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Can You Stay Focused for 52 Days? Nehemiah 15-16

Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3:1-7:3

Last summer my husband and I watched several documentaries on the part food plays in our overall health.  We decided to make some changes.  We truly thought we would never go back to our old ways. We began working feverishly to stick to our plan: 

  • Walking every other day
  • Juicing once or twice a day
  • Organic foods
  • Very little sugar
  • No fast food
  • In the bed by 8 and asleep by 9

We had our plan and were doing great.  We had lost weight, had more energy, and were pretty, stickin proud of ourselves! UNTIL… We had company come in for the weekend. It’s been over two weeks since they left and we’re haven’t gotten refocused. If only we could be like Nehemiah.

We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard.  I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day.  During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water. —Nehemiah 4:21-23

Nehemiah had a lot more opposition than weekend house guests.  Under Nehemiah’s leadership the Jews were trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  They weren’t adding the wall for architectural beauty; with every stone laid they were fighting for their lives and the lives of their families.

Nehemiah had to deal with…

  • Being mocked (Nehemiah 4:4)
  • Hearing rumors of being attacked (Nehemiah 4:8)
  • The complaints of his own people (Nehemiah 4:10)

What did Nehemiah Do?

  • Prayed (Nehemiah 4:4)
  • Kept working (Nehemiah 4:6)
  • Prayed (Nehemiah 4:9)
  • Guarded the city day and night to protect themselves (Nehemiah 4:9)
  • Placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas (Nehemiah 4:13)
  • Stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows (Nehemiah 4:13)
  • Called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes! (Nehemiah 4:14)
  • Had half the men work while the other half stood guard (Nehemiah 4:15)
  • Made sure every builder had a weapon (Nehemiah 4:18)
  • Listened to their complaints and took the time to consider them (Nehemiah 5:6)
  • Avoided people who were trying to distract him (Nehemiah 6:3)
  • Ignored accusations and continued the work with greater determination (Nehemiah 6:9)
  • Discerned false prophets (Nehemiah 6:12)

…And Kept Working!

So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. –Nehemiah 6:15-16

This story reminds me of a John Wesley quote: “Work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God.”

We can do amazing things in short periods of time, if we focus on our work and bring every obstacle to the Lord and ask for His help.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for thinking, “I” can do all things.  Help me to learn from Nehemiah’s example.  Thank you for reminding me that I have a part but nothing happens unless You give the increase.  Thank You for all the times You’ve “helped” me.  Help me to focus like Nehemiah on the projects You have called me to do.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!



© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

Are You Thinking LIke An Animal? Jude 1:10

Do you think Fido and Fluffy are as smart as humans?  For many the answer is yes.

At some point most of us have wished for a life as easy as our family pets.  While most of us don’t have it as easy as our pets, many of us think like our pets more than we realize.

Today’s Scripture Reading: Jude 1:1-25; Revelation 1:1-2:29

But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.  –Jude 1:10

They do whatever their instincts tell them…

Have you had a moment in the last few weeks when you did what your animal instincts told you?

I know I have.  I hate it!  You know, those times when your natural, fleshly, instincts get the best of you.

The animal instinct that’s on my mind this day after Christmas is eating.

Eating, Eating, and Eating–Have you ever seen your pet eat until they make themselves sick?  Their self-preservation instinct is to eat while there’s food;  just in case there’s none to be found tomorrow. They don’t understand things like moderation, calories, fat, etc.  That’s why our pets need owners to portion out their food.

I have had a stomach bug the last couple of days; I don’t need to eat anything but bananas and toast.  What do I want?  Raw oysters, horseradish and a coke.  Why would anyone in their right mind eat oysters a day after a stomach bug?  Because today I was at my brother’s and he had a bag of delicious, salty, Apalachicola oysters and was willing to shuck some for me.  Just like all the other Christmas treats, it’s my once a year chance; I better eat all I can, while I can.  Doesn’t that sound just like Fido or Fluffy?

I think I need an owner to supervise my food intake.

Seriously, in today’s culture we live by the “If it feels good, do it” mentality.  I think it’s more like were living by our animal instincts.  The more we override our conscience, the more our animal instincts become the norm. I don’t think that’s what God planned for His children.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” –Genesis 1:26

We’re supposed to reign over the animals rather than become like them.

Which animal instinct are you struggling with?

Heavenly Father, you are my owner.  Holy Spirit, as I move into a new year, please supervise my animal instincts, put me in my place.  Fill me with your Spirit so that I will be drawn to Your ways instead of MY ways. Forgive me for succumbing to my fleshly desires.  Jesus, rescue me from myself.  Rescue me from the destruction Your Word talks about. Lord, You made me in Your Image; help me to be a reflection of You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:1-6:17

3 Thoughts That Are Clouding My Thinking–Matthew 6:31-34

Today’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:5-7:6; Luke 6:37-42; Matthew 7:7-20; Luke 6:43-45; Matthew 7:21-29; Luke 6:46-49

Do you ever feel that your thinking is working against you?  In today’s reading Jesus told us there were three things we needed to stop worrying about.  Three things that make us look like unbelievers.  Three things that make us look like we don’t trust our Heavenly Father.

Jesus said,

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  –Matthew 6:31-34

Maybe I’m the only person this speaks to but these three areas take up a lot of my thinking time.

I’m either going to the store for food, cooking food, cleaning up from cooking food, wishing I hadn’t ate something, reading about the negative effects of today’s food on my body or griping because food costs so much.

Yes, that goes for drinking too.  One day I’m quitting coffee and just drinking tea, the next day I’m going organic all the way and then several times a year I vow to quit it all and just drink water, but what kind of water?  Tap, bottled, filtered, spring?

Oh, and let’s not forget clothes.  I have a couple of speaking opportunities in the next couple of weeks.  I can’t tell you how much I think, analyze and plan what I should wear.  I want to look professional, relatable, warm, friendly, and youthful but not trendy.  AND, I want to do all this with the clothes I already have in my closet. Geez!

The thing that really got me about today’s scripture were these words:

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  –Matthew 6:32

I’m thinking like an unbeliever.  I’m thinking like someone who doesn’t know Christ.

I can just imagine how my Heavenly Father must feel; the same way I would feel when I had all my children’s needs covered and they were still worrying.   It would make me feel like they don’t trust me.

The great thing about this scripture passage is God gave us replacement thoughts.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  –Matthew 6:33

I’m pretty sure I still have to make a grocery list and make a trip to the store, have plenty of water to drink, and pick out an outfit for my next speaking engagement, but Jesus says, I  don’t have to obsess over any of it.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. –Matthew 6:34

Heavenly Father, forgive me for worrying about the day-to-day details more that I seek Your Kingdom. Lord, help me to make wise choices in what I eat, drink, and wear.  I thank you for your provisions.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-17; Matthew 11:1-19; Luke 7:18-35; Matthew 11:20-30; Luke 7:36-50

Lord, We Need a Detox–Isaiah 26:3

Today’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 24:1-27:13; Isaiah 29:1-24

I just love the way the Holy Spirit teaches me!  He uses many things to get His point across. Pastor Phil started a new series last week called Toxic.  Today was about toxic influences.

Phil defined toxic as ANYTHING containing poisonous material capable of causing sickness or death.

In the last few months I’ve read several books and attended a couple of seminars on our bodies’ detoxification process and how important detoxing is in today’s toxic world.  I have changed several things in my life to improve my body’s ability to get rid of the toxicities in my life.

After today’s message I realized I need to do this in my spiritual life as well.  Phil asked us this question:

Could it be that our spiritual enemy is grooming us to receive the poison that will eventually be the death of us spiritually?

I say yes, I believe Satan, the enemy of our soul is doing everything he can to…

    • Send us to an early grave
    • Cause us to live a life full of depression, anxiety, and spiritual emptiness
    • Keep us from being the witness God’s called us to be
    • Cause us to turn completely away from the salvation Jesus provided for us

Our food has changed in the last 50 years, so has our culture.  If we’re not careful we can unknowingly allow harmful, even poisonous things in our lives through our daily choices, whether it’s what we eat, drink, read, watch or listen to; we must be responsible.

How do we detox our spiritual lives in a way that keeps us move toward God and away from the toxic influences of this world?  Phil suggested we ask ourselves these three questions:

  1. Am I being entertained by sin?
  2. Is it pleasing to God?
  3. Does this lure me away from Christ?

I’ve always been pretty guarded when it comes to protecting myself from the toxicity of the world, but as I listened to Phil’s message today I realized there were a couple of areas in which I have become desensitized.  Thanks be to the conviction of the Holy Spirit I am now aware and will make the changes necessary to move closer to God and farther and farther from the influence of the enemy.

I came home from church and began to read today’s scriptures and this verse jumped off the page at me:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  –Isaiah 26:3

No wonder the enemy is working so hard to corrupt our minds–he wants to steal our peace! No wonder he is using anything he can to desensitize us to the evil in this world–if our thoughts aren’t fixed on You Lord, we are easy pickings for the enemy.

Heavenly Father, show me the things in my life that are toxic to my spiritual health.  Create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). Keep me in perfect peace as I learn to fix my thoughts on You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 30:1-33:24

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