Making Way for Others

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 31

Gold Nugget
Verse 23: 
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.”

Commentary
Today’s chapter in proverbs focuses mainly on the strong character of a virtuous wife. I would like to focus our attention on the verse concerning her husband in the midst of a long run about her qualities.  Today’s “gold nugget” says, Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” Why would I want to bring attention to what her husband’s status was in the land? The reason isn't because of how great her husband is. I don’t believe that is the agenda of the writer. I believe the point the writer is making is the reason her husband was a pillar in the community. I believe the reason the writer threw in this mention of the husband in the midst of a long list of her great qualities is because of how the husband benefited from such an amazing wife. She was so diligent in all of her business that she not only made him look good, she freed him of all cares that would distract him from tending to the business he was called to. They both had business to attend to and one was not greater than the other. Are the legs of the table any less or greater than the table surface? Which is the man, the legs or the table surface? Both are vital and I will not choose for this devotion which one is which. I will simply say that we all have opportunities to enable or disable others. We may be in the spotlight or in the shadows, but unless we are concerned with receiving glory, it doesn't matter which one we serve in. We just need to be the enablers for good things in each other. Sometime we need to know that what we do makes a way or blocks the way for others. This is not a gender thing, this is a godly thing. We can and should be the wind beneath each other’s wings. It takes more character to hold open a door for someone than it takes to walk through a door being held open for you. This role of making away for others to be successful is not a growing trait, but it is one that reflects the heart of God. In a day of self promoting, we don’t promote one another through our own efforts enough. We should be as John the Baptist was. Despite his great popularity, when Jesus came along, he humbled himself, made a way for Jesus and proclaimed that he must decrease while Jesus increased.

Prayer
Lord, help us to see opportunities where we can make away for others to prosper through our efforts. Help us to have a spirit of decreasing for others and more importantly, decreasing for you. Amen

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Jehovah Jireh

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30

Gold Nugget
Verse 8: "Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches-- Feed me with the food allotted to me; 9 Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the Lord?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God." 

Commentary
One of the many names/titles that you may have often heard God referred to as may be Jehovah Jireh - often translated as The Lord Who Provides. Today's "gold nugget" shines the light on three positions in life: the person who lacks what he needs to survive, the person who lives in abundance and the person who has his needs meet without excess. We will quickly look at these three situations and how they can affect your spiritual condition. 

·         The Person who lacks what he needs: The scripture from today's proverb describes how people who lack can bring shame to His name. "lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God." Two trains of thought - those who lack what they need may find themselves in a state of despair, leading to potentially drastic measures. The point in this verse raises the likely hood for being tempted to steal, bringing shame to the name of the person you serve. 
·         The Person who lives in excess: Jesus said "It's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God". (Matthew 19:24) I believe today's "gold nugget" sheds light on this truth. People who live in abundance often can't relate to being in need - even being in need of a savior. They are so self-sufficient that they can't make the connection with needing anyone aside from themselves. "Lest I be full and deny You". 
·         The Person who has their needs meet without excess:This person fulfills what the Lord promises us in His Word. He will supply all our need according to His riches and glory. He knows what we have need of before we ask. Jesus said, "Take no thought of what you will eat or what you will wear". He takes care of the birds, He will take care of you. This person is content with whatever God provides him, knowing that God will not leave him starving and naked.
Over 20 years ago I asked my dad what he would want if God told him he could have any single thing he asked for. Figuring he would follow the pattern of Solomon when God made this offer to him, I expected him to ask for wisdom. Well, that was appropriate for Solomon, but my dad responded differently and it has stuck with me through the years. He said, "I would ask for contentment." After considering it, it is quite profound. If I have contentment, I have all I need or want. There is nothing I would ever have to ask for. Why would I? I am content. It goes without saying that we are not talking about being content with less than what we should be. It is more along the lines of the words of Paul - "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11)

Prayer (For today, should the prayer be any other than the gold nugget itself?)
Lord, remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches- Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the Lord?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God. Amen


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Fearing Man

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 29

Gold Nugget
Verse 25: 
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Commentary
What is the fear of man and how does it relate to your safety? Imagine being in a sticky situation at work. You made a small error in your job that had massive effects. You cost your company thousands of dollars, but nobody really knows who did it. You know there isn't any way anyone could find out who did it. All you have to do is deny it was you, knowing that there isn't any way to identify what happened. You have a free pass. Some folks would say that it was a gift from God that you were able to avoid harm, but a mature Christian knows better. As today’s “gold nugget” says, The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” This brings us back to the original question. Your fear of man (the fear of your boss in this case) is making you want to lie for your safety. There are many situations that will fall into this scenario. Maybe it is the jokes your boss tells that you laugh at when you wouldn't normally. Maybe your father-in-law challenges you in a spiritual area that you may be afraid to take your normal stance against. We may have to use our imagination a little, but if you think about it, you will see how the fear of man or maybe peers will cause us to compromise our beliefs. In that, we allow ourselves to be caught in the snare mentioned in today’s “gold nugget”. It may be difficult, but we have to cling to the truth of the latter part of this verse, “but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” This is to say, whoever will stay faithful and stand on truth despite any repercussions, God will surely keep us safe. We may fear losing our paycheck, but God will keep us fed. As a matter of fact, if we lied about costing the company money, we may survive that day, but when other areas of our life start to fall apart, we foolishly don’t make the connection between reaping and sowing. Be sure that whatever it will cost you to avoid the wrath of man will not compare to what it will cost you to bring on the wrath of God. Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Prayer
Lord, in our day to day life we find ourselves in situations where our fear of man will cost us in our relationship with you. Help us to see clearly what is at stake and walk boldly in the truth. We would rather avoid your wrath than the wrath of man. Even without your wrath, we would rather be at peace with you than at peace with man.  Amen


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The Cover Up

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 28

Gold Nugget
Verse 13: He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
If we were in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, we would begin by saying, “Hello, my name is ___ and I am an alcoholic”.  It’s an underlining principle that the individual comes to terms with their weakness. As we discussed in the devotion entitled, “An Intervention”, all works of the flesh fall under the heading as “Sin”. All sin (large or small) comes from the same origin. Likewise, all sin (large or small) end with the same result. What do we know of sin and its conception? James Chapter 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” All sin begins when we are drawn away by our own desires and ends with death. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a) All sin (large or small) ends in death. If I live a life apart from repentance towards God, I will inherit death. This is according to the scriptures, but death from sin does not always wait until the end. If I engage in the sin of adultery, I could inherit the death of a marriage. If I engage in stealing, I could inherit the death of my freedom. Simply said, sin is destructive and does not always wait for the end before death starts to reign in our lives, relationships and so on. How long it takes for death to creep in and how much destruction sin brings should not be weighed for its worth. A fool will weigh the death of a marriage against the present pleasures and allow death to creep in. Sin and its deadly destruction will take more than you bargain for. Many of us have the wrong attitude towards sin. We measure how big the sin is, when actually it all has the same end. I don’t want to die of a slow agonizing death any more than I want to die from a fall off a building. They both end in death. Sin is sin and I don’t want to deny or cover it up. I would rather confess it and have it removed far from me. I don’t want to be like the man in today’s “gold nugget”. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” When we do sin, we can no longer pretend that it does not exist and try to "cover" it up. We need to be more concerned with how the Scriptures view sin and accept the truth of our weakness and allow God to remove it from our life through repentance.
  
Prayer
Lord, I thank you for how true you have been to me. I am grateful for the revealing affect the Light of your Word has in showing me the sin in my life and I purpose to allow your grace and mercy to provoke repentance. Amen

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Reflections

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 27

Gold Nugget
Verse 19:
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

Commentary
"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck." It is what it is. The proof is in the pudding. Apple trees don’t produce oranges any more than orange trees produce apples. As today’s “gold nugget” says, As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” I won’t see your face in my reflection and my life will not reflect your heart. The truth of today’s scripture reminds us that despite all of our attempts to present ourselves in whatever light fits our fancy, the truth of our heart’s contents will be reflected in our lives just as sure as water will return an accurate reflection of our true image. The decisions we make in our lives, how we choose to live our lives and what we commit our lives to will reveal who we really are. Billy Graham once said, “You can tell a lot about a person by looking through their checkbook.”  We can go to church on Sunday, but what you do for 2 hours out of 168 hours in a week does not reflect who you are inside. It is really amazing how many people take comfort in their 2 hour commitment thinking it justifies the other 166. If you are wondering, I’m not about to give you a list of things you should be doing to prove your Christianity. There is really only one place to start and that is by a quick definition of what a Christian is, then you can decide if you fit the definition or not. A Christian is just a name give to Disciples of Christ. Nothing less, nothing more. Now concerning the definition of a disciple, Jesus once said, By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35) So in true reflection of this verse, a Christian is one who loves. I don’t have a list of things that Steve would say proves you are a Christian. My question for you is, “Does the 166 hours of the week that you have left after giving God His 2 hours on Sunday reflect the love you have for one another? Is it the 4 hours that someone spent volunteering at the homeless shelter that justifies their Christianity? No. Does the love that motivated the work prove their Christianity? Absolutely. It’s not really what you do, it’s your motive. We should be motivated by love to do much more than occupy a seat on Sunday morning. I hope we will consider this today. Is your life reflecting the love you have for others or does it reflect the love you have for yourself?

Prayer
Lord, I know that the things I spend my time on, money on and energy on is what truly reflects the contents of my heart. This should be good news for us. We should be able to look at theses things and allow them to gut check us and motivate any change as needed. Amen

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An Intervention

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
I’ve watched several episodes of a television series with the title, “Intervention”. The show is a documentary that follows an addict of drugs or alcohol. The user is aware of the cameras, but is told that it is just a documentary about the life of an addict. They do not reveal that the real intent of the show is to have a climactic end with an intervention from family and friends. Being a Christian and someone who takes the rescuing of someone’s life and soul seriously, I take a real interest in observing how people react to others that try to intervene. My heart breaks for the families and individuals who are suffering from the effects that sin has over the user. The description of sin and it’s power over a non-believer is illustrated explicitly through these situations. I say that because of how important it is that we know and understand that the bible clearly describes the work of the cross and the power of the blood and sacrifice of Jesus as sufficient to not only forgive us of sin, but set us free from its power over us. I will proclaim with that last statement, that as with anything in our lives, there are growing “processes” and that although we may be struggling with something, we can by faith believe that we ARE free from sin and WILL grow in that freedom. As the television show reaches that moment of intervention, it breaks my heart to see so many episodes where the person listens to the family’s plea and watches the children’s tears and refuses to turn from their addictions. Often even those that may “accept” the help while the cameras are rolling revert quickly after. When I watch those families plead with their loved one who is in bondage to the addiction, I can’t for the life of me imagine my kids pleading with me to stop using drugs and me just refusing them. The reality is the effects of drugs will change your standards, conscience and sensitivity towards your pain and others. Although, drug and alcohol addictions demonstrate this with a magnifying glass, this is the effect that sin in general has in our lives. Whether it is the family member that forsakes sobriety, the spouse that abandons loyalty, the teen that rebels or the parent that's a workaholic - not having a Christian foundation and principle will all have the same end result. Don’t let the fact that they may be on a different scale excuse any of us from acknowledging sin in our lives and making the necessary changes. If we don’t, we are as foolish as the man in today’s “gold nugget” that sees everything with His own perspective without regard for others. Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Prayer
Lord, help us to be mindful of the power the sacrifice you  made on the cross is in or lives. Help us to avoid being "wise in our own eyes", but allow a true reflection of who we are to provoke change. Amen

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Sweet as Honey

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 16: "Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit"

Commentary
You've heard that too much of a good thing can be bad. How often have we proven that to be true? Back in the days when this scripture was written, honey was not on every street corner. You couldn't run down to Wal-Mart and buy you a jar. Honey was a luxury and a symbol of prosperity. Those that had honey where truly blessed. That's where I would like to tie this in today. Have you been blessed? "Have you found honey? " or maybe, "Have you found money? ". There is nothing wrong with honey or money, but too much of either can bring you to vomit. It is self explanatory as to why too much honey would make you sick, but is that really what the writer is trying to warn us about? We recently discussed being a glutton and a drunk. (see "Boundaries") Not having self control with food and alcohol can lead to obvious problems, but what of having too much desire for money? For one, the guy in this illustration seemed to have so much focus on consuming as much honey as he could, all while missing out on enjoying its sweetness. Having money can be nice, but being consumed with hoarding it will rob you of its sweetness now. As with anything, too much can be either obsessive or a waste. I know it's easy for me to say (seeing how I don't have much), but I would be ashamed to live in such an abundance that I forgot what it felt like to get hungry or thirsty. Despite what anyone may say, these things are good for us. They give us motivation and purpose. We need to enjoy our blessings when they come and not consume them like there is no tomorrow. 

Prayer
Lord, I do thank you for my many blessings. You have blessed me so much that my blessings sometimes compete with you for my affection and attention. I don't want to punish you for blessing me by letting them consume me. You are worthy of all my gratitude and affection. Thank you for everything. Amen

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Ignorance of the Law

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 24

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: 
 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

Commentary
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I've heard that all my life. It is a valuable lesson that applies in concept, to many other areas of our lives. There is a reason why minors are penalized less for the same crimes committed by adults. It's accepted that by the time you reach a certain age you have had ample time to learn the basic laws of the land. Even outside of the age scenario, a new law will be held against you if it has been in effect for enough time that you should be aware of it. If a history teacher provides you with a history book, tells you to study it and then gives you a test about its contents, would you have legitimate case to claim ignorance of its contents? Of course not. We are not just held accountable for what we know, but also what we should know. That is to say, if information has been made readily available to us and we didn't learn it because of neglect, we should still be held accountable. Ignorance of the law is no excuse if the knowledge of the Law was made available to us. Consider today’s “gold nugget”,  If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? I believe there are Christians today that are very ignorant of what the truth of God’s Word says to many degrees. I also believe that most of it is by choice. We live in a society where the scriptures are at each of our finger tips and yet we take some sort of comfort in our lack of knowledge. It’s as if we feel more comfortable being ignorant because of the alternative of possibly having to give up too much if we learn too much. Ignorance (by choice or neglect) is no excuse. We will be held accountable to God, not only for what we know, but also what we don’t know due to neglecting His Word. Brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

Prayer
Lord, you have made your manual for life (the Scriptures) readily available to us. Help us to take responsibility for learning what your Word has to say to us, about us and for us. Allow it to direct and correct our lives. Help us to see the values of ever learning more and more about you through your Word.” Amen

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A Better Investment

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 23: Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
If our lives were the stock market, the best investments would be the commodities mentioned in today’s “gold nugget”. Truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding are the principle shares that have the highest returns. Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.  I’m not rounded in the business of finance concerning the stock market, but I can appreciate the agenda that the proverb for today is focusing on. All of us are in pursuit of something. Some in pursuit of money, fame or material things such as cars, houses, boats, clothes, etc. Some of us are in pursuit of more appropriate things that have eternal value, but rest assured we all pursue something. We need to channel that pursuit into an appropriate direction. God is the source of everything that we could ever truly need or want. He is the possessor of the key elements that produce all of the other things that we desire. 

Here are few stock tips for finding a steady return:

  • Put the desire for truth over convenience and comfort
  • Put the most mature and appropriate decision forward to ensure wisdom over folly
  • Seek instruction and be open to receive it over pride
  • Receive understanding instead of playing ignorant
If we are hungry and seek God, He will make available to us truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding. Buy them. We purchase them through commitment and sacrifice of our time. I'm not talking about salvation, we know that isn't earned or bought, but once we receive these things from God and see them flowing into our lives, we will not sell them! We will not give anything in return for them. We will then experience the true mature walk that He desires for us. Let us refocus today and get our compass pointed in the right direction.

Prayer
Lord, the elements mentioned in today’s “gold nugget” cannot be bought at the corner store or off of EBay. They are given to us by you through commitment and loyalty. Help us to invest in the things eternal and watch them overshadow the things that are temporal. Amen

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Read Your Email

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22


Gold Nugget
Verse 20: “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge?”

Commentary
In today’s business atmosphere, the written word has taken on greater power than it has in previous years. E-mails have raised the level of accountability in various aspects of business. While a memo in the 80’s could have been challenged as to whom it was addressed, delivered to and read by, today claims of conversations or delegations can often be confirmed or overruled by the mention of an e-mail. Just recently I had to remind a contractor of an e-mail conversation between us that proved he was notified of certain conditions that he agreed to. While at first he tried to waffle out of some accountability, he quickly withdrew his position at the mention of the e-mail. There is something very effective about the written word. It cannot easily be discounted, argued with or dismissed. Such is today’s “gold nugget”. Here we are reminded by God, “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge?” I think it's an unfortunate scenario that many people think they will only be held accountable for what they know. The truth is, we will also be held accountable for what knowledge and counsel was made available to us. If I neglect to read my e-mails throughout the day, I will fall behind in knowledge of situations that require my action. I can’t simply claim that I did not read my e-mails and therefore cannot be held accountable for its contents. As crazy as that sounds, it is the exact same thing with the Word of God. Like e-mails addressed to us from God, in the scriptures, we find that He has “written to us excellent things of counsels and knowledge” and we will not be excused for choosing not to read our e-mail. The information in the Word of God, the bible, contains knowledge of situations that require our action. Have you been reading your e-mails or are you just hoping to get by playing ignorant?

Prayer
Lord, your truth, precepts and expectations of us are clearly laid out for us in the bible. Help us to realize that we will be held accountable for both what we know and what was made available for us to know. Amen

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