Sweet as Honey

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25


Gold Nugget
Verse 16: Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit. 

Commentary
You've heard that too much of a good thing can be bad. How often have we proven that to be true? Back in the days when this scripture was written, honey was not on every street corner. You couldn't run down to Wal-Mart and buy you a jar. Honey was a luxury and a symbol of prosperity. Those that had honey where truly blessed. That's where I would like to tie this in today. Have you been blessed? "Have you found honey? " or maybe, "Have you found money? ". There is nothing wrong with honey or money, but too much of either can bring you to vomit. It is self explanatory as to why too much honey would make you sick, but is that really what the writer is trying to warn us about? We recently discussed being a glutton and a drunk. (see "Boundaries") Not having self control with food and alcohol can lead to obvious problems, but what of having too much desire for money? For one, the guy in this illustration seemed to have so much focus on consuming as much honey as he could, all while missing out on enjoying its sweetness. Having money can be nice, but being consumed with hoarding it will rob you of it's sweetness now. As with anything, too much can be either obsessive or a waste. I know it's easy for me to say (seeing how I don't have much), but I would be ashamed to live in such an abundance that I forgot what it felt like to get hungry or thirsty. Despite what anyone may say, these things are good for us. They give us motivation and purpose. We need to enjoy our blessings when they come and not consume them like there is no tomorrow. 

Prayer
Lord, I do thank you for my many blessings. You have blessed me so much that my blessings sometimes compete with you for my affection and attention. I don't want to punish you for blessing me by letting them consume me. You are worthy of all my gratitude and affection. Thank you for everything. Amen

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Boundaries

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 20-21: 20 Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. 

Commentary
For Christians that have been in the faith for many years, we may have a tendency to sleep through the scriptures that don't seem to pertain to us. We can easily come to the conclusion that company like todays "gold nugget" are far from us and not able to effect us. The real meat of this verse is people who "can't get enough". Whether it be wine, food, or (as mentioned earlier in the chapter) money, being so consumed with an unquenchable desire for anything other than God will put you in the same spiritual state as the drunkard and glutton. Many people have uncontrolled passions and desires that go unchecked. Any of these will have it's toll on those who practice them. We as Christian are to practice self control and avoid the company of those who do not. I know people that can't take no or stop for an answer. I have seen it adults and children. For the adults that get addicted to or consumed by the things of this world, they "will come to poverty". Children that are not taught to have boundaries and limits, will be well conditioned for addictions and abuse. Consider verses 12 & 13. Practice self control for yourself, teach self control to your children and avoid the company of those who do not practice self control at all.

Prayer
Lord, I want to practice self control in all areas of my life... yes even gluttony. I wan't to have enough self control that I can walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. Also, I will avoid the company of those who have no regard for you principles and teachings. I can minister to those of the world, but can't engage with or be a party to their lifestyles. Amen

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Keep it Simple

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22

Gold Nugget
Verse 8-9: 8He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, And the rod of his anger will fail. 9He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor. 

Commentary
Understanding how a Christian should behave is relatively simple. Despite many confusing representations of Christianity, Jesus said it best. "28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28,29) We have complicated the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are really just a few concepts that must be embraced and they will by default tend to all the others. An example often used to illustrate this is the commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself". (Leviticus 19:18b) If you adhere to this commandment in Leviticus, you will have obeyed the following commandments by default.

SIX: 'You shall not murder.'

SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'

EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'


With all that for a set up, we must be content to simplify and adhere to the basics of Christianity. One of the most basic concepts of Christianity is and will be the subject of many of these devotions. The "gold nugget" for today is simply, "You reap what you sow". It is covered all through Proverbs and all through the New Testament. The sooner we accept the fact that we will bring up0n ourselves exactly what we put out, the better off we will be Whether good or bad, what we produce we will return. 

Prayer
Lord, Help me to understand the simplicity of your gospel and not do as the pharisees do and obey one part of the law and omit the most important things. I want to please you with even the most basic concepts of Christianity. Amen

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Ungodly Gain

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 21

Gold Nugget
Verse 27: The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; How much more when he brings it with wicked intent! 

Commentary
Our current"Christian" society is flooded with doctrines to pacify the wicked person mentioned in today's "gold nugget". Many of today's Christian leaders are appealing to the sinful nature of mankind that is self serving and full of greed. Teachings that are attractive to this sinful nature are full of ideas that - giving to "god" will ensure you financial gain. There are scriptures that (when taken in proper perspective with proper intentions) give us confident that God will regard our giving with favor. The area of concern is the teachings that lure people to give to a particular "cause" or "ministry" by promising them God's supernatural financial flood. Too often the giver and the recipient of these offerings are working outside of God's participation and promises, and therefore are not guaranteed or even likely to receive anything from God as a reward. These particular doctrines are more in line with "Pyramid Schemes" (AKA - multi level marketing) than they line up with scripture. As scripture warns us, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions" (2 Timothy 4:3) Sacrifices or gifts/offerings given for personal reward or gain are (as today's "gold nugget" proclaims) is an abomination.

Prayer
Lord, when I give to anyone I want to be giving it with pure intentions - without regard for reward or gain. If my brother is in need, I want to give to him because I don't want him to go without and not because I want to see a return on my giving. Whether my giving is time, money or any other way I can contribute, I want to do it with a pure heart. Amen

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Preserving the Soul

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 19

Gold Nugget
Verse 16: He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die. 

Commentary
It's not usually discussed among Christians that we should be so concerned for our own well-being. Today's standard of tending to self first is mostly an ungodly concept, but there is wisdom in preserving yourself to be in good spiritual health. There is no better way to preserve yourself than to simply walk in obedience to His commands. We should look at our spiritual health in much the same way we do our physical and mental health. Our spirit needs the same elements that our bodies need. We need spiritual food, spiritual exercise and spiritual rest. Being careless in our physical ways will cause us to die, just as "he who is careless of his (spiritual) ways will die". Despite what some folks may chose to believe, the scriptures teach us that we can become spiritually unhealthy and even spiritually die. Refusing to acknowledge this truth can lead to walking "carelessly" and eventually begin to neglect His commands. We know what God has taught us and we need to continue in it. We need to regard our spiritual health and ensure we get enough spiritual food, spiritual exercise and spiritual rest. We need to hold fast to the truths He has lead us to and remember what He has freed us from.

Prayer
Lord, I want to stay true to you and the things you have taught me. I want to walk carefully, not carelessly. I know that you will keep me and preserve me as I walk in obedience to you. Amen

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The Best Defense is to not be an Offense

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 18

Gold Nugget
 Verse 19: A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Commentary
What should we do when we have offended a brother or sister? As much as I would like to think that I am a nice person without desire to bring harm to people, I do on occasion offend. Sometimes unintentional, sometimes simply because of my flesh getting out of control. How we react to us offending people is paramount. The first thing we must do is repent inwardly and toward God. Acknowledge your wrong doing and prepare yourself for the humbling lesson that lays before you. Despite the pride that may stand between you and confessing your fault to the one you have offended, you must walk in obedience to God by following through with it. As hard as it may be to restore the relationship, the longer you put it off - the more it will rot away at your spirit. If you have ever suffered your pride and confessed your offense, you will remember the freedom and peace that came from doing your part to restore the relationship. Of course it is best to be careful not to offend, but how you react to your own wrong doing will reflect who you are as a Christian. If you do someone wrong, be quick to repent and confess to that person and ask for their forgiveness. It will be the first step to mending the relationship that has been harmed by your actions.

Prayer
Lord, I want to be careful not to offend anyone, but if I do - help me to suffer my pride and confess and repent immediately. If I fail to show true Christian character with my deeds, show me how to demonstrate Christian character through humility and repentance. Amen

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Slow to Speak

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15


Gold Nugget
Verse 28: The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

Commentary
While playing cards, they used to know whose turn it was when the game came to a halt. "It must be Steve's turn", they would say. Another would say, "Study long, study wrong". I probably take too long to consider my next move to a fault, but it has saved me some heartache as well. Thinking about my next move in cards, while playing out the different scenarios that could result from my play - would often slow down the game. I guess cards aren’t the only area of my life that I exercise this practice.

When dealing with people, this can be a valuable attribute. Even when people are being mean or ugly, carefully choosing your words is essential. Or as today's gold nugget says; "The heart of the righteous studies how to answer". Consider the differant scenarios or potential reactions that poeple may have from the words you choose. Wicked and foolish people pour evil out of their mouth. The scripture clearly describes the behavior of the righteous and of the wicked. What best describes you? Are you someone that says whatever hurtful thing comes to mind without regard to the harm it will cause? Or are you someone that stills your tongue and considers carefully what your response will be if you will give any response at all?

Processing your thoughts before acting or speaking and then feeling confident that what you are going to say is okay with the Lord is what is expected of a Christian that walks in wisdom. We can't continue to speak what is on our minds at the expense of others and refer to ourselves as Christians. We don't want people to think that is how we all act. Protect the name of the Lord and the effectiveness of other Christians by proving what defines a child of God.

Prayer
Lord, give me the strength to hold my tongue and the wisdom to respond with truth and love. Remind me that I don't need to rush my response to someone's opposition of me. If I can have the self control to stop my tongue, I know you will give me the wisdom of when and how to start it up again. Amen



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The Empty Cradle

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 14

Gold Nugget
Verse 4: Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox. 

Commentary
I'm reminded of an old song by Harry Chapin called "Cat's in Cradle". The song tells the story of young boy longing for the attention of his father to no avail. Years later the father is trying to get the attention of his then grown son to no avail. I think of people that long for their kids to be grown so that their life can begin. Focusing on the wrong thing can cause you to miss out on the right things. In today's gold nugget, we see that a barn that doesn't have an ox is a barn that doesn't need to be cleaned of oxen mess. Sounds good. On the other hand, a barn that doesn't house an ox makes for less planting and a smaller harvest - if any. It is just as true to say that not having a car saves space in the driveway, but makes for a long walk to work. Many of our setbacks, hurdles, responsibilities and such are actually the means to our purpose. Our responsibility to meet the needs emotionally, physically and spiritually of our children is also the reward of fulfilled life. What many view as an inconvenience, others see as a blessing. A man that has an ox to clean up after, is a blessed man. We should embrace our difficulties when they actually produce what's good. Don't miss the moment because you are too focused on the down side. Yes, children that are grown and out of the house means less to clean up after, but it also means that the children are grown and out of the house.

Prayer
Lord, help me to enjoy the responsibility that I have and see how they are linked to my blessings. If I see the benefit of what I am working for, I will embrace the work ahead of me. Let me enjoy today and face the morrow tomorrow. Amen

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Surrounded by Turkeys

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 12


Gold Nugget
Verse 26:  The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray. 

Commentary
I'm sure you have heard the old saying, "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys." Only a fool thinks that he isn't effected by the company he keeps. As a preacher, I speak with a fair amount of flow. What I mean is, I can process my words fairly well. My southern accent and limited vocabulary does play a part in how hillbilly I sound, but I can put my words together fairly quickly and continually. That being said, I have noticed through the years that when I spend a lot a time around a person that stutters, I will actually start stuttering. In all honesty, without even thinking about it, I will start using phrases from people that I am exposed to often. We rub off on each other more than we realize. This can be bad and good. I remember a young lady (she was around 14 yrs. old) that wanted to go live with some family members that were unsaved and involved in some bad stuff. She said that she wanted to be a good influence on them. I advised against it without success. A few months later, she was in the world, drinking and drugging.


Psalm 1:1 says, "Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;" The scriptures are full of warnings against associating with the ungodly. Consider this verse in 1 Corinthians 5:11  "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person."


Prayer
Lord, help me to be careful of the company I keep. Not only with people I know, but with other "things" I befriend. I don't want to be influenced by people that have no regard for you and your Word. I will be cautious when picking my friends. Amen

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Slow Your Roll

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 10


Gold Nugget
Verse 19: In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.  

Commentary
Once while on a conference call, my partner and I were having a very important discussion with a potential client. Being more seasoned on the particular topic, I knew that we needed to gather some very important information from them. Unfortunately, my partner was talking so much that he would actually interrupt the client while they where trying to give us the information we needed. My partner talked so much that he revealed to the client his lack of knowledge in the field. The old "he didn't know what he didn't know" cost us the job. He tried so hard to impress them with his knowledge that he revealed his lack of knowledge. He didn't know of course, but he talked us right out of a job that we had in the bag. They assumed we knew the field and was actually trying to give us the necessary information to seal the deal. All the while, he continued to try and impress them with a "multitude of words". I tried to signal him to stop talking and listen, but he just gave me an "I got this" look and continued his performance. 

Another Proverbs says "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." Proverbs 17:28 I have actually assumed certain people to be wise or intelligent because of their ability to hold their tongue, only to find out later that the person was not especially wise or exceptionally intelligent. It is an international and timeless truth; the wise know how to posses silence. The old saying, "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt", was just borrowed from Proverbs. Had my partner just "slowed his roll", we would have had that job.

Prayer
Lord, remind me of the value of keeping silent. I want to exhibit the self control that it takes to hold my tongue and avoid the cost of not being able to hold it. I want to avoid the dangers and damage that comes from having a mouth that doesn't know when to shut down. Amen

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The 49ers

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 8


Gold Nugget
Verse 34-35: 34 Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord;

Commentary
Again we see the consistent parable of wisdom being something to be sought after. More precious than silver, more costly than gold, of greater beauty and honor than rubies, etc. In the gold rush of 1849 - some 300,000 people staked everything they owned on the possibility of getting rich by finding gold in California. By land and by sea, people risked life and limb to travel to California in hopes of becoming wealthy. About half of those traveled by wagon through harsh terrain and unforeseen dangerous conditions. Giving up all they had, they felt confident that all of their sacrifices would pay off. A few people did well, some broke even while many lost everything.

The pursuit of gold, silver, rubies, etc. has been the driving force for man since some of the earliest mentions in scripture. Using the passion that a man would have and (as evident by the gold rush of 1849) would continue to have, the proverbs relate that sort of commitment, passion and drive to the pursuit of wisdom. Willing to sacrifice luxuries and work their fingers to the bone, the 49ers ate drank and dreamed of finding this precious commodity. We as Christians should pursue without fail the wisdom and knowledge of God. We need to chase after the wisdom and knowledge of God. He promises us that He will lead us to it, but it isn't low hanging fruit. This is a necessity that requires effort and commitment on our part to gain the rewards from God. "He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Prayer
Lord, Thank you for reminding me of the need to press on through these proverbs as well as the rest of your Word. I need to stay committed to reading your Word and be patient with the time it takes to be revealed to me. I want to be consistent and passionate to pursue you in your Word, knowing that I will find wisdom and understanding in due season. Amen

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Wake Up

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 6


Gold Nugget
Verse 9-11:  How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

Commentary
Our society in the United States is changing for the worse. I've heard the argument that every generation thinks that the next generation is getting worse, and therefore it's just part of life to think this way. Well, roll me up in the category who thinks things are getting worse. Homosexuality is considered okay, we have legalized genocide through abortion, the concept of one way to God is considered horrible, the thought of a man being the head of his home is sexist, etc. Every principle founded in the Word is under attack. 

Along with our worsening society is the lack of work ethic in our youth. More and more kids are raised in the air conditioned, overfeed, television abused, video game obsessed lifestyle. Young adults are postponing moving out and instead are staying home longer as opposed to getting out of the house and going to work. More and more young people are not ashamed to sleep in until the afternoon and party or play video games all night. I know people that have started families of their own that still can't get themselves out of bed and be the mom and dad that God expects of them. Eventually, this lifestyle will cost them everything. This scripture in chapter 6 of Proverbs proclaims this truth. They will come to poverty. 

Two perspectives are appropriate for today's gold nugget. First, from that of a parent. We must accept the responsibility we have to train up our children in a way that would be pleasing to God. We mustn't enable our children to adopt this lazy, self-centered way of life. We have the responsibility to God to teach them good work ethics and how to put others before themselves. Second, we must look at things from the perspective of the lazy person that wants to sleep all day and avoids work. Repent... there is no other way to address this issue. The scriptures are clear that this is an ungodly lifestyle and destructive to our other relationships. We see it in the scriptures and that should be enough for us to change. There isn't any need to try and convince us of the need to change, if the Word tells us we are wrong then that should be the final authority.

Prayer
Lord, from the perspective of a parent, help me to teach my children to be responsible contributing, hard working adults. Give us the conviction to challenge and expect this level of maturity from our kids. Also Lord, from a self perspective, I want to be diligent in my work for my family and my work in your kingdom. Help me to rise in the morning with a commitment to you, your Word and my responsibilities as a Father. Amen

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