Obedience Over Talent

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30

Gold Nugget
Verse 25: 
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer.”

Commentary
I liken this illustration concerning ants to the story of the tortoise and the hare. An unlikely character that accomplishes what the likely character would seems more apt to do. Without rehearsing a story you’re already familiar with, we will just summarize by saying, the most gifted and talented “person” did not win the race. Although the hare was more skilled, talented, and physically fit, he was also, more egotistical, self centered and assuming. The tortoise was not as flashy, exciting or popular, but he was committed and long suffering. He was not distracted by what the world around him had to offer. While he could have never beaten the hare outright, he endured long enough to see the hare fall. Much like today’s “gold nugget”, The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer.” Although they don’t have a ruler to oversee them (Proverbs 6:6-8) they stay focused on the path of obedience and finish strong. We often fall into one of these categories. Many of us have natural God given talents and skills that should enables us to accomplish great things for Him, but it’s often those very gifts that He fashioned us with that replace Him and His plan. Like the rabbit, we are so consumed with our gifts and talents that less gifted and talented people finish ahead of us. I don’t know where you fit in the scenario. Maybe you are the hare that has been given much ability to accomplish great things, but know you need to repent and turn back to your Maker's plan. Others may be the hare. You may not think you look good or gain much attention or even appreciation, but just keep pressing on. You will finish the race that some only start.

Prayer
Lord, often I feel like the hare. You have given me certain abilities and talents, but I have too often been distracted by this world and its pleasures. Help me to be slow to sin and quick to repent. Remind me that this isn’t a sprint. This journey is a marathon.  Amen

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Built to Last

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 29

Gold Nugget
Verse 16: 
When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.

Commentary
Working in construction all of my life, it’s often been said about a particular feature of a building or project, “That’ll be around long after everything else is gone.” It’s a way of stating that something was constructed properly, even if everything else around it crumbles, rust or rots. Today’s “gold nugget” speaks on this matter, When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. It’s okay to consider ourselves a “feature” of God’s masterpiece. He paid the highest cost to purchase us (*Ephesians 1:14) and has taken great lengths to perfect us (*Ephesians 4:12). He says right here in Proverbs just as we say in construction, “That’ll be around long after everything else is gone.” This is a wonderful truth if we choose to truly embrace it. Anything that lasts, lasts through anything. Our journey through this life is one of endurance. The winds blow, the rain comes and the sun will beat down on us, but we are built to last. Not everything around us on this construction site called earth is built to last. Not everyone allows the Master carpenter to fashion them in His likeness. As we endure, it is often tempting to see the fast easy construction that people build their lives from, but in the end, their rejection of the Master’s hand will ensure their fall. If we look around us, it is easy for those with an understanding and familiarity of the Word to see that the wicked are multiplying and transgressions are increasing. Don’t be fooled into falling in with them just because there are in the majority. The “majority rules” cannot be found in God’s plan for how we govern ourselves. The majority of people in the US either agrees with abortion or don’t care enough to overrule it. I’m fine with being in the minority. The minority will see the majority fall.

*Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory"

*Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Prayer
Lord, I know that anything built to last endures much testing and effort in construction. I know that you have invested a lot in me, help me to be patient and endure through the fashioning of my life. Amen

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Satisfaction

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 27

Gold Nugget
Verse 7: 
He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” 
Commentary
Two men sat down to eat. Both men had their fill of their favorite meal. One man received a bill for $38 dollars. The other man received a bill for $7 dollars. Both left their respective restaurants feeling full and satisfied. As we move up the social ladder, our expectations and taste raise with us. One man can be 100% satisfied with a $20,000 vehicle while another man maybe 75% satisfied with a $60,000 vehicle. One person is 100% satisfied in a $150,000 home while another person is 75% satisfied in a $750,000 home. The point is, not all of our spending increases are beneficial to us. I have heard as well as experienced myself, that some people had just as much “extra” money when they where younger making half or even less the salary they have today. The trend for Americans is to raise your spending to maximize what you can get out of your income. However, seldom do we see an increase in the level of satisfaction it brings. Today’s “gold nugget” shows us that, He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” Our threshold for satisfaction is related to something more that what we think it is. The lengths we go to in an attempt to find satisfaction rarely pays dividends. What we find when we get old enough to grasp it, is the fact that satisfaction doesn’t come from things you buy or earn. Contentment and peace comes from loving and being loved, giving to others and being given to and having a clear understanding of why you are here and what is truly expected of you. Many of us learn this lesson so late in life that we fail to experience this level of satisfaction. My advice to you is to learn it now. Grasp today that life is not about what you can gather unto yourself, but who you can gather unto yourself. That may sound weird, but having a family, friends and a healthy interaction with your fellow man brings more satisfaction than any material thing can provide. God created us to have a relationship with Him. Many people never come to understand or accept this. Those that do understand it also understand that His creating us for His good pleasure makes us at one with each other. Understanding our purpose in loving Him and each other is truly a sense of satisfaction that brings peace and happiness to an otherwise unfulfilling life.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for reminding me what is truly important today. Help me to experience people more than experiencing things. Remind me that our life on earth is but a grain of sand on the beach and living it like there is an eternity will bring an eternity of peace and happiness. Amen

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Mr. Know-it-All

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: 
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Commentary
Once a wise elder was asked, “Sir, do you know everything?” He replied, “No, lad. I’m much too old to know everything.” The truth could not have been better said… (outside of scripture anyway). The scriptures actually deal with this subject at length. Those of us that have lived long enough will attest to the truth that the longer we live and the more we know, the more we realize just how much we don’t know. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t realize how little we actually knew while we thought we knew everything. It could have saved us a lot of heartache. The most dangerous element of knowledge is the fact that it comes before wisdom and not after. The truth is, you can have knowledge and not yet posses the wisdom to know how to administer it. Most of us act on our attainment of knowledge as it arrives. The appropriate order is to attain knowledge, then understanding, followed by wisdom (how to properly apply what you know and understand). The sum of all this can be reached through one of the most basic Christian principles –humility. Humility is a required element of every Christian. You will either be humble or be humbled. I have prayed on several occasions that the Lord teach me humility without me having to be humiliated. I’ve had it both ways, and He will oblige me either. In the end, I will be humble. Part of being humble is to know what you don’t know. Some of the wisest people I know aren’t necessarily overflowing with knowledge as much as humility. The people that have a clear understanding of what they know and what they don’t are some of the most valuable people to gain counsel from. Pride will not interfere with their position. They are not wise in their own eyes. As today’s “gold nugget” says, Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Many of us have too much pride to be able to even see the application in this passage for us today. We are more likely to see this illustration and picture in our minds the unfortunate fool that we know who fit this description. In that, we miss an opportunity to see room for our personal growth. Let us be humble today or be humbled tomorrow. May the Lord teach us humility today or humiliation tomorrow.


Prayer
Lord, I have been around long enough to be able to look back and realize how wrong I was when I thought I was most right. Help me to be slower to assume I am right and give space for you to show me what the truth is. In this, I will be able to walk in wisdom and humility. Amen

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Heavenly Investment

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23


Gold Nugget
Verse 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
Today's "gold nugget" reminds me of the old joke about the rich man. As it goes, a rich man dies and after much persuasion is allowed one possession into heaven. Figuring his favorite possession (a chest full of gold) would ensure him a good place in eternity, he drags it to the Pearly Gates. Exhausted, he presents himself to Saint Peter. Peter checks his name and "carry on". "What's in the chest?", Peter asked. With great joy the old man opens the chest to reveal his treasure. Expecting to be given a place of prominence, he is shocked to find himself assigned to the road repair crew. After all, what else should he expect having brought a chest full of pavement! 

Despite how well we may know that earthly treasures are simply that; "earthy", we still have a tendency to get caught up in the rat race of trying to keep up with the Joneses or just trying to satisfy our greedy lust for indulgence. We need to be reminded of what Jesus said in  Matthew 6, "19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Prayer
Lord,help us to be mature Christians that invest our time, money and resources in spiritual things that will have a bearing on our eternal state. Remind us of our responsibilities towards each other and you as we prioritize our busy lives . 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 neglect His commands. We know what God has taught us and we need to continue in it. We need to maintain 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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Good Intentions

Reading For Today: Proverb Chapter 18

Gold Nugget
Verse 2: 
A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.

Commentary
The popular teaching in today’s society is, “Follow your heart”. There may not be a more foolish bit of advice than this “follow your heart” advice. The old saying, “Hell is paved with good intentions" has some legitimate value to it. We wouldn’t head for a destination that we’ve never been to with merely good intentions. We would want facts. We would not be satisfied with following our heart. When it comes right down to it, truth trumps both intentions and heart’s desires. My heart may want to take I-10 to Ohio, but I’ll never get there. With an illustration like that, we would quickly agree that we need directions, accuracy and truth to reach our destination. We want maps, GPS and instructions that are 100% accurate without opinion or suggestions. If this is all true concerning driving from Texas to Ohio, why in the world would we accept any other standards when we travel though life with heaven as our destination? When making decisions about the direction we go in and the manner in which we travel, we should not be following our heart or our good intentions. We should be asking, “What do the Scriptures say about my direction and means of travel? The Word of God (Truth) trumps both intentions and heart’s desires. We should be focused on what He has to say about the decisions we make for everyday living. My heart can be misleading and my intentions can be carnal, but the Word of God is ever true and always applicable. I know someone that has recently made a life altering decision that this person admits is not what God wants, but what they know needs to be done. This person is following their heart with good intentions down a path to sure destruction. Remember today’s “gold nugget, A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” 

Prayer
Lord, I pray for my friend that is allowing their heart to go against your Word. I also pray that I remember this perspective when I am in their shoes. Help me to have the commitment to your Word and truth that will trump my heart’s desires and good intentions when they do not agree with your word. Amen

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Stay the Course

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 17

Gold Nugget
Verse 3: The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.”
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
I really like verse 3 of chapter 17. This truth is of utmost importance and value for a Christian to understand, accept and embrace. Just as the fired furnace is a necessary process to purify both gold and silver, the "fire" is just as necessary to purify the heart. Just as pain is necessary for the growth of muscle and endurance to improve performance, God wants us to improve our performance as well. As today's "gold nugget" says, The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.” We are supposed to be servants in service to serve. God want to get as much out of us for His glory and work as He can. I don't know about you, but I don't have a problem with that. In order for Him to get more out of us for better service, we will have to endure the adversity that burns impurities out of us, the pain of our spiritual muscles growing and the weariness that comes from increasing our endurance. All of this works to improve how much we can endure, carry and suffer to carry this gospel of His. Consider these verses in James chapter 1 verses 2-4:  “2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Remember that God has much to accomplish through your fiery trial. Stay the course!

Prayer
Lord, help me to remember that you are working something to grow me through my suffering. Remind me of the truth from James 1:2-4 that tells me to hang in until the trial has run its course so I will be complete, lacking nothing. Amen

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Don’t Go There!

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 4

Gold Nugget
Verse 14: 
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.”


Commentary
Misery loves company and evil people need associates and victims.  A friend reminded me recently of our ability to enable these people without even intending to. It only takes one link to break a chain. Some chains are for bonding while others are for bondage. It is constructive for people to bind together in unity and strength, but often chains are used for bondage and need to be broken. In 1980 the United States and 59 other nations refused to send their Olympic teams to the Moscow Olympics as a protest against the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Those with evil and destructive intentions are fueled by tolerance, association or willing victims. Disassociation with those of evil intent can often be the most effective form of interference. The effective act of boycotting can be the wisest form of protecting yourself and others. You can curtail these destructive acts by boycotting with disassociation, refusal to be their victim or refusing to be tolerant of those that would victimize others. Often times we can just decide to “Not Go There”. Whether we refuse to participate with someone harmful or refuse to be harmed by them, we can lose our edge by continuing in the situation, discussion or association. If I don’t respond to their e-mails, text messages, phone calls or encounters they cannot victimize me. However; if I continue to respond to their attacks it will only encourage them. I will not provide fuel for those who wish to harm me or others. There is a present celebrity that has a very low approval rating, but extremely high TV rating. She is known by TV producers as a “ratings booster”. Even though the polls prove that America doesn’t even like her, we can't seem to disassociate with her. As long as she is a “ratings booster”, we will have to keep on seeing her on magazine covers and TV programs. If we really want to put a stop to bad behavior, we need to learn how to break free from harmful people and situations.

Prayer
Lord, help me to see people that are destructive in my life and give me the boldness to defend others by boycotting these harmful people. I know there is a fine line on when is the right time to separate myself from certain people, but I know you can show me when and who. Amen

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Bless this House

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 3

Gold Nugget
Verse 33: 
The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. 

Commentary
Is your house blessed or cursed? I’ve been in the south all my life, and it’s quite common to see a “Lord, bless this house” sign hanging in many homes. It may be up north also, but I wouldn’t know. What I do know is I’ve never seen a “Lord, curse this house” sign. We all want God’s blessings, but may be clueless on how we ensure it. Proverbs chapter 3 is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. There are some powerful and enlightening concepts in this chapter. One thing that we know in general of God, is His unfailing grace and mercy. We know that grace is un-merited favor from God, but if there is an “un-merited” favor then what is a “merited” favor and how do we obtain it? It begins early on in the chapter when we read  3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” Here we find a conditional favor... "conditional" on our obedience to His laws and principles. This is merited favor that can be earned through obedience. This is not the same as the “un-merited favor” (grace) that saved us, but another favor (God interacting on our behalf) that stems from us regarding His laws as a priority. If we want God’s blessings we need to understand how it hinges on our obedience. Accepting this at more than just face value and allowing it to change the way we think and reason is the key to experiencing the full blessings and abundant life that is available to those that obey His commands. This sounds easy enough, but it takes a commitment to His laws that are found in the scriptures. Not spending enough time in the Word to be able to know what His commands are will not be an excuse and will ensure that your house will not be blessed. Remember today’s “gold nugget”, The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. 

Prayer
Lord, I sure need your favor and blessings. I know what can hinder or open those blessings. I purpose today to commit to the commands in scripture, both to those I know and to those that I am determined to learn. Amen

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At the Buzzer

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 1

Gold Nugget
Verse 28: 
Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.” 

Commentary
I’m a big sports fan. Over the years I’ve watched a lot of competitive games. From my little kids’ football and basketball games all the way up to professional sports. A mistake I’ve made on occasion (from a fans perspective) is to lose the “concept” of the game. I’ve seen teams get over-powered and beaten up, and then turn it around and fight their way back in to the game, only to run out of time and 1 point short. That is disheartening. I remember thinking, “They started out bad, but totally won the second half. It isn’t fair! If they would have had more time, they would have won!” Then I remember the “concept” of the game. The concept of the game is to see who has the most points at the end of an agreed upon time. To say, “Only if we had more time…” is no excuse. Such is the way of salvation. There is a buzzer that will sound one day. It may be at your death or the return of the King, but rest assured – that buzzer will sound and it will be as today’s “gold nugget” says, Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.” Although it isn’t a point system like it is in sports, there is an absolute "done" or "undone" result at the end. Those that have put their faith in Jesus, surrendered their will and followed His teachings will not be undone when that buzzer sounds. As Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. That buzzer is the death that all of us will face one day, unless it is the ultimate buzzer described as the blowing of the trumpet that announces the return of King Jesus. What is most important, is that we commit our lives to Him today and when that buzzer (trumpet) sounds, we won’t have to look at the scoreboard. We have already won!
 
Prayer
Lord, help us today to make you the Lord of our life and put you first in all we do. We don’t want to postpone you for the pleasures in this world. You are our reason for living and the provider of our peace and joy. Today is the day of salvation! Amen

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