Speech Smoother than Oil.

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 50:1 – Exodus 2:10, Matthew 16:13-17:9, Psalm 21:1-13, Proverbs 5:1-6

Daily Verse: “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil,” Prov. 5:3

Temptation comes in the form of flattering words.  Guarding discretion means avoiding unhealthy liaisons. Placing guardrails in our life help us avoid the trap.

Pastor Andy Stanley’s series “Guardrails” teaches us to set boundaries that prevent us from sliding down slippery slopes.  Ron and I protect our marriage by not spending time alone with people of the opposite sex.  A budget helps us keep our finances in line.  Practicing healthy eating habits and exercise keeps us reasonably fit, a battle we continue to fight.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Our spiritual battle has an active enemy trying to derail our journey.  Becoming aware of the devil’s attacks helps us avoid his schemes.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus will give us victory over the devil’s ploys.

Lord, thank You for protecting us from the tricks and schemes of the Devil.  Help us develop guardrails to protect us from the slippery slopes of life.  Let us live fully in Christ.  IJNIP. Amen

Look Directly Forward

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 48:1-49:33, Matthew 15:29-16:12, Psalm 20:1-9, Proverbs 4:20-27

Daily Verse: “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:25

Peripheral vision causes anxiety because of its partial view.  Clear vision only happens when we keep our eyes focused straight ahead.  As followers of Christ, looking forward means we see Jesus leading us.

My first trip to New York on business petrified me.  Meeting a co-worker at the airport, I followed him like a lifeline to the corporate offices.  Little did he know how God used him that day in my life. 

In desperate situations, having someone guide us can relieve our anxiety.  If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, He will lead us through the darkest night.

Like I desperately followed my co-worker, following Jesus leads us to our ultimate destination, eternal life with Him. Peace on earth comes with eyes focused on Christ, no matter our earthly circumstances.

Things in this world will pass away, but life with Christ never ends.  Eyes on Jesus, let Him lead the way.

Lord, forgive us for straying eyes.  Help us keep Jesus at the center of our vision today.  Let us follow Christ closely, feeling the dust from His shoes on our faces.  In Him, allow us to find life to the fullest.  IJNIP.  Amen

Deep Darkness

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 46:1-47:31, Matthew 15:1-28, Psalm 19:1-14, Proverbs 4:14-19

Daily Verse: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Prov. 4:19

Walking wicked paths leads to stumbling. Fumbling in the dark causes people to fall. 

Wickedness exists inside us; if it didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Left to our own devices, like sheep, we can wander into dangerous territory.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

Going astray from Jesus causes bruised shins and twisted ankles from stumbling in the dark. But when we keep our eyes focused on the Lord, He illuminates our path and makes them straight.

Sheep know the Shepherd’s voice, following Him with complete trust. But when they get out of earshot, trouble happens. 

Jesus helps us avoid the stumbling blocks of humanity when we follow His ways, allowing Christ to illuminate our paths.

Lord, forgive us for straying like sheep. Tune our ears to Your voice today as we move forward. Illuminate our paths and keeps us from wicked ways. Help us become more like Jesus. IJNIP. Amen

Paths of Uprightness

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 44:1-45:28, Matthew 14:13-36, Psalm 18:37-50, Proverbs 4:11-13

Daily Verse: “I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.” Prov. 4:11

Take the high road, a common phrase heard during troubling times, means do what Jesus did. Walking the earth for thirty-three years, Christ taught us the way of wisdom. We must follow Him to discover the paths of uprightness.

Along the journey, you will have many choices. Every time you decide to mimic Christ, going against your human inclinations, you will find yourself on the upright path.

At lunch with a friend, she asked me an unexpected question. Answering honestly, with love, I know my response disappointed her, but following Jesus requires integrity. Telling the truth takes more effort than telling lies to make someone feel better. In the long run, falsities destroy relationships.

Follow Jesus along the paths of uprightness. Take the high road and experience life to the fullest. With Christ, you will find an adventure like no other, one that will grow and challenge you all your days.

Lord, thank You for Jesus. Forgive us for not following Him closer. Help us take the high road today by mimicking Christ in our words and deeds. Let us walk the path of uprightness with Him. IJNIP. Amen

Accept My Words

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 42:18-43:34, Matthew 13:47-14:12, Psalm 18:16-36, Proverbs 4:7-10

Daily Verse: “Hear, my son, and accept my words, at the years of your life may be many.” Prov. 4:10

Obeying God’s commands adds years to your life. When the Lord tells us to live our lives in moderation, He does so to help us, not hurt us.

During my teenage years, I viewed God as a party pooper. According to His laws, we couldn’t do anything fun. But my childish understanding of faith didn’t understand God’s love or its protective nature.

Not having sex outside of a committed relationship bonded by marriage saves us from heartache and many diseases, extending our lives. Taking care of the Lord’s temple, our bodies means healthy eating, regular exercise, and restful sleep, all things a doctor recommends for good health.

God doesn’t want to take away our fun. The Lord wants us to live life to the fullest, one day at a time. God controls how many days we have on earth until He calls us home; we must trust and obey Him.  Putting the Lord’s commands into practice will help us reach our goal.

Lord, forgive us for not listening to Your words and putting them into practice. Help us turn our ears towards You, actively pursuing a whole life in Christ by trusting and obeying. IJNIP. Amen

Do Not Forsake Her

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 41:17-42:17, Matthew 13:24-46, Psalm 18:1-15, Proverbs 4:1-6

Daily Verse: “Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.” Prov. 4:6

Godly insight protects us from dangerous paths. The author depicts wisdom as a woman we must embrace with love; in return, she will protect us.

2023 started with a bang. After traveling home from Christmas vacation, I experienced superficial blood clots in my leg from the long drive causing pain and swelling. Sitting in the waiting room, fighting panic, I turned my thoughts to Jesus and my verse for 2023:

“I said to myself, “Relax, because the Lord takes care of you.” Psalm 116:7 NCV

We cannot access God’s wisdom if we don’t turn to our Maker. To experience the Lord’s peace, we must seek His promises and believe in their truth. Wisdom caused me to seek help and focus on God’s promises to help me through the crisis.

Cling to Godly wisdom, embrace it. In return, the Lord will guide and direct your paths, guarding you against harm.

Lord, forgive us for rejecting the wisdom You offer. Give us the desire to embrace lovingly Your wisdom, guide, and direct us from harmful decisions. Let Your peace reign in our lives as we seek You daily. IJNIP. Amen

Favor to the Humble

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 39:1-41:16, Matthew 12:46-13:23, Psalm 17:1-15, Proverbs 3:33-35

Daily Verse: “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” Prov. 3:34

Putting God’s word into action results in blessings. And actively living scripture takes effort. 

One of the miraculous stories of living God’s word happened when my friend publicly forgave the men who killed his son. Never having children, I can’t begin to imagine the difficulty of the situation. Yet with God’s grace and in obedience to His Lord, my friend forgave them, living out his faith.

Gaining God’s favor means doing what the Lord asks us to do. Scripture contains 80% of God’s will for our lives; through our relationship with Him, we discern the other 20%. Each day, with God’s fresh mercies, we get to try again.

You will find, as I have, submission requires humility. Remembering our sinful nature helps us stay humble. God loved us first by sending Jesus. The Lord doesn’t force us to love Him. Our words and actions tell the tale.

We can scorn. Or we can love.

Do Not Withhold Good

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 37:1-38:30. Matthew 12:22-45, Psalm 16:1-11, Proverbs 3:27-32

Daily Verse: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Prov. 3:27

Jealousy made me a mean-natured child. If I couldn’t have something, I didn’t want anyone else to have it. Hard to admit, but the truth remains the truth.

On the other hand, my husband doesn’t have an envious bone in his body, celebrating other people’s wins quickly. 

Whether doing good for others comes naturally or not, following Jesus requires it. We must bless others when we can, no matter our natural inclinations.

Unlike Jesus, sinful nature can deter us from doing good to others. Obeying God defeats our wicked ways, building relationships instead of destroying them. Once destroyed, relationships can require extreme effort to repair.

Give life to others by doing good for them when you can. Enriching lives not only blesses the receiver but the giver as well.

Lord, forgive us for not doing good when we could for others. Help us change our ways as we seek to bless others with the gifts we receive from You.  When we can do good, let us do good. IJNIP. Amen

Keep Your Foot from Being Caught

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 35:1-36:43, Matthew 12:1-21, Psalm 15:1-5, Proverbs 3:21-26

Daily Verse: “…for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Prov. 3:26

Following sound judgment in life will find strength and beauty in wisdom and actions. Confidence in God’s guidance will keep you right-footed.

When faced with a difficult decision, talk to God about it. Search the scriptures for wisdom from those who went before us. Don’t act until you know, without a doubt, the direction the Lord’s taking you.

Over Christmas, one friend struggled with loneliness and abandonment. Praying for her, I asked God what I could do to ease her burden. “Call her,” came the answer. Yet I resisted until the urge to pick up the phone overwhelmed me. And so I did, leading to an uplifting and encouraging conversation that bolstered us.

When we wait for God’s direction and follow His promptings, we will walk sure-footed. But we will falter when we rush to accomplish tasks without seeking the Lord. Walk confidently today, trusting the Lord to direct your steps.

Lord, forgive us for foolishly rushing ahead of You, not asking for direction. Prompt us today to walk the path You select for us. Give us confidence in our actions as we submit our lives to You.  IJNIP. Amen

He Established the Heavens

One minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 32:13-34:31, Matthew 11:7-30, Psalm 14:1-7, Proverbs 3:19-20

Daily Verse: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;” Prov. 3:19

God used the same wisdom He imparts to us to create the universe.  When we surrender to God’s guidance, we experience harmony with the universe.

Elijah, the infamous prophet from the Old Testament, uniquely experienced harmony with God.  The Lord told Elijah to stand on the mountain as He passed by.  First, a mighty wind tore the mountain apart, then an earthquake, then a fire.

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper…. ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19:11-13)

When Elijah submitted his life to God and obeyed His commands, he connected with the Lord through the miracle of creation.

God speaks to us in different ways.  As we follow the Lord, we become one with His creation, living in harmony.  We can experience miraculous moments when we seek God’s wisdom and let Him direct our paths.

Lord, forgive us for looking for wisdom in all the wrong places.  Help us submit our lives to You, connecting with Your creation as we do.  Let miraculous moments happen as we give our lives to You. IJNIP.  Amen