in its former splendor (before 9/11)?  How in comparison does it look to you now?  It seems like nothing at all! But now the Lord says:  Be strong, Zerubbabel.  Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest.  Be strong, all you people still left in the land.  And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt.  So do not be afraid. –Haggai 2:3-5 (explanation mine)

The Israelites experienced their own type of “September 11th” when their country was taken over by the Babylonians and most of their nation exiled to Babylon.  For 70 years they were waiting; waiting to go home.  One of the things they missed the most was worshiping at the temple. But for many the new temple was no comparison to the old one and they griped and complained as they saw it being built (Ezra 3:12).

They wanted life to be like it was before the day that changed everything, and when it wasn’t they chose to sow discord, pain, and negativity into the already dismal atmosphere.

Since the world began God has given us a choice to either be part of the problem or part of the solution.  That’s the message the prophet Haggai spoke to the Israelites and us for those times when going back isn’t an option.

The Lord says:

  • Be Strong Leaders
  • Be Strong People
  • Get to work, for I am with you
  • My Spirit remains among you
  • Do not be afraid

 

Heavenly Father, I know Your heart grieves for the families who lost their loved ones in the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.  I also know Your heart grieves for every person who planned and carried out those attacks. How it must break Your heart when Your creation chooses eternal death.  Lord, help us today to choose to be strong people and strong leaders and get to work, without fear and make our corner of this world a place where You reign.  Lord, thank You for being with us.  Holy Spirit, work through us to cause others to know Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Zechariah 6:1-15; Ezra 5:3-6:14a; Zechariah 7:1-8:23

Unanswered Prayers: 5 Things to Remember—Daniel 10:12-13

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Daniel 10:1 through Daniel 12:13; Ezra 4:24-5:1; Haggai 1:1-15

Can you imagine standing on the beach in Destin and looking up and seeing a man …

  • Dressed in linen clothing?
  • With a belt of pure gold around his waist?
  • With a body that looked like a precious gem?
  • With a face that flashed like lightning?
  • With eyes flaming like torches?
  • With arms and feet that shone like polished bronze?
  • A voice that roared like a vast multitude of people?

And oh by the way, all the other folks on the beach run and hide, so you are alone witnessing this amazing vision.

And then he says,

I’m sorry I’m late, but a funny thing happened on the way to answer your prayer…(Daniel 10:12-13)

Do you believe in angels?

Daniel, chapter ten is one of the most important chapters in Scripture for angelology (the study of angels).  This chapter suggests that an invisible war is constantly fought in the spiritual world which has great impact on the course of nations and the experience of individuals.

It’s really nice to think about having angels to protect us and to watch over our loved ones, but we really don’t want to think about demons hovering over us, delaying our prayers and trying their best to destroy us spiritually and even physically.

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.  But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Daniel 10:12-13

Friends there’s a war going on.  It began in the Garden of Eden and will continue as long as we’re on this earth—God and Satan, good and evil, angels and demons.

But there’s good news:

  1. God hears every prayer (Daniel 10:12)
  2. God sends angels to answer our prayers and fight for us (Daniel 10:12-13)
  3. God sends angels to strengthen and encourage us (Daniel 10:18-19)
  4. We are precious to God (Daniel 10:11,19)
  5. We do not have to be afraid (Daniel 10:19)

We must not be discouraged when our prayers are not answered immediately. God hasn’t forgotten us.  He’s fighting for us and working all things (even Satan’s demons) for the good of those that love him and are called to according to His purpose for them.  (Romans 8:28)

Heavenly Father, teach us to pray believing You hear and answer our prayers. Give us a boldness to stand against the enemies of our soul.  Holy Spirit help us to be strong and rest in Your peace.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Zechariah 1:1-6; Haggai 2:10-19; Ezra 5:2; Haggai 2:20-23; Zechariah 1:7 through Zechariah 5:11

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