Take Time to Remember

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: 
Proverbs2memoryverse

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:
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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:


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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:

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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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