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Whose Dreams Are You Pursuing? —1 Thessalonians 2:4


Today’s Scripture Reading:  Acts 17:16-18:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:11

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to hear B.G. Nevitt speak at the C.L.A.S.S. Writers Conference.  He  told us that “God’s dream lives in us.”  It was such a moving message; it caused me to do some serious soul-searching.  To close out the conference Gerry Wakeland, C.L.A.S.S. President asked us to write our dream on a piece of paper and bring it forward and “ceremonially” give it back to God.

This question flashed through my mind:

Dianne, whose dreams are you pursuing?

Yours or God’s?

I’ve always been a goal-setting type of person. It’s easy to dream and set goals to reach that dream but to dream “God” dreams and set “God” goals is a whole different way of thinking.

In today’s reading the Apostle Paul gave us a filter to run every dream, vision, goal, priority or task through to help us pursue God’s plans for our lives rather than our own selfish desires:

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people (*or ourselves). He alone examines the motives of our hearts. —1 Thessalonians 2:4 (emphasis, *comment mine)

Our purpose is to please God.  That’s it. End of story.

Is it realistic to think we can please God in EVERYTHING we do?

I know I miss it many times, but if I get up each day and filter my plans and ambitions through the question, “Will this please God?” I won’t miss it as much!

As I look to 2014 with many things spinning in my head, I pray that my focus will be to please God and Him alone.

What dreams do you have for 2014?

Heavenly Father, show us Your purpose.  Breathe the passion of  Your dreams into our hearts.  Help us to wait for your dreams.  Use us for Your Glory.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-3:18, Acts 18:4-23

Are You Too Important to Help Someone? — Galatians 6:2-4

Today’s Scripture Reading: Galatians 3:24-6:18; Acts 15:1-21

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. 

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.–Galatians 6:2-4

Can you believe these words are in the Bible?

I am continually amazed at how applicable the scriptures are to our day-to-day lives.

Once again, the Apostle Paul tells it like it is:

  • Share each other’s burdens because this is the law of Christ
  • If you think you’re too good to do anything that’s legal, honest, and morally right, you’re just plain crazy
  • You are not that important
  • Do your job to the best of your ability and be happy about it
  • Stop comparing yourself to others

I Love the Word of God!

He puts me in my place!

Heavenly Father, when will we ever get it?  Taking care of the hurting, sick, lonely, widowed and orphaned is the way You want us to “be the church.” Holy Spirit, show me how to make carrying other people’s burdens a part of my daily life.  Use me to be Jesus to the hurting.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 15:22-17:15

“I’m a Human Being Just Like You”–Acts 10:26

Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 10:1-12:5

As I read today’s scripture, it made think about Joe Paterno. On this day a couple of years, as we watched another public icon fall, I wondered when he stopped believing he was a human being, just like you and me.

When did he become above the law?

I’m sure it was a very gradual thing.  It probably began when the fame began and in Paterno’s case that was a long time ago.  In Acts 10:24-26, Peter teaches us something about fame, which leads to power, which is fueled by pride.

They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” –Acts 10:24-26

Oh, that you and I can remember this one.  No matter how well things are going, how successful we become, how much of a celebrity the world tells us we are; we are just a human being like everyone else and we can fall in an instant no matter how much good we’ve done for society or the Kingdom of God.

Heavenly Father, help us to remember Peter’s example.  Help us not to take ourselves too seriously. Forgive us for our sins.  Make us more like You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Act 12:6-14:20

Isn’t This The Same Man? –Acts 9:21

Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 8:1b-9:43

Take a minute and think about the most evil, despicable, and wretched person you’ve heard of.

Was it…

      • Hitler
      • ben Laden
      • Stalin
      • Mao Tse-tung

Maybe is was some serial killer that terrorized your community?

Or someone who personally hurt you or a close family member?

What if…

God asked you to go to that person and pray for them and be His messenger of healing to that person?

Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

Yes, Lord!” he replied.

The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.  And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” 

–Acts 9:10-16

I don’t know about you, but many times I read over this kind of stuff in the Bible and don’t let it really sink into my spirit.  Saul was a really bad person.  He was one of the witnesses and agreed completely with the killing of Stephen (Acts 8:1).

Yet, in an instant he was a changed man.

All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”  –Acts 9:21

If you had been one of the disciples, how would you have felt to have Saul, now know as Paul as a part of your ministry team?

Would you have been able to go to Straight Street(Acts 9:11) and welcome Saul into the family of God?

Heavenly Father, this story causes me to examine myself.  It once again, makes me realize that Your will and Your plan come in packages that boggle the human mind.  Your ways are definitely higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8).  Lord, help me to give mercy to everyone who crosses my path.   Lord, help me to love my neighbor.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 10:1-12:5

5 Steps In Dealing With “Rumblings of Discontent”–Acts 6:1


Today’s Scripture Reading: Acts 6:1-8:1a

When was the last time you experienced the rumblings of discontent?

Was it in your…

  • Workplace
  • Community
  • Neighborhood
  • Children’s school
  • Home

Or, was it in your local church?

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.  —Acts 6:1

I’m the kind of girl that hates griping, complaining, conflict; i.e. discontent.  Thankfully, today’s scripture reading gives me insight into proactively dealing with these enemies of success.

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” –Acts 6:2-4

God’s Word is so practical, so applicable to any situation.  In these three verses lies a simple outline for handling the rumblings of discontent.  As Christian leaders in our homes, communities, workplaces, and churches we should follow this model.

The Leadership of the group/team/organization/family should:

Step 1: Get everyone together and addresses the rumblings; as soon as possible

Step 2: Remind the team of the mission of the organization, in this instance it’s teaching the Word of God

Step 3: Address the rumblings and explain the ways in which they are distracting the team from its mission

Step 4: Put a plan in place to handle the complaints so that the mission can go forward

Step 5: Appoint wise and mature leaders from the team to carry out the plan

One of the most important sayings I’ve ever heard in the world of teams came from Mary Kay Ash, “People support what they help to create.”  This includes problem-solving.  This is just what the disciples did, they called everyone together, addressed the problem and pulled everyone into the plan to solve it.

The Bible is the greatest leadership book ever written!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word.  Help us to be the kind of leaders You planned for us to be.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Acts 8:1b-9:43

Who’s Really Got the Power?—John 19:11

Unknown

Today’s Scripture ReadingMark 15:2-5, Matthew 27:11-14, Luke 23:1-12, John 18:28-40, Mark 15:6-15, Matthew 27:15-26, Luke 23:13-25, John 19:1-16, Mark 15:16-20, Matthew 27:27-31, Luke 22:63-65

This time last year we were voting for new elected officials from the local level all the way to a new president.

The power shifted.  Governors, senators and representatives who were in positions of power and authority are now powerless and others, virtually  unknown, have be given “the power.”

Who gives them this power?  As Americans we beat our chests and say—

WE DO!  We the people…we have spoken…

Pilate thought he was a self-made, powerful man; the most powerful of his time:

Pontius Pilatus was a Roman of the equestrian or upper middle-class.  As the procurator he had full powers of life and death, and could reverse capital sentences passed by the Sanhedrin, which had to be submitted to him for ratification. (New Bible Dictionary)

When they saw him (Jesus), the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever.   He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer.  “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” John 19:6-10

I have the power to ____________.  I wonder how many times these words are spoken in today’s world…

Leaders in government, politics, and business are saying to those subordinate to them, “Don’t you realize that I have the power to promote or fire you?”

But do they?

  • Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11
  • He (Daniel) said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.  He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness though he is surrounded by light. (Daniel 2: 20-22)

Friends, because it is the One, True, Living, Jehovah God who gives “the power,” our prayers are the most important thing we can do for our country and our political process. We need to pray like it all depends on God…because it does.

Heavenly Father, we pray for our elected officials from the national to the local level.   Let them know all power comes from You.  Help us to realize You and You alone control the course of world events.  Teach us to seek Your face for Your will and Your plans for our country and our individual lives.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller


Tomorrow’s Scripture ReadingMark 15:21-24, Matthew 27:32-34, Luke 23:26-31, John 19:17, Mark 15:25-32, Matthew 27:35-44, Luke 23:32-43, John 19:18-27, Mark 15:33-41, Matthew 27:45-56, Luke 23:44-49, John 19:28-37

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!

 

© 2013 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

To Self-Promote or Not…That is the Question—Luke 14:7-11

Today’s Scripture Reading:  John 10:1-42, Luke 13:22-14:24

Have you ever been around someone

who constantly

tells you how wonderful

THEY are?

You know, the kind of person who can take any topic and turn it to their favorite subject—themselves.

I’ve been in sales all my life and taught sales training and coaching for over 20 years; I know there are times when we need to promote our product, service, business, or just ourselves, but there’s a right and a wrong way of doing it.

Today’s reading teaches us the right way…

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice:  “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited?  The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” —Luke 14:7-11

In Jesus’ day, as today, there were “status symbols” that helped people enhance and protect their high standing in society. If you were invited to the “right homes” and if you were seated in the “right places,” then people would know how important you really were. The emphasis was on reputation, not character. It was more important to sit in the right places than to live the right kind of life.

Experts in management tell us that most people wear an invisible sign that reads, “Please make me feel important”; if we heed that sign, we can succeed in human relations. On the other hand, if we say or do things that make others feel insignificant, we will fail. Then people will respond by becoming angry and resentful, because everybody wants to be noticed and made to feel important.

This kind of attitude betrays a false view of success. “Try not to become a man of success,” said Albert Einstein, “but try to become a man of value.” While there may be some exceptions, it is usually true that valuable people are eventually recognized and appropriately honored. Success that comes only from self-promotion is temporary, and you may be embarrassed as you are asked to move down (Prov. 25:6–7).

When Jesus advised the guests to take the lowest places, He was not giving them a “gimmick” that guaranteed promotion. The false humility that takes the lowest place is just as hateful to God as the pride that takes the highest place. God is not impressed by our status in society or in the church. He is not influenced by what people say or think about us, because He sees the thoughts and motives of the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). God still humbles the proud and exalts the humble (James 4:6).

Humility is a fundamental grace in the Christian life, and yet it is elusive; if you know you have it, you have lost it! It has well been said that humility is not thinking meanly of ourselves; it is simply not thinking of ourselves at all. Jesus is the greatest example of humility, and we would do well to ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to imitate Him (Phil. 2:1–16). From Warren Wiersbe’s Bible Exposition Commentary

Heavenly Father, we trust You to put us the appropriate seat at the table!

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

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

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 one of Truth Project 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.

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

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


Oops! Did I Really Say That? 2 Lessons from Herod — Mark 6:26

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 14:22-33; John 6:16-21; Marl 6:53-66; Matthew 14:34-36

How many times have I opened my mouth and either stated my opinion, offered to help, or made a commitment to someone, and  then when the heat of the moment fades I’m left saying, “Did I really say that?”

But

the

good news is…

no one  ever had their head cut off because of one of my “Oops, did I really say that?” moments.

For Herod had sent men to take John and put him into prison. He did this because of his wife, Herodias. She had been the wife of his brother Philip.  John the Baptist had said to Herod, “It is wrong for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias became angry with him. She wanted to have John the Baptist killed but she could not.  Herod was afraid of John. He knew he was a good man and right with God, and he kept John from being hurt or killed. He liked to listen to John preach. But when he did, he became troubled.

Then Herodias found a way to have John killed. Herod gave a big supper on his birthday. He asked the leaders of the country and army captains and the leaders of Galilee to come. The daughter of Herodias came in and danced before them. This made Herod and his friends happy. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” Then he made a promise to her, “Whatever you ask for, I will give it to you. I will give you even half of my nation.” She went to her mother and asked, “What should I ask for?” The mother answered, “I want the head of John the Baptist.” At once the girl went to Herod. She said, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a plate now.”

Herod was very sorry. He had to do it because of his promise and because of those who ate with him. At once he sent one of his soldiers and told him to bring the head of John the Baptist. The soldier went to the prison and cut off John’s head.  He took John’s head in on a plate and gave it to the girl. The girl gave it to her mother. John’s followers heard this. They went and took his body and buried it.  –Mark 6:17-29

Herod was most likely showing off when he said, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.”

Human beings do this all the time.  “Look at me!  I’m important!”

And then when we come to our senses and realize what we said or promised we either have to follow through or say, “I was stupid and my ego made me say that.”

The sad thing is, just like Herod, too many times we do things that aren’t pleasing to God because we fear the opinions of others more than the opinion of the God of the Universe.

For me there are two lessons to learn from King Herod:

  1. I need to think before I speak
  2.  It would be better to look stupid to others than to go against my Heavenly Father

Lord, help me to think before I speak.  I want my words and actions to be pleasing to You.  Heavenly Father, forgive me for choosing others over You.  When I ignore Your will and Your Word, it must make You feel as though people are more important than You.  Lord, teach me Your ways.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: John 6:22-71; Mark 7:1-23; Matthew 15:1-20

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