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It’s Time to Find a Phone Booth! —Ephesians 6:10-18

 

Today’s Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-6:24, Colossians 1:1-23

I loved the movie Superman!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could jump into a phone booth and come out with an answer to the day’s crisis.

  • Superpowers
  • Saving the world
  • A special suit that gives me confidence, strength and courage

Yep, that’s just what I need.  How about you?

Friends, it’s time to find the phone booth, because I’ve found the suit!

Yes, we can live in today’s troubled world with confidence, strength, and courage.

Yes, we can rescue others from the depths of despair…if we put on the suit!

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. —Ephesians 6:10-18 (emphasis mine)

If this supernatural “suit” is available is every Christian, then why is it that many 21st century Christians aren’t strong enough to fight their way out of a wet paper bag, much less rescue the perishing and care for the dying!

Because we aren’t discipling ourselves each day to put on the “power suit;” we sort of look like a weak “Clark Kent” before he goes into the phone booth.

Paul told us exactly what to do, put on every piece of God’s armor and then we will be able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil.

Just like Superman, we must be ready at all times.  We can’t wait until a crisis to find our “suit,” we need to put it on first thing, every morning.

No we don’t really need a phone booth and it’s not a physical “suit” but the armor of God is our only hope of a victorious life that causes others to know Him more.

Heavenly Father, help us to remember our armor each day.  Teach us to be intentional in equipping ourselves to be strong and courageous and stand against the strategies of the enemy of our soul.  Lord, use us to rescue someone today!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Colossians 1:24-4:18

Do You Have This Kind of Freedom? –Acts 26:32

Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 24:1-26:32

As a Christian and an American freedom is important to me.  Add to that my strong-willed and independent personality and I’m a downright freedom junky.  The Apostle Paul taught me something about freedom today.

Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left.  As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”

And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” –Acts 26:30-32

My first thought was, “Why did Paul open his mouth and say he wanted to appeal to Caesar?” (Acts 25:10-12)

In my humanness, it looks like he made a mistake.

Until

I remembered the whole story.

Yes, they sent him to Rome.

Yes, he went as a prisoner.

But

What he really went on was a missionary journey.

Paul’s lack of freedom was God’s way of getting His mission accomplished.  Paul didn’t have the money to travel to Rome but through his chains he got a free trip and witnessed to countless people along the way.

Is there an area of your life in which you feel trapped?

    • A dead-end job
    • An unhappy marriage
    • A chronic health struggle

Maybe…your chains are God’s tool to reach someone who is unreachable.

Maybe…you should look around and see who needs God that is within your reach.

Paul knew the real meaning of freedom–being in the center of God’s Will.

Heavenly Father, help us to look to Paul’s example and apply it to our lives.  Jesus, help us to seek after and desire the kind of freedom that is greater than anything this world has to offer–Knowing You and making You known!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 27:1-44

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

Did You Miss a Miracle?—Romans 2:4

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Romans 2:1-4:25

I’m reading a great book, You Were Born for This:  Seven Keys to a Life of Predictable Miraclesby Bruce Wilkinson.

Here’s the excerpt from his book that got my attention:

He (God) did not place you on this earth to notice Him at work only once or twice in your whole life.  He did not create you to consistently miss out on the wonder of His presence and power.

The truth is, you were born to live a supernatural life doing God’s work by God’s power.  You were born to walk out your door each morning believing that God will use you to deliver a necessary miracle today (page 8).

We’re never more fully alive and complete than when we experience God working through us and in spite of us in a way that changes someone’s life right before our eyes (page 26).

Have you ever had a miracle happen in your life?  You know, something that simply didn’t make sense and left you scratching your head and saying, “Wow that was a miracle!”

There’s something better than receiving a miracle,  it’s being God’s miracle delivery agent for someone else.

When we hear the word miracle we immediately think of the really big things:  Raising the dead, blind eyes being opened, the lame walking, etc.  While I do believe Jesus promised those miracles to the New Testament Church (John 14:12), there are many different kinds of life-changing miracles any Christ-follower can deliver every day…

If we’re available

Basically we…

  • Get up each morning
  • Ask God to use us as His miracle delivery agents
  • Stop, look, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s signals
  • Move when He speaks
  • And then do the same thing the next day until Jesus comes back or our life on earth over

Yesterday, before I left for the grocery store I prayed and asked God to use me to deliver a miracle in someone’s life.  From the time I drove out of my driveway until I returned home I was looking for signals (it was so much fun!).  While I was in the store I made eye contact everyone I met and was friendly, kind and courteous, even when I had to ask three people to help me find some coconut (smile).  I had some great interactions with three or four people, no big deal…

Or was it a really big deal, maybe a miracle…

In Romans 2:4, Paul tells us what it takes to deliver the miracle that most of us miss:

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?

Is kindness a miracle?  If His kindness overflows from us to someone in need, it’s a miracle.

The funny thing about yesterday… I was nicer than usual because I was God’s delivery agent, I was on “official” business.

What if during the next 30 days we made a pledge to be God’s “kindness delivery agents” to our spouses, children, co-workers, distant relatives, fellow shoppers and even strangers?

What if we asked God what type of kindness each person needed and then did our best to “deliver?”

Delivering God’s kindness to others opens the doors to all kinds of miracle possibilities.

What a way for the world to know that “Jesus is the Reason for the season!”

Are you with me?  Will you be God’s delivery agent?

Jesus, give us the pleasure of being used to deliver Your kindness that leads the lost to you today!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Romans 5:1-8:17

Two Miracles. Which One Would You Choose? — Acts 12:6-8

Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 12:6-14:20

The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. –Acts 12:6-8

There were two miracles that night:

  1. Peter, chained between two soldiers, was sleeping so hard the angel had to strike him to wake him up.
  2. An angel came in to prison and rescued him.

Which one was the greatest miracle?

Supernatural peace 

or

Supernatural rescue

I think they were both amazing! I definitely have needed rescuing many times in my life but I need the kind of peace Peter had every second!

Today’s world is far from peaceful. I see trouble, heartache, disappointment, and fear in the eyes of most.

Is there really a way we can be in total peace in the midst of chaos?

Yes. If Peter had peace, we can too. God doesn’t show favoritism (Acts 10:34).

Peter knew this peace because he had a relationship with Jesus. God had seen him at his worst and loved him anyway. Peter had failed many times but his Lord and Savior never let him down. When he found himself in prison, he KNEW God was for him and KNEW there was a plan and he CHOSE to trust, rest and accept the peace that Jesus offered…

“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid”. –John 14:27

Heavenly Father, I choose to accept the gift of peace Your Son Jesus gave. I want this miracle in my life. I want it to be displayed in my life in such a way that others see the peace I have and it draws them to You, Lord. Lord, help others to know You more through me.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-28, Galatians 1:1-3:23

Thank God for”Doubting Thomas!”–John 20:27


Today’s Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-43; Mark 16:12-13; John 20:19-23; Mark 16:14; John 20:24-21:25; Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-49

“Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe.” These were the words Jesus said to Thomas.

We all know the story of doubting Thomas.  He wasn’t with the others the first time they saw Jesus so he made the bold statement, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”  (John 20:25)

I feel bad for Thomas.  He’s really gotten a bad rap over the years; what Christian hasn’t had times of faithlessness.  Who knows, God may have divinely had this story told to encourage all of us doubters that Jesus understands, cares, and doesn’t want us to live this way.

There have been so many times when I wanted to have faith, but I just didn’t.

I was just too scared.

But, in the same way Jesus spoke to Thomas, he speaking to you and I…

Peace be with you.  Put your finger here, and look at my hands.  Put your hand into the wound in my side.  Don’t be faithless any longer.  Believe! (John 20:26-27)

To me, Jesus’ words say that Jesus understands when we have doubts and questions.  He says, “Come closer to me, touch me; know me and then believe in me.”

He didn’t say, “Away from me, I never knew you.”

He said come closer.

Friend, if you’re struggling with your faith tonight…

Don’t be faithless any longer.  Get closer to Jesus and believe.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for doubting You.  Help our unbelief.  Holy Spirit, draw us closer to Jesus; draw us closer to Your Word.   Help us seek You out.  Increase our faith.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-2:47

And Jesus said, “Your Mistake Is_____________.”–Matthew 22:29


Today’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:28-32, Mark 12:1-12, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19, Matthew 22:1-14, Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26, Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life…

some were because of ignorance, some because hasty decisions, and some because of plain, old selfishness.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry He was constantly tested by the Jewish religious leaders.  In Matthew 22, the Sadducees made up a scenario trying to trap Jesus.  Not only did he answer their question, He pointed out their mistake:

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. —Matthew 22:29

  • You don’t  know the scriptures
  • You don’t know the power of God

Jesus was talking to religious people, church leaders, preachers and teachers. They certainly should have known God’s Word and His Power.

In our year-long journey through God’s Word we’ve talked many times about the importance of knowing God’s Word, but have we ever really said that NOT knowing God’s Word is a mistake?

Maybe

It could be

The biggest mistake of our life.

I’m afraid when we get to heaven and the Lord shows us the plans that were made for our lives before the world began, plans to bring Him and His Kingdom glory, we’re going to say, “But Lord, we just couldn’t do it, we didn’t know how…”

Then our Lord is going to say…

“The mistake you made was–

  • You didn’t know the scriptures
  • You didn’t know my power

So you lived a life below the life I had planned for you.”

Friends, we do not want to make this mistake.  We do not want to see the disappointment on our Heavenly Father’s face or hear the sadness in His voice when He says, “I gave you My Word and My Power and you didn’t appreciate it or have knowledge of it.”

As I read yesterday’s scripture reading this particular passage jumped off the page.

Jesus was telling the disciples:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.  You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”  –Matthew 21:21-22

I prayed and said, “Lord, I know there is so much more of Your power available to me as Your child than I’ve ever seen or experienced.  Teach me Lord about Your Power.”

I believe today’s scripture reading is the first lesson the Holy Spirit is teaching me as I pursue His Power.

God’s Word and His Power go hand-in-hand.

Amazing!  He’s already answering my prayer!

Heavenly Father, I don’t want to get to heaven and find out I made a huge mistake, a mistake that caused me to live a “less-than” victorious  Christian life.  Holy Spirit, draw me to Your Word, help me know You more each time I pick up Your Bible.  Jesus, I ask you to fill me with Your Power to get Your Will accomplished in my life.

In Jesus’Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:35-37, Matthew 22:41-46, Luke 20:41-44, Mark 12:38-40, Matthew 23:1-12, Luke 20:45-47, Matthew 23:13-39, Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4

A “Heavenly” Market Research Experiment—Luke 17:11-19

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Luke 14:25-17:10, John 11:1-37

Several times during this year’s Journey I have shared research from The Barna Group, a  research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. In today’s reading Jesus conducted His own market research experiment.  It seems that things really haven’t changed much in 2000 years.

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria.  As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.” —Luke 17:11-19

One person out of ten was thankful…a 10% return

Wow!  And I thought thanklessness was just a 21st century problem!

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines thankful as being conscious of the benefit received.

You would think all ten lepers were conscious of the benefit they received in their healing…they may have been; maybe they just got so busy with their new life that they put verbalizing their thankfulness to their healer at the bottom of their list of priorities.

An “attitude of gratitude” is commanded in the Bible:

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful .  –Colossians 3:15

Even though God knows our hearts, He let us know in Luke 17 that He thinks thankfulness should be verbalized.  The Samaritan’s demonstration of thankfulness was seen as an act of faith by Jesus.  Because the Samaritan returned to thank Jesus for his healing he walked away healed in his soul as well as his body (New Bible Commentary)

As a parent, I know my children are thankful for the things I’ve done for them but I really like for them to express their thankfulness to me through words, either written are verbal.   From today’s reading it seems that our Heavenly Father feels the same way.

Jesus deserves our thankfulness:

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. –James 1:17

I wonder if faith to believe God to heal the pain of our past comes

from our demonstration of thankfulness for the things He’s

already done for us.

The nine unthankful lepers missed out on God’s best by not coming back to thank Jesus, their healer.

What is one thing you are thankful for today?

Heavenly Father, we have so much to be thankful for.  We are blessed to be called your children.  Holy Spirit help us to verbalize our thankfulness to our God each day.  Teach us how to be thankful.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Luke 18:9-14,Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-17, Mark 10:17-31, Matthew 19:16-30, Luke 18:18-30

How Do We Know What to Believe?—John 8:32


Today’s Scripture ReadingJohn 8:21-59, Luke 10:1-11:13

When you listen to a teacher, preacher, politician, or news anchor, how do you know what they’re saying is truth?

Wouldn’t it be great if all speakers of “truth” were like Pinocchio and their nose grew when they were speaking something that wasn’t truthful?

How do we really know what to believe?

Who really determines the “truth?”

In John 8:32, Jesus said: And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

What is your definition of truth?

In Focus on the Family’s Truth Project,  R.C. Sproul gave this great definition of truth:

Truth is that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God.  Because God’s perception of reality is never distorted; it’s the perfect perception of reality.

Let’s plug this definition of truth into John 8:32…

And you will know [reality as seen by God], and [God’s perception of reality] will set you free.

In today’s world truth is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s like the woman in the video says, “one person can say a table’s blue and the other person can say its red; how they see it is their truth.”

This way of thinking has taken its toll on the biblical world view of many in today’s culture.

If the truth sets us free

AND

there are many versions of the truth,

which truth

sets us free?

To be free we must choose to believe that our Heavenly Father and Him alone has given us His truth in His Word, then and only then can be have this freedom Jesus was offering.

How do we get this freedom?

  • Accept by faith that God’s perception of reality is absolute truth
  • Begin a lifelong journey to understand God’s truth through the spiritual disciplines of
    • Bible Study
    • Prayer
    • Meditation

Jesus said in John 8:31, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.”

Heavenly Father, teach us Your Truth.  Holy Spirit, speak to our spirit and let us know when something is Your Truth, give us spiritual wisdom and discernment.  Help us to resist the lie of many truths and live our life with confidence that you gave us Your absolute truth in Your Word!  Jesus, thank you for your Word.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen.

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Luke 11:14-12:34


Leave Your “Stuff” at Home—Mark 6:7-9

Today’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:27-34, Mark 6:1-6, Matthew 13:53-58, Matthew 9:35-38, Mark 6:7-13, Matthew 10:1-42, Luke 9:1-6

Last year this time I was  packing for a trip.  I was going to be gone a couple of weeks.  As I read Jesus’ instructions to the disciples as He sent them out to minister I thought, “Lord, could I ever be that obedient, trusting, and full of faith?

And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.  He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. —Mark 6: 7-9

No suitcase, no money, no clothes????

In my 21st century, western thought process that’s just not acceptable.  I was only spending a couple of weeks at my daughters, who had a closet full of clothes I could wear, but I was still carrying a carload MY stuff!

I’ve always been an over packer; whether it was diaper bags, skin care class supplies during my years as a Mary Kay Sales Director, or corporate training tools and tricks, I’ve always carried too much.

I want to be prepared, ready for anything!  I guess my ‘stuff” is my security.  I feel in control when I have it.  Maybe that’s the reason Jesus wanted HIS disciples to leave their “stuff” at home; so they would depend on God and not their own resourcefulness.

This may have been a test for the disciples.  Jesus knew what faced them, it wasn’t for the faint-hearted.  If they couldn’t give up their stuff, they would be in real trouble when they were…

  • Handed over to the courts to be flogged with whips in the synagogues (Matthew 10:17)
  • Forced to stand trial before governors and kings because they were Jesus’ followers (Matthew 10:18)

Do your material possessions ever get in the way of being obedient to and dependent on God?

Do things like houses, cars, new furniture, technology, or the latest fashion take a higher priority than your relationship with your heavenly Father?

Could you walk away from your “stuff” if the Lord asked you?

I don’t think God is opposed to us having “stuff,” He just wants us to be able to leave it at home if He asks us.

Heavenly Father, help us to put our “stuff” in the proper perspective, Your perspective. We want to bring Glory to You.  Teach us how to be less materialistic.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Today’s Scripture Reading: Luke 9:7-9, Mark 6:14-29, Matthew 14:1-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15, Mark 6:45-52, Matthew 14:22-23, John 6:16-21, Mark 6:53-56, Matthew 14:34-36


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