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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, Forgive Me For My Idle Words—Matthew 12:36

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Luke 8:1-3, Mark 3:20-30, Matthew 12:22-45, Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21, Mark 4:1-19, Matthew 13:1-9, Luke 8:4-8, Mark 4:10-20

Heavenly Father, I’m a words girl. I always have an opinion. I’m always teaching, always counseling. This verse makes me want to install a sipper on my mouth, lock it, and throw away the key.

You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” —Matthew 12:34-37

Lord, I’ve spoken many idle words in my life. Your Word say our words are a reflection of our heart. These days I feel like my heart is broken and my words reflect it—sadness, anger, bitterness, gossip. It feels like the words come spewing out uncontrollably. Holy Spirit, I need Your help. Please heal my heart.

I really think silence is my best answer during this season. I don’t know how to be silent. Please help me.

Lord, forgive me for my idle words. I say with David…

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and guard my lips. —Psalm 141:3

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:10-23, Luke 8:9-18, Mark 4:21-29, Matthew 13:24-30, Mark 4:30-34, Matthew 13:31-52, Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25

Lord, Strengthen Me to Bear the Consequences of My Mistakes—Ezekiel 23:35

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 22:17-23:49, 2 Kings 24:20b-25:2, Jeremiah 52:3b-5, Jeremiah, 39:1, Ezekiel, 24:1-14

 

Heavenly Father, I know the message You gave Ezekiel was directed at the Jews during their exile to Babylon but I also know that consequences weren’t just reserved for the Your rebellious children of long ago.

“And because you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You must bear the consequences of all your lewdness and prostitution.” —Ezekiel 23:35

The principle of consequence goes all the way back to Adam. We are still bearing the consequences of his sin. Because of Adam’s poor choice every baby born into this world is born into sin.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. —Romans 5:12

But because of Your love for us, You sent Your son so that we don’t have to bear the consequences of Adam’s sin.

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. —Romans 5:17

Jesus, it’s easy to feel free from my mistakes because of Your sacrifice. It sure would be nice not to have to deal with the consequences of  my poor decisions.

But Your Word says otherwise:

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. —Galatians 6:7-8

Jesus, I’ve made so many mistakes but because of Your love and sacrifice, my past, present, and future sins are forgiven. All I have to do is admit them and ask for Your forgiveness.

And then…

I have to deal with the consequences.

Sometimes, Your grace and mercy completely blot out the consequences of my mistakes but most of the time consequences are Your tools to teach, train, and grow me.

Lord, strengthen me to bear the consequences of my mistakes with grace and trust. Help me to learn from them quickly and never make the same mistake again. Use my mistakes and their consequences to get Your will accomplished in my life.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. —Romans 8:28

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: Ezekiel 24:15-25:17, Jeremiah 34:1-22, Jeremiah 21:1-14, Ezekiel 29:1-16, Ezekiel 30:20-31:18

Lord, Jeremiah Struggled With Forgiving too! —Jeremiah 18:23

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 16:1-18:23, Jeremiah 35:1-19

Heavenly Father, You called Jeremiah to a very tough job; being the leader that predicted and pronounced the 70 year exile of the Jews to Babylon. It was so hard on him that he became known as the weeping prophet. In many ways he reminds me of Moses. There were times when the Israelites’ stubbornness, idolatry, and disobedience got on his last nerve and he wanted You to kill them. This verse is one of those times.

Lord, you know all about their murderous plots against me.
Don’t forgive their crimes and blot out their sins.
Let them die before you.
Deal with them in your anger. —Jeremiah 18:23

Lord, thank You for showing us the humanness of your chosen people. I have a situation I’m dealing with right now that has my emotions swinging from save ’em to kill ’em (exaggerating to make a point). Satan wants to send loads of condemnation my way as I process my feelings, but just like Moses, Job, Joseph, and countless other men and women serving You, there are times when forgiveness happens in phases and only through the counseling and teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, thank You for not casting me, Jeremiah, and some of my modern-day friends aside we process through our anger.  Give us supernatural mercy for those who’ve mistreated, angered, and hurt us.

Lord, thank You for forgiving me. I want to be like You! Help me be quick to forgive.

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: Jeremiah 49:1-33, 2 Kings 24:5-7, 2 Chronicles 36:6-8, 2 Kings 24:8-9, 2 Chronicles 36:9, Jeremiah 22:24-23:32

Lord, I Don’t Want to Be a Troublemaker—2 Samuel 20:1

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Today’s Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 19:31-20:26, Psalm 7, 2 Samuel 21:1-22, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8

Heavenly Father, these words jumped off the page at me: There happened to be a troublemaker. 

How terrible to be recognized in Your Word as a troublemaker!

There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:

“Down with the dynasty of David!
We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
back to your homes!” —2 Samuel 20:1

Lord, there have been times in my life when being a troublemaker was my claim to fame. Just like Sheba I made trouble with my mouth. It’s always been a challenge. It was so bad when I was in my 30s that the Holy Spirit felt I needed a scripture song to remind me to keep my mouth shut unless it met the following criteria:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. —Philippians 4:8-9

These verses were set to music and I heard them over and over in my head. It was so convicting that I had to keep myself completely away from some of my friends because I couldn’t control my mouth when I was around them. I’m sad to admit this, but it’s true.

Lord, I don’t want to allow the sin of gossip to creep into my life. I realize that an emotion that feeds gossip is jealousy.  I actually had this happen yesterday and felt emotions, entertained thoughts, and made comments that were traits of a troublemaker.

Jesus, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for convicting me quickly. Forgive me and help me to go straight to You when feelings of jealousy creep into my life.

Lord, help me to remember this formula:  Jealousy + gossip = a full-fledged troublemaker

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s  Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 22:1-51, Psalm 18

Lord, Thank You for Substitutes—Numbers 3:11

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Numbers 2:1-3:51

Heavenly Father, as we move from Leviticus to Numbers, I am amazed at Your attention to detail! How can I question Your concern about the daily “goings-on” in my life when all through Your Word You are the God of order. You are in the details of our daily life.

Lord, when You gave the instructions for the first Passover it sounded like a way to get Pharaoh’s attention, rescue Your chosen people and make a way for them to remember the rescue forever, but it was much more.

On that first Passover a lamb had to be sacrificed so that each Israelite family’s first-born son would be redeemed. On that day God forever set apart the first-born of Israel and declared they were His:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me,for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.”   —Numbers 3:11-13

In today’s reading the Levites became the substitutes for each first-born male. This clan would carry this responsibility for many years but not forever. Our forever-substitute was a once-in-for-all, it is finished, God made a way where there was no way kind of substitute—Jesus, the Son of the One, True God. Our Savior, Redeemer, the spotless lamb, our high priest! Father, I am in awe of You! I am in awe of the way You made a way of escape!

Jesus, thank you for being my substitute!

 

In Your mighty Name!

Amen and Amen!

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: 4:1-5:31

Lord, I Want to be Set Apart to be Your Very Own–Leviticus 20:26


 

Today’s Scripture Reading: Leviticus 20:1-22:33

Heavenly Father, Your requirements for priests to be set apart were almost impossible to remember much less attain.  Father, if You were to hold me to that standard today, I’m sure I would be thrown out of the camp or killed!

You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own. —Leviticus 20:26

But because of the amazing gift You gave us, Your Son; because of Jesus, all Christians are priests.  All Christians are called to “set apart.”

…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. —1 Peter 2:9

Lord, forgive me.

Most of the time I don’t act like a royal priest, chosen by God.

Forgive me for taking the fact that You called me out of darkness for granted.

Forgive me for taking Your grace for granted.

Forgive me for trying to live as close to the world as I can and still make heaven

instead of

trying to live as close to You as I can and still function in this world.

Lord, in today’s reading You said over and over, “I am the Lord who makes them holy.”  Father, make me holy.  Set me a part from the things of this world and make me like You, so that I can help others “Know You More.”

Father, thank You for choosing me!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


©2014, Dianne Guthmuller

 

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Leviticus 23:1-25:23

What Causes Quarrels and Fights?–James 4:1-3

Today’s Scripture Reading:  James 4:1-5:20, 1 Timothy 1:1-2:15

When was the last time you got in an argument or fight with someone?

When was the last time you got mad with someone and either quarreled or did the passive-aggressive thing and gave them the silent treatment?

Was it before you became a Christian, last year, last month, last week, yesterday, or five minutes ago?

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?

  • Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
  • You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.
  •  You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.
  • Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James 4:1-3

Wow!  

That’s tough to hear, especially when we throw in the fact that James was talking to Christians.  But if you’ve been a Christian more than 30 minutes you know that Jesus saved us because we can’t save ourselves.

The sooner we come to terms with the fact that there’s a war going on inside us, the sooner we’ll be able to recognize jealousy, envy and wrong motives as the “evil desires” James was talking about.

To have those pure motives mentioned in James 4:3, we must learn to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), determine who’s talking–The Holy Spirit, Satan, or your own fleshly desires, and then make a conscious decision to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than our evil desires.

Will we still have quarrels and fights?

Most likely, but if we are open to the teaching and correction of the Holy Spirit within us we will learn from our mistakes and those quarrels and fights will become the exception rather than the norm.

Heavenly Father, help us to have the pure motives You talked about in today’s scripture. Help us to recognize our evil desires and intentionally choose NOT to act on them.  Make us like You Lord.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  1 Timothy 3:1-6:10

Can I Recover From My Poor Choices?–Acts 27:21

Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 27:1-44

If we’re honest, there are many times we could say to someone, “I told you so.”  In today’s reading Paul didn’t just think it, he said it!

No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’  So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said.  –Acts 27:21-25

Paul handled his “I told you so” moment quite differently than most of us.  He used it as an opportunity to encourage and point them to God.

Paul wasn’t just encouraging the crew, this was written for you and me.  God knew we were going to “choose the wrong door” from time to time.

God knew we were going need an encouraging “I told you so” from time to time.

Here’s what I believe God is telling us through Paul’s story.

  • There will be times when we do not listen to the voice of God
  • There will be consequences to our bad choices
  • Our ship may go down but we will be safe if we don’t jump out of the boat
  • If God says it, it will come to pass

Are there consequences to my bad decisions?  Definitely

Will God help me and show me a way to recover from it?  Absolutely

Will He miraculously make my mistake go away? Probably not

Heavenly Father, forgive me when I make the wrong choice.  Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for encouraging me, and not dwelling on the “I told you so.” Fill me with Your Spirit today!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 28:1-32; Ephesians 1:1-2:22

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

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