God Willing

Proverbs 16

Proverbs 16 3 4 NIV

Whenever I tucked him in, I would tell him I’d see him the next time I worked. He’d tell me, “God willing and the creek don’t rise!” He was about 80 years old, living in the nursing home where I worked. He had a lifetime of wisdom and colloquialisms.  I had not heard that phrase before meeting him but immediately appreciated the meaning.

Due to modern transportation infrastructure, rising creeks don’t ruin our plans as often as they used to. However, our lives, no matter how modern, are truly in God’s hands. Proverbs 16: 1, 3, 4, 9 and 33 specifically discuss the plans we make. No matter what we do and what we plan to do, God will ultimately guide these plans or even change them.

Verse 3 is a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve made plans I thought were for God, but they didn’t turn out the way I thought they should. They didn’t succeed, at least not in my mind. But in the very next verse it states that the LORD works out everything for His own ends. Sometimes I clearly see through hindsight how my failed plans served God.

But not every time, I’m still working through that. During a particularly hard time in my life, I defeatedly told my aunt that maybe I’d figure out WHY this all happened when I entered the kingdom. Her response was perfect. “And then it won’t matter.” WOW!!! What a gift! What a promise! Our dashed hopes and failed plans will fall away when we see Christ!!! Nothing else will matter!  Reading Revelation 21 makes me tear up with excitement!

In the meantime, God, through the proverbial writers, gives us instructions on the behaviors and plans that destroy (verses 4, 5, 18, 22, 25, 27-30) and the behaviors and plans that build up (verses 6, 8, 10-14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 32, and 32). Plan to build up others and glorify God!

One of the other reasons I appreciated and remembered “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” is because it reminds me of Dr. Joe Martin. Whenever he speaks of his plans, he adds, “God willing.” This is a sincere example of what trusting God with every area of life looks like.

I truly hope to see all of you at FUEL 2020.

God willing and the creek don’t rise!

Maria Knowlton


Sweet or Sour?

Proverbs 15

Proverbs 15 28 NIV

I love milk. I drink a lot of it, and the refrigerator on the hospital floor where I work is always stocked with the little 1/2 pint cartons like you get at school. Unfortunately, the fridge is often over stocked and the expiration dates are past due. I go through and throw out the old milk when I have time. But one night there were several cartons that were just a “little bit” expired (like at midnight) so I took them to have with my lunch. My coworkers warned me! “Don’t drink it!” they said. But I’ve done this before and the milk was fine (I think you know where this is going). The first little carton was good. So I took a big chug from the second…. and couldn’t run to the sink fast enough… the milk was sour, bitter, slightly chunky…. disgusting!!! Even after brushing my teeth, it took awhile to get that taste out of my mouth.

And so it is with our words. In Psalms 15, we read over and over about our words, lips, and mouth.  Verses 1, 2, 4, 7, 23, and 28 speak to how we use these things either for righteousness or destruction. We know those parts of us are not acting on their own. In Matthew 12:34, Christ states that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

According to Proverbs 15, the person who spurns discipline, correction, and mentorship has a heart and mind full of anger, jealousy, and malice. The words from that person will be destructive, bitter, foolish, and wounding. What is pouring from the heart and out of the mouth is as stinky as sour milk.

Conversely, the person who heeds discipline, wise counsel, and knowledge will bring forth words that are constructive, calming, healing, and wise. What is pouring from the heart and out of the mouth is as refreshing as someone chewing Orbit Sweet Mint gum.

So I’m going to avoid drinking expired milk from now on. I will also avoid behaviors that will turn my words sour. I will seek out behaviors that turn my words sweet; Scriptural study, prayer, and fellowship with the family of God. And I’m also going to keep gum in my purse at all times.


Maria Knowlton

You Do You! or ?

Proverbs 14

Proverbs 14 12 NIV.png

“You do you!” This phrase is ubiquitous… I’ve seen it on social media, heard it on commercials,  and tween shows my daughter enjoys watching. I’ve even heard actual people say it directly to actual people. 🙂

On the face of it, it’s a pretty positive and encouraging phrase.  Don’t let others define you. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy! And that’s all great and wonderful…to a point. That point is the Holy Bible. You can totally do You if the You that you do is aligned with God’s word. The problem comes when your You goes with whatever you FEEL is right, rather than what you KNOW is scriptural.

Here in Proverbs 14 (especially in verse 12) we are reminded that so many of the things, thoughts, and actions we think are right, actually lead to destruction.

Proverbs 14:1 really hit me hard in this area. Unlike the wise woman building her house, I was letting my struggle with anger threaten mine. For a season, my anger was quick, hot, and in my mind, justified. I was right to be angry. I was being taken for granted, no one understood what I was going through, why was everything up to me???  I often felt the anger from my stomach up to my jaw.  Proverbs 14 repeatedly warns of the folly of anger (16, 17, 29) but I was choosing to follow my feelings over wisdom.

I thought I was right…but only because of the grace of God and a forgiving family, my “rightness” did not lead to destruction.

Everyone should evaluate their You. If doing You involves sin (Galatians 5:19-21), you must let that go. Christ goes even further to say that if we are to be his disciples, we must DENY ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him (Matthew 16:24).

When looking to Godly wisdom, such as found in Proverbs 14, You will start to look less like you and more like Christ. That is true wisdom.

So this song came out when I was 14 (1986). Having it tucked in my head has often helped me make choices to please God.


God Pleaser by Petra

So many voices telling me which way to go

So many choices come from those who think they know

There’s a way that seems right to a man

But it only brings him death

I want to go the way that leads to life

Till I draw my dying breath

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to do the things that please the Father’s heart

Some make a sacrifice and never let it show

Some make a point of letting everybody know

Some will live their lives as unto men

And they have their reward

I just want to do everything I do

With all my heart unto the Lord

I just want my life to glorify His Son

To make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done

No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done, well done”

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done”


devotion by Maria Knowlton

A Preserving Parable from Proverbs

Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13 4 NIV

Despite the fact that I’m an adult, I still occasionally give into peer pressure. Years ago, my friends were all into preserving fruits and vegetables, so I thought I should, too.  I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Not knowing what I was doing, I was happy to find the book, Canning for Dummies, at the local bookstore. Reading through the book, I realized that what makes the book “for dummies” was the use of the pedagogical tool, repetition. Every important step was printed in bold, circled, and repeated…repeatedly.

I suppose you can call Proverbs 13, “Wisdom for Dummies.”  The writer, inspired by God, wants the readers to take into consideration the differences between the wise, upright, righteous, and hardworking versus the foolish, wicked, and lazy.  In this chapter, 6 verses point out the rewards of being wise, 6 verses point out the rewards of being righteous, and 7 verses point out the rewards of being disciplined and hardworking.  Clearly the author believes these values to be highly prized and worth remembering. Thus, the repetition! Read it, Know it, Live it, Repeat. Hide these words in your heart.

It turns out preserving food is hard work and messy (maybe that’s just me). But it’s also very satisfying.  I feel great at the end of a day of canning. I also feel great months later when I serve my family home-preserved corn and green beans while it’s snowing outside. And because I’ve read Canning for Dummies so often and done it so often, I can tell you how to can green beans and blanch corn by heart.

Similarly, there is much satisfaction in learning and living the importance of wisdom, discipline, hard work and knowing it by heart.

Maria Knowlton

How to Be Stupid

Proverbs 12

Proverbs 12 1 NASB

As I read though this chapter, one of the things I noticed was a handful of verses talking about taking criticism and counsel, and what type of counsel we give others.  This starts in verse 1.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

When we mess up, how do we accept it being questioned or pointed out?  Do we want to grow and not make the same mistake again, or do we hate to be told we messed up?  This verse doesn’t pull any punches.  If you hate reproof, you are stupid.

Verses 5 and 6 continue this:

The thoughts of the righteous are just,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.

Where are we getting our counsel from?  Are we listening to the righteous, or to the counsel of the wicked?  If we are listening to the wrong people, we have a serious problem.  Their words are lying in wait for blood.  They are working to drag us down with them.  We need to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with people filled with Godly wisdom, and listening to their counsel.

Verse 15 says:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Maybe we aren’t listening to the wicked, but we also aren’t listening to the wise.  Instead we think we know it all and don’t need to get help from anyone else.  Maybe we are ashamed to admit we don’t know how to deal with a problem we have and because of that we try to deal with everything on our own.  No matter what the reason, we are a fool if we do not seek counsel.

We need to get counsel from wise and righteous people.  We also need to give wise counsel, and in some cases this may mean admitting we don’t know the answer.

There is a ton of other things we can learn from this chapter so take time to look it over.  The chapter ends with a familiar sentiment:

In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death.  (Proverbs 12:28)


Andrew Hamilton

Don’t Slip to the Default

Proverbs 11

Proverbs 11 3 NASB

Today is another comparison between the righteous and the wicked.  This time most of the comparisons are about outcomes.  Although it may already be clear, there is a relationship between wisdom and righteousness.  There is also a relationship between fools and the wicked.  Because of temptation always trying to lead us astray, fools turn towards wickedness, but it takes seeking wisdom to be righteous.

Verse 3 through 6 say:

The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed

We see that the upright or righteous person will be delivered from death.  The fool or wicked person will be destroyed.  The money, possessions or whatever else they have gained from their crooked ways cannot save them.  We see people who have gained wealth and power from all kinds of things that are not pleasing to God.   We see people that appear to have it made who are not seeking God’s wisdom.  We see righteous people who are seeking God’s wisdom go through struggles.  However, It is made very clear that no matter what people gain from their wicked ways, in the end it will catch up with them and they will be destroyed.  In the end, the righteous ones will be delivered.

Another example from this chapter is verses 24-26

24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.
25 The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
26 He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

There are people who teach that this is specifically talking about wealth in the current time.  They say that if you give away $10.00, you will get $100.00 in return.  I don’t think that is accurate, and I don’t think it is even a great blessing compared to all the blessings that God does give us.  However, the generous man is the one who is doing what God wants, which makes it a wise decision.  The generous will be blessed.  The miser who withholds everything for himself will be cursed.  I think some of this comes in everyday life.  If someone who is generous and helpful has a problem, often people will help that person.  However, when someone who is greedy and never helps anyone else has a problem, people are unlikely to help that person.

Verses 29 and 30 say:

He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.

The outcome of seeking Godly wisdom and following in God’s righteousness is life for themselves and for the souls they win.  We have to choose daily to seek after wisdom.  If we make no choice, foolishness and ultimately destruction are the default choice.

Andrew Hamilton

Watch Your Words

Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10 8

This chapter contrasts the righteous person versus the wicked person.  There are so many things that could be written about, and I started to pick and choose a few to write about.  As I read the chapter a few times, I was struck by how many times the mouth, or what we say was mentioned.

Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence

The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

13 On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
14 Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

18 He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.

31 The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
32 The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

These are some of the verses, but maybe not all.  We can often see a lot about ourselves (and others) by what is said or not said.  Listen to what comes out of your mouth.  Are you listening, or receiving commands, or are you babbling and therefore unable to hear the instruction?  Are you choosing when to talk and when to refrain?  Are you speaking righteousness?  It is often hard to control what we say but doing this is a sign of wisdom and righteousness.

This topic is something that shows up several other places in proverbs, as well as other places in the Bible.  I think of James 1:19.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

We often speak without thinking or think about what we should say instead of listening to the other person.  Then, what comes out of our mouth is either not appropriate or not helpful.  We often don’t like silence, so we say something just to have noise, even if it is not useful.

I encourage you to pay attention to what you are saying, and when you are talking.  Take time to listen.  Take time to gain from what others are saying.  Take time to allow silence to occur.  Our words are a good indicator of whether we are seeing wisdom or being fools.

Andrew Hamilton