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Salvation is in the Details–Numbers 3:11-13

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

The one word that keeps coming to my mind as we leave Leviticus and move to Numbers is details. It’s actually mind-blowing that the God of the universe cares about every detail of our lives.

Today’s discovery gives me sweet assurance that my Heavenly Father didn’t miss me when He was paying for the sins of the human race.

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

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. And take the livestock of the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn livestock of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me; I am the Lord. There are 273 more firstborn sons of Israel than there are Levites. To redeem these extra firstborn sons,  collect five pieces of silver for each of them (each piece weighing the same as the sanctuary shekel, which equals twenty gerahs). Give the silver to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for the extra firstborn sons. —Numbers 3:44-48

Every first-born son was the Lord’s, set apart to be given to the Him at birth, but the Lord made a substitute.  He set aside the tribe of Levi to be dedicated to His service.  They took the place of all the first-born of Israel.

But

there was a problem.

There were more first-born Israelites than Levites.

With God being God, it’s easy to think that He would say, “This is a symbolic gesture, we don’t have to have it match p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y…”

But not the one and only true God.  He did the math.  He made sure EVERY first-born male was redeemed.

Friends, fast-forward 2000 years ago.  Every person ever born was destined for death because of our sinful nature.

God knew the exact number of past, present, and future humans.

He knew the exact depth of our sin.

He decided to make a way to redeem the human race but He had to find a substitute.

Who could cover that much sin?  No one.

Except

His Son.

Jesus, paid the price of every detail of our sinfulness. Our salvation is sure.  God did the math.  He paid the price, His first-born son–>Jesus Christ.

There are a few additional details.  The only way we can receive this gift of salvation is to…

  1. Believe that Jesus
    1. is God
    2. was born of a virgin, suffered and died for our sins
    3. defeated sin and death and now is alive in Heaven making intercession for you and I at the Heavenly Father’s right hand
  2. Believe that we were born with a sinful nature
  3. Ask Jesus to forgive our sins and be the Lord of our lives
  4. Accept Him as our Savior

Heavenly Father, thank you for working out the details of my salvation!  I know my sins are covered because of the price Jesus paid for me.  I’m excited to know You are overseeing every detail of my life.  Use me to share the message of redemption with those who don’t know You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Numbers 4:1-5:31

“Everyone” is Doing It–Leviticus 18:1-2

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 17:1 through Leviticus 19:37

I wish I had a dollar for every time my kids said, “But Mom, everyone else is doing it!” My children are now parents, but I’m sure they can still testify that telling me “everyone else is doing it” didn’t work for them—and it didn’t work for the children of Israel.

In Leviticus 18:1-2, the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God.  So do not act like the people of Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you.  You must not imitate their way of life.”

So basically in one sentence, the Lord through Moses told the Israelites, “you aren’t to be like anyone you’ve seen in the past or you will see in the future!”  They were God’s chosen people and He wanted them to be different!

Why did I tell my children not to do what everybody was doing?

The same reason God told the Israelites, He was trying to protect them.

God knew the plans He had for them (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knew the false gods of the Egyptians and the Canaanites would interfere with those plans.

It’s interesting to me that God prefaced his “sex” talk (18:1-30) with the “everybody’s doing it won’t work” talk.  As Larry Richards says in the Bible Reader’s Companion:

“Do as they do” (18:2–3). One of the most common excuses for sexual looseness is, “everyone else does it.” While particularly strong in high school, where many teens are ridiculed for being virgins, our society pressures young and older adults by making sexual promiscuity seem “normal.” God reminded Israel that as His people, they were not to do as the people of Egypt, where they had lived, do. They were not to do as the people of Canaan, where they would live, do. “Everybody else does it” has never been a valid excuse. Because we are God’s people, we are to do as He says, not follow the practices of pagans.

The paganism ( little or no belief in Jehovah God, one who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods: an irreligious or hedonistic person) of the Egyptians and Canaanites is alive and well in today’s culture.

I must confess…

I have imitated these folks too many times to count!

I have been interested in sensual pleasures, material goods and hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification).

If I would have been a Jew is those days, I certainly could have been one of those whose bones were left in the desert!  I’m thankful for Jesus and the grace He offered me!  But I’m sad and have regrets that I fell for the “everybody’s doing it” trick of the enemy of my soul!

Father God, help us to look to Your Word to show us who and what You want us to be.  Help us to be like Jesus, not everyone else!

Amen and Amen!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 20:1 through Leviticus 22:33

Do You Need a Scapegoat? Leviticus 16:20-22


Today’s Scripture Reading: Leviticus 14:33-16:34

Dictionary.com’s definition of scapegoat:

A person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.

The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. —Leviticus 16:10a

When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. —Leviticus 16:20-22

…laying the sins of the people on the head of the goat and then driving the goat and the sins into the wilderness.

That sounds like a great idea… Right?

It worked about as well as placing blame on another person and allowing them to suffer in our place.

When all was said and done

The Israelites

and

you

and

I

were still sinful people.

Still dealing with the guilt of our sin.

Until one day our Heavenly Father decided the Israelites had experienced enough failure to realize…

  • They could not keep the law
  • They could not be good enough to be free from sin and guilt
  • They were hopelessly sinful

That’s the day God sent His son Jesus to this earth to live as a man, suffer, and die for our sins–To be our scapegoat.

It must have been easy for the Jews to understand Jesus’ message of redemption.  They had been using scapegoats for hundreds of years.

They knew something (or someone) had to bear their sins.

They knew a goat wasn’t working.

What or who have you been using as your scapegoat?

Who have you been blaming for your sins?

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Siblings
  • Spouses, significant others
  • Peers
  • Society
  • Our corrupt world

Friends, there’s only one scapegoat that will take your sins so far away they can never show their ugly head again–Jesus Christ.

If you’ve never asked Jesus Christ to be your scapegoat repeat this prayer with me:

Jesus, I know that I was born with a sinful nature and I’m hopelessly lost without You.  I believe You came to this earth, suffered and died for my sins, and rose from the grave to defeat the enemy of my soul.  I believe that if I was the only sinner You would have come just for me.

I ask you to forgive me of my sins, take them from me, and be my scapegoat.  I ask You to come into my heart and live forever.  I believe I’m a different person because of You and Your love for me.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen!

If you prayed this prayer I’d love to hear from you.  Click on the [share a prayer request] tab at the top of this page and send me a short note.  I want to pray for you!

Thanking God for you!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Leviticus 17:1-19:37

A Dirty Job

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 4:1 through Leviticus 6:30

One of the things about Leviticus that draws me closer to God is the provision He made for the redemption of sin. The attention to detail and the great lengths God went through to make sure there was a way of escape amazes me.  Yes, it was bloody and stinky, but there was a way out!

Try to imagine the reality of what we are reading.  It certainly gives new meaning to getting dirty at work.  Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs would have certainly made a show about the Levite Priests if he would have lived in those days.

When I think about everything the Levite Priests had to do, it makes me wonder if it was a blessing or a curse to be “chosen”to be a priest.  God always made a way of escape for sin.

When was the first time you realized you had sin in your life?  When did you become aware of your sin (4:23)?

I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  My Mom, brother and I attended Hiland Park Baptist Church is Panama City, Florida.  We faithfully attended Sunday school and church each week.  I can’t remember how many weeks I felt this way, but Sunday after Sunday I would feel the conviction of my sinfulness.  You may be thinking what kind of sin could a fifth grader have committed?  Oh, I’m sure I had done things I shouldn’t have, but this conviction was about the sinfulness (sinful nature) that I inherited from my great, great…grandparents Adam and Eve.

At ten years old I got it!  I knew I needed a Savior.

One Sunday I responded to the pastor’s invitation to invite Jesus into my heart to clean up my sinful nature.  No I didn’t have to bring an animal to be slaughtered for my sin. I just had to admit that I was a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive me!  Whew, I’m glad I’m a New Testament girl!

The Old Testament is a foreshadowing (the act of providing vague advance indications) of the New Testament.  The living-out of the Law that we are reading about helps us to realize our need of a Savior.  There is no way anyone could be perfect enough to keep all those rules and regulations. When Jesus came and died for us he became the ultimate sacrifice.  In verses 24-30 of chapter 6 we read about the holiness of the body and blood of the animal that was sacrificed.  Sounds like the body and blood of Christ that we remember in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16).

As we read the details of the rules, regulations, and sacrifices in Leviticus let’s thank God after every verse for sending His Son, Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 7:1 through Leviticus 8:36

Lord, Tell Me What I Have Done Wrong–Job 13:23

God, do You hear me?

Lord, do You see the mess I’m in?

Lord, what have I done wrong?

Have you ever felt like Job and said these things to God?

I know I have.

Just like Job, when tough times hit I begin looking over my life, thinking of the mistakes I’ve made and wondering which one caused this calamity?

Job had done nothing wrong?  It was what he had done right that had caused his world to fall apart. God was so pleased with Job’s love and loyalty towards Him that He spoke like a proud father to Satan and said, “Have you noticed my servant Job?” (Job 1:8)

When hard times hit me personally, I do some soul-searching:

  1. Is there unconfessed sin in my life?
  2. Have I lived my life contrary to God’s Word? (One more reason it’s important to read the Bible)
  3. Do I have unforgiveness in my life?

If the answer to any of those is “yes,” I immediately begin ask God to help me correct that area and ask for His forgiveness.

And God immediately forgives me.

But,

The situation doesn’t usually change immediately.

Why?

Maybe my sin wasn’t the reason for the trial.

Maybe God was sending me ahead for someone else.

Maybe there is something He’s teaching me that I haven’t learned yet.

Many times my answer to those three questions is “no” and like Job I want God to send me an email and tell me what I have done.

But maybe like Job, I haven’t done anything wrong.

Maybe God is proudly saying, “Have you noticed my servant Dianne?”

Maybe God has me on a special assignment.

I really don’t have the answers (the reason for all the maybes) but I know that I trust Him with my life.  I can’t wait to get to the last few chapters in the book of Job so that you can see the faithfulness of God!

God allows hard times into our lives to…

  • Grow us
  • Correct us
  • Cause others to know Him more.

You will hear me say this many times in the next year…

We are on this earth for two reasons: To know Christ and to help others to know Him

That’s it.

This world is not the party, that will be in heaven.

Blessings in Jesus!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Job 15:1-18:21

And The Winner of the Dysfunctional Family Award is…

This was a very interesting read.  If I didn’t know better I would think this was the plot in the latest R rated movie or maybe an HBO Reality series!

Gen 18:20. So the Lord said, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant.  I am going down to see if their actions are a wicked as I have heard.  If not, I want to know.”

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 18:1-21:7

As I worked my way through today’s reading it seemed like all of today’s players were a little, ummm… dysfunctional. They all seemed pretty wicked, including Lot and his daughters. Abraham and Sarah were right behind them.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The men of Sodom were beating down Lot’s door to have sex with his house guests
  • Lot thought he was doing a smart thing by giving his virgin daughters to these perverts at his door to protect his house guests
  • Lot’s daughters thought the only way to preserve their family line was to get their father drunk and have sex with him
  • Abraham lied about his wife Sarah AGAIN and put her in a position to possibly be forced to have sex with the King Abimelech of Gerar.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about my family right now!

There’s something I realized for the first time today.  The Ten Commandments weren’t given until approximately 1000 years after the flood.  The only thing Abraham, Sarah, and Lot had was “the knowledge of good and evil,” which was forced on them by their ancestors Adam and Eve.  We don’t really know what that meant. Did they override that knowledge or were they like infants in their understanding?  Did God give us our instruction book, the Bible as a result of the sinful mortal flesh (Gen 6:3) of the early humans?

I don’t know the answers but I do know that from the day Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil, we’ve needed a savior.

Thank You Lord for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to redeem humanity for our wickedness. Thank You Lord for Your Word.  Help us to treasure it.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus!

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©2012, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:8-23:20; Genesis 11:32; Genesis 24:1-67

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

An Encouraging “I Told You So”–Acts 27:21

If we’re honest, there are many times when we could say to someone, “I told you so.”  In today’s reading Paul relieved his frustrations by saying, “You should have listened to me in the first place.”

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

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 I was going need an encouraging “I told you so” from time to time. I have been kicking myself the last couple of days about a bad decision I made.

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 decision?  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 for making the wrong choice.  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!

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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

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

Are You Really Sorry? 2 Corinthians 7:10


“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.

Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

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 not 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

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©2010, 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

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. As we watched another public icon fall, I wonder 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.  Lord, help Joe Paterno to humble himself, and seek your forgiveness and restoration.  Forgive us for our sins.  Make us more like you.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

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

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