The Poor Man's Kingdom



Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30


Gold Nugget
Verse 13: There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. 

Commentary
One of the biggest obstacles to people finding the Lord is the lack of humility in our present society.  While on a crusade in Mexico years ago, it seemed as if the moving of the Spirit of God was more prevalent and consistent than in most American church services. I remember asking Him why I had not seen such a moving in the states. As crazy as it may sound, I believe God spoke to me on this. If I understood Him correctly, it is because of the poverty. Just as the scriptures speak of the difficulty in a rich man entering the Kingdom of Heaven, people that are self sufficient often find it hard to think of themselves as being in need of a Savior that provides for them. All that enter the Kingdom of God, must do so on their knees. The message of the Gospel centers on acknowledgement of our insufficiencies and putting our trust in someone else to provide for us. People that are in emotional or financial distress are usually quick to embrace the Gospel. People that live in abundance often find it hard to see a need for anything in their life that they are not providing themselves. This is not the case with everyone that has been fortunate, but it is still a legitimate pattern. Despite your financial position, the talents you bring to the table or how much beauty you have, everyone that has a healthy relationship with God understands their unworthiness and need for His grace, mercy, forgiveness and provisions. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

Prayer
Lord, I know I am nothing without you. I am in need of your leading, correction and provision. Help me to stay humble by choice and not humbled by humiliation. Amen
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Take the Wood Out of the Fire

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

Gold Nugget
Verse 20: Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.

Commentary
My grandmother used to always say, “It takes two to tango”. Honestly, I didn’t really care for the statement. Usually when someone says that to you it points the blame for a conflict on both parties. Who wants to hear that? What we really want is for the other person to accept responsibility and change. Now, for the sake of this devotion, let’s assume that you are not the one that needs to change. In this situation you are not doing anything wrong. Begin to fill this scenario out in your head. Who is it that fits this condition in your life? Are you truly innocent in the origin of this problem? Okay, maybe you are. You have done everything right and still there is this conflict. Often we find ourselves in situations with difficult people. Someone I know recently got bombarded with horrible ungodly comments, insults and accusations from someone they know on facebook. He asked me what he should do. Of course the first thing I suggested was to ask this person to avoid posting ungodly things on your facebook. The guy actually ridiculed him for the request. After a few days another horrible and wicked comment was posted on my friend’s facebook from this guy. Finally I suggested that he remove the guy from his friends list to prevent him from spreading his hatred on his profile page. Today’s “gold nugget” says, Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. There was a great deal of fiery strife from this hateful person, but my friend removed the wood from the fire. It does take two to tango. Sometimes we are in the right, but contribute to the strife by being an active participant. Sometimes the most effective solution is avoidance. As with this case it was not the first suggestion, but if continued strife is avoidable – avoid the person. Take the wood out of the fire. The flame will die without your fuel. Pray about it. Sometimes this is the answer, but it is best decided between you and God when it is. Sometimes it's best to just let it go.  

Prayer
Lord, help to recognize when a relationship is only volatile and not constructive or healthy. With your guidance, I want to be able to know when to walk away and when to stick it out. Amen

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A Conversation in the Drive-Thru

Reading for Today: Proverbs Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 28: Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Commentary
Having found success in changing my eating habits, exercising and losing some weight, I stopped by McDonald’s last night to get one of their Strawberry-Banana Smoothies. They’re really tasty and occasionally take the place of my evening meal. As I sat in the drive-thru looking at all that junk food, my belly started to speak to my mind; “Awe, shucks! You’ve been good. You run 4 times a week, eat healthy and are feeling great. Your clothes fit better and everything. You can send us a little treat. Look at that cheese dripping off that juicy meat. Splurge a little. You’ve earned it and can get right back on schedule tomorrow.” Yes, my belly said all of that! It almost had me convinced until logical reasoning in my mind kicked in. My mind said to me, “That’s the way it starts, Steve. You already allow yourself to splurge some on the weekends.  If you start allowing your splurge to sneak into the weekdays, the next thing you know you’ll be taking mornings off of running. Then you will start feeling depressed from failure which will make you hungry….” I interrupted myself long enough to reply to the drive-thru speaker. “Yes, that will be all”. I drove home with my smoothie and left them to their hamburgers. It was delicious and was even sweeter with the taste of victory lingering in my mouth. I’m happy knowing that my flesh is learning to live in subjection to the will of my mind. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” As a defenseless city without walls, so are we vulnerable to any attack of our fleshly desires. There all sorts of weaknesses that we have to deal with. Some folks have the perfect metabolism and can eat all they wish without gaining a pound, but may have other areas of weakness just as damaging if not worse. What is the hole in your wall that allows the enemy to come in and cause havoc in your life? Maybe the difference that you can make today is in your perspective. Whatever that weakness is, decide that it is the enemy. Begin to build up the walls of protection called self control before your city is over-taken.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for helping me to be victorious last night. The changes you have made in my life are noticed and appreciated. The greatest accomplishments that you have to do in me are yet to come and are greater that any physical victories can compare. Amen

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I Got This

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.

Commentary
I remember when my son was little; he always would try to cut short instructions. When he was 6 or 7 years old I was trying to teach him how to shoot a BB gun. As soon as he got the gun in his hands he said, “I got it, Dad… I got it.” I hadn’t shown him how to aim the sights yet and had safety rules to teach him. Several times in the process he cut in, “I got it, Dad… I got it.” Although my concerns about him refusing instructions in that situation as well as others, it wasn’t all that different to the many times I did and do the same. If it’s as simple as glancing at the instructions before assembling a desk or something, often times I would have to disassemble some piece because of neglecting the instructions. After managing people for many years, there have been many times when someone cut short my instructions because of an “I got this” attitude. Knowing that there were important additional instructions, I knew their approach left room for error. I can’t help but wonder how often God is left standing there, so to speak, while we say “I got it, Dad… I got it.” Although we may not say it in words, we say it in deed. He has an entire Book of Instructions that is as neglected as the instruction manual that sits in the box while we stumble through the assembling of our lives. Having an open door to learning and following instructions may not be in our personal tool box. More of us cut short His instructions and take on an “I got it” attitude. Today’s “gold nugget” challenges us to Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge. I have found that as I have gotten older I read the instructions more and more. I have assembled too many things incorrectly too many times. Humility earned or learned is still humility. Enough errors in my life have helped to humble me enough to rely on the instructions. Enough experiences have shown me that there is great security in sticking close to the instructions. Have you been reading His instruction manual or have you been trying to wing it? If so, how is that working for you?

Prayer
Lord, I know that your instruction manual is the Word of God we call the bible. I know that I try to build my life sometimes on my own, but am learning how to trust your instructions more and more. Help me to surrender to your direction in all areas of my life. Amen

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Refiner's Fire

Reading for Today: Proverbs Chapter 17

Gold Nugget
Verse 3: "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts."

Commentary
The testing or trying of silver and gold are known to be performed by the introduction of heat. In order to purify these precious commodities they must endure the fire. It is the natural order of things and is by God's design. Today's "gold nugget" assumes that we have accepted these facts concerning the purification of these elements and are now ready to grasp a more important lesson and yet consistent in order as these. "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts." Although we live in a microwave society, that is to say, we have found shortcuts to many of our wishes, the purifying of the heart and soul of a man can only be accomplished through the fire as well. The fire is not that of the refining pot or furnace as is silver and gold, but of the refining fire of the Lord. Consider 1 Peter 1:7, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" Jesus is the refining fire that burns away the impurites and preserves the purity. There is only one way to be pure and that is to endure the flame. Our society has taught us to hide, mask or medicate any pain, but it is by His design that we endure these to become who we should be. The basic concept of "No pain, no gain" applies here. Consider also these powerful words from Malachi 3 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.
  
Prayer
Lord, I may be tempted to misdirect the purpose or opportunity for growth with my fiery trials and situations. Help me to remember that every trial is also an opportunity for growth should I allow it. Also remind me that I can't have a victory without first having a battle. Amen

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Terminal Illness

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
Verse 10: "Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, and he who hates correction will die."

Commentary
Its one thing to stray from the path, but it's all together different when you stray from the path and then refuse correction. I've heard it said and have found it to be true; that it's better to have one person that is "teachable" than three talented people that will not receive instruction or correction. Today's "gold nugget" reminds us that he "who forsakes the way" will be disciplined. As for him that forsakes the way and rejects or hates correction, his result will be outside of the correctable range resulting in death. Although not necessarily physical death, the destructive and terminal elements of death will come upon him. The person that strays from the correct business practices or maybe company policies will bring discipline from management. The person that strays and then rejects discipline/correction will eventually be terminated. It is a fact of life. Whether it is business, family or your relationship with God, straying from the way God has put before you will often bring "Harsh discipline". Straying from the path and refusing or hating discipline/correction will result in destructive and terminal scenarios in our lives. All of us are in need of correction and discipline. Do you have anyone that you can and do receive correction from? If not, you are probably lining up with the character of the person described in the second half of "today's gold nugget" and may be suffering from a terminal illness. There is a cure, if you can suffer the pride it will take to receive it.

Prayer
Lord, I know that I need correction in my life. Help me to be able to receive it when it comes from whomever you choose to bring it to me. Help me to stay on the right path as I mature in you. Amen

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Righteousness Pays Off

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 10


Gold Nugget
Verse 2: "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death." 

Commentary
It was probably over ten years ago. I was on the 4th floor of a structure in the hottest part of the Texas summer heat, during the hottest part of the day. I had been working longer than I should have without taking a break and drinking water. I knew the signs of overheating. I had stopped sweating and could feel my body temperature rising as I pressed into my work. I was determined to finish bolting everything up before going downstairs for a water break. For some reason, there wasn't any water on the structure. Finally the last bolt was tightened and I headed for the stairs. One of the client representatives was coming up the stairs and scolded me up one side and down the other for heading downstairs. I stood there silent, sure that he would feel bad when I was able to tell him that I hadn't had a chance to get a drink of water for several hours and would return to the area when I replenished my fluids. However, his scolding went on into a fit and borderline tantrum. I wondered why he would treat anyone so badly. I finally had all the abuse I felt the Lord would expect me to endure and headed down the stairs and left him to his tantrum.

It was the next day that I was called into my supervisor's office. I was told not to return to that work site and that they had another site for me to work at. I was concerned that the story had been misinterpreted if not outright lied about. They told me not to worry about it. The client representative had called my foreman, general foreman and superintendent in to the office with other representatives. The man went on and on about how I had disrespected him, talked back to him and so on. I felt the blood start to curdle under my skin, until the next thing he said calmed me instantly. He said, "But, we knew he was lying." I wondered for a minute why they didn't even ask me my side of the story before determining the man had lied. He went on to say, "We just sat there listening to him, thinking, this doesn't sound like Steve, and then he said you cussed him out and then we knew he was lying." Even the other clients in the room that knew me didn't believe him. They said, "We have worked with Steve for years and years and have never heard him say a single curse word, even in the most challenging situations." Just to keep things smooth, they moved me to another area for a few days. I was never more proud of what the Lord had accomplished in my life than on that day. Today's "gold nugget" speaks on this very subject. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death." Despite the wicked behavior of an ungodly man, it didn't profit him anything and because of the reputation of serving God consistently, I was delivered from harm. Be sure of this, God's Word is truth and every precept that you accept and practice will pay off for you in due season.

Prayer
Lord, I am grateful that your Word is true and I will purpose to continue in it. Forgive me of the areas I have failed you in and ask for your mercy and grace to sustain me. Amen

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The Belt of Truth

Reading for Today: Proverbs Chapter 8


Gold Nugget
Verse 7: “For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips."

Commentary 
I’m surprised sometimes at how much liberty Christians take when it comes to the truth. Somewhere along the way, it became okay for us to adjust the truth or replace it all together. Sometimes I see this in more mature Christians and they will do it without shame. How did we come to this? It used to be that Christians where known for their inability to tell a lie. It was something we took pride in. There was no such thing as a white lie. The principle of not lying ruled other moral areas of our life. Not only would we avoid lying, but we would avoid doing things that we would have to lie about. The Word of God is timeless. If it was a sin to lie 100 or 1,000 years ago; it's sin today. Not only is it a sin to lie but, it lowers our defense and makes us vulnerable to the enemy. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul mentioned in Ephesians 6:14 "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness". Paul teaches us about the armor of God. To put on the whole armor of God, you must have on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. This is all to be able to stand against the devil. Neglecting even one part of this armor will leave us open to the enemies attacks. Neglecting to be honest is neglecting the belt of truth from the armor of God. Do you really want to leave your guard down for the devil to attack? It's better to purpose to be honest in all ways and in all things. Even if it means we will have to avoid certain actions that would temp you to lie for a cover up.

Prayer
Lord, I want to put on your entire armor. Help me to remember that refusing to be dishonest in anyway goes against your character and the character that you want me to reflect. Amen

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LOAN-ley Hearts

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 6

Gold Nugget
Verse 1-2: "1 My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. "

Commentary 
I remember when I was a little boy how my grandfather told me that a "handshake" was as firm as a contract. No pen needed - a man's word ensured his agreement. Many of you may remember those days. Today things are different. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am still shocked when people don't honor their word. It is better to have not agreed to anything than to turn from your word. That brings me to today's "gold nugget". The word surety from this verse means what it sounds like. "...if you become surety for your friend" uses the word "surety" with the root word "sure". "Sure" meaning absolute, without doubt or wavering -a guarantee. If you are a guarantee for someone today and they don't pay their debt, you will pay it for them. Often times referred to as a co-signer; when you have co-signed, "You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth.” Many Christians do not practice co-signing because of this very scripture and they have perfect grounds for it. The scriptures teach us to be very careful when we guarantee another person. If we vouch for someone and they back out, we may be left standing there when the lender comes for his money. He will not hesitate to take from your family. I see this scripture like Jesus' words in Luke Chapter 6, "34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High." The way these tie together for me is through the fact that Jesus says to loan and do not hope for it back. My dad taught me to only loan what I can afford to lose and don't ask for it back. If it does come back, you have not lost anything even though you were willing to. If it doesn't come back, you have only lost what you were willing to lose. Continuing with Jesus' words, we see that lending to someone and expecting it back is more like asking someone to hold your money for you. If they are in need and you can meet it, just do it and forget about it. I won’t say that I don’t co-sign or loan money to anyone, but if I do it will have to be something that I can pay back if the recipient couldn't or wouldn't. 

Just in case you thought this devotional was going to be solely about co-signing and not relevant to your situation, hold on for a second. The principle of vouching for others can be more than money. Often times we "co-sign" for people’s character. Be certain that you will be judged by others according to who you associate with and who you claim as a friend. When you refer someone, introduce someone or promote someone, your credibility is at stake. I think we should stand up for others, defend others and vouch for others, but I also think we should use caution while doing it. When that person turns out to be a discredit, your credit may be effected by it.

Prayer
Lord, help me to remember that who I associate for and vouch for should be people of character and not an offence to you and your name. Remind me also to give without hoping for a return or keeping score. Amen

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Fine with Mine

Reading for Today: Proverbs Chapter 5


Gold Nugget
Verse 15: "Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well."

Commentary
Today's "gold nugget" is refers to a man engaging with a women that is not his to have. Whether she belongs to another or he belongs to another, either way, the "cistern" is not his to drink from. At the risk of losing some folks for lack of relevance, we will deal with the core issues that are more widely relevant. Although the 10 commandments deal with adultery (7th commandment) and how we shouldn't have another person's mate, it is appropriate that it deals with coveting (10th commandment) without being redundant. The 10th commandment declares that you're not only to avoid having your neighbor’s wife, but avoid even desiring (coveting) your neighbor's wife. Or for that matter, anything he possesses. The offense of wanting what someone else has goes even deeper. God takes great pride in being a good provider. Imagine two mothers that prepare lunch for their child. After the meal has been served, one child ignores their mother’s hard work and stares at the other child’s lunch with envy. The mother will be hurt and offended. God is very concerned with meeting our needs. When we look to what others have and covet for their possessions, we offend God as sure as that child offended his mother.

Recap - to covet your neighbor’s wife is an offense to:
· Your neighbor
· Your neighbor’s wife
· Your wife (if married)
· Potentially children on either side
· Most importantly – God

It’s time we quit looking at others and what they have, what they have accomplished, how they live, how they look, what they drive, etc. The chain reaction of who it hurts goes farther than we may think. Maybe we should just learn to be content with what is proper for us and leave the vanity and lustful desires to the foolish.

Prayer
Lord, whether it be what I drive, what I wear or where I live; I want to honor you by being content with what is proper for me. You are a great provider and if you see fit to give me something of lesser or greater value in my eyes, that’s okay by me. I trust you. Amen

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Sleeping Good

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 2

Gold Nugget
Verse 8: "He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints."


Commentary
 We should be able to sleep at night knowing that our elected officials are busy looking out for our best interest and preserving the constitution. We should be able rest at peace, confident that they are establishing provisions to preserve the american way of life. We should be... Well, regardless of the fact that I have very little confidence in our elected officials to look out for anything that's in my best interest, I still sleep like a baby. I rest with peace in my heart and mind, knowing that my God is busy establishing provisions to preserve the Christian way of life. Because He doesn't sleep, there isn't any reason for us both to stay up. I know that the Christian Constitution will never be amended, because it was flawless and timeless. It's always applicable and relevant and doesn't need to be revised. My God guards the path He established for me ("He guards the paths of justice") and He has preserved my way ("...and preserves the way of His saints."). It gives me great comfort knowing that I can't be undone while I am asleep. What He has accomplished in me, He will complete. My security lies in Him and all my hopes are secure. I have invested in the Kingdom of God  and the return is unmatched by the best opportunities known to man. You can't by stock, because it's given away freely. Yes, I will sleep secure tonight knowing that I am secured. I feel for those who don't have this security and hope to share the truth with as many as I can. Will you join the effort?


Prayer
Lord, thank you for everlasting arms of safety and security. I glorify you for you'r constant presence and protection. Amen

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