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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Well, Well

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 26: A righteous man who falters before the wicked Is like a murky spring and a polluted well. 

Commentary
I remember when I was around 12 years old, my parents took us to some very old relatives in Tennessee. It was out in the country and there wasn't much evidence around you as to what year you were even in. I'm pretty sure they were still using outhouses. The thing I remember most is everyone being gathered around an old well out back. It wasn't like the ones I had seen in the cartoons with a wooden bucket over a hole several feet wide. It was actually a small hole with a rope coming out of the top. After reeling it up, out came a long stainless cylinder. I remember not being impressed with this effort. Also, I didn't see much value in unfiltered water from the dirty ground. That was until I had my turn to drink. Once the surprisingly cold, most delicious water I had ever drank hit my mouth, I understood the fuss over this effort. From that day forward and even until this moment, the thirstiest instances in my life were always gauged by the drink of water I had when I was 12 years old. After a long day of football practice, I would imagine that well water as I drank the lukewarm water shooting out of the pre-drilled holes of PVC pipe. Or the hot and humid days of southeast Texas during the hottest days of summer while I worked through breaks . All of these thirsty moments would bring me back to the best drink of water I ever had. I never made it back to that well in Tennessee, but suppose I had and found it to be dirty and warm. It would to some extent ruin the precious memory and awesome effect it had on me. Even as I wrote this devotion tonight, I had to take several drinks of my water when thinking of that experience so many years ago. Jesus described Himself as a well that would forever quench thirst. We are the continuation of His work. We all can be this well of life to someone along the way. When this happens, you will be remembered by that person like that cold drink of water from the well. Too often, those that God has used to bring life and quench the thirsty, end up polluting the well that was at one time pure and clean. Once God begins to use you, you must find it important to maintain holiness. Through Him, this can be done.  

Prayer
Lord, I needed to be reminded that at some time or another, you have used me to be a well of living water to someone. Help me to ensure that they would return to the same. Amen

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Bite Your Tongue

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
Verse 1,2,4,28: 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. 

Commentary
I have some experience in arguments. I have some communication skills and can make my points without raising my voice, swinging my arms around, etc. (unless I'm preaching) Some people use the escalation of voices and insults to the point sometimes of physical violence. My soft answers did not always turn away wrath. 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger That didn't mean however,  that my "soft" answers were helpful words. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. My "soft" words were not necessarily "right" words. Eventually the lack of agreement would lead to an escalation of voices and threats. When the emotions begin to flow, the accusations would soon follow.  4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, That was not truth and the perversion of truth breaks the spirit. But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

We must develop some skills from His Word like the ones mentioned in this chapter:
  • A soft answer does turn away wrath (if the next is true)
  • The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly 
  • A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
  • The heart of the righteous studies how to answer
We have learned that not following these principles will result in the following:
  • Harsh words stir up anger
  • The mouth of a fool pours forth foolishness
  • Perverseness (speaking false accusations) does break the spirit
  • The mouth of a fool pours forth evil
Prayer
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to see the areas of my life that need attention. Give me the strength to use these truths when I communicate with others. I want to be a better example of your love when dealing with conflict. Help me to know that my tongue can bring death or life. I want to be a life giver. One who uses words to help and encourage.
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 the Cradle". The song tells the story of young boy longing for the attention of his father to no avail. In turn, 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 a 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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The Honest Truth

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 11

Gold Nugget
Verse 1-2: 1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes shame;

Commentary
Although I chose verse 1 for today's gold nugget, I would have liked to use all of them. I believe the scriptures are clear concerning being dishonest. My focus today is not honesty between you and your spouse, a friend, etc. Some folks have been known to say, "I might take a tool home from work, but I won't steal from anyone." Also you may have heard, I may not report all of my income on my taxes and so on. These scriptures in Proverbs are often related to immoral business practices or other forms of dishonesty that is for financial gain. What it really boils down to is whether or not we will admit that being dishonest in any arena is going to effect us spiritually. 

When we read about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 it tells us to "put on the WHOLE armor of God, so that we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Leaving out even one part of the armor can leave us vulnerable to the enemy's attacks. One of the pieces of the Armor of God mentioned in this passage in Ephesians is the "Belt of Truth" (verse 14). Taking short cuts or telling out right lies for personal gain will be voluntarily opening a hole in your armor. Hear the words and do what you want with them. If you willfully cheat or lie in any area of your life, you are abandoning God's expectations and commands and will be exposed to the enemies attacks. If God is dealing with you about anything that could be applied in this message, don't learn this lesson the hard way. Be obedient to God now, today and trust Him to meet your needs through honest God honoring behavior.

Prayer
Lord, I have seen opportunity to find financial gain without any fear of being caught. Although it is dishonest, nobody would be hurt from it and I would be able to use it for my family. These excuses will always be available to me, but I would rather maintain your supernatural provisions through my obedience to your commands than to gain all the money the world has to offer. I am determined to live an honest and moral life and allow you to be my provider. Amen

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The Relay

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 10

Gold Nugget
Verse 7:  "The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot." 

Commentary
It's not often that I concern myself with the legacy that I leave behind. Right or wrong, once I'm gone - I'm gone. There will be a few people that will likely morn me for a time, but even the closest of friends and family will once again focus on the life and responsibilities that they have before them. The impact that I wish to have on people while I am here is to somehow convince them of the impact they need to have on others while they are still here. In a relay race, it isn't important how fast runner 3 ran, but what the team accomplished as a whole. The fastest runner of a team that lost still doesn't stand in the winner's circle. It is a blessing to remember those that have run before us, but I don't imagine them up in heaven glowing in the glory of our praise. The blessing is ours that remain. As the next runner in the relay, we benefit (are blessed) by the pace and distance that our previous runner accomplished. We are the blessed ones. We are reaping the benefits of our predecessor. As sure as the memory of the previous runner can be a blessing to us, the poor performance of a previous runner can be as rottenness. Not being given a good start for our leg of the race can cause resentment, pain and suffering. How blessed would the next person in the relay be if we made up for the time that was lost before us and gave our next runner a head start? It's not so much of what we want to leave behind to be remembered by, but to have given our connection to the future a good start and make an honorable effort towards the cause of the race. We have been handed the Gospel of Jesus Christ as something to carry in this race we run. We need to run the race with perseverance and discipline without concern for self glory, but for the love of our fellow man and the cause of Christ. Will you pick up the Gospel and run with passion, today?

Prayer
Father, I don't want to be slack while carrying your Gospel. I want my children and those that I may impact to pick up this Gospel and carry it with conviction. Help me to remember the cause of Christ and run the race with passion. Amen

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Speak to Me


Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 8

Gold Nugget
Verse 6: 
Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things;
Commentary
Last year I took my daughter’s car to the shop to get worked on. I always enter with caution when dealing with mechanic shops. I feel like I am going to get ripped off. Although there are honest Christian mechanics out there, I have been ripped off before and some of them have had a “fish” logo on their sign. When someone has you over a barrel and you are not an expert on the subject, you have to listen and take their word for it. This can be very scary, but unavoidable at times. Whether it is a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer or anyone else that you have to take their word for something on, you have to just listen and hope for the best. There are a lot of uncertainties in this life, but it sure is a comfort to the believer to know that we have an “Agent” that knows every field and is looking out for our best interest. He is an expert at everything and cannot be fooled. All He requires of us is to Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; This “gold nugget” ensures that we will not have to worry about all the rest, if we just listen to the one voice that supersedes all voices. “Listening” can be more than we think. When the scriptures instruct us to listen, we are actually being instructed to listen to His Word (The Bible). It doesn’t mean for us to go to church and “listen” to the preacher. We should do that, but the listening He wants from us is to listen to what HE has to say. We can listen in our own quiet time with just ourselves and the Word of God. That is where He wants to speak to you. Some folks aren’t willing to sit still and listen. Some folks aren’t willing to devote to His Word. The truth is, some folks are bound to fall from listening to what they shouldn’t. Listen to God’s Word today, you may just hear what you needed to. 
Prayer
Lord, there is no better experience than reading your Word and having you speak it to me. I pray that others that may not have experienced this will reach out to you and find you in your Word today. 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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Ask & Receive

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 2



Gold Nugget
Verse3-5:  Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.  

Commentary

Today’s “gold nugget” reminds me of the old saying “You have not, because you ask not”. I wonder how many people know that Jesus said it first in the Sermon on the Mount. The concept of asking and receiving is God’s invention. He instituted it early on and expects us to live by it. The important thing to grasp in today’s “gold nugget” would be how intently you want it. God is not a table waiter, He is a provider. He doesn’t need a tip from us to provide our every need. He gives us good gifts because of His love for us. Sometimes the gifts He wants to give us - He doesn't give because we have to want it enough... and by want, I mean intently desire. As this scripture indicates, you must want it as if you were seeking silver and hidden treasures.  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you”. He also said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. He wants to give us wisdom and knowledge. If we are really seeking Him and being obedient in the knowledge He has already given us, He will give us more wisdom and knowledge. If we are faithful in what He gives us, He will give us more. (Luke 16:10) Remember what James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives freely”. He wants you to have wisdom and knowledge - the question is, “Do you”?

Prayer
Lord, I do want your wisdom. I want to be willing to seek it as silver or other fine treasures. I know I need your wisdom and understanding in order to be the person you want me to be. Thank you for making your Word available to me. Amen


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