The Promoter


Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30

Gold Nugget
Verse 32: If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, Or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth. 

Commentary
Years ago people used to be entertained by the great boxer, Mohammad Ali. His skill in the ring was unmatched for several years. He was fast, strong and tough, but you didn’t need me to tell you that did you? Ali never needed a promoter. He promoted himself. At every camera and in every microphone, the champ would declare his greatness. “Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, he would say. “I’m so pretty”, he would shout. “It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am. The list of his boasting and self promotion is too long to include here. Ali was an entertainer and even in his day, entertainer or not, many people could not tolerate his bragging. Most folks just chalked it up to being a showman and dismissed it as part of his act. One thing that should be noted is the reason he got so much attention was because no one else was doing this. People either loved him or loved to hate him, but the cameras were possessed with him. Today, sports and entertainment celebrities are infested with this self promotion. It no longer needs to be masked by showmanship or entertainment; people just love to declare how great they are. I enjoy sports, but can hardly stand to hear this self promoting phenomenon. Just as tolerance of this horrible trait has grown over the years, it didn’t stop at celebrities. The self promotion and fixation with themselves expressed by our youth is repulsive. Whether it’s “Facebook”, “Myspace” or whatever social networking application is being used, people have taken it from what can be healthy networking on to self glorifying and self exaltation. Nowadays, there isn’t any shame in standing in front of a mirror with a cell phone posing like they’re on the cover of a magazine, dressing provocatively and outright claiming in writing their greatness. Modesty has been thrown out the window. Just to share the blame, it should be noted that even adults are being caught up in this self love and self glorifying. Maybe it has always been there and it just wasn’t accepted. Probably so, but I will take closet conceit over this shameless manifestation of “me over thee” behavior. What happened to humility? Just in case you are wondering, it is still expected of Christians. What of putting others above and before yourself? It may not be popular, but it’s still scriptural. Maybe this applies to you and maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it applies to our kids. Shouldn’t that be enough to corral them before it get’s any further. Whether it’s us or our kids, we aren’t supposed to be going with the flow of this world. Maybe you should take a stand today. What do you say?

Disclaimer: Facebook, Myspace, etc are not wrong in themselves. The purpose in this devotion is to illustrate the way they are too often used for self exalting. If this is not the way it is being used by you, it still may be necessary for you to to steer someone else in the right direction.

Prayer
Lord, despite how accepted it has become in our world, I want to represent the character that you have developed in me. I don’t need to exalt myself, but rather need to humble myself. Thank you for reminding me of this truth. Amen

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Praising the Wicked

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 28

Gold Nugget
Verse 4: 
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.”

Commentary
It amazes me still to see so many people praising certain politicians. Any politician that supports ideas or beliefs that come in direct conflict with the Word of God should not be praised. As a matter of fact, they should be contended with. Can you interpret today’s “gold nugget” any differently? Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.” Those that endorse people that have forsaken the laws of God have forsaken His laws themselves. Those that keep the laws of God will contend with those who don’t… so much for being politically correct. This really flies in the face of the eureka society that is supposed to be achieved if we would just keep our convictions to ourselves. This is not only unscriptural but, Jesus even declared that we would not live in peace with those who forsake His laws. The following is some of the most profound and eye opening scriptures that I know, but be warned, although they are direct scriptures without modification, they’re not for people that do not take Jesus’ words seriously. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39) You see, this Gospel is not for the weak at heart. It isn’t for those that are timid. This Gospel will cause and require you to not only avoid endorsing wicked people; it will cause and require you to take a stand against them. In so doing, you may lose one or more of the relationships mentioned above. Anything less, to put it in Jesus’ words, “is not worthy of Me”. We need to take great care in who we endorse, promote or condone. This goes much further than politics. We are just as much in violation when we praise anyone that has forsaken His laws.

Prayer
Lord, you didn’t enlist me in an army made of weaklings. Our cause is constantly under attack and must be defended. Give me the boldness to stand against those that have forsaken your laws, lest other’s be carried away with their folly. Amen

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Just Kidding

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26


Gold Nugget
Verse 18-19: 18 Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows 19 is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!"

Commentary
I've had to deal with my children in scenarios much like today's "gold nugget". I found that they were often times insulting one another and then adding "just kidding" on the end just to make it okay. It's as if we found a loop hole to legalize being mean. If I were to say to Jay Leno, "Hey you sure have a big chin!", it would not count against me as being mean as long as I followed it up with, "Just kidding!" If Jay Leno was sensitive to this, the damage would have already been done. Throwing "just kidding" on the end does not make the assault void. Today's scripture is specifically about being deceptive and justifying it with "just kidding", but the overall point of doing wrong intentionally thinking you can just erase it should be of great concern to us. This sneaky way of being wicked is more prevalent than we might think. If someone wants to hurt someone else's feelings, they may mention something that would be sensitive to them, all while playing innocent. God knows the heart and is deeply wounded for the person we are hurting if we do this. When we behave like this we are actually getting two hurts for the price of one. When we hurt others and play innocent, we hurt God and them. We can no longer play this role and pretend like we are not at fault. Remember, you may fool the individual, but God always knows the intent of the heart.

Prayer
Lord, I want to be mindful of the people that I may hurt and avoid this behavior by making it seem like a small thing. Remind me that how I treat others, is also how I treat you. Amen

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Going in Circles

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

Gold Nugget
Verse 11: "As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly."

Commentary
Today's "gold nugget" describes a particularly crude scenario. As unpleasant as it is and would be even once, who would return to their own? The Lord sees our repeated foolishness as the dog in verse 11. After we should have learned our lessons and matured, we continue to recycle into the same traps and situations.  There is and should be a place we come to where we don't repeat our foolish mistakes over and over again. Have you ever been lost and found yourself going in big circles? When you make the first round or so you may not recognize that you are coming down the same street again, but after a while you will start to recognize the street earlier and earlier each time you make a round. The signs and landmarks will tell you that you are entering territory you have been in before. The same applies to us getting into the same situations over and over again. If we open our eyes and pay closer attention, we will see "signs" and "landmarks" to tell us that we are entering familiar territory and make the adjustments needed to avoid making the same mistakes. With maturity should come a quicker reaction to avoiding the same traps.

Prayer
Lord, give me the insight to see the signs that indicate that I am cycling back into the same foolishness. When you present the signs and landmarks to help me see what is happening, I will react with maturity and redirect my course away from disaster. Amen

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Let's Tango

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 21-22: "21If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you."

Commentary
You've heard the old cliché', "It takes two to tango." You've also heard "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1) Knowing how to deal with difficult people is a fine art. Trying to find the appropriate place between taking opposition with a person  and not condoning bad behavior by keeping silent, requires wisdom. The kind of wisdom that can be learned in the pages of God's Word. The scriptures, namely here in Proverbs, teaches us to keep our mouths shut and also teaches us to correct and rebuke. Some of us that may be confrontational people may find it easy to rebuke someone while rarely offering words of encouragement. Other people can encourage or keep their mouths shut as opposed to taking a stand against bad behavior. 

The key to knowing when to rebuke, when to encourage or when to keep silent requires two things. The first thing necessary is to posses wisdom. This (as mentioned previously) can be found by continuing in God's Word. The second is to walk in love. When you are at a crossroad between keeping silent or being confrontational, love should be the deciding factor. 

If you love someone, you will confront them about sin in their life. If you are doing it in love, love will dictate the way you approach that person and the manner of delivery for the correction. As Christians, we don't make enemies. Our enemies are our foes by their choice and not ours. We must remember that. If it was their choice to be our enemy, it will be their choice to no longer be our enemies. We should rejoice to see our enemies turn from their wrath against us just as much as we were sad to see them oppose us. Keeping this in mind, should help us to practice this verse 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you. Now as far as the coals on their heads. These are purifying coals - not us inflicting pain on them. If we love them while they are hating us, it is possible that our love can have a purifying effect on the whole situation, including their attitude. It does take two to tango. Let's try a different approach to how we handle our "enemies" and see if God's Word stands true.

Prayer
Lord, today I may come in contact with those that wish me harm. I purpose from this day forward to give your words a chance by applying the truth learned in this passage. Today, I will feed and cloth my enemy. I may not see the reward today, but I am willing to sow this seed persistently and reap the harvest in due time. Amen

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What's your Motive?

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 4-5: "4Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven."


Commentary
What are you working for? When we get up every morning and head to our jobs, what is or motive? There is a such thing as more than a man needs. Much of our work is to gain what we want above our needs. Is that wrong? Not necessarily. It depends on what are wants are. The bible issues some pretty harsh words for a man that refuses to provide for his family, so we need to be good providers. The concern here is what we desire above needs. I'll also go as far as saying that we need a measure of pleasure. I stress the word measure. When we pay thousands and even tens of thousands above what we need, just to satisfy the lustful flesh. We pay twice above the need for a vehicle or home, just to have something that we can use as a tool measure our status and worth. If a man makes $300,000 a year and drives a $20,000 car, the car isn't an accurate reflection of how much he makes. He needs to drive an $80,000 car and live in a $550,000 home so people will know what class of living he is. 

Many of us can look at those numbers and say, "He ain't talkin' about me." Many of us are living in the same cycle, just on a smaller or larger scale. The sin isn't the amount, it's the motive. Better said, it is the desire. Many of us would say that we are too poor to even register on the scale and therefore, this doesn't apply to us. Some of us are poor because we already have the deficiency in our hearts. Today's "gold nugget" says, riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven. This leaves us broke, or the Lord prevents us from that gain because of His desire to keep us from our own self destruction. 

Prayer
Lord, measure my desires and motives. Remind me of how temporary this life is, and what a disservices we offer you when we waste our time and resources on selfish and wasteful living. If you so choose to bless me with resources above my needs, I commit to blessing others and meeting as many of their needs that I can. Amen

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The Parent Trap

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 21

Gold Nugget
Verse 6: 
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Commentary
A much quoted and dare I say misinterpreted scripture, is the focus and object of today's "Gold Nugget". Many a parent has felt the wrath and judgment of the much accepted meaning of this scripture. The common interpretation of Proverbs 22:6 is, "If you you raise up a child in the ways of the Lord, he/she will be saved." Implying that - should we do our jobs as parents, we can ensure our child's salvation. How many parents of adult children that do not serve the Lord cringe at the mention of this verse. Should they carry the burden of failing to do what was in their power to ensure their children's salvation?

We need to be reminded of a basic and foundational doctrine of Christianity. We can not save ourselves by our works, neither can we save another by our works. All of our holy living and godly parenting will not excuse our children from having to make their own decision to surrender their lives to their Creator. A godly person is not necessarily proof of a godly raising anymore than an ungodly person is proof of ungodly raising. "Everyone works out their own salvation with fear and trembling" Philippians 2:12

At closer examination, we read the verse to say "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." There is evidence of something absolute in the verse. "When he is old he will not depart from it". It is true, if you train up a child in the way he should (not will) go, he will not depart from it. No matter which way you define the "will not depart", it will sum up to "unable to separate". It is my belief that if we raise children in the ways of the Lord,  they will never be able to separate themselves from your teachings. Even when they are old, they will not be like those who have no knowledge of God and what God expects of them. They will not be able to live in peace with the knowledge of who God is and what He wants from them built inside of them. The inability to live at peace with that training built into their foundation will aid in their restoration, but will not guarantee their salvation. When our works as parents or any other role we play guarantees salvation, we know longer need a Savior.

Prayer
Lord, help us who are still raising children see the intricate part we can play in your plan to redeem them. Help us to instill the truth of who you are in our children, so that it will never depart from them. For those of us that have raised our children to serve you and yet they don't, free us from any condemnation that may have been put upon us from the misinterpretation of this verse. Remind us that you are a just God and are not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We know that you will pursue those that had an ungodly raising just as passionately as those who had a godly raising. 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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Better is One Day

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
Verse 16: Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble.

Commentary
Chris Tomlin sings a popular song you may be familiar with these lyrics, “Better is one day in Your courts, Better is one day in Your house, Better is one day in Your courts, Than thousands elsewhere I love the song and the verse that inspired it, For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Also today's "gold nugget", Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble.” Although it is said easily, do we truly understand and feel this way. If someone asked us if we would suffer a year of hardships for an eternity of bliss, prosperity and perfect health, we would ask where to sign. Although that is exactly what God has offered to us, many people pass on this offer. Why is it? I believe there are two things at work in this scenario today. The first is the ever decreasing belief in an infallible, inerrant Word from God. Less and less of us believe that the scriptures are infallible and this WILL lead to less and less people believing in God and therefore, they see no need to live their lives like there is any reward or punishment thereafter. The second is the inability of people today to see more than a few feet in front of them. Trading a lifetime of servitude and guaranteed suffering or afflictions is not worth what they see as too far off. They don’t see the rush or urgency in giving their life to God today. Both of these are false security and can only be expelled by the truth of God’s Word, but it isn’t likely to be read by them. It is most likely going to be read by watching those that live it. Are you living it or do you even know it enough to practice it today?

Prayer
Lord, help us to have a commitment to your Word and a desire to share it with a society that is turning away from you. Give us both wisdom and love to share your truth. Amen

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Get Away

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 14


Gold Nugget
Verse 7: Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
Todays "gold nugget" instructs us to get away from the foolish man that does not speak with knowledge. Often times we are in situations where we cannot get away from people that we really would like to. I am keeping with the object of this verse when I say "we want to get away from someone". It is foolish of us to want to stay in the presence of those who instruct in foolishness, but what if we just can't physically remove ourselves? If we can't remove ourselves physically, then we should do it spiritually. The person that is described in this verse may be someone from work, school or another place that you do not have control over. This is when we see the need for us to separate ourselves spiritually. The bible tells us without fail that we are to separate ourselves from wickedness, foolishness, etc. I have done this without ever leaving the room. It requires boldness, but you can do it. An example of when I did this brings me back to a day when our crew had gathered together - just finishing off the day with small talk. One of the guys told an offensive joke and without fail the entire crew erupted with laughter... well almost the entire crew. It was a small area and very close quarters. My refusal to acknowledge, encourage or even smile was like nails on a chalkboard. It was like the elephant in the room.. everyone could see it, but nobody said a word. We may not always be able to leave the room, but we can sure separate from others when it is appropriate to do so. There may be someone in your life that you know you need to be bold and separate yourself from. It isn't always easy, but if you commit to it - God will see it through and give you strength.

Prayer
Lord, I see the need to separate myself from those who speak and live in wickedness and foolishness. Give me the boldness to make the stand against them when the time comes. Amen

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Being Tender

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 12

Gold Nugget
Verse 10: “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Commentary
Today's "gold nugget" is one that spoke to me years ago in a special way. I wasn't aware of the bible mentioning cruelty to animals. I just figured God was so concerned with us that He didn't make mention of animals. Although I would consider myself one that loves animals, the measurement of how a man's general state is connected to whether or not he is wicked or righteous. We do have a tendency to be "righteous" in the right areas of our lives. That is, the areas that we think measure who we are. The problem is that we have the whole thing backwards. Being cruel to animals is just the symptom of the real wickedness that infects our lives. The wicked heart is the real problem and manifests itself through various symptoms. It could be cruelty to animals, laziness, selfishness, perversion, drunkenness, or many other potential ways it could reveal itself in our lives. You may know the ways it rears it ugly head in your life. You may be aware of the many ways it may manifest itself. Many people try to focus on the symptoms instead of the real cause. The only real progress one can make in having victory is to acknowledge their inner defect and allow the Lord to take rule in their heart. The wicked manifestations we mentioned are the overflow of a heart that is, or gives in to wickedness. In turn, the Lord's rule in our heart will overflow with righteousness. Don't focus on the works of the flesh, focus on putting to death the flesh and its works will perish with it.

Prayer
Lord, help us to demonstrate tender and mercy in how we treat each other and even possibly some of your lesser creation – animals. Cruelty is not a character trait that we want anyone to consider normal or acceptable for a Christian. Amen

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