The Mirror

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.”
                                                                                                                            
Commentary
One Christmas while my kids were still at home, I was trying to find gifts for my daughters. After spending an hour walking around the store, I decided that I really didn't have a clue of what I was going to buy these teenage girls. I resorted to the faithful old gift card escape. I did, however, want a few things to wrap and put under the tree even if it was going to be something cheesy. I stumbled down the cosmetics lane and found some fancy little mirrors that light up. I figured they might enjoy them and they were the perfect size for wrapping. A few days after Christmas, I had to giggle as my daughters gave me feedback on their gifts. It seems the mirrors had a special feature that I wasn't aware of. The mirror actually had two sides. One was what I would consider to be a typical mirror. The other side was some sort of magnifying mirror that revealed every little pore. Included in the magnification were blemishes and any imperfections. My daughter shouted, “Dad, I don’t like this mirror you gave me! It’s too revealing!” It seems that there were flaws that she was okay with as long as she couldn't see them, but upon closer evaluation, she really didn't want know about them. In reality, my daughter is beautiful. I guess most people are just their own worst critic (well when it comes to their natural appearance anyway). Today’s Christian has a similar dilemma. We have many issues in our lives that are flawed and may be in dire need of attention. We may not know they are there, but after a quick glimpse in the mirror of His Word, we can see just how flawed we are and need attention. It’s unfortunate, but we are more likely to swivel that mirror back around and refuse to see ourselves for who we really are. We would rather see ourselves in the perspective we desire most. We are like the generation mentioned in today’s “gold nugget” that says, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” We are like the person mentioned in James 1:23-24, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” We need to be of a mind that will do whatever the Lord reveals to us in His Word, whether it is something we are comfortable with or not. It’s His perspective that we are concerned about and whatever we need to change to please Him, we should be willing to do it.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the true reflection that the mirror of you Word will reveal to us. Give us the humility to except what you show us and the desire to allow the change. 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 builder will be their downfall. 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 they’re 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 be around after 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 anything that is built to last must endure 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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Being Reverent

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 28

Gold Nugget
Verse 14: “Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”

Commentary
The older I get, the clearer some things become. I was raised to say yes sir, yes ma’am, no sir, no ma’am, etc. I've always done it and often pay the same respect to people younger than me, but without exception to my elders. When we were being raised, it was apparent that the adults were smarter and wiser. Today we see less and less of that type of acknowledgement to those to whom honor is due. I’m not just talking about saying sir and ma’am, I’m talking about acknowledging that the elders could possibly possess any more than what young men believe they already have in wisdom and knowledge. They harden their hearts as today’s “gold nugget” says and they forsake reverence towards those that could save them from calamity. Today's "gold nugget" says, “Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” We seem to outgrow having reverence towards those that are due and seek it for our own before it is earned. As we get older we see that our mindset of thinking "I know it all" ends up falling well short of its promise. Often we find out after much self-induced hardships and pain. We could easily say that it is the circle of life and each of us will pass through it. I wish that were merely the case, but it is apparent that it has gotten more and more severe with less people passing “through” it and more living “in” it. We must not only cut short our time in this foolish state, but also challenge those of the next generation to steer clear of its dangerous wages. The sooner we see the need for seeking guidance from those that have walked the path we still have before us, the sooner we will find the journey passable and victorious.

Prayer
Lord, there have been many that have walked the path that you have laid before me. There are many that can teach me and guide me. Help me to do better to embrace their wisdom with reverence that is due them and find a walk that is sometimes free from the obstacles that they have cleared from their walk. Amen


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Faithful Wounds of a Friend

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 27

Gold Nugget
Verse 6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Commentary
Have you noticed that when you get a new car, you start noticing all the other cars of the same make and model all around you? They've been around you all this time, but because of their familiarity, you recognize them more readily. Reading Proverbs every day, you will find these little phrases from scripture popping into your head just at the appropriate times, revealing their applications due to their familiarity. I remember a time when I was having some concerns about my personal life and how it related to ministry. A friend was bold enough to address his concerns directly to me and I’ll have to say, not enough people do this. When we see in issue in someone’s life, we find it a lot easier to discuss that issue with everyone except that individual. The real downfall to this is never allowing the person to heal, repent or whatever may be warranted. They too often, never even knew you had an issue. In our society of failing accountability, we assume that our correction or maybe even rebuke, will not serve any purpose. That being said, Christians are not subject to the sliding scale of society, but by the established Word of God. The Word of God tells us, as in today’s “gold nugget”, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” It’s better to be wounded by the truth, than comforted with a lie. My friend risked wounding me because of His greater concern for the truth than for anything else. He knows that the faithful wound of a friend will do more for us, than those that think ill of us while speaking nicely to our face. I was blessed by the sincere concern he had and was happy to accept his words. I can’t say that I would have seen the pure motive if it weren't for the Word of God that was apparent in the scenario. This scripture is was what came to my mind at that time and am reminded of it when I read the chapter for today. If you are still living in the precepts defined in the Word of God, you can be sure that He will send you someone else that is also. This person may have to confront you one day. How will you respond? Will you receive it in the spirit it was intended or will you with pride, reject it and potentially halt your growth and effectiveness?

Prayer
Lord, sometimes you send a gentle servant to administer accountability and truth; sometimes you send a rod and a staff. I pray that you will give me a spirit of correctability that will allow me to learn from either one. Amen


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Spiritual Health

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

Gold Nugget
Verse 24: “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself;”

Commentary
There are many spiritual diseases that we should be very careful not to contract as Christians. A spiritual disease we often learn about early on in our walks is the infection of unforgiveness that starts out small, but spreads throughout us causing spiritual weakness. It can spread to other people also who suffer its side effects as well. Another very similar infection is hatred. A close relative to unforgiveness, hatred is not of God and can spread quickly through our spiritual body reeking havoc. One of the reasons sickness causes so much damage is because of how it goes undetected for extended periods of time. Catching an infection early is the key to a quick recovery. How does it go undetected for so long? Consider today’s “gold nugget”, “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself;” It goes undetected because it is disguised. It is denied and concealed. It isn't just the efforts we go through to conceal it from others, but how we deny it to ourselves as well. There are many reasons that we may be holding hatred in our heart, but one of the reasons we keep it lingering around is because of how we feel justified in holding it. Although we have all been wronged by someone at some time, we are all responsible for letting go of it. Like forgiveness, we find our own healing in getting it out of our heart. Let us consider how much God has forgiven us and allow that to be the bar in which we forgive others and in doing so, put hatred away from us. We will find spiritual healing and good spiritual health enables us to be the strong Christians we really desire to be.

Prayer
Lord, there are people that have hurt me and it is tempting to hold onto the hurt. That un-forgiveness will lead to hate that will cause spiritual destruction within me. Help me to forgive and be spiritually healthy. Amen


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Enduring the Heat

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 4: “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;”
                                                                                                                            
Commentary
A mother of a newborn baby will often be seen boiling bottles and misc. items to ensure that nothing could possibly contaminate her child. It’s accepted knowledge that heat will kill germs. If enough heat is applied, the germs will be killed and provide a sanitary environment. When it comes to what we put in contact with our children, we want to make sure it is pure. Heat is applied to purify all sorts of things. As mentioned in today’s “gold nugget”, “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;” Dross is the impurities in silver prior to it being heated. Adversely you could say, leave the dross (impurities) in the silver and it will be of no value to the silversmith. We want so badly to avoid any “heat” that we will not allow the “dross” to be burned out of our lives. The fiery trial that you are going through is burning away the dross. Don’t think that you will not be stronger and pure in the end, because you will. If you are going through a rough time and feel like you can’t handle it, remember that He said you will not be tempted above what you are able to withstand. Therefore, evidently He has confidence in your ability to withstand. Don’t bail on Him and jump out of the fire before the purifying is done. Be strong and be faithful. He will reward you for your perseverance! Consider this passage from James chapter 1, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Prayer
Lord, help us to remember that even when the enemy attacks us and means to do us harm, you can and will turn it for our good if we remain faithful - even if the greatest outcome is us becoming stronger from our experience. Amen


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All Seeing

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
When I was a kid they used to tell us that on judgment day there will be a big screen (like in a movie theater) that will play our entire life. This was to ensure us of the fact that no deed will go unnoticed. Although this theater experience seems unlikely as described, the fact that every deed is observed is of an absolute truth. Seen are not only the things that we do and say, but even the things that we know and think. As a father I have been in many scenarios where I have been presented with the challenge of knowing whether or not my children are being honest with me. If I find my kids watching TV past their bed time and they claim that they didn't know what time it was, that can put me in a difficult situation. Since they were small, my dilemma was possibly accepting their claim of innocence when maybe they weren't. If they are lying to me and I accept their deception, I felt that it would only encourage them to lie again. That being said, when they were smaller, I would observe them without their noticing and then challenge them to tell me the truth while they thought there was no way for me to know what the truth really was. This approach has gained me the title of “Dad always knows” and made it very scary to attempt the lie. The measures I went through to try and ensure them of being honest may be considered extreme, and maybe they are. God on the other hand, does not have to go through these measures. He sees all and knows all. Nothing we say or do goes unnoticed. Taking it a step further, He knows more than just what we say and do, but also what we think and know. We will not be able to play “dumb” or ignorant of the truth. We will not be able to say, “…but, I didn't know”. We would be more consistent in our walk and obedience if we actually accepted this truth. It isn't just the fact that He sees our every move and will be aware, but more so that He sees everything and feels the hurt from our actions. Hopefully refraining from sinful behavior would be more to prevent from hurting Him than being concerned with Him recording it.

Prayer
Lord, remind me of your presence when I am being tempted to drift from your will and instructions. Just as any of us will behave a certain way when certain eyes are upon us, help me to be just as concerned with your eyes upon me instead of abusing your mercy and grace. Amen


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An Uncommon Answer

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 20: “Do not mix with winebibbers or with gluttonous eaters of meat;”
                                                              
Commentary
Christians across the country are divided on whether the consumption of alcohol is a sin or not. Many mainstream American churches consider it sin. Even of those churches that hold to that belief, many of their congregations dabble in wine or alcohol of some sort. So, is drinking alcohol a sin? Only those that feel free identifying things as sin without any biblical support would call wine a sin. The enemy loves to call things that are guilty of offense - "pure" and call those things that are pure - "sin". Now, that being said, there are some things that are declared in Scripture that relate to wine that are very important. All through the scriptures, overindulgence of wine is continually warned about. Overindulgence of anything can be dangerous both spiritually and physically. As in today’s “gold nugget”, overindulgence is not even something to be associated with. “Do not mix with winebibbers or with gluttonous eaters of meat;” If overindulgence is sin, than just like any other sin, the bible teaches us to avoid the association of either. All across America you will find one side of the church that condemns those that are winebibbers on Saturday night and “Christians” on Sunday morning. This part of the church that condemns those Saturday night “winebibbers” are often Sunday afternoon “gluttons”. The point I’m trying to make is not one of keeping our mouth shut because we all have issues, but more about the need to conform to scriptures and not to each other. Also, we should expect each other to conform to the scriptures rather than conform to our position on the scriptures. I hope you see the difference. So again, is wine a sin? Well, I say no more than meat is a sin. Is overindulgence a sin? Continually overindulging in anything will be harmful. Is there something else to consider? Yes, the old famous “appearance of evil”. The bible warns us to not only withstand evil, but to avoid the appearance of evil. That is to say, even if it isn't evil in itself, but is often interpreted as sin, you may need to avoid it to protect your Christian reputation. For that reason I don’t drink, despite how innocent it is in itself. That being said, I believe gluttony and the appearance thereof is also detrimental to your Christian reputation. As someone who struggles with being over-weight, I know that I need to do better in practicing self-control if I want to be a good witness. Today’s devotion may be harsh, but overindulgence of anything is an issue Christians should be concerned with.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the challenge you put before us today. Help us to avoid being offended, but encourage us to be interested in conforming to all of The Scriptures and not just the portions we deem relevant. Amen


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A Lion in the Streets

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22

Gold Nugget
Verse 13: “The lazy man says, There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”

Commentary
“I’m too sick to go to the hospital right now. I’ll wait until I feel better.” The first time I heard that was on an episode of Fat Albert. As ridiculous as it sounds, people have the same approach to many things in life. When I was little, I used to hear the older folks speak of the guy that wouldn't fix his leaky roof because it was raining outside. When it wasn't raining it didn't leak, so no need in bothering with it. All of those are silly scenarios and yet they fall right in line with today’s “gold nugget”. “The lazy man says, There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” The lazy man won’t go outside and work for his food because he would die from a lion roaming in the streets, so instead he will stay inside and starve to death from lack of food. A Christian is not accurately portrayed as one who is weak. We are strong people that persevere even through obstacles and difficulties. We drive ourselves to the hospital while we are sick, fix our leaking roof while it is raining and go for food, even if there is a lion in the streets. We wake up even when we are sleepy and go to work even when we are tired. We worship even when we are hurting and remain obedient even when we are tempted to disobey. We needn’t have the perfect conditions in place to do what is right. We are loving to the unlovable and patient with the troubled. If all we need is an excuse to veer from the path that has been placed before us, then the enemy will always be sure and provide us with one. We have determined that there are certain things that we must do and we will not allow situations and circumstances to detour us from that path… even if there is a lion in the streets!

Prayer
Lord, there are things that you have put before me to do and I have decided that nothing will keep me from doing them. When things happen that challenge what you have called me to, help me to maintain a focused mind to please you above anything else. Amen


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Demolition

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 21

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: 
The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.”

Commentary
As a project manager, one of my past projects was the demolition of a building inside one of the major refineries in the US. The preparations and risk of demolishing a building is pretty intense and involved. The preparations and risk of demolishing a building inside a refinery only increases. There are so many things to consider, but the greatest risk is the potential for people to be in harms way of the demolition. We go through great extents to ensure nobody is in or near it when we begin to knock it down. I think of that when reading today’s “gold nugget”. The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.” Oftentimes people, businesses and even so called "ministries" and churches fall in this category. Not all that claim to be good or even holy are actually of God. We need to be very careful of our involvement of those that have dishonored God. Should He decide to "overthrow" them as today's scripture teaches, we don't want to be inside or even near the demolition when He decides to take it down. There comes a time when God has had enough of people defying Him and neglecting His Word and truth. As we see in the New Testament, Jesus decides that He will not suffer the wicked in His Father’s house any longer and goes off! Although controlled and righteous anger, Jesus holds no bars in His judgment of the people’s neglect and rejection of the truth. I wouldn’t want to be in the area when He cleans house, much less have a booth set up in the courtyard. I would rather not be tied to or involved with those that compromise His Word. We will all have to make this choices at one time or another. You may be at that crossroad now. Consider carefully what you should do. Are you being effective for the Kingdom where you are, or are you dangerously close to a coming demolition?

Prayer
Lord, help me to know when my involvement with certain people has moved from being constructive to just tying myself to those that have defied you. Give me the courage and discernment to know when and what I should do.” Amen

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The Gray Head

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 20

Gold Nugget
Verse 29: “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head.”

Commentary
It’s all about perspective. Being optimistic about your situation or condition is one of the successful keys that opens the door to living a satisfying life. I try to find the good in whatever situation I’m in. For instance, over the years I have worked various work schedules. Whether it is a 4/10 work week (Mon-Thursday 10hrs per day) or the typical 5 day, 8 hour work week, I choose to make it a win/win for me. If I work the 4/10, yee-haw! 3 day weekends! If I work the 5/8, yee-haw! 2 hours less per day! If I am like today’s “gold nugget” (a young man), yee-haw! I have my strength! If I am like the latter part of today’s “gold nugget” (an old man), yee-haw! I have my wisdom! Sometimes we need to be more content with where we are in the process. Too often the old man envies the young man’s youth, energy and opportunities and on occasion, the young man sees the splendor of the old man's accomplishments and envies him. We need to more appreciative of which part of the timeline we live in. Either end has its benefits if someone wants to see them. It’s a horrible waste of your time, energy and happiness to be consumed with where you aren't instead of enjoying where you are. Whether it's that promotion, house, car or relationship that you are looking towards, don’t let waiting for it ruin your "right now". The old saying, “It’s not the destination as much as it is the journey” was probably originated by an old grey haired man or woman. Being content is one of the greatest personal accomplishments you can make. It doesn’t mean that you're content with less than you should be, but rather content with where you should be. The young folks that sees the rewards of the old folks hard work and feel entitled to equal rewards are not only barking up the wrong tree, but are an offense to the person that earned them through time. Be patient young one. Pay your dues and in time you will reap your reward. Old one, enjoy your season. If it’s winter, grab a blanket and warm your gray head by the fire. The young man can go out in the cold and put his good strength to use.

Prayer
Lord, I’m grateful for the accomplishments you’ve made in me and purpose to enjoy the today you’ve given me. Help me to be patient for the things to come and honor you with the day at hand. Amen


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Let It Go

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 19

Gold Nugget
Verse 3: “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.”

Commentary
Many misunderstand what mercy is. Often mistaken as soft or possibly even weakness, mercy is actually strength or power withheld. When a king or judge has mercy on someone, they have all power or strength to sentence or punish them, but choose to lessen or pardon an offence. This demonstrates more power and strength than actually passing sentence or judgment. As today’s “gold nugget” says, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” A person that withholds from a quarrel (even when he has grounds) demonstrates more power and strength than to continue a valiant fight. As this verse states, he is worthy of honor. After all, any old fool can start a fight. You don’t have to be intelligent, wise or talented to start a quarrel. In this journey we are on, we will at one time or another, be attacked by a fool. Since any fool can start a quarrel, everyone has the qualifications to initiate a conflict. The difference between someone with spiritual depth and someone spiritually shallow is he who engages in the quarrel and he who handles it with wisdom. I haven’t always had the mercy (strength to restrain or refrain) that I should have, but I am learning every day and choose to learn this day. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. Sometimes you have to accept that people may not understand or want to accept you for who you are. You must learn to live with that and focus instead on what God says about us and expects from us. If you truly do this, you will not be liked or approved by everyone, but you will find peace between you and your Father. Isn't that what really counts anyway? Just let it go. It truly is honorable for a man to stop striving. We don’t have to win an argument. We have someone to fight those battles for us.

Prayer
Lord, I know I have to pass on defending myself sometimes. Not every attack is worthy of a rebuttal. You have shown mercy towards me and my folly; help me to show mercy on others and theirs.” Amen


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Predecessors

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 18

Gold Nugget
Verse 12: “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”

Commentary
One of the two predecessors mentioned in today’s scripture will be the opening act for each’s own main event. Whether the main event will be destruction or honor is determined by whether its predecessor is haughty (self-promoting) or humble. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” If we are humble now, we will receive honor later. If we are self-promoting now, we guarantee our fall to come. I once heard the story of the young preacher that was so excited to preach his first sermon. He was fresh out of seminary and was very confident in his knowledge and ability to make the world stop and listen. He boldly passed the old minister on the way to the pulpit. After a few moments in the pulpit, he could never get things off the ground. The pressure to perform built an overflow of anxiety and eventual panic. After several embarrassing moments, he walked off the platform humbled and with a clear understanding that he needed something more than himself. As he passed the old minister again, he paused to ask him, “What happened to me up there? I was so confident.” The old man responded, “Son, if you had went up there the way you came down, you would have been fine.” As a preacher, I love that old story. We all need a reminder of who we are without the Lord. Having a humble heart will lead to honor. Having a self-promoting heart will ensure our destruction. This guarantee was put in to affect a long time ago. The sooner we embrace its truth, the sooner we will depart from destruction and live an honorable life.

Prayer
Lord, help me to ensure that my predecessor is humility that brings honor to you and not a haughty spirit that brings me humiliation. As I have prayed before and repeatedly, humble me, and if possible without humiliation.  Amen


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Due Process

Reading For Today: Proverb Chapter 17

Gold Nugget
Verse 24a: “Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding,”

Commentary
There is an appropriate sequence to attaining wisdom. Just as sure as the leg bone is connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone… the knowledge bone’s connected to the understanding bone, and the understanding bone’s connected to the wisdom bone… These are tied together in sequence and breaking this sequence has been the folly of many a poor fool. We all want wisdom, but are not all willing to allow the due process of attaining it. Not that I have attained it, but the scriptures really do lay out the formula, so to speak. We must first gain knowledge. Just as we learned 2+2 =4, we didn't necessarily “understand” why. That’s why we could answer the question of what 2+2 equaled, well before we could tell you how many apples you would have if you added 2 apples to a basket with 2 apples in it. The “word problem” always came at the end of the lesson. The lesson gave you the “knowledge”, the word problem tested your understanding of the knowledge you gained. So we see that we can have knowledge and not yet have understanding. Just as we can have knowledge without understanding, we can have knowledge and understanding and not yet have wisdom. Being patient enough to allow knowledge to grow into understanding and understanding to grow into wisdom is too long a process for many of us. The sooner we accept the proper process, the sooner we will be on the path to wisdom. Understanding is seeing the application of knowledge; wisdom is knowing how to properly apply that knowledge and understanding. The knowledge we are seeking here is knowledge that can only be obtained from exposure to His Word. The understanding of His Word comes from the “Word problems” (life situation, scenario or application) testing your understanding of the knowledge you gained. Where we need to start today, is being committed to His Word to gain knowledge. If we have not committed to this as Christians, we shouldn't expect the have either understanding or wisdom. The path has been set before us. Will we travel its predesignated course?

Prayer
Lord, when I fail to commit to your Word, I shouldn't feel confident in my knowledge, understanding or wisdom. Help me to make daily exposure of your Word a consistent part of my journey towards wisdom. Amen


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Anger Management

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 16

Gold Nugget
Verse 32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Commentary
I have worked for years in the industrial field and have installed hundreds of safety valves. Depending on the facility that I worked in, it may have been referred to as a Pressure Safety Valve or maybe a Relief Valve. A safety valve is designed with a set pressure at which it will open and release its pressure and contents, either to the atmosphere or into a particular controlled location. It is commonly installed in pipe systems, tanks, vessels, etc. If you want to see what one looks like, take a look at your water heater. There will be a small brass valve on the side near the top or directly on top. Just like the systems in the industrial industry, your water heater has this safety device that is installed to prevent ruptures and or explosions. Mine is designed to open at either 150psi or 210F degrees. Because water heaters do just what their name implies, it has a heat source. Your water heater's heat source can be adjusted to where it heats the water to a certain temperature and then stops heating. If for some reason it didn't automatically stop heating at the designed temperature and the safety valve failed, it would keep heating and rising in pressure until it ruptured. All of us have a "set pressure" at which we must vent. If we do not have a "safety valve", when we reach that point we will rupture or explode. My safety valve works like this; when I am under heat or pressure to the point that I may rupture, I shut down the entire system. I don't try to back the pressure down, adjust the heat or anything to moderate or control it. I just shut the whole thing down. I will walk away; completely stop talking or some equivalent. Again, this is when I am nearing the rupture pressure. I know when that is. It's the point where I want to just start getting in the flesh and saying things to hurt. In my opinion, my "set pressure" is higher than it used to be. Over the years, the Lord as steadily adjusted that set pressure to allow me to handle more heat and pressure. I'm not talking about an unhealthy "holding things in", but a healthy resistance to anger. It's important that we know our set pressure and ensure that our release of the frustration and anger is controlled. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13b)

Prayer
Lord, please help me to learn to be slow to anger. I know that I must practice self-control and be able to endure more challenges or even conflicts with people without exploding or rupturing. Help me to remember that how I react to these things can damage my testimony or bring glory to you. I want to be able to endure hardships and bring glory to your name.
Amen


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Slow to Speak

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
Verse 28The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
While playing cards, they used to know whose turn it was when the game came to a halt. "It must be Steve's turn", they would say. Another would say, "Study long, study wrong". I probably take too long to consider my next move to a fault, but it has saved me some heartache as well at times. Thinking about the different scenarios that could result from my play - would often slow down the game, but I hope cards aren't the only area of my life that I practice this. When dealing with people, this can be a valuable attribute. Even when people are being mean or ugly, carefully choosing your words is essential. Or as today's gold nugget says; The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. Consider the different scenarios or potential reactions that people may have from the words you choose. Wicked and foolish people pour evil out of their mouth. This scripture clearly describes the behavior of the righteous and of the wicked. What best describes you? Are you someone that says whatever hurtful thing comes to mind without regard to the harm it will cause? Or are you someone that stills your tongue and considers carefully what your response will be if you will give any response at all? Processing your thoughts before acting or speaking and then feeling confident that what you are going to say is okay with the Lord is what is expected of a Christian that walks in wisdom. We can't continue to speak what is on our minds at the expense of others and refer to ourselves as Christians. We don't want people to think that's how all disciples act. Protect the name of the Lord and the effectiveness of other Christians by proving what defines a child of God.

Prayer
Lord, give me the strength to hold my tongue and the wisdom to respond with truth and love. Remind me that I don't need to rush my response to someone's opposition of me. If I can have the self control to stop my tongue, I know you will give me the wisdom of when and how to start it up again. Amen

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My Rock

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 14
Gold Nugget
 Verse 10: “The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.”

Commentary
Nobody knows the troubles I've seen, nobody knows but Jesus…” Some of you may remember that rendition of the old spiritual. As odd as it may sound, it is good that some things cannot be understood by anyone but Jesus. There are times in each of our lives when we have to see that God is the only one that is really there for us an all things and in all ways. This reminds us of who we live for and put our faith in. Family and friends are great, but sometimes only God Himself will do. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.” Sometimes we have such grief in our hearts that we couldn't possibly put in to words. It’s then that we just look to Him and say, “God, you know”. Just as some heartache can only be healed by God, some joy and peace cannot be explained to others. “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Although we are to lean on one another, bear one another’s burdens, etc. we need to have times when only God will do. Too many people these days find all their hope, support and direction in man. They have very little confidence in God and miss out on the beauty of having Him as the true Rock of their lives. There are some people that have been dubbed, “the only one that has always been there”, but no one deserves that title more than the Lord. There have been situations in my life where I felt like Paul, 16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me”. (2 timothy 4:16-17a) I am grateful for those that have been there for me, but no one has been there for me like Jesus and that’s the way it should be.

Prayer
Lord, you are my rock and my strength. You are my peace and my joy. All good things come from you and I am grateful for your never ending love for me. Amen

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Don't Kill the Messenger

Reading For Today: Proverb Chapter 13

Gold Nugget
Verse 17: 
A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health.”

Commentary
The phrase, “Don’t kill the messenger”, was not taken in consideration by the Old Testament slayer of Goliath. After becoming famous for killing Goliath and just before becoming the king of Israel, David killed the messenger. After years of hiding from his father-in-law, his enemy, King Saul died on the battlefield. Thinking it was good news to David, a messenger ran to tell him of Saul’s death. After questioning the messenger, the man told David of the details of Saul’s death and of his contributions. He didn’t fear telling David because of the abuse David suffered from Saul’s rage. David was outraged at the messenger’s nerve to touch a King of Israel and called for an immediate execution of the messenger on the spot. After that, David wept for his king whom he loved dearly. Despite Saul’s behavior, David loved him and respected him as God’s anointed. The messenger took lightly the message he was carrying and had little regard for the impact it would have on David. I have seen this scenario play out many times. You probably have too. Have you ever seen someone carry bad news to someone and get pleasure out of the pain it causes them? I have. Even pretending to be someone’s friend, a messenger may delight in bringing bad news. This is a wicked messenger. I knew a lady that was very jealous of a parent’s teen that seemed to be better behaved than hers. After she learned of the other parent’s teen getting involved with some bad things, she ran with joy to break the news to that parent. With wicked intent she took pleasure in bringing this message. Today’s “gold nugget” says, A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health.” A faithful ambassador would have taken the news of this teen's trouble and approached the parent with a heavy heart, sharing in the parents pain and attempting to help heal the situation. The situation described in this devotion paints a pretty bad picture of someone that we would never feel describes ourselves, but this is just another form of gossip delivered in a slightly different manner. Anytime we delight in bad news, we need to check ourselves spiritually .When our enemy stumbles, we may be tempted to be delighted and may even spread this “news”. Consider Proverbs 24:17-18 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; 18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.

Prayer
Lord, when my enemy falls, don’t let me rejoice in their tragedy. Don’t let vengeance be an element of the person you have fashioned me to be. When other’s suffer for their sin, give me the strength to pray for their healing, both in the natural and in the spiritual. Amen

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An Outside Perspective

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 12

Gold Nugget
Verse 15: 
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.

Commentary
The focus of today’s “gold nugget” is one of the foundational themes of the book of Proverbs. As with any important fundamental, its learning and need for application is best applied through repetitive administration. That is to say, the writer attempts to hammer into us. A term that I tend to use to describe the deficiency as described in today’s verse is “Reflection Disorder”. Although not a medical or psychiatric term, it speaks for itself. Usually the most accurate perspective of who we are is from someone other than ourselves. Just as a mother’s opinion of her child in the school talent contest, we are very partial towards ourselves. We are often our own biggest fan and have a blind love toward ourselves and will overlook our own weaknesses. The truest judgment of who we are is from someone on the outside. Now, not everyone has the discernment or love for you in order to guarantee their opinion of you will be accurate, but be sure that we can set out on our own and fail to ever see who we really are or are becoming. We need a steady dose of accountability and council to ensure we are staying in tune with God. Today’s “gold nugget” simply says, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.If we are going to be wise and keep from harm, we must open ourselves up to people that are sincere in their love for us and allow them to have input into our life. In today’s society, this is a foreign concept. Our society today is one of individual evaluation with our own set of criteria. We should put confidence in the blueprint that God designed that includes others as being part of our personal growth. It may not be convenient and may cause us to sacrifice our pride, but if you don’t have this type of person in your life, it isn't God’s fault. If you are open to it, He will provide you with a brother or sister to be there for you. The question is, “If He provides it, will you accept and apply it?”

Prayer
Lord, not long ago you sent someone to me with council that didn't seem “wise
in my own eyes”, but somehow I opened up to it. I did “heed to the counsel”, and you have done a work in me as a result. Thank you for letting someone with an outside and different perspective speak truth over me. Help me to incorporate more godly counsel in my life as you send it. Amen

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A Means to an End

Reading For Today: Proverb Chapter 11

Gold Nugget
Verse 19: 
As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”

Commentary
“What comes around goes around” does not always have a negative connotation. One of the most quoted scriptures is found in Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This verse goes well with today’s “gold nugget”, As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.” The path you take on earth is heading to either life or death. There isn't an in-between, middle road or option “C”. I've struggled with trying to be healthy over the years. It's been and up and down battle, but one thing I've found to be true is I’m either getting thinner or getting fatter. I know that there is a place of maintaining your weight, but that is option “C” and I have determined it doesn't exist for me. When I pull up to the drive thru and can choose either a cheeseburger or a grilled chicken sandwich without mayo, I'm deciding right then whether to get fatter or thinner. Now I am not saying that the decision you make today will determine either end so abruptly, but continued practicing of one or the other will bring the truth of this passage in Romans and today’s “gold nugget” into play. A verse that always seems to make its way into these devotions comes to mind once again and seems appropriate. It is one that if truly adopted into our thinking, would transform our entire approach to living. “7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

Prayer
Lord, our decisions do have effects, both short term and long term. Help us to truly grasp the importance of gaining the spiritual maturity to benefit from applying this truth to our daily living. Amen

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Practicing Christianity

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 9

Gold Nugget
Verse 9: 
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Commentary
Several ministers were gathered together visiting. Each took turns as they shared what wondrous and marvelous things God was doing in their respective churches. One pastor spoke of the blessed series God had instructed him to preach on for the past month. Another spoke of the abundant knowledge that God had revealed to him, and yet another bragged of how much of the scriptures he could quote in several languages. Week in and week out these ministers would meet and swap stories of how God used them and how successful they were.  Every week there remained one silent participant. It was an elderly man that had long since retired from pastoring. The younger men considered him old and out of touch. Normally not giving him much notice, one day the ministers chimed him in. “Hey old timer”, they said. “You sit there every week and never contribute to our conversation. What gives?” The old man, sat there at the edge of his seat, hat pointing towards the ground with old white knuckled hands gripping firmly around his cane. He spoke with a crackling voice without ever looking up. The brim of his hat still covers his face as he looks down and replies, “I already know what I know; I want to know what you know.” Today's "gold nugget says, Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

The truth is, these younger men had already arrived at their destination. They no longer need instructions. In their minds, they had attained their prime and were “beating their chest” in victory. It’s amazing that we can “arrive” at a level where we no longer need to be instructed. Years ago I went to see my favorite doctor. He's long since passed and was quit old even then, but I’ll never forget what happened in his office one day. After giving me an exam, he confessed that he was at a loss for what was going on with me. He broke out a book and started going though symptoms. He even called another doctor in to get help. I was amazed at how honest he was with what he didn’t know. In the end, his humility pointed him in the right direction and everything turned out fine. Many doctors would have diagnosed the wrong thing before being so transparent. It’s amazing that, because of the complexity and ever learning atmosphere in medicine, it is still considered a “practice”. Even in law, the interpretation of the law is referred to “practicing” law. How ironic is it that the same approach isn’t acknowledged in spiritual and biblical things. In reality, we are “practicing” Christianity. We are like the old man... ever learning… and then learning still.


Prayer
Lord, I do thank you for the things you have taught me, but want to remain humble enough to learn from those that you have put around me or put me around. Remind me of how much more I need to learn and the paths that will lead me there. Amen

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