What Lasts

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 31

Gold Nugget
Verse 30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

Commentary
When I was young I went through more tanks of gas than was necessary. I guess that’s the case with most young men. The thrill of the engine revving under the hood, the force of the speed pushing me back in the seat and the squealing of the tires was more than I could resist. The image that I had in my own mind of how cool I must look pressed me on… on to the gas station anyway. The immediate gratification won over any logical and long term effects. I could pay tomorrow for satisfaction today. I am older now and well aware of years that I have wasted on foolish choices. Figuring I may be half way through this life puts things in perspective, namely time. I don’t make it a habit of concentrating on the past and what I could have done different, but realizing how much I have wasted makes me aware of the more important things in life - things that really matter and actually last. Today’s “gold nugget” reminds us that “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Our bodies are not going to last forever. Our parts wear out, our hair relocates and our looks fade. Consuming ourselves with the things that fade and neglecting the things that last is a mistake too often repeated in our lives. While our human parts begin to head south, our character will grow. Whether it be poor character that grows worse or Godly character that becomes more Godly, we should be ensuring that we are concerned with who we will be when all the other stuff fades. God is interested in our souls more than our looks and gifts. We need to prepare our hearts and accept gracefully without regrets the life that we live. It was His to give and ours to give back. Either way, it’s His now. How are we living in His time with “our” life? Remember, much of what we think is important has an expiration date on it. 

Prayer
Lord, I know I have missed many opportunities to serve you like I should. My own concerns and desires have too often distracted me from the long term plans you have for me. With your guidance and my submission, I know we can accomplish the plans you have for me. Amen


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Falsehood AND Lies

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 30

Gold Nugget
Verse 8a: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me;”

Commentary
I really like that today’s “gold nugget” simply says “Remove falsehood AND lies far from me;” Many versions actually say “Remove vanity and lies far from me;” Due to the fact that the word “vanity” has changed meaning over the centuries, I think “falsehood” is a better translation. Originally vanity simply meant, empty or void. Vanity or falsehood is just a false representation of the truth. How does that differ from lies and why are they both mentioned as if they have different meanings? If the scripture says, “Remove falsehood AND lies far from me”, we could miss something if we just rolled them into one. Let’s see what we may have to gain by actually paying closer attention to the Word. We know what it means to have lies removed far from me. Lies are intentional deception. There are some falsehoods that are not intentional and yet cause just as much damage to our lives. I can lie to you and tell you I am capable of doing your taxes for you, but I can do just as much damage by really believing I can when I cannot. Just because I really thought I could do your taxes doesn’t mean that you won’t overpay or underpay and earn yourself an audit from the IRS. I don’t want to have just lies put out of me and away from me, it is of utmost importance that the truth is the foundation of all my existence. Some of the most devastating unintentional falsehoods are the ones we believe concerning ourselves. Not long ago the Lord dealt with me on some issues in my life where I was absolutely wrong about several things. I was not lying about these issues, but my perception was wrong and couldn’t have been further from the truth. There were things that I believed about myself that were wrong and just as damaging as if I lied about them intentionally. It would be easy for me to say, “I was ignorant of the truth, so God will show me mercy.” Well, yes He is a merciful God, but this ignorance was selective. I had opportunity to see the truth in my life, but didn’t want to acknowledge my weakness. This is not an intentional lie, but it was a damaging falsehood anyway. As we mature in Christ Jesus, we want lies away from us, but we are so desirous of the truth that we don’t even want to overlook the truths that are not convenient for us. We want to know the truth about ourselves more than we want to preserve our pride. I want not only lies put far from me, but also any false or empty opinions of myself as well.

Prayer
Lord, when we look into the mirror of your Word, help us to see the truth around us and the truth about us. Allow your Word and our humility to keep us in truth and repentance as needed.  Amen


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The Slow-Boiled Christian

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
A friend of mine and I were discussing the condition of the Israelites as described in the book of Ezekiel. He said, “The people of Israel had become so tolerant of the sinners, they themselves started sinning a little at a time until they couldn't distinguish between good and bad!” I’d say a very accurate assessment. We are seeing this happen in the US at increasingly dangerous rates. I was watching a television show recently that discussed the changes in American television over the last 50 years. Over the years the acceptable content has changed dramatically. When I was a kid, it was considered risqué to show Mike and Carol Brady in bed together fully clothed. The documentary I was watching about television over the years bragged of how many openly gay couples are displayed in TV today. They considered it progress that more and more nudity is allowed on regular TV. Cussing has increased and expanded to include more words. Whether people want to believe it or not, what the media deems appropriate is quickly deemed appropriate in society and eventually tolerable by the church, then later acceptable to the church. The “Slow Boiled Christian” concept applies here. The old story of slowly adding heat to the water will keep the frog from jumping out of the pot is just like our tolerance of sin as long as it comes slowly. Ezekiel 2:26 refers to Israel’s corrupt priest when it reads, “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” One thing that every Christian should hold fast to is the fact that the Word of God is applicable to all generations. It is not limited to some historical time and place. We are to measure ourselves by the Word of God and adhere to its principles. We cannot allow ourselves to be “slow boiled” by the devil. Seek the truth in His Word and you will not be desensitized by the enemy. As today’s “gold nugget” assures, “When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.” Despite the growing wickedness around us, the unspotted church will outlast all their “progress”.

Prayer
Lord, I know that you have been reminding me of what you expect in me from your Word. You have required that we as Christians stay pure and avoid the wicked practices of this world. With your Spirit in me, I can hold fast to the expectation. Amen


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Pyramid Schemes

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 28

Gold Nugget
Verse 19: “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.”  

Commentary
I have been around long enough to recognize a pyramid scheme fairly quickly. What comes as a surprise to me sometimes is the people that get sucked into them. These people fall into 1 of 2 categories. They are either greedy or gullible. The promise of getting rich is too attractive for the greedy and too tempting for the gullible. Our current economy has opened a wide door for these pyramid schemes. Although they are cleverly disguised by a more appealing name like, “multi-level marketing”, it is still as immoral as any corrupt practice around. The way these cons disguise their “business” is to present it as a consumable product. This is just as much a front as mobsters would front with a restaurant. Just as an illusionist distracts you with one hand while he pulls a coin from behind your ear with the other, these schemes will front a “consumable” product with one hand while they pull “coins” out of your wallet and off your dinner table. The true concept of a legitimate, practical and moral business is comprised of one main element - “trade”. Whether you buy my lawn mower for $100 dollars, you clean my house for my lawnmower or you trade your mower for my mower, it is all trade. When I buy a hamburger, I trade $3 for it. All aspect of moral and honest business have the reciprocal element. A reciprocal business ensures a “give and take” condition. When this element is absent, the immoral intent is present. When the business structure is centered on getting people to “buy” into the company with the ability then to make a percentage off of others that are convinced to “buy in”, it loses its “give and take” element. These recruiters disguised as “consultants” prove the absence of “give and take”. They never give anything to their victims while they are taking their money. Well, they do give hope. They give the hope that if you become a good “taker” there is a piece of the pie for you. Is it true that you can make money or even get rich? Absolutely! Well, that depends on if you are a good “taker”. Everyone that convinces someone to join becomes a “taker”. If you are good at getting people’s money from them, then you could be successful. Will everyone be successful? No. By design, the ability for the “takers” to get rich is to have a successful “taker” to “loser” ratio. The more people “give” the more the “takers” make. The most charismatic “takers” profit off of the gullible people at the bottom of the pyramid. There isn’t a moral “give and take” element to this business. Today’s “gold nugget” focuses not on the snakes that take from these gullible ones, but rather the people that “follow after these snakes”. “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” The fear of suffering in our current economy has left people looking for something to make them money. The most disturbing aspect of all of this is the amount of people in the church adopting these immoral practices. The church’s acceptance of un-godly gain is heart breaking. Resorting to this type of behavior is an offense to God and will challenge Him to stir up His wrath. I don’t know about you, but I will “till my land and trust Him that I shall have plenty of bread”.

Prayer
Lord, I pray you will touch my brothers and sister that have fallen into this immorality. Please present them this truth and I pray they will repent before you and see you heal their land. Amen


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What of Tomorrow

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 27

Gold Nugget
Verse 1“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Commentary
A few years ago I was speaking at a conference in Florida where I meet an extraordinary couple. At dinner that night I was blessed to be seated next to them and after a few moments we began to make small talk. As is normally the case - spiritual people identify each other quickly and the small talk turned to deep spiritual discussion. We talked about our Heavenly Father and His marvelous grace. As it turns out, both of their young adult children had been in a horrible car accident just a few years earlier. Their son had been thrown from the car while their daughter remained inside the vehicle as it flipped several times. As it goes, the protective mercies of the Lord prevented what should have been sure death for one if not both of them. Although the son suffered a broken leg, the condition of his sister was much worse. Family and friends began to call on each other for prayer as the daughter endured 40+ days in the hospital. Testimonies of miracles were shared with me that demonstrated the supernatural intervention from God at every turn. From the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit that ministered to them at the scene of the accident while they lay praying, to miracles that were even proclaimed by even the doctors over the following days, God revealed Himself to the entire family that has strengthened them to this day. They all have a wonderful message and testimony that is very passionate in their hearts. They can’t wait to brag about the goodness of their Savior. Of the entire testimony, one of the things that stood out most was a comment the husband made towards the end. Early on the wife had shared how they have learned to trust God with their children in all areas of their lives. The husband validated her statement when he said, “God doesn’t see death as we do. The perspective that we have towards death is unique to us as humans.” So very true! When it comes to God’s concern for us, our physical body takes a back seat to the condition of our souls. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” We are so concerned with our natural survival and well being that we lose sight of what is important – our spiritual survival and well being  We need to be less concerned with tomorrow and more concerned with where we stand with God today. We are not promised to be given tomorrow, but we can still promise to give Him today and trust Him for the rest.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the lessons and blessings that I received from this couple. Today, I will focus on what I can be for you now. I trust you for tomorrow. Amen


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Mr. Know It All

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

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

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

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


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Protective Walls

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 28: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

Commentary
In the book of Joshua we read the story about the children of Israel as they set out to conquer Canaan. The children, after being set free from Egypt, wondered around in the wilderness for forty years before crossing over the river Jordan to the Promised Land. They had many enemies to conquer. Their first target was the city of Jericho. Heavily fortified by an impenetrable wall, Jericho didn’t feel threatened by this army of homeless people. They had confidence in the wall that protected them from any and all enemies. In most cases their confidence was well grounded. Having a “hedge of protection” is something you will often hear Christians pray as they request protection for loved ones. It is very biblical and is mentioned in the book of Job. Job had a hedge of protection about him from the Lord. In an odd twist of illustrations, I will draw a comparison between these two stories. We can have confidence in God’s hedge of protection around us. We should be just as at peace as the residents of Jericho. Although Jericho’s hedge of protection was not built by God, it was secure to them. We know how the story of Jericho ends. The Lord destroys the walls of Jericho and the Israelites take the city without any loss of life. God, in a sense, lifted the hedge of protection from Jericho and allowed the children of Israel to literally walk in and claim the city. We as Christians have a hedge of protection around us, but if we accept the truth of today’s scripture, we will see that our city walls (our hedge of protection) is conditional upon our obedience. I’m not saying a mess up today will cause God to lift His protection, but continued disobedience has always resulted in him allowing the enemy to defeat us throughout the history of God’s people. We have an unruly flesh that wants to run rampant without reigns. Failure to have rule over our flesh will result in our enemy being able to overtake us as easy as a city without walls. Consider today’s “gold nugget”, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” We all should be able to identify the areas of our lives where our flesh is getting out of control and regain authority over it before we leave ourselves open to attacks.

Prayer
Lord, sometimes it comes from being under stress or heartache. Sometimes it comes from just feeling like we are entitled to a little indulgence, but whatever reason we allow our flesh to start having liberty, we need to be quick to put our flesh into subjection through prayer, fasting, studying and fellowship with the saints and build our walls back into protective order. Amen


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Try Again

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 24

Gold Nugget
Verse 16: “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.”

Commentary
Many have heard the story of how our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, had many failures in his career, both public and private. Although it makes for good emails and inspirational media, Abraham Lincoln is one of the most beloved and respected presidents in US History. His stance against immoral actions and policies is renowned. Although somewhat familiar to many, I have included a few of these so-called “failures” for the sake of discussion.

1831: Lost His Job
1832: Ran for state legislature - lost.
1832: Wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature - defeated.
1840: Sought to become elector - defeated.
1843: Ran for Congress - lost.
1849: Sought the job of land officer in his home state - rejected.
1854: Ran for Senate of the United States - lost.
1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – did not get enough votes.
1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again - lost.

In 1860 he successfully ran for president of the United States of America. Although the validity of some of these so called failures leave room for debate, much of them are undisputed. What is also undisputed is the determination and passion he had for his duty and his country. I really enjoy watching American football, but for those of you that like soccer or maybe hockey, consider this - of an entire soccer or hockey game, the puck or ball seems to make hundreds of trips back and forth across the ice or field without ever making it in the goal. There are failed attempts over and over before a successful attempt finally pays off. Why is it that we can appreciate the efforts of these athletes that fail so often and yet we go to great lengths to avoid even the possibility of failure? Today’s “gold nugget” reminds us that, “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.”  I can’t deny how many times I have failed the Lord. Whether in ministry, family or business, I have made errors aplenty. For some reason, I refuse to allow my failures to prevent me from pressing on. I have been on several diets throughout the years. I would lose a little weight and then gain it back. Over and over this happened. Every New Year I would resolve to change my habits and get in shape. Although I have failed to continue in it several times, I always hold to the perspective that had I not ever tried to lose weight, just how fat would I be today? I lost a few pounds again recently and hope to lose some more, but if I fail along the way, what have I lost by trying? Oh, wait. I know… a few pounds. Let’s try and learn from our mistakes, but refuse to let them sideline us.

What have you resolved to change in your life that fear of failure has prevented you from trying again? It’s time to try to quit smoking again. This time, I think you can do it. It’s time to try to quit drinking again. This time, I think you can do it. It’s time to try to quit cussing, cheating, etc. - again. This time, I think you can do it. It’s time to start praying again. This time, I think you can do it. It’s time to start reading your bible again. This time, I think you can do it. It’s time to start going to church again. This Sunday, I think you can do it.

Prayer
Lord, I know I have failed you on many occasions. I have failed my family, my church and myself. I will not fail to try again. I want to be the righteous man that will rise again and again. I have resolved to serve you for the rest of my life. Amen


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Overindulgence

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 23

Gold Nugget
Verse 20: “Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;”

Commentary
There are many character traits that we as Christians are careful not to allow ourselves to associate with. The New Testament warns us of many. As Paul warned the church at Corinth, "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person." (1 Corinthians 5:11). There is a common trait between the two types of people identified in today's "gold nugget", “Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;” Both of these examples are people that cannot or will not exercise self-control. They both do things in excess. Although neither act is sinful in itself, they both are dangerous when over consumed. They say that too much of anything is a bad thing. The scriptures support this. Even concerning something as harmless as honey, the scriptures say, "It is not good to eat much honey;" (Proverbs 25:27a) In America, we super-size everything, and I'm not just talking about the food we eat. We have, like another proverb mentions, "15 The leech has two daughters, Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, Enough!" Proverbs (30:15-16) We can’t get enough of many of our little earthly pleasures. Whether it’s too much food, TV, alcohol, work, money, material things or anything else we overindulge in, they are dangerous. Dangerous, not only for us to be involved with directly, but even being too involved with those that do. Only the fool actually believes that they cannot be affected by things other people do. Despite all of our self-confidence and independence that makes us believe that we cannot be influenced by others, we are not immune to the contamination that we receive from too much contact with those that practice wickedness. This works both good and bad. “Much contact” with healthy people both spiritually and otherwise, can influence us positively. If you don’t believe this proverb applies to you, remember what else Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Prayer
Lord, although I have been serving you for many years now, I know that I still can be affected negatively or positively. I have seen myself get too involved with others that do not honor your precepts and compromise what you have taught me. Help me to be very particular about who I spend time with and how much time I spend with them.” Amen

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Generous Eye

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22

Gold Nugget
Verse 9: “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.”

Commentary
It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I love Christmas time and as for many of us, it is because of the abundance of giving. Giving is contagious. It is true that many people will be generous during the holidays, while not seeing the joy in it at other times. Once a year they will have an amazing brush with this act of love. Although they may really enjoy the experience, they don’t realize that it is supposed to be a way of life and not a time of year. It is true that the Lord will do as the proverb says as in today’s “gold nugget”, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” However, even if He didn't bless us with anything in return, the joy that is experienced from “blessing” someone else is reward enough for those that truly grasp its worth. The most recognized verse of scripture is centered on giving and is told from the perspective of the greatest giver of all. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He looked at the condition of the world with a "generous eye" and gave the ultimate gift of salvation. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then why not flatter the Lord and imitate Him by giving also. Keep in mind that giving is not always monetary. You can give a listen, give a hand, give a pat on the back or just give a care, but whatever you do – give. Be mindful that some will not appreciate or even acknowledge your gift, but they cannot take the benefit that belongs to the giver. The joy and favor that comes from obeying God and imitating His character is irreplaceable. Remember, although He GAVE, many have not appreciated or even acknowledge it. Nevertheless, He gave. Will you have a generous eye?

Prayer
Lord, I know that you have enabled me to give at times and I am so thankful. Not just for the ability to give, but the joy that accompanies it. I will continue to give to others when I can, when they appreciate it and even when they don’t.  Amen


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Pleasures

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 21

Gold Nugget
Verse 17: “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

Commentary
Too much of a good thing can be bad. We have heard that old saying, but the overwhelming evidence in the Unites States proves that we don’t take it to heart. When it comes to moderation, we don’t have a corner on the market unless it’s a meat market. Whether it’s how we eat, drink or live we consume it like there’s no tomorrow. We are “pleasure” driven. Everything we do is building up to the next moment of pleasure. We sacrifice relationships for moments of pleasure and we sacrifice our health for moments of pleasure. Many of us choose a life of poverty because the pleasure of staying in bed takes priority over going to work. Many of life’s pleasures are okay in moderation. We should be able to enjoy life’s pleasures as a result of our hard work, but these things are not what we live for. If we live for the big house and fancy car we are missing the real pleasure of a life filled with love, joy and peace. The pleasure of family, friends and the relationship with our Heavenly father is the real abundant life. Today’s “gold nugget” reminds us that, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” If we measure our happiness by our earthly pleasures, we will surely miss the boat. Don’t sacrifice the main course for the entrees.
    
Prayer
Lord, I am thankful for the blessings you have provided for me and my family. I am grateful for the extra pleasures that you have made available to us, but I want to keep them in proper perspective. I want to remember the Blesser over the blessings.  Amen


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Payback

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 20

Gold Nugget
Verse 22: Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. 

Commentary
Instinctively we want to see people get what they have coming. When someone has hurt us specifically, we take special interest in seeing them punished. It’s then we really want to see them suffer. After all, they deserve it. This may be our nature, but our nature would have us engage in all sorts of primitive and selfish ways that are inappropriate. When someone has done us wrong, we fear they may get away with it. It is true that they shouldn’t be able to hurt people without suffering consequences, but we are neither equipped nor just enough to teach them a lesson. God makes it clear that He is more than capable of engaging with His creation in order to give them opportunity to choose between love and hate. To keep us out of the mix, He tells us, “…vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). It takes trust for us to believe that God sees our afflictions as well as sees our afflictors. Too often we would rather take matters into our own hands lest God enact His vengeance for us without letting us witness it. However, He has called us to a greater state of mind and condition of heart than to poison it with the desire to see anyone suffer. Even if they deserve it, we should never take pleasure in seeing someone suffer. “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him” (Proverbs 24:17-18). We must not take pleasure in sin or witnessing people suffering from their sin. It should bring compassion to our heart. If not, God will turn His wrath from them because of you. We can live a more peaceable life not having to worry about paying people back. Instead, we should do as today’s “gold nugget” says, “Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

Prayer
Lord, help me to be more spiritually minded than to feel a need to retaliate at every offense. You provide every need that I have, even justice. I will not be vengeful, but will trust you to defend me when I need it. Amen


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The Plumb Line

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 19

Gold Nugget
Verse 21: “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.”

Commentary
In the book of Amos 7:7-8, the Lord uses a plumb line to make an illustration to Amos. Why would He use a plumb line to make a point? To begin, let’s gather what we know about a plumb line. Often referred to as a “plumb bob” in construction, it is a simple device made of two parts - a string and a weight. The string is suspended from a desired location with the weight tied to the other end. This insures that the string is up and down without even one slight degree angled to the left or right. The law of gravity guarantees that the line will be perfectly straight. Of all the advancements in technology, the plumb line is still used to build even the most modern and precise structure without error. Of all the advancements we’ve made, we are all still bound by the law of gravity.  Having been in the construction industry all my life, I have been in situations where I have just “eye-balled” to see if something was plumb. Although it might get me through the moment, I knew that I would have to eventually make sure it is actually plumb. Optical illusions are all around us. The plumb bob has stood the test of time and is still applicable today. God Himself makes this illustration to Amos. He stands with the plumb line that is as accurate and as sure as anything can or ever will be. He tells Amos that the people will no longer “eye-ball” what is straight, true or right. They will use the instrument of His laws as a plumb line. God knows that there are optical illusions all around us today and the only way to measure what is right, true and plumb, is to use His Word. In our society, there are many interpretations of what is right and true. Everyone has their opinion and worse yet, we have our own. None of these are immune to optical illusions. They are all just “eye-balled” perspectives. The only true way to ensure we are walking and living in the truth is to measure ourselves by the plumb line known as the Word of God (the Bible). Our own ways, plans or thoughts are like today’s “gold nugget”, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.” Knowing what God says about the condition of your life and the situations you deal with will ensure your ability to stand. Just as an ancient building constructed with a plumb line, you too will endure the test of time.

Prayer
Lord, help me to remember that I cannot “eye-ball” my way through this life. I need your sure steady truth from your Word to tell me when I am not plumb and out of line. When you do show me, help me to be humble enough to allow the necessary adjustments to get me in line with your Word. Amen


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Speaking Wisdom

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 18

Gold Nugget
Verse 7: “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”

Commentary
Have you ever intended to say something to someone and then was so grateful that the opportunity didn’t present itself? I’m talking seriously confront or maybe even scold them, only to find out that you would have been off base? Oh, okay… maybe just me. I have had this happen and was so grateful that the line was busy or I got distracted. Today’s “gold nugget” warns of the dangers of this, “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” Reading Proverbs and even this devotion, we find that Scripture teaches us to confront sin. Scripture also teaches us to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). How do we maintain a balance? Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Hmm... “the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Pours forth seems to be the indicating word. Pours indicates a free flowing action, but the first part, “studies how to answer”, seems to be the key to the balance. It seems we all either live at one end of the spectrum or the other. We know people that correct at every turn and are quick on the draw and usually quick to anger, but we also know those that are slow to anger and never confront or correct. The spiritual truth and reality is that both of these are wrong. We as Christians do not have the luxury of taking the easy road of living at either of those extremes. We are challenged and expected by God to seek out the truth and walk in it. I like that word “seek”. It ties us back into that key word, “studies”. When we see issues in each other’s lives, we owe it to each other and God to take action. The action is to initiate the “study”. That is to begin by praying for that person. Consider whether or not they are in need of your intervention. How does it line up with scripture? Above all things, be sure that your intentions are pure and that your concern is out of love and not anything else. Don’t be too quick, but don’t be too slow. Al this takes wisdom. Not the wisdom of this world, but the wisdom of God that can only be discovered from a deep relationship with Him and familiarity with who He is and what He has to say. This is revealed most often in His Word.

Prayer
Lord, it has become so clear that my personal spiritual health as well as those that I can or do have influence over, is dependent on my understanding of your Word. Help me to be able to know the truth (from your Word) and by this become more familiar with who you are. I then, with love, can help others around me. Amen


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Faithful Wounds of a Friend

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 17

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

Commentary
I’ve known many people in business, ministry and personal life who surround themselves with “Yes Men”. People want others that agree with them to be their partners in business, ministry and their personal lives. Now I absolutely understand the wisdom in partnering with people that are like-minded. Even the scriptures teach that we should be “evenly yoked”, but in our attempt to make everything so convenient and comfortable we remove the level of accountability and challenge that is necessary for personal and spiritual growth. We do so by surrounding ourselves with people that tell us what we want to hear. They are our favorites. I’ve seen business managers suffer from surrounding themselves with people that agree with them to a fault. I’ve seen ministry leaders that surround themselves with the same and suffer from the “One-Man Show Syndrome” (I think I just invented a new disease. Call the CDC!). I have also seen extremely unhealthy relationships where one person is consumed by the other person’s personality, leaving a single-minded relationship without a healthy balance of contributions. The root cause of this “disease” can be found in pride, stubbornness and laziness. Either we don’t want anyone to think we need their help, we don’t want to move from our positions or we are just too lazy to work at a relationship that involves input from others. One thing we definitely don’t want is for someone to tell us we are wrong. I would rather someone tell me the truth even if it hurts, than for someone to lie to me and allow me to continue down the wrong path. Today’s “gold nugget” reminds us that, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." True friends will tell you the truth even if it’s painful. Beware of those that kiss you even while watching you drown. If we remove all accountability and challenges, we remove the opportunity for growth. Let “Truth” be the highest priority to you in all things and you will find yourself living a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Prayer
Lord, I know you have put some folks in my life that tell me like it is. I thank you for that and pray I will be receptive to people that challenge me to walk in truth. Amen


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A Hungry Woman

Reading for Today: Proverbs Chapter 16

Gold Nugget
Verse 26: “The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.”

Commentary
 There’s no better motivation than a hungry mouth. Once on a construction site a young man was complaining to an older man that he had had enough and was about to quit! The old man asked him, “Are you married, son?” The young man replied, “Yes.” The old man asked him if he was making payments on his furniture, and the answer was again, “Yes.” Further he asked, “Does your wife like to eat three times a day and do you pay a utility bill?” “Yes”, he replied again. Why are you asking me all this? The old man simply replied, “It’s just really difficult to cuddle up to a hungry woman on a cold floor.” I’ll never forget that old story. People too often do not make the connection between what you do today and how much it prevents or ensures things down the road. Today’s “gold nugget” reminds us that, “The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.”  Just like the carrot before the horse, the promise of reward is a real life motivation for the studious worker. A wise man realizes that his hard work today does not necessarily guarantee him a reward today. When he is lying in his bed at night with cool ac blowing over his body, a full belly from a satisfying meal and the comfort of knowing it will all be there when he wakes up is a result of not what he earned today, but because of those previous days when he pressed on even when he really didn’t feel like it. Just as the wise man realizes that his work today ensures his tomorrow, the lazy man enjoys taking the day off not connecting it to him being hungry the next week. The principle of reaping and sowing is as prevalent in the bible as any other topic. The thing we know about reaping and sowing is the seasonal period that it teaches. There are long hard days of laboring before you will have a harvest to reap. Don’t look at your present situation and use that to decide what you will do today. See what you want down the road and do today what contributes to getting you there.

Prayer
Lord, I know that I have a lot of work to put in for a reward that I know is still far off. Help me to keep focused on the harvest time and commit to the laboring today that will bring that harvest in its season. Amen


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Better is One Day

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
 Verse 16: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble.”

Commentary
Chris Tomlin sings a popular song you may be familiar with the following lyrics, “Better is one day in Your courts, Better is one day in Your house, Better is one day in Your courts, Than thousands elsewhere” I love the song and the verse that inspired it, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” - Psalm 84:10 Also today's "gold nugget", “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble.” Although it is said easily, do we truly understand and feel this way. If someone asked us if we would suffer a year of hardships for an eternity of bliss, prosperity and perfect health, we would ask where to sign up. Although that is exactly what God has offered to us, many people pass on this offer. Why is it? I believe there are two things at work in this scenario today. The first is the ever decreasing belief in an infallible, inerrant Word from God. Less and less of us believe that the scriptures are infallible and this WILL lead to less and less people believing in God and therefore, they see no need to live their lives like there is any reward or punishment thereafter. The second is the inability of people today to see more than a few feet in front of them. Trading a lifetime of servitude and guaranteed suffering or afflictions is not worth what they see as too far off. They don’t see the rush or urgency in giving their life to God today. Both of these are false security and can only be expelled by the truth of God’s Word, but it isn’t likely to be read by them. It is most likely going to be read by watching those that live it. Are you living it or do you even know it enough to practice it today?

Prayer
Lord, help us to have a commitment to your Word and a desire to share it with a society that is turning away from you. Give us both wisdom and love to share your truth. Amen

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Rotten Bones

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 14

Gold Nugget
Verse 30: “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”

Commentary
I’ve been in the work force 26 years. In that time I’ve seen the pay scales raise, fall, and rise again. I’ve worked in management a good part of those years and during those years, I've received raises and I have given raises. One of the unwritten and sometimes written rules is to never discuss your salaries. The reason being, even among adults, we still have the same deficiency we’ve had since childhood. We want what others have. When we were toddlers, you could see our real nature uncensored. A toddler can be 100% content playing with one toy and all of a sudden, another toddler has a toy that they don’t. The toy that pacified them is thrown to the floor as they wobble over to the other child and snatch it from their hands. If the other toddler goes and picks up the abandoned toy, all of a sudden, the abandoned toy has the greatest value. We’ve seen this in children and we recognize it as normal for a toddler. Yes, we usually outgrow the blatant part, but only spiritual maturity will truly change it. Outside of being spiritually mature, all we do is learn how to mask it. Today we see the same toddlers in the work force, in our families and even in the church. In the church and elsewhere we see envy of other's gifts, talents, achievements and possessions. They may have grown up on the outside, but many are still the same toddler that can never be content with what they have. They can get a perfectly appropriate car that they’re content with… that is until their neighbor drives up with a newer or better one. All of a sudden, they look back at their car with discontentment. I have seen people do this with cars, jobs, homes, and even spouses. That’s right - it happens all the time. A husband or wife will look at someone else’s spouse, then look back at their own with discontent - even when their spouse is loyal and committed. We have painted a pretty negative picture of this person mentioned in the latter part of today’s “gold nugget”, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” I have seen this person consumed with envy and it is not a pretty sight. The scripture describes it well as “rottenness to the bones.” As far as the rest of us that don’t fall in this category, don’t be so fast to dismiss this application for you. Even for those that have matured spiritually and aren’t just masking their envy - know this, the bible deals with this issue repeatedly and though we may have matured, we may need more maturing still. Take a look at yourself closely. You may have some toddler in you yet.

Prayer
Lord, the truth is, we all have some room for growth when it comes to envying others. Help us today to be content with what is appropriate and have a “sound heart that is life to the body and not rottenness in our bones.” Amen


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Correction

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 13

Gold Nugget
Verse 18:
 “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.” 

Commentary
I've seen folks that get passed up for promotions; others who lose their jobs, people who cycle in and out of relationships and many who have simply missed opportunities. I guess we all have some areas of our lives that fit this description. I know I have missed many opportunities. However, I believe there is hope for me because I feel like I embrace correction more and more as I get older. I want to receive correction, because I know it is the key to overcoming these cycles. I know some people that refuse correction and the inevitable failure that follows. Not that I know what is best for them, but often times the outside perspective is the only accurate one. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.” I also know people that ask for and receive instruction and correction. These are often the people that merit the most respect and trust. This is the person that regards truth and accuracy over pride and arrogance. Having been a manager most of my life, I have often said that I would rather have 1 teachable person on my team than 3 talented people that can’t receive instruction or correction. Correction comes in all shapes and sizes from various sources. Like selective hearing, if we embrace correction from selective sources on selective issues, we limit our personal and spiritual development. The Lord provides correction from His Word, from various people and even certain conditions. The important thing that ensures we receive all valuable correction is to weigh it not by just whom it comes from and whether it is comfortable, but whether it is true or not. Truth should be the ultimate trump card that overrules our feelings, emotion and pride. Embrace truth and you will inherit growth.

Prayer
Lord, I know there are several areas of my life that could use correction. I do want the personal growth that comes from humbling myself and being instructed. Help me to recognize healthy correction when it comes and embrace it. Amen

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Frivolous

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 12

Gold Nugget
Verse 11: 
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.

Commentary
I remember once having a flat screen tv that went out on me. I planned on replacing it, but waited and waited. There was a day when I would have forced it in early. By that I mean, before I could really afford it. I would get what I wanted now and just accept the struggle that would soon follow and figure it would be worth it. Actually, it is worth it… for the first day, but when the struggle comes, the reality of my “frivolous” action reminds me (too late) that I wasn’t ready. Today’s “gold nugget” speaks on this issue, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” Although having a flat screen is an acceptable luxury, there should be many other things ahead of it in line. Things like, my children’s wants and needs. I knew I would probably get a new TV in the not too distant future, but it wasn't a priority for me at that time. The old box TV worked fine. The word used in today’s “gold nugget” (frivolity) means what it sounds like – “frivolous”.   By definition, “not having any serious purpose or value”. Although we can see the financial aspect of this character deficiency, it goes far beyond just the monetary applications. Many of us put things that “have no serious purpose or value” as a priority in our lives. I really enjoy watching football. (especially on a flat screen), but I’m not going to let it take any more time from me than is appropriate. I’m not looking at the preacher , wishing he would hurry up so I can get to the game before I miss something. That is frivolous! Let us allow the value of more productive and  meaningful agendas replace those of little value and we'll be better equipped to serve in His Kingdom!

Prayer
Lord, not everything that I put in my mind and hands have purpose or value. Help me to allow your spirit to re organize and replace my priorities with yours. Amen

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Dishonest Scales

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 11

Gold Nugget
Verse 1: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”

Commentary
Recently I wrote a devotional titled “Pyramid Schemes”. In it I discussed how Christians seem to be getting involved in them without regard to the immoral design and practices they are built on. I lost a few subscribers as a result of speaking out on this, but I also had several people that stood with the truth by forwarding and re-posting the devotional to others. Although I didn’t want to lose subscribers, I will not compromise the truth to please anyone at the cost of displeasing the One I live for. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” With trade being the foremost commerce throughout history, goods have been weighed just as they still are in today’s produce section at your local grocery store. Even in the bible days, it was found that cons would use “false balance” or “trick scales”. Just like a two-headed coin, people would use these devices to scam others. Scheming and scamming has continued throughout history. The ugly thing about it is how it has evolved. Being dishonest has been washed down so much that now people engage in it without shame. I have heard Christians, ministers and even pastors speak of how they lied to the police officer, banker, etc. They don’t even think twice about confessing it. This didn’t always exist among Christians. We should be so ashamed of dishonest practices that we would never speak of doing them unless it was in repentance. Does that mean it’s okay as long as you keep it a secret? No, but if you will confess it openly without shame it means you have seared your conscience and changed the evil of this world into something acceptable. This behavior does not line up with the character that the bible defines us as having. A Christian is one that embraces honesty and purity. Despite what some may think, the Word of God addresses every moral position that a person can engage in and sufficiently addresses how they should behave. The lessons taught in the bible are as applicable today as anywhere in history. Neglecting to learn these principles by neglecting the truth that is so readily available will come at a greater cost that any of us are willing to pay. We will not be able defend our actions on that day. Christian, listen to the Word of God today and purpose to embrace honesty and forfeit “dishonest scales”.
 
Prayer
Lord, help me to be aware of areas in my life that I neglect to fulfill the responsibilities I have in reflecting the true character of a Christian. Help me to be honest in every aspect of my life and turn away from dishonest practices and dishonest people. Amen


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Salty Words

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 10

Gold Nugget
Verse 19: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

Commentary
Often the fewest words are the best. Sometimes it’s that final statement that does so much damage. A mouthful of moderate words can be overshadowed by just a few salty ones. Like salt, a little goes a long way. Just a little bit of salt can add flavor to your food, but just a tad bit more than is right will ruin it. When adding salt to our food, we are very careful not to cross that line. Words are like salt. A little goes a long way. I wish we were as careful when adding words to a conversation. We are less concerned with where the line is from which words can add flavor to a conversation or when they will ruin it. If you have ever attempted to add salt to your meal and the lid fell off, you knew that your meal was ruined. Many of us are like those salt shakers that have their lids just sitting on top instead of having them screwed on securely. We are ready at any moment to ruin the meal. If we are good salt shakers we will have a slow and easy application with limited output. We must know that a little goes a long way. We are to be aware that today’s “gold nugget” says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” A few careful words will add life while a random tongue will destroy life. That being said, I will make this short. We can take it from here and see what we can learn from it.

Prayer
Lord, help us to do more with less. Help us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Give us words of wisdom to replace the gab of foolishness. Amen


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Gone Fishin'

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
"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime". This old proverb may not have been a bible proverb verbatim, but today's "gold nugget" has got the concept covered anyway. Although God created the world, spun it on its axis, and created all that is in it; He took great pleasure in allowing us to be a part of fertilizing it for continued growth and reproduction, both for His creation-earth and His creation-us. I believe He takes great pleasure in seeing us grow each other in wisdom and truth. I believe He takes even greater pleasure in seeing us grow someone to the point that they can feed themselves. Even greater still, growing them to the point where they can not only feed themselves but, can in turn, teach someone else to fish. The process continues and has continued for hundreds and thousands of years. Even one person can hinder a branch in the process. Someone taught me how to fish and it is of great importance to me that I teach as many people how to fish as possible. I refuse to just sit around like a bump on a log. In the process of growing others, we should pay special attention to fertile ground that is ready and willing to be planted in. Our proverb today says, "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." When we find people who are willing to receive instructions and yet we neglect to instruct them, we have done them and God a greater disservice than those we neglect to teach that are not open to receive it to begin with. Maybe we should be especially sensitive to those that are teachable and be willing to teach them, all while remembering to be teachable ourselves. We have been called to be fishers of men and it's about time we hang up the gone fishin' sign.

Prayer
Lord, help me to be both sensitive to those that need instruction as well as be sensitive to those that can instruct me. It is so important that I both receive instruction and instruct those who I can. I want to please you with humility and service to others. Amen


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Knock-Knock

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 8

Gold Nugget
Verse 34: “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.”

Commentary
Today’s Proverb speaks of wisdom; nothing new, right? Isn’t that the point and purpose of Proverbs? Isn’t that what a “proverb” is? The book doesn’t just load us with words of wisdom; it tells us what wisdom is and what its priority in a person’s life should be. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” In other words, better off will a man be if he makes it a daily objective to seek and gain wisdom. It isn’t just an occasional observation or casual consumption of knowledge and wisdom. It’s expected that we would pursue wisdom continually. As mentioned in previous devotions, wisdom is likened unto a woman, rubies, gold and silver. That is to say, it isn’t something experienced just once.  When you met your spouse, that first date was not the beginning and end. As you grew together you grew closer and closer. Going more than a few days without their fellowship would bring us to a place of missing her/him.  We want a continual, daily fellowship with them. It’s just the same with wisdom. We should be ever longing for a more intimate relationship with wisdom. Also, likened unto wisdom, money is something we all seek continual access to. Even though we don’t love money, all of us realize the continual need for it in our lives. Even while young, it is suggested that we gain enough while we are still in a position to earn it and hold on to enough to keep us when we are older. Hmm… not that much different than wisdom. Again, today’s “gold nugget” illustrates our need to rise everyday seeking her (wisdom)… watching at her gates, waiting at her door. How do we apply this literally? Seeking the wisdom that comes from God’s Word on a daily basis is what He expects from us. We should be watching at His gates and waiting at His door by plunging into the bible looking for wisdom from Him.

Prayer
Lord, your Word says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5). Help us to stand on this scripture and have the faith and desire to gain wisdom through study and obedience. Amen

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The Pupil

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 7

Gold Nugget
Verse 2: "Keep my commands and live, And my law as the apple of your eye".

Commentary
I like the two-fold impact that today’s "gold nugget" delivers. First, the instruction to "Keep my commands and live”. It's unfortunate that too many of us do not take this truth literally. To try and live in this world without adherence to God's laws and precepts not only can bring destruction (death either spiritually or physically), but will disable you from the benefits that come from walking in obedience. So the concept of "keeping His commandments and live" can also mean - living a life worth living. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) It could be said that this verse means, "Keep my commands and live a life worth living" or "You haven’t started living until you've started obeying". Either works for me. What of the second part of today’s gold nugget? "And (keep) my law as the apple of your eye". That is to say, keep my law as the apple (pupil) of your eye and you will live a life worth living. What is it about the pupil of your eye that would portray the importance of obeying God? Well, let's look at the pupil a little closer (pun intended). By definition, the pupil is a hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to enter the retina. If the pupil of the eye is what allows light to enter our retina and we remember that Jesus is referred to as the Light of the world, then making God's laws the pupil allows the Light to enter us and give us vision. Wow, I don't know about you, but I find that very exciting. Simply stated, obeying God's laws will allow His Light (Jesus) to enter our lives and give us vision and a life worth living. Adversely, not obeying God's laws will prevent the Light from entering us, keeping us in the dark without vision and a life that will be filled with destruction. I think He made it pretty simple for us today. What will we do with it? Maybe today is the day to repent and conform to His precepts.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for reminding me of how you have entered into my life and given me vision when I have obeyed you. I will purpose to continue in your ways and strive to obey you more consistently. Amen


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