United We Stand

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 13

Gold Nugget
Verse 20:  He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed. 

Commentary
A previous gold nugget "Surrounded by Turkeys" dealt with the perils of hanging around with ungodly people. Today we will look at the flip side of this. Just as we referenced Psalm 1 and it's position on the bad company to avoid, we will also see what the bible says about the good company to keep. "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) This verse is often used to remind us of our need to go to church and fellowship with the saints. It is a good approach, but also stresses the need to stay close to godly people for the edification of one another. When you go to a professional sporting event, there is something exciting about all those people wearing the same team colors and logos. You feel united with them because of your common interest. This is natural human instinct. Fishermen hang out with fisherman; hunters hang out with hunters, etc. It is our human instinct to join with people of our interest an passions. This should be even more true for Christians. We need each other more today than ever before. Remember what Hebrews 10:25 says; "and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  As this world draws colder and colder, darker and darker, it's going to be more and more difficult for Christians. We need to draw strength from each other and unite in one accord.

Prayer
Lord, I need to be reminded of my need for other believers and maintain those relationships. As a matter of fact, I need to make those relationships priority over worldly relationships. Help me to encourage others and receive encouragement from them. 
Amen

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The Rutter that Utters

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 12

Gold Nugget
Verse 18: "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. "

Commentary
I've heard it said that some folks make a room brighter when they walk into it, while some brighten a room when they walk out. Whatever good someone does, there is an opposite opportunity to do harm. Today's "gold nugget" tells of the person that does great harm when he speaks - As harmful as a piercing sword. Adversely, there are also wise who bring health to others with the words they say. Elsewhere in Proverbs we read that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue," (Proverbs 18:21a) We can either bring death or life with the things we say. Maybe not physical death, but spiritual death and destruction or spiritual life and encouragement. Don't under estimate the power of the tongue. Consider James 5:4-5, "4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" We have an affect on others by even the smallest things we say. We have a choice. We can use our words to build someone up or tear someone down. There are suggested guidelines that could be implemented right away to ensure that your words are not destructive to others. Make a healthy "compliments to criticism ratio" part of your personal policy. Some suggest a 3:1 ratio, while others suggest a 5:1. In other words, to use the 5:1 ratio, you would ensure you made 5 compliments to even 1 criticism. It may seem like a lot, but if you are not close enough to a person to find 5 complimentary things to say about them, you are probably not close enough to criticize them. We are called to be builders, not destroyers. Maybe today is the day that God will make the changes in you and me that will ensure our ability to be builders.

Prayer
Lord, I know that I don't always ensure my tongue is uttering the right things. Help me to remember that you have trained me to be an encourager and not a discourager. Amen


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Supply and Demand

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 9

Gold Nugget
Verse4-5: 4 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 5 "Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed. 

Commentary
They say the key to finding an opportunity in business is to provide a product or service that is in high demand, but with limited supply. The old "supply and demand" scenario plays well in today's "gold nugget". In a way, wisdom is limited in supply in one aspect, but abundant in another. The limited is due to the fact that true wisdom is only found in the Lord. No one else possesses the wisdom of God. All others that seem to be wise through many religions have been foolish by rejecting the truth that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Anyone that seems to have wisdom and yet has rejected Jesus as the way, the truth and the life has made the most foolish mistake of all. Even those who have passed along wisdom, are often just borrowers or plagiarizers of His truth. For instance, I once had someone tell me that a philosopher had written that "karma" is a reality because of the evidence that supports it. The fact that God cornered the law of "reaping and sowing" in the beginning, does not prevent people from producing counterfeits that do not recognize God as the source for all truth and wisdom. As mentioned earlier, "wisdom is limited in supply in one aspect, but abundant in another". The abundant supply of wisdom is not in how many people have authored it, but by how much the Author has to offer. Remember James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him".

For something that is desperately needed and yet in abundant supply from God, wisdom is so often left neglected and crying out, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 5 "Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed. " And still she cries with so many passing her by. Will you stop in today? Take the Word of God as a living well of abundant life that is both adequate and applicable to every area of your life.

Prayer
Lord,  let me not forsake the wisdom found in the pages of your Word. I want to pursue you with all that is in me. I need your wisdom and knowledge to get me through this life. I am reminded of my life as it was before you took it over. I wan't you to remain the source of all my needs. Amen

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The Painter


Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 7


Gold Nugget
Verse 21:  With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. 

Commentary
The devil sure paints a pretty picture as to the pleasures of sin. It's his desire for you to see only the upside of walking in disobedience. He is quite skilled with his paint brush of deception. With smooth strokes on the canvass of her mind, he convinced Eve that her act of rebellion in the garden would actually put her on the same level as God. He didn't reveal the curse that would be enacted as a result of her actions. When David pursued Bathsheba, the tempter didn't give him any insight as to the anguish he would suffer from abandoning the Lord's principles and laws. When Judas betrayed the Lord for what he thought would be beneficial to him, the enemy presented his masterpiece of art to Judas' fleshly desires. The benefit of a mature Christian who walks in wisdom is the ability to see the immediate destruction that comes from disobedience. To them, they can see the perils of rebelling as sure as someone that falls from a cliff. To the foolish the enemy can describe the rush of excitement from a 100 foot free fall as something to be enjoyed. As farfetched as it seems, the spiritual destruction that comes from willful disobedience can be as evident to the wise as the person that falls to their death on the rocks below. Don't be deceived by the skilled painter that portrays your sinful acts as harmless. Your temporary pleasure will soon be replaced with continual suffering. 

Prayer
Lord, I don't want to trade the peace and security that comes from being disobedient for any pleasures of this world. Help me to be able to see the enemy as he tries to paint a deceptive portrait of what could be gained from leaving the path you've set before me. I will follow you without looking to the left or to the right.  Amen

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Ridiculous Racoon

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 5

Gold Nugget
Verse 22: 
His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.

Commentary
There is an old belief that you can catch a raccoon with just a shiny object. When I was a kid I read the book and saw the movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows”. In this story, a shiny object, like a ball of tin foil, was placed in a can with a hole drilled through the top. A couple of nails were then driven in at an angle. It is true that raccoons have great attraction to shiny objects. Although I’m not country enough to prove the validity of the book or even know if anyone else has ever succeeded in doing this, it’s believed that the raccoon will reach through the hole to grab the shiny object. The problem is he doesn’t have enough room to back his hand out. His hand grasped firmly around his treasure requires more room than the tiny hole will allow. According to the folks that support this as fact, the raccoon will not let go of his treasure to save his life. He is absolutely trapped by his refusal to let go due to his desire for a piece of worthless tin foil. We may find this ridiculous and assume it is the difference between a stupid animal and a more “intelligent” creature like ourselves. Oh, if that were true. The reality is we are more like the raccoon than we care to admit. We too, have a habit of being trapped by our desires for worthless things. They may not seem worthless to us, but from a more “intelligent” perspective like God’s, He sees a rolled up ball of tin foil. He wants us to let go of our sinful desires and be set free, but we, like the raccoon, hang on with everything we’ve got. Today’s “gold nugget” says, 
His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. Like the lie that leads to more lies, our sins begin to entrap us. This is not what Jesus suffered on the cross for. He died on the cross to set us free from sin's hold on us. It isn’t appropriate for those that have been set free to be trapped again.  “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”. (Galatians 5:1)

Prayer
Lord, we do not do you justice when we get entangled with the cares of this world and bound by foolish and sinful desires. You died on the cross to set us free and the payment was sufficient to free us indeed. Let us walk in freedom from sin and be a testimony of the power that you accomplished through the cross. Amen

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Just Do It!

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 3

Gold Nugget
Verse 27: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.

Commentary
One of the greatest characteristics of a Christian is the giving heart they possess. The breaking point on whether or not someone gives should be on whether or not they can. Today’s “gold nugget” proclaims, Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. In other words, if you are able and choose not to give, you are not reflecting the character of a God. There are times when you may be able to give, but should not. The verse says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due”, meaning, if someone is worthy of the gift or has not done anything to warrant being neglected, then you should give if you are able. Now, assuming that a person is “due” this gift or help, what kind of giving do you think is expected of us? I would be willing to bet someone else’s pay check that most of us assumed financial help and therefore freeing us on account of the “when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” loop hole. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due” leaves all kinds of options. “Not withholding good” or summed up as, “do good to those who are due” can be done by any means that is defined as doing good. It can be financial giving, giving of your time or maybe one of the most effective and powerful acts of giving - encouragement. You may not have money to give to the lady next door that has given more than anyone could ever give back to her, but breaking out that mower and tending to that yard would be “doing good to those who are due”. Just sitting down with her and listening to her many stories may be giving her more than you could measure. The young man that is struggling to keep himself free from addictions may benefit more from the words of encouragement that you “give” to him than anything else you could do. “Giving” does not always involve money. It involves whatever you have to help someone through, whether it be financial, through service or emotional encouragement. Whatever you can do good… Just do it!

Prayer
Lord, I may not always have a financial gift to give those that are in need, but as the Apostle Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I to thee.” Whatever I have, I make available to you to use however you wish to help others. Forgive me of the times I have failed to do so. Amen

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Making a Change

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 2

Gold Nugget
Verse 20: 
So you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness.”

Commentary
As we continue into the New Year, let us stay focused on making any necessary changes that we have come to acknowledge as needing attention. Most New Year’s resolutions are either to lose weight or quit smoking. Although my focus today is more on spiritual things, we could easily see the spiritual connections to those top resolutions. I’m not all that big on New Year’s resolutions as some people may be. Some Christians even say they are not scriptural and I guess I would have to agree that it’s not a common biblical practice. Whether we wake up on any given day and purpose to allow the newness of that day to be an inspiration for needed change or we start a new week with resolve to make changes, as long as we find motivation for these changes, all is good. Allowing the newness of a new year to be a spark for making change is grand enough for me. With most resolutions comes an almost immediate sense of failure and regress. After failing to stick to diets or failure to keep from lighting up, we quickly abandon our hopes of change until the next year. What can be the difference this year? What can keep us on the right path? Consider today’s “gold nugget”. Earlier the proverb tells us to seek wisdom and knowledge, So you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness.” Although my concerns are spiritual and not of smoking or dieting, the things that I am more concerned with in my spiritual life can only find change in a steady diet of the Word of God that brings the wisdom and knowledge that Proverbs says will keep me on the path. I must be determined to be hungry for the Word of God this year and let it take care of my spiritual health. This will overflow into the other areas of my life. Of all the New Year’s resolutions that you have made, let the old “I’m going to read my bible more” be a priority this year despite however many times you and I have failed at it before. Refusing to make reading the bible a resolution because of how many times you have failed to maintain it is more foolish that avoiding a diet because of how many times you’ve failed to do that. Just a little reality check for you here; if you will admit that you don’t read His Word and or worship with the saints as you should and you have more focus on losing weight this year, what does that say about what’s truly important to you? Just something to think about…

Prayer
Lord, although losing weight is an important thing for many and should be done, let us be more concerned about the spiritual changes we need to make. Help us to be more interested in making our spiritual life more appealing than making our physical bodies more appealing. Amen

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Procrastination

Reading for Today: Proverbs 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 will tell on my son for just a moment. Since I have more than one, we will leave it a mystery to which it is… well to those that don’t know him anyway. Through his early school years, he was very good in his studies. He always finished atop his class with little effort. As he grew older he got less and less interested with his school work. Sports, girls and video games became more his passion. Somehow he always managed to squeeze out a point above failing and progress to the next level. Procrastination became his new approach to all things that didn’t fall in the big three categories previously mentioned. This approach got him through most of high school - although it strained our relationship at times. As was his mode of operation, he had everything all figured out leading up to graduation. He had barely passed all the classes he needed to pass and had a few classes that he was going to “test out” of. Like many classes, if you can pass a test of general knowledge, it can result in a passing grade despite your lack of input in daily assignments, quizzes, etc. He did so with several tests and was on track to graduate. Until… he had only one class left that would stand between him and walking the stage on graduation day, but he was certain he would pass it with ease. At the last moment he learned a tragic detail that had escaped him. This was one of the classes that could not be circumvented by a “test out”. This class was like many others that required the minimum daily assignments and quizzes be completed and passed. At this point it was too late. After years of hanging in with his friends and progressing to the next grade, he wasn’t able to walk the stage and graduate with them. He sought out the teacher for an escape from the dilemma, it was too late. All of his crying out for help went un-answered. He had doomed himself, as today’s “gold nugget” describes, “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me." We must react to doing the right thing while the opportunity is still there. Many people will miss the “Big Graduation” because they think they can just get by with the bare minimum. If we treat our walk with the Lord like my son did his studies, we may find ourselves calling out, but it may be too late.

Prayer
Lord, help us to realize that we should be living our lives in a way that pursues what is right and not just trying to get by. I want to please you in my daily assignments and even in the pop quizzes of life. All of these will require consistent interaction with you, my Teacher. Amen

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