Have you ever been tempted to cry out, “But I don’t have enough time!”?

443789_frustratedWe live in a chaotic, distracting world, and when running in circles, scrambling to keep our feet from tripping over our laces–or the mounds of other shoes strewn throughout the house, it’s easy to buy into the lie that there’s just not enough of us to go around.

But I believe, if we’re honest, if we prayerfully evaluate our time–our schedules–we’ll find it’s less about how much time we have and more about how we use the time we’ve been given.

Join me at Takin’ it to the Streets as I prayerfully consider what God would have me do this day. Because if you belong to Christ–if you’ve been redeemed by His death and resurrection–He has a glorious plan for you this day. And every day you spend here on earth.

She stands on the end of a diving board 10 meters, 33 feet in the air. The crowd cheers, threatening to steal her concentration. If she’ll let them. But she won’t. She can’t. Her performance, perhaps even her life, depends on it, for one wrong move, one poorly executed jump or over-rotated twist could send her crashing into the end of the board. So, she fixes her mind not on the peripheral, but the internal.

When I was young, I competed in gymnastics. We’d spend hours each week perfecting our routines and practicing our dismounts. More than that, concentrationwe practiced our focus. My coach would have us lie flat on the mat and close our eyes, visualizing ourselves performing each move. This helped us develop a narrow focus, one that, when the competition came, could drown out distracting cheers, focusing on the task at hand.

And when a gymnast got distracted? Even if for but a moment?

They fell.

The same is true in our spiritual walk. Each day, there are countless distractions vying to throw us off course, but may we, moment by moment, tune them out, turning our gaze, fixing our gaze, on our victorious Savior, our shield and ever-present help. I believe one of the best ways to fix our eyes on God is to read, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word.

Isaiah 26:3-4 “You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on You (NLT).

Today join me at the Takin’ it to the Streets blog as I discuss how we can be armed for victory.

Please note, Lotis is giving away an electronic copy of her book, the Song of the Tree (see description below).

Today’s reading: Proverbs 9, Daniel 3,

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 9:10 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment (NLT).

This week’s memory verse: This week, I encourage you to review the verses you’ve already memorized. Week one, we memorized Proverbs 2:7-8; week two we memorized Proverbs 3:9-10; and last week we memorized Proverbs 6:16-17

Wisdom and Fear by Lotis Key

lotishomepicProverbs 9: 1-12

“The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.” From this statement, I understand that wisdom, and the fear of the Lord, are inseparably linked.

Yet, in this world, it’s hard to find much recognizable as, “fear of the Lord”. Instead, if it were possible to condense all human fears, press them together into one small box, and slap a label on them, it would be this: I fear my needs will not be met.

We steal because we fear we won’t have enough. We lie because we fear the truth is costly. We murder with our tongues, because we fear competition will rob us. We commit adultery because we fear a shortage of pleasure. We worship other gods, because we fear our own, can’t, or won’t, satisfy our, “needs”.

Our every foolishness, our every crime, is based in fear, not of God, but of the world.

The Scriptures, repeatedly lift up, “the fear of the Lord”. Yet, what is it? How do we get it if, let’s say, we look over our life, and realize, that perhaps what we really need, is a little wisdom?

In this particular sense, what if we understood “fear” to be “recognition”? To recognize, that He is the Creator and we, are merely the created. To recognize, that an all-powerful Creator, who made sacrifice, of His only begotten Son, for love of His creation, is a Creator worth trusting for our supply.

To embrace this recognition, results in the chain-breaking freedom of our first, baby steps into the realm of Wisdom: a Wisdom that brings gifts, and lays them at our feet.

Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.

(Wisdom provides shelter.)
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.

(Wisdom provides sustenance.)
She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city,

“Let all who are simple come to my house!”

To those who have no sense she says,
“Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”

(Wisdom opens her door to all, offering entry into a life of ready supply.)

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.

(Wisdom gives understanding of, and insight into, the world around us.)
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

(Wisdom guides, and instructs, our journey through this life.)

 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.

(Wisdom promises a future, and a hope.)
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

(Wisdom does not force us to her will. She advises of the consequences, yet offers the freedom to accept, or reject, her.)


Oh, Lord, help me to put away my fears of the world. Help me to fear YOU instead, and in that fear, to find real peace, true love, and the satisfaction, of my every need.

Lotis Melisande Key (SAG/AFTRA/ACFW/MCWG) has lived a life of wide travel and curious variety. She’s raised horses in the Australian outback; skied the Alps; run tours through a tropical jungle; bought & sold antiquities. She’s been a restaurateur; a breeder of show cats; a third world church planter. She’s worked in an orphanage, and run a ministry that puts children through school.

After a professional theater début at the age of twelve, she subsequently starred in over seventy-five feature films for the Asian market. She’s also hosted numerous television and radio shows. Upon settling in the United States, she signed with Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis based talent agencies, expanding into American on-camera and voice over narration, industrial videos, trade shows, professional theater, television, and radio commercials.

Retiring from secular work, she founded MESSENGERS, a Christian theater arts group based at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. As artistic director, she toured the company throughout the US, Canada, and Asia.

Vice-president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, Lotis is a passionate storyteller. Her work focuses on the mystery of God, and His incomprehensible love for the unattractive, wayward parts, of His otherwise perfect, creation.

Lotis book,

The Song of the Tree:

hDespite promises of eternal joy given by the Tree of Life, a privileged young woman loses everything in a brutal war. Her husband disappears; her family is murdered; her home is burned to the ground.

Desperate, starving, and burdened with an unwanted child, she now despises and rejects the Tree she once worshiped. Ripped from her land and people, forced into survival immigration, she becomes a lowly refugee, a servant in the homes of the rich. Her unusually gifted child thrives, but is an ever-present reminder of ultimate loss and betrayal.

Two women: one broken, the other rooted in bitterness, continue to be drawn towards the song of a Tree that will not let them go. Along roads of degrading poverty and equally destructive wealth, each much wrestle with the siren call of perfect love, and its altar sacrifice of perfect trust.

The Song of the Tree is an intense, contemporary allegory that moves the God-seeker from fist shaking stance, down to knees before the throne.

(Buy it here!)


Let’s talk about this. No one likes to be afraid, nor do I believe God wants us to be afraid. In fact, throughout the Bible we read the words “Do not fear!” or “Do not be afraid!” numerous times.

And yet, I suspect we all have times when our fears and anxieties get the best of us. How might rerouting our thoughts help us when we feel afraid?742655_surrender

For me, it comes down to complete surrender. I need to get to the point, in whatever situation I find myself in, that I can say, “Not my will but thine be done, Lord.” Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I need to reach the point where I can say, “But even if He doesn’t (save me from the fire, heal me, answer this prayer, whatever), we want to make it clear to you, your majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” In other words, regardless of what God chooses, I will remain loyal and fully committed, fully surrendered, to Him. I’ve reached that point numerous times–for but a moment, and oh, what immense peace that brings! But somehow, I crawl off that altar soon after.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you believe peace comes in full surrender? Pause to consider the things that cause you angst. How might releasing your expectations provide freedom?

I’ve also noticed my peace dramatically increases when I spend more time with my Savior. Do you notice a similar correlation? I’ve mentioned before, the Bible tells us we’ve been given the mind of Christ, but I suspect to fully take hold of that mind, we need to stay connected with Christ.

Pause to think of a time when you’ve been exceptionally fearful. Do you remember your spiritual state at that time? Were you diligent about spending time with Christ or had life’s business gotten in the way?

What thoughts came to mind as you read today’s passage?

Let’s talk about this! You can share your thoughts in the comments below or join our Yahoo Bible study group by clicking the link below.

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Maintaining an Inner Drive

The other day, after a moment of contemplation, my teenage daughter marveled at how long it’s been since she’s been grounded. Now, before you assume she had been a rebellious or difficult child, I must admit, her father and I can be strict about certain things, and her dedication studiousto school, or lack of, is top on our parental radar. For numerous reasons, the primary being we are very concerned about the character traits developed on a daily basis.

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe everything Steve and I do as parents develops habits in our daughter, either positive or negative. Let me explain. If I walk into her bedroom, notice clothes thrown across the floor and pick them up, I’m encouraging her to continue this behavior. In other words, I’m encouraging her to develop a habit of being careless with her belongings. I’m also encouraging a “serve-me” attitude. However, if I make a conscious choice to leave the clothes for her to pick up, I’m encouraging her to take responsibility for her actions.

Similarly, if we allow her to do the bare minimum with schoolwork, focusing more on the product (grades) then the behavior and attitude (studiousness and a desire for excellence), then we encourage her to develop a habit of taking the easy way out. When she reaches adulthood this attitude of laziness could get in the way of her career aspirations and marital growth.

Because of this, Steve and I have always enforced consequences for missed homework or sloppy work (regardless of the grades received).

So why hasn’t she experienced consequences this past year?

Because she’s developed an inner drive. Her motivations isn’t to avoid getting grounded but instead, to reach her goals and dreams of getting into the college of her choice. And because she is driven, we no longer have to drive her.

Obviously, inner drive can be taken too far. If it overshadows our relationships and spiritual growth, or if it’s rooted in pride and selfishness, it will become toxic. But, if it’s rooted in an attitude that pursues excellence, doing everything to the best of our ability in order to honor God by utilizing the gifts and talents He’s given us, then it’s an act of worship. This pursuit of excellence, in my opinion, should be evident in every area of our life: how we approach our marriage, parenting, our spirituality and walk with God, our “home-making”.

Pause to consider Colossians 3:22

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

How might your daily tasks and work ethics be an act of worship?

I suspect we all have areas and times where we’re tempted to “just get by,” doing the bare minimum or frittering away our time. Pause to consider today’s passage in light of your day and/or week, and your motivation. Do you have an inner drive that strives for excellence in every task you undertake, or are there areas you’re cutting corners? Remember one of our early devotions on discipline and determine now to face today with discipline and perseverance.

Do you work with the same fervor when alone as you do when others are watching or you know you’ll be “graded” for your efforts?

If you’re a parent, pause for a moment to consider the character traits you’d like to see your child/children develop. Are you encouraging those by your daily actions or are you, perhaps inadvertently, encouraging laziness? What are you modeling?

 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.

Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (Proverbs 6:6-11 NLT).

The ant doesn’t procrastinate or waste its time. It works during the summer in order to prepare for the winter. If procrastination is an issue for you, prayerfully ask God to show you the underlying cause. Is it laziness? A desire for pleasure, perhaps preferring to spend time watching television or engaging on Facebook? A lack of clarity or focus? Or do you get overwhelmed when you look at a task? If the latter is true, how might focusing on your attitude and a pursuit of excellence, rather than the end result and perfection, help?

Let’s talk about this! Join the discussion in the comments below, at Living by Grace, or join our Yahoo Bible Study group by clicking the link below.
Click to join ProverbsStudy

Today’s reading: Proverbs 5

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 5:8 Stay away from her!
Don’t go near the door of her house!

Today’s Focus: Guarding against sin

This week’s memory verse: 

Proverbs 3:9-10

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best of everything you produce. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.


Susan'sheadshotToday’s devotion, focusing on Proverbs 5, comes from one of my sweet friends and a Yahoo Proverbs study member, Susan Aken. When you think of God’s commands, do you feel slighted? Deprived? In the following devotion, Susan challenges us to think differently, realizing God’s loving and faithful and always has our best in mind.

God’s Plan for sex by Susan Aken

The wisdom shared in this chapter concerns immorality. Various translations refer to the woman in v. 3 as adulteress, immoral woman, strange woman, forbidden or loose woman. Obviously it is about being tempted to have a casual sexual relationship, and I think the principle would apply also to a woman being tempted by a forbidden man. Her lips “drip honey” and her (or his) speech is “smoother than oil”.

These verses apply so well in today’s world. Our society is so saturated with sex. We are not even surprised or shocked by casual sexuality anymore. But wisdom warns here that though he or she looks so appealing, “in the end she is…sharp as a double-edged sword”. Regret will come. (v.12) God’s wisdom is spurned in our society. “Drink water from your own cistern” v. 15 sounds archaic to most, it seems. The truth is that God’s ideal for us, one man and one woman committed to each other, is the best for us.

Jesus took it further when he said that even looking at a woman lustfully is like committing adultery. The abundance of pornography, graphic TV shows and movies, books that promote depravity, all these are like the woman whose lips drip honey. They promise a thrill that sounds so good. Keeping pure in heart sexually is a challenge for everyone in today’s world. Our flesh faces the sweet lies of sexual immorality everywhere we turn. But, in the end, we will regret that we did not listen to wisdom. God is not trying to steal our joy by calling us to purity; he wants to give us true joy that is free of regrets.


Susan Aken and her husband, Russ, will celebrate their 30th anniversary in May. They have one son who just turned 20. She was a school media specialist for 17 years. She quit when their son was 2 to be at home with him. She returned to work as a substitute teacher when he was in 5th grade and is still working as a sub. She has two books she self-published some years ago and has a blog she neglected in 2012 but wants to do better with it this year. She grew up knowing about Jesus and personally acknowledged him as Lord when she was 13. She’s had many ups and downs but He has been her solid rock. She used to think that by the time she was this age she would be this spiritual giant who would have figured things out. Instead she’s learned that we are all on a journey. Sometimes we move forward and sometimes we slide back, but we won’t reach full maturity until we see Jesus face to face.

Visit Susan online at: http://aken53.wordpress.com


So how do you guard your heart from sin? Not to sound cliche, but I suggest to you the best defense is a good offense. 😉 Or, in other words, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:16-17 NLT).

Let’s talk about this.

What are some ways to guard our minds and hearts against sexual immorality?

We all know the physical dangers of sexual immorality–unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But how does sexual immorality affect us at our core?

How might memorizing and meditating on Scripture help insulate you against temptation? (And yes, that was sly nagging that translates as: You are working on memorizing this week’s verse, right? How’s that going? Because tomorrow begins a new week with a new verse. 🙂 And yet another opportunity for us to set our hearts and minds on the things of God.)

I’d love to know your thoughts! You can share them in the comments below, at Facebook, or through our online Bible study. If you’re looking for a cyber-study to join, it’s not to late, and we’d love to have you!

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Today’s reading: Proverbs 3:1-8

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 3:1

Today’s focus: Remembering what we’ve learned

This week’s memory verse: 

This morning, as I was thinking over my spiritual goals and what I’ve learned through Proverbs 1-3, I was tempted to add more to my goal list. After all, if I’m developing a habit for Scripture memorization, why not also develop goals and habits for cleaning, and exercise, and diet, and … 😉

They say most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after three weeks. I suspect one of the reasons for this is people set unrealistic expectations and overload themselves with too much change without giving themselves time to really develop new habits. This is why I am purposefully going quite slow through my Proverbs reading. I know if I attempt to make too many changes too quickly, if I focus on too many things without giving myself time to really absorb what I’ve already learned, I’ll likely fail. So today, I’m going to really pray about and meditate on what God has already shown me. As you read the following devotional, written by Beth Farley, I suggest you do the same. 🙂

GE DIGITAL CAMERABeth Ann Farley is a dear friend of mine and one of our Yahoo Bible Study group members. She is married with three grown children. She lives in Kansas City, MO where she serves as librarian. She loves to read, write, decorate and spend as much time as possible outside with her Peek-A-Poo. Beth is a lover of the Lord. “He is my-everything and I can’t start a day without visiting with Him.” Beth came to know the Lord when she was 30 years old and has served Him on committee’s such as Missions Outreach, Local Missions, Diaconate Committee, Youth Committee, and was a church secretary for several years. Beth loves Women’s Bible Studies, has hosted several in each one of her homes that she has lived in and has led a few as well. Beth is now taking time in life to move forward with her writing in whatever way God directs her.

Visit her online at: http://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com/

Proverbs 3:1 NLT
My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart, for they will give a long and satisfying life.
My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep from my commands (HCSB).

Many years ago I was called to home-school my children. I had no idea what I was doing other than being obedient to God’s calling.

I began each day with reading, writing and memorizing scripture with my kids and then giving them some time to reflect in their journals. That was the most rewarding time of my life, not only being with my children, teaching them my values but knowing I was being totally obedient to God.

The above verse is one that I remember so well because in teaching my kids the Ten Commandments, I also tied in Proverbs 3:1. I explained to my kids that you can’t have the Ten Commandments without remembering what God has taught you. You can’t have the Ten Commandments without storing them in your heart. We can memorize scripture all we want but if we don’t store them in our hearts with God’s commands then it’s just a scripture memory challenge.

What do you think? Can you memorize scripture without storing God’s commands in your heart?

How do you encourage the believer who appears to be keeping the commands that might be very ill or has lost a job or loved one about living a long and satisfying life?

In joining this group, I am really challenging myself to really take the scriptures and not only memorize but meditate and applying them to my daily life.


What about you? What has God shown you this week? Are you applying what you’ve learned? How might He want you to do just that *today.* Find some time today to prayerfully consider this, then write down a few thoughts.

Here are some questions to ponder as you write:
1) How has your relationship with God grown this week?
2) Have you noticed a difference in your attitude? Do you feel more at peace? More joyful?
3) Do you find yourself thinking of God and the things of God more throughout the day?

On January first, we talked about discipline and creating routines. (You can read Jan. 1st’s devo here.) What new routine have you created in an effort to become more disciplined? I’m working on memorizing Scripture, and in my effort to do so, have begun reciting my week’s memory verse as I cook dinner.

One of our Yahoo group members mentioned time was a big limiting factor for her, and she suggested multi-tasking as a way to solve this. I think this is true for most of us. Thinking of the benefits of establishing a routine, I’d like to propose a few suggestions. I suggest you choose *one* to try. By choosing one new activity rather than many, there’s a higher probability this will stick and become habit.

1. Make your shower time your prayer time. If you need help remembering to do this, attach a sticky note to the outside of your shower door with the reminder to pray. Or, if Scripture memorization is your goal, use packing tape to attach a notecard with your verse either in your shower or bathroom mirror. (where it won’t get wet. 🙂 Or you could perhaps use dry erase marker, lipstick, or something else that will easily come off to write the verse directly on the shower glass or wall. As you shower or get ready, recite the verse aloud a few times.

2. This suggestion is similar to the first. Is there a mundane/mindless task you complete each day? Make that your prayer or verse memorization time.

3. Program alerts in your phone, perhaps to go off over your lunch break or every three hours. If your goal is to be more consistent with prayer, pause to pray for five or ten minutes (whatever is manageable for you), whenever the alert goes off. If your goal is verse memorization, pause to recite the verse three times when the alarm goes off.

If you do this enough times, they should become habit, with your heart reminding you to do the action.

On January 2nd, we talked about seeking and waiting for God’s wisdom. You can read the post here. In our Yahoo Bible study group, we also talked about “doing life” with God, or, in other words, of being conscious of His presence, talking to Him throughout the day, and asking Him to align our thoughts, hearts, and will with His.

And today, we are remembering all we’ve learned as we seek to live out God’s truths. We will be camping out in Proverbs 3 for a while–through Jan. 10th, to be exact. I encourage you to read this chapter each morning over the next couple of days, allowing it to really sink in. I also encourage you, when you have time, to go back and review chapters 1-2. Keep a notebook at hand and jot down thoughts that arise as you read.

Let’s talk about this! You can share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Yahoo Bible Study group. We can continue this discussion in the comments below or at our Yahoo Bible study/verse memorization group:
Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

StrollingThroughProverbsWouldn’t it be nice to live life without regrets? To always know the best course of action, the right thing to say, the best path to follow? If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve determined to read through the book of Proverbs, focusing on one application to live out each day. Yesterday we focused on wisdom–wise living. Guest writer, Emilee Hendryx encouraged us to seek out God’s guidance in our daily choices, then reminded us of the promises God made should we do so. If you missed her post, I encourage you to read it. You can find it here.

Wisdom–living God’s way, seeking His will.


Proverbs 2 is full of promises of what we’ll receive should we align our hearts with God’s. Emilee pointed out numerous. We receive common sense, God’s protection and guidance, joy (Prov 2:10), safety, protection from others (v. 12-15), and protection from ourselves (v. 16-19).

But is that why we seek wisdom and strive for right living? This morning, as I was contemplating this in light of Proverbs 2, God convicted me of how often my desires are selfishly motivated–even my desire for wisdom! So often, I cry out for insight not to please God but in order to find a solution to some problem or steps toward achieving something I desire. But do I cry out for righteousness with the same passion? Do I search for right living with the same urgency as I would for a treasure? Do I hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Sadly, not always. Today, that is my goal–to approach God’s Word, to seek God’s wisdom, not for what I will get out of it, but instead, as an act of worship and with an open heart, asking Him what He would desire of me this day. In fact, as I approach my Creator, the One worthy of my admiration and submission, may He empty me of everything else but a desire for Him–to know Him and walk in moment-by-moment fellowship with Him.

For if I do that, if I completely surrender my thoughts, my heart, and my will to Him, I believe wisdom will enter my heart–the core of who I am, changing me from the inside out–and knowledge of who God is and what He desires of me, will fill me with the joy that can only come from Him.

Today my desire is to be so filled with God, so aligned with Him and His purposes, that like Jesus, I can say, I do only what I see my Father doing (John 5:19).

Let’s talk about this.

Join me at Living by Grace as we talk about surrendering our hearts completely to God and crying out for wisdom with passion and urgency.

Here are some questions to ponder or discuss:

1. Focus on Proverbs 2:10. “For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will fill you with joy.” When I read this, I instantly thought of Jesus’ words in John 5:19: Jesus did only what He saw His father doing. In other words, at every moment, Jesus was in complete unity with the Father. What if we lived in the same way? What if we were so connected to God, so in-tune with Him, our first reaction was that of obedience? What are some ways to achieve this? Do any verses come to mind?

2. As I read Proverbs 2, verse 20 stood out to me: “Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous.” I’ve heard it said we all need Timothys and Pauls in our lives. In other words, at every moment, we should occupy two positions–that of mentee and that of mentor. I believe God is sovereign and always at work in and through us. Which means, those we encounter in our lives are there for a divine reason–to help us receive God’s truth and grace or to receive God’s truth and grace through us. Who are you actively and purposefully learning from right now? Who are you trying to encourage and support?

3. What are some ways you can dig deeper into God’s Word?

Here are some tips/suggestions I’d like to share, and I’d love for you to share your ideas with us either through the comments, at Living by Grace, or in our Yahoo Bible Study Group. (The link is provided below).

*Underline action words like Emilee did yesterday. Pause to consider ways you can perform those actions then commit to putting one of those actions into practice that day.
*Use a lexicon to look up words that stand out to you. (A lexicon shows you the original Greek or Hebrew word used in the text, along with its meaning.) You can find a lexicon here.
*Read a verse or passage in multiple translations. This is helpful because often, the Greek or Hebrew word/words used by the biblical writers might not always transfer to modern day English fully. By reading numerous translations, we’ll often get a fuller understanding of the passage.

If you’d love to discuss Proverbs fuller, would like encouragement and support in memorizing weekly verses, and would enjoy the accountability of connecting with other believers desiring to grow closer to God, join our online Bible study group:

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

If what we say flows from the heart (Matthew 15:18), then, I propose, what’s in the heart flows from our minds–what we focus on, think about, believe to be true. Perhaps that is why God commands us to take our thoughts captive–to actively choose what we think about (2 Corinthians 10:5). Not an easy task, but possible, with God’s help.

946930_praying_for_you-1One afternoon, after a few days of feeling generally unwell, a Scripture in Proverbs captured my attention:

Proverbs 10:14 “Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.”

In a way that can only come from the God of creation speaking through His written Word, this verse struck me. Knowledge. Wisdom. Right thinking.

My thinking had been anything but “right.” In fact, I’d become quite preoccupied with myself–how I felt, how I wished I felt, prayers asking for better health.

Sadly, my preoccupation with self began to overshadow my life’s purpose–knowing God and making Him known. As I prayed over this verse, a verse that penetrated deep into my heart, God showed me not only the errors of my what-ifs and what-nots, but also how to center myself, once again, in His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9, emphasis mine).

Think on these things, put them into practice, or in other words, live them, and then God’s peace will come.

Friends, there is only One who is good, honorable, true, and worthy of praise, and that is God alone.

Right thinking comes when we avert our thoughts off ourselves–what we want or don’t want–and focus instead on God, His nature, and His will.

This is what I long to do–choose to do–in 2013, and I invite you to join me.

I’ll be going through Proverbs, the book of wisdom, focusing on one verse I plan to put into practice each day. I’ll also post, with the help of other writers, devotionals expanding on certain verses or passages further. Because like James 1:25 reminds us, But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

The more we look at, soak up, and meditate on God’s perfect Word, the more He will bless us with right thinking, joy, contentment, and peace.

Let’s talk about this.

Join me at Living by Grace as we talk about living intentionally for our risen Savior.

I’ve shared my plans for 2013. Now it’s your turn. What are some changes you’d like to make in the coming year? What are your spiritual goals? What steps do you plan to take to reach those goals? Have you enlisted the help of an accountability partner?

Join myself and some of my writer friends in January as we take a leisurely yet intentional stroll through Proverbs!

If I wanted knowledge and wisdom–right thinking–I needed to think on those things that were lovely, right, pure admirable and worthy of praise.

One of the benefits of moving–it encourages one to purge all the clutter accumulated over the years. We’ve moved a fair number of times. Having packed and unpacked so often, you’d think we would have pared everything down to the bare essentials. Not quite. Somehow those non-essentials find a way to weasel into our homes and hearts, cluttering up everything and, well, making a mess. But moving helps. (Knowing movers charge by weight is a great clutter-reduction motivator!)

The same is often true of my schedule. It amazes me how easy it is to slip into business, to waste my time on those things that lack eternal value.

As many of you know, I’ve had to reevaluate my schedule this summer in order to free more time to spend with my daughter. This wasn’t easy. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and quite often, I’ll pull some pretty long hours. Initially, looking at all my supposed “must-dos,” I wondered how I’d ever make it all fit. I spent a few days in prayer asking God to show me. I wanted to know how I was going to get it all done while spending much needed time with my baby-girl.

In essence, He told me, “You aren’t.”

Something had to go. A few somethings, actually. Quite honestly, this was hard at first. This paring back always is. But the blessings always follow.

In the process, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Many of the tasks I thought were so utterly crucial really weren’t, and with them sliced out of my schedule, God helped me to free my time for tremendous blessings, like:

Nail painting with my daughter

Leisurely strolls

Spending time with Omaha’s working poor and homeless

Connecting with friends

That doesn’t mean I don’t still have a few “must-dos.” Bills must be paid, obligations and responsibilities must be met, but by viewing it all through eternity’s lens, I’m able to evaluate everything with much more clarity. My prayer is that, even after this season ends, I’ll carry this lesson with me, making it a practice to evaluate my schedule periodically, looking for that hidden clutter that’s weaseled it’s way in. Looking for ways to keep first things first.

As you begin your busy day, I encourage you to do the same.

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.