While We Wait For Guidance

thinkinglikechristGod always answers us, and often in unexpected ways.

I have found myself, once again, in a position of awaiting divine guidance. I’ve been praying throughout the day, asking God to direct my heart and to turn my will from mine to His. As I sit with my coffee, my Bible, and my journal each morning, I stay alert for God’s guidance.

This morning God assured me He hears me as I read Psalm 16:

“I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me” (Psalm 16:7-8 NLT).Psalm16verse

Not exactly the answer I was hoping for, but a promise none the less. Assurance that as I grow closer to Him, as I spend time with Him and reading His Word, the Bible, He’ll shift my thinking and sway my heart so that I can say, like my Savior did, that I only do what I see the Father doing.”

This is a process, and one that is infinitely more important than any decision I make today. I often have a very short term focus, getting caught up in the here and now. I allow myself to be deceived into thinking this thing, whatever it is, is more urgent, more necessary than the weightier and eternal matters relating to my character and spiritual growth.

This has become a cliche’ but I’ll say it anyway: God is more concerned with our journey than our destination. Yes, He is always working out His plan. Yes, He is always working on our behalf. Yes, He guides us regarding which path to take, what opportunity to accept or decline, and how to handle the difficulties that arise. Like a loving Father, He wants the very best for us.

But what if that best is not so much what happens to us but instead within us? 

Tuesday, as I was reading Psalm 15, I sensed God saying to me, “Why are you asking Me what you should do? You already know. Live out what you know to be right. I’ll show you the rest in time.”

Let me share the passage I read with you, one that has become my memory goal for this week:

psalm15versejpg“Who may worship in Your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts” (Psalm 15:1-4 NLT).

There’s enough instruction packed in that short passage to keep me occupied for weeks. Months. The rest of my life.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this. I like to have all the answers. To know what’s ahead and how to get there, and I can get so caught up on the whats and whens that I lose sight of what God is trying to do in and through me in the here and now. Can you relate? When you look back at your moments of uncertainty or indecision, can you see God’s hand working not just in the situation, but in and through you as well? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace, because we can all learn from one another!

Before I go, I’d love to invite you to visit the Wholly Loved blog where my ministry team and I share stories on how we’re learning to live wholly loved, as God’s image bearers who surrender our whole selves, quirks, faults, and all, to God, so He can mold us and use us for His glory as we learn to lean deeper into Him.

I also invite you to read a few stories behind the story in my newest release.

Read about how my family’s interaction with a poor, single mom in Omaha influenced the missional thread in Restoring Love HERE.

You can read how God used a difficult time to birth my passion for single moms HERE.

And you can read some of the reviews that have been coming in for the story HERE.

And for the discount lovers among us …

ebook-sale-2

Dealing With Crisis

fearHe was about to die–to be executed on the emotional whim of a cruel and oppressive ruler. Talk about landing in a major crisis! One wrong move, one wrong word, and he and his friends, and all of his colleagues, would be slaughtered. More than simply slaughtered–torn “limb from limb.” And there seemed to be no way out, nowhere he could run, and nothing he could do to escape the impeding judgment. Judgment that fell on him not because of anything he’d done, but …

because God was about to work–in a mighty, jaw-dropping, praise-inducing way.

Let me provide some back story. It’s 605 BC in Babylon, and a young Jewish man named Daniel has been ripped from his homeland by a cruel, tyrannical king and taken captive in a foreign, pagan land where he was, basically, kept as a slave. Then, two years into his captivity, the king has a troubling dream. As was the custom at the time, he asks–well, demands–that his astrologers tell him the meaning of his dream. Not only did he want them to explain the meaning, but he wanted them to tell him what the dream was in the first place. (He was probably trying to prevent them from making up a random meaning.)

Obviously, they couldn’t do that, nor could their “gods” help them. Enraged, the king ordered all the wise men of Babylon to be executed. This included Daniel and his friends.

How would you respond upon learning you were about to be killed? Would you try to run? Turn hysteric? Sob uncontrollably? (I’m pretty sure those would be my responses.)

Not Daniel.

“When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, ‘Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?’ So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant. Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them His mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:14-18).

When crisis hit, Daniel stayed calm and responded with “wisdom and discretion” (v. 14).

Next, he asked for more information (v. 15) So often, I react before receiving all necessary information. Sometimes I react on false information, and end up blundering things unnecessarily. But not Daniel. When a crisis hit, he stayed calm and gathered the facts.

Next, he asked for more time. 

I have a tendency to think everything must be dealt with right now when really I need to give myself time to process and evaluate the situation. True, there are times when I truly must act quickly, but rather than automatically assuming this is the case, I should find out how much time I truly do have. If I learn my time is short, say my boss demands an answer immediately, I can still ask for more time.

Finally, he turned to prayer. 

Verse 17 says Daniel told his friends to pray, which, in my opinion, implies Daniel prayed as well. In other words, when in prayer-1464046_1920a crisis, Daniel turned to God for help.

The result? God answered Daniel’s prayer, and God turned a crisis moment into a beautiful revelation of His grace, mercy, accessibility, attentiveness, and power: “That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then God praised the God of heaven” (v. 19). He tells the king the meaning of his dream, and this tyrannical, pagan king recognized (at least in the moment) that God truly does reign supreme: “The king said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret'” (Daniel 2:47 NLT) (You can read the entire account HERE.)

I heard something on the radio yesterday that really resonated. Pulling from Romans 8:28, the speaker said, “God is working in all things.” No matter how chaotic or Romans8-28jpghopeless things seem, God is working. My goal is to discover what it is He is doing and cooperate, because I know His plans are always good, wise, loving, and true.

 

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this! How do you tend to respond to crisis? How do panic responses hurt us? When have you, though panicked, responded similarly to Daniel, as recorded in Daniel chapter 2, and what were the results? How might knowing God is working in all things reduce your stress or panic level?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

FB Cover Photo

Before you go, an FYI–my latest release, which reviewers have called emotionally gripping, amazing, and one of the best reads in all Christian fiction is currently on sale for $3.57! (Paperback version). That’s 78% off its regular price! Get it HERE. Read reviews of the novel HERE. Read the first three chapters for free HERE.

And for those living in the Atlanta or Nashville area, I’d love to see you! Join me for the following:

August 20th: Book signing (Atlanta)

Time: 2-4pm

Location: Sweet Spirit Parable Christian, located at 1205 Johnson Ferry Rd., Suite 119

Marietta, GA

Contact: 707-565-7722

August 24th: Christian Fiction Readers RetreatCFRR-logo-1024x731

Time: All day! Author talks, worship, massive give-aways, signings, and more!

Details HERE.

Seeking Wisdom–An Intimate Affair

jude-urbanski-headshot-smallHebrews 4:12 tells us God’s Word is alive and active, penetrating deep to our soul. It has the capacity to speak to our very depths in an intimate and miraculously personal way, becoming a two-way conversation between the Holy Spirit and us. In the following devotion, multi-published author, Jude Urbanski, encourages us to attune our ears to God’s wisdom, to God’s heart, as we seek to learn and grow from His Word.

As a fun treat, Jude is giving away one of her books (winner’s choice) to a reader randomly selected from the blog comments.

The Babbling Brook of Wisdom by Jude Urbanski

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 18:4

         The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a

         babbling brook.

Focus:

“Discernment versus foolishness”

        

The whole chapter of Proverbs 18 is one of contrasts. A chapter depicting wise versus contrasting, foolish actions. Yea, even a chapter pitting our purpose to choose our own follies against desiring a wise and discerning heart.

I related verse four, in which it speaks of the words of a man’s heart being deep waters and the fountain of wisdom being a babbling brook, to the words of my pen. Left to our own devices, our words may plunge to the deep and profound, which isn’t always bad, unless we drift to the obscure. When our writing muse (Spirit?) is at work, or words feel like the free flowing fountain of a babbling brook.

There are times I feel God’s word to be deep and obscure and I don’t understand. There are times God’s answer to my prayers is silence and I readingBiblewonder if He even heard. This is when I work, as verse 15 says, to persuade my heart to listen, to be discerning and to have wise ears seeking to acquire God’s knowledge.

I often wonder why God works this way, but the chapter ends by telling me there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). I’ve always equated God as this friend, which brings great comfort.

Proverbs 18 leaves a lot to ponder. Some of it is hard to understand. Some of it becomes special memory verses, but all of it admonishes me to let the words of my page be joyful explosions for God.

 

 

Jude Urbanski loves to be a wordsmith woman and to weave stories where strong characters, with God’s help, spin tragedy into triumph. While writing has been a passion all her life (and also for many others in her family), she is delighted to have been able to write seriously for the past seven years. She wears many hats in her family, church and community and is wife, mother and grandmother. She is published in both fiction and nonfiction by Desert Breeze and LangMarc Publishers.

 

JoyRestoredCoverArt72dpi_(1)Joy Restored:

Kate Davidson purrs along in her remodeled life, but inwardly wages war with God, whom she thinks snuffed out her husband’s life on that mountain curve. Not acceptable. Clayton may as well have died in the jungles of Vietnam as in a car accident on Wolf’s River Bridge.

Buy it here.

***

Let’s talk about this. This past fall, I went through a difficult time and felt the lowest I have felt in quite some time, if ever. But looking back, that was also a precious time as each morning when I curled into the corner of the couch with my Bible, God met me. He told me He loved me. He promised to care for me. He asked me to trust Him. And each morning built on the previous, as if He was revealing yet another layer of His loving character, as if He was peeling back yet another layer of my fear and covering it in His soothing love. Honestly, I can’t quite explain how incredibly beautiful that period was, how real God felt to me, and how deeply I felt His love.

I suspect we all have God moments to share–times when, when we needed it most, God showed up and spoke words of love to our very core. Regardless of how He answered our prayer. And in that moment, encountering God in our very being, we suddenly know, the peripheral no longer matters, because we have God Himself, and that is enough.

We’d love to hear from you. I know some of you are going through some very difficult times. You’re pouring your heart out to God, asking for aid, for a miracle. For comfort. In your deepest sorrow, how is God making Himself real to you?

And for those of you on the hilltop or perhaps strolling through the meadow, I know you’ve had trials and sorrow. Can you think back to a time when God met you during a time of difficulty? Let us gain comfort from your experience.

It’s important for us to share our God stories. When we do so, not only are we reminded of God’s faithfulness, but we invite others to rejoice with us as well–not in our circumstances which are often mired by a sinful world, but in the unchanging, never-failing, always loving nature of God.

You can share your “God-moments” in the comments below or join our online Bible study group:

 

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

What or Whom do You Fear

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

Digging Past the Surface

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.

Why?

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

Living With Wisdom

Today’s reading: Proverbs 2

Today’s focus: Seeking Wisdom From God’s Word

Wisdom is more than accumulating a headful of knowledge. Wisdom is living wisely, or, in essence, living out God’s Word–reading it, praying on how God wants us to apply it, then living it out.

This week’s memory verse: (I must apologize. Yesterday, early in the post, I called the day’s focal passage the memory verse, and, later in the post, mentioned the below was the memory verse. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.)Proverbs2memoryverse

 

meToday’s devotional comes from writer, musician, and photographer, Emilie Anne Hendryx. Emilie is an author, photographer, and musician living in sunny Northern Los Angeles.  She is a member of ACWF and loves to read and write Christian Inspirational fiction while also blogging several times a week.  She has always been fascinated with the idea of story – whether it’s photographing a love story or writing one – and this passion fuels everything she does.  In her free time you’ll find her with a book and a cup of coffee wishing it was raining outside. Connect with Emilie online at her blog:

On
At
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Proverbs 2:1-8

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.

Wisdom.

It’s something we all could use more of and yet, when we search for it, we tend to turn everywhere but in the right direction. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt cornered in a situation and turned to my friends or to my own understanding for guidance but, as Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (emphasis mine).

When I first read this section of scripture with the intent to study it (over this last summer), it impacted me so much that I ended up writing it on a notecard and pinning it to the bulletin board by my desk at work. The first thing I did was go through and highlight the action words of the first part (v 1-4) of this section:

Receive my words (v1a)

Treasure my commandments (v1b)

Making your ear attentive to wisdom (v2a)

Inclining your heart to understanding (v2b)

Call out for insight (v3a)

Raise your voice for understanding (v3b)

Seek (v4a)

Search (v4b)

After I did that, I wanted to match up these action words and phrases with their adjacent promises in verses 5-8. One of the beautiful things in scripture is that the Lord tends to accompany commands with promises (Exodus 20:1-17 is a good example) and, though these promises are always dependent on His will, they are stated for a reason and represent hope from a loving and caring God.

Here, I’ve reformatted some of those phrases to reflect their intended promise. Remember, they are dependent on the actions of verses 1-4.

Understand the fear of the Lord (v5a)

Find the knowledge of God (v5b)

You will gain wisdom from the Lord (v6a)

If you are upright, He has stored up wisdom for you (v7a)

If you walk in integrity, He will be a shield for you (v7b)

He will guard and watch over the way of His saints (v8)

Aren’t these promises amazing? God doesn’t just promise knowledge and wisdom from Him, but His own protection over us! It is such a comfort to realize the all-knowing God, who created the universe, has our protection in mind.

As we come into a new year I pray that this passage of scripture would become our guide – that we would receive His words, treasure His commandments, and make it a priority to become attentive to His wisdom rather than turn to our own understanding. While we make our New Year’s resolutions, may we seek His understanding knowing that He will most surely guide us and direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9).

***

Emilee’s devo reminds me of this week’s memory verse. I love God’s promise to guide, protect, and teach us. I pray today you would really grasp this and the treasure that comes with it. God, the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe, wants to walk with us, in intimate fellowship, leading us toward His very best.

Here are some questions to ponder and/or discuss:

1. There is a difference between accumulating knowledge and even memorizing verses and living with wisdom. What are some ways we can apply what we read in Scripture? I’m thinking back to yesterday’s post on discipline and wondering if there might be a time commitment involved here. It’s fairly easy and quick to read through a passage and walk away, but I suspect God longs for more.

Question one begs a second question–when you read Scripture, do you allow yourself enough time to really digest and pray about what is read? If not, how might you change this?

2. Emilee mentioned how, often, when facing a tough decision, we go everywhere else but to God. Why do you think this is? Is this true in your life? Do you think patience or lack of might be involved? (Oy, we’re going back to the question of time again, aren’t we? 😉 )

3. Pause and consider–do you treasure God’s commands? What are some ways to do this? Do you treasure reading God’s Word? If not, think back to the post yesterday and how we discussed our ways of viewing things as hindering or helping our progress. If we think of our Bible reading time as a “have-to”, I suspect it will be much more difficult to make this time consistent. But, if we think of it as a joy and treasure, I wonder if we’ll look forward to that time. One of our Yahoo Group members shared an insightful comment regarding how she viewed discipline. She said when she thought of the word discipline, she associated it with self-deprivation. But upon thinking about her mindset and goals, she determined to change her thinking to what she would gain from the discipline–increased intimacy with God.

4. I found the wording in verse 7a intriguing:  “If you are upright, He has stored up wisdom for you.”

Many thoughts come to mind when I read this verse, one being Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

I’d love to discuss this further, but I’m at 1089 words, well over the legal blogging limit. 🙂 So, I’ll leave you with one last question: What do you think this means, that God has wisdom “stored” up for us? Do anything thoughts come to mind when you pair this with Proverbs 25:2? Or when you think of the parables. 😉

We can continue this discussion in the comments below or at our Yahoo Bible study/verse memorization group:
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Oh, to be Wise in 2013!

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.