"A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps," (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV)

I love this verse. Long ago it freed me up to live from my heart instead of my head. It helped me to understand that God would direct my way if my steps were ordered from a motive to serve him and see his kingdom come. I feel such a peace when I live out of this verse. That said, it is obvious to me that this is not a valued practice among many.

It seems that the practice that is embraced the most is using our brains to plan our ways. In a very real sense, the ways that believers plan is often really not all that much different from nonbelievers. We scheme, manipulate and bargain our way thinking that we are doing God's will when we are just emulating worldly planning. Better to plan with our heart.

We surrender Lord. We relinquish control of our lives. Help us to plan with our hearts and trust you to lead us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4 NASB

In the darkest of times. In moments of utter despair. I have felt God's comfort. His Spirit works both in and through us. Sometimes He comes with a quiet whisper from within. At other times by an encouraging word from a friend. In my darkest of valleys God always seems to be present. It is hard to read this verse and not remember this time in my life:
At thirty-nine years old my first wife, Ellen, had heart and kidney failure. At the brink of her death I found myself begging God to not let her die. I could not accept her situation or the possibility of her death. Three and a half years later after praying almost daily for her healing I found myself again faced with the possibility of her dying. Driving to work one day, racked with the agony of thoughts of a world without Ellen, I began to pray. I saw a picture in my mind. In this vision I saw myself standing on a mountain looking down at a valley. Somehow I knew it was the valley of the shadow of Ellen's death. As I looked into the vision I saw Jesus come to my side, take my hand, and walk with me into the valley. It was a comforting picture. God was trying to tell me that he would be with me when Ellen died and that I would be okay.
When I am at my lowest God is there. Beside me. Teaching me. To not be afraid. To experience his presence. To trust his rod and his staff to protect me when my world is falling apart. To lean into his comfort. However it may come.

Teach us to not be afraid Lord. Help us to experience the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. -Proverbs 31:8 NLT

Over the centuries the idea of justice has taken on different forms. A presidential candidate recently reminded us that some envision it as an eye for an eye thinking that justice is all about payback. You hit me and I hit you back. Others see justice in more of a Western Civilization way. In a courtroom empaneled with a judge and jury. Yet others see it differently.

In this proverb we read of justice being carried out not by judges and juries but by defenders. People who speak up for the marginalized. For those who have been oppressed and crushed under the heels of people and world systems. This justice does not comes cheap as those who would speak up for those who cannot risk being crushed themselves.

Empanel us as holy defenders Lord. Give us words to speak that would bring justice.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.