Preventative Maintenance

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22

Gold Nugget
Verse 3:A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”

Commentary
While reviewing the upcoming work schedule, a young fellow in the business that I am in asked what a PM was. I proceeded to tell him about the concept of "preventative maintenance". I shared with him the difference between waiting until something is broke to fix it as opposed to being attentive, taking care and caution to prevent things from going wrong. Changing the AC filter regularly can prevent costly repairs down the road. Such is the wisdom provided in today's "gold nugget". Christians would do better to participate in a spiritual Preventative Maintenance program. A spiritual program that foresees trouble and “break-downs”, and then takes the necessary action to "prevent" them. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” Many of us wait until we have fallen flat on our spiritual faces before we will look to God to get us out of our mess. It is usually a lot more costly and difficult to recover from. We must be aware of our weaknesses and steer clear of those areas. That is a "preventative" attitude and a spiritually mature Christian practices this type of preventative maintenance. Do you know what your week areas are?

Prayer
Lord, help us to be aware of the areas in our life that we are not spiritually developed in and stay clear of temptation. Help us to be humble enough to know they exist and mature enough to take the long way around if necessary. Amen


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Earning Grace

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 21

Gold Nugget
Verse 3:To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

Commentary
One of the things that I am very sure of is the fact that we cannot earn grace. That is not a new concept and gives me plenty of wiggle room. What I would like to do today is narrow down a piece of that concept that may not be so familiar to you. When we say that we cannot earn grace, we are usually discussing how we obtain salvation. More specifically that we cannot earn salvation. We are saved by grace and not our own doing. This is true, but let’s takes it to a more applicable scenario than salvation alone. For those of us that are saved, we may not see the present need for understanding “we cannot earn grace” outside of a salvation context. It is by the grace of God that we are saved. We cannot earn salvation through our good deeds and works, and yet we violate the fullness of this truth on a routine basis. Almost more so, for those of us who understand this truth the most. Many of us who hold fast to the “we cannot earn grace” doctrine, violate its purpose by walking in somewhat alignment with His Word. We lean on the fact that our accepting of His salvation gives us the flexibility (grace) to take a half-hearted approach to walking in His precepts. In this, we have assumed that our acceptance of His salvation has "earned us grace" concerning our obedience to Him. How can we say that we cannot earn grace and yet embrace grace just because we have accepted it? Grace is not ours, it is His. He expects us to walk in obedience without considering how much “wiggle room” we have. I have seen a rather overwhelming presence of “earned grace” being exercised among Christians. I’ve seen people that have walked with the Lord - turn and take a vacation from the principles and even boundaries that He established in their lives. They feel like their repeated obedience has earned them some leeway. This is grace that they think they have earned. This is not only common and horribly wrong, but is embraced by many of us that hold fast to the fact that “we cannot earn grace”. We are using one side of the truth. The truth that is convenient for us. Our run of obedience, our many charities and sacrifices have not earned us grace or wiggle room concerning God’s precepts. Remember what Samuel told Saul, “…has the Lord as great delight in sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” God would have us to walk in continued obedience without considering how it relates to our streak of obedience, our many charities or sacrifices. We cannot earn grace for salvation just as assuredly as we cannot earn grace for resident sin in our lives. Is the grace there? Yes. Did we earn it? No.

Prayer
Lord, I too often lean on my past victories and sacrifices in order to justify a break in sticking to your commands and expectations. This is nothing other than expecting that I have earned grace. For that Lord, I repent. I accept your forgiveness and will strive to walk upright before you. Amen


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The Last Word

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 20

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

Commentary
Have you ever accused or been accused of having to have the last word? Often people will accuse someone else of having to get the last word as a way to get in the last word themselves. The truth is, we seem to relate the last word as the winning word. Walking away from a physical confrontation for guys requires a lot of humility or an equal amount of fear. Walking away out of fear isn’t very noble. Walking away out of wisdom is extremely noble. It is often just as difficult to walk away from a quarrel. When others accuse you it is instinctive to defend yourself, but not always the wisest approach. The world will teach you to defend your name and sometimes it is the right thing to do. However, Jesus said in The Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Even though people will not acknowledge that they are attacking you because of your commitment to Christ, if you are being attacked because of the choices you made as a result of your relationship and commitment to Him, they are attacking you because of Christ. If they go around lying about you and you choose to take the high road by holding your tongue, you will be blessed of God for your self control, humility and obedience. Jesus went on to say in The Sermon on the Mount, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Not every attack is worthy of a defense. Let God fight your battles. If you are innocent and wrongly accused, remember who the Judge is and trust that their accusations can only go as far as He allows. Today’s “gold nugget” says, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” Don’t worry about getting the last word. It takes more discipline to walk away from a fight, but God is a rewarder to those that obey this principle. Any fool can start a fight, but a wise person will end one.
    
Prayer
Lord, it can be so hard choosing to stay silent as people lie against us, but we know you are in control. Thank you for reminding us of this and giving us the strength to stay faithful. Amen


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Pay it Forward

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 19

Gold Nugget
Verse 20: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.”

Commentary
Many people want to teach and instruct others in areas that they themselves have not learned. We all know someone that seems to have expertise on every subject. If you mention something about hunting, they will begin to tell you all there is to know about hunting. If you mention skiing, they will tell you all about the details of skiing. Hanging around this person long enough will allow you to see them fumble the ball as they speak on something you have actual knowledge of. You find that they are really just experts at pretending. We think of this person and probably get a little embarrassed for them. Now that we have isolated this person, imagine that you are the one who seems to be the expert in all matters. It isn’t difficult if you really try. One of the ways to imagine yourself as the subject matter expert in all things is to imagine your inability to listen and receive instructions from others. Well, surely we aren’t that way in all things, but we may be in some. It may be some of the most important things. How good are we at receiving counsel and instructions in matters like how we behave and live our lives? Not all of the characters we described above are simply revealed through how much they talk, but also how little they listen. We may not boast of our knowledge, but being too prideful to receive counsel and instructions will put us in the same place. If we listen now and learn, we will one day have the wisdom in our inventory to be able to pay it forward. That is to say, if we receive life preserving counsel and instruction today, one day we will be able to help give life preserving counsel to others. We can pay it forward as mentioned in today’s “gold nugget”, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.”

Prayer
Lord, help us to gather all of the wisdom we can today through receiving counsel and instruction, so  we may be able to posses and share wisdom in our latter days. Amen


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The Backslider

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 14

Gold Nugget
Verse 14:  “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”

Commentary
I've often heard the saying, "I'm going to give him enough rope to hang himself." Although it sounds horrible, there is a certain amount of truth to be gleaned from the concept. For starters, God doesn't hang people or send them to hell. I subscribe to the belief that we choose eternal separation from Him by rejecting His salvation. He gave us just enough free will to hang ourselves. He doesn't want us to abandon His outreaching arms, but He created us for His own purpose and its option to what the alternative would be. It doesn't bother me that my turning away from Him will result in everlasting destruction. I have determined that I want to spend eternity with Him and don't mind trading ownership of my life over to Him for keeping. If I choose to "backslide", the ways that I trade Him for will consume me - "The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways". The deception so readily portrayed by the enemy will lead you to think that "sliding" away from the Lord will only be a small pause in your relationship Him. The whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" does not work when turning away from the Lord. The truth is, turning away from Him for your own devices will actually cause you to be owned by them more and more. Your relationship with Jesus is one that must be maintained. Do not put Him on the back burner. He must be the premiere focus of your affections and source for your provision and direction.

Prayer
Lord, I know how easy it is to allow the problems, distractions and self concerns take from our walk. I will remember that you are my reason for living and must not allow our relationship to take a backseat to anything. Amen


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The Honest Truth

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 11

Gold Nugget
 Verse 1-2: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes shame;”

Commentary
I believe the scriptures are clear concerning being dishonest. My focus today is not honesty between you and your spouse, a friend, etc. Some folks have been known to say, "I might take a tool home from work, but I won't steal from anyone." Also you may have heard, I may not report all of my income on my taxes and so on. These scriptures in Proverbs are often related to immoral business practices or other forms of dishonesty that is for financial gain. What it really boils down to is whether or not we will admit that being dishonest in any arena is going to affect us spiritually.

When we read about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 it tells us to "put on the WHOLE armor of God, so that we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Leaving out even one part can leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. One of the pieces of the armor of God mentioned in this passage in Ephesians is the "Belt of Truth" (verse 14). Taking short cuts or telling outright lies for personal gain will be voluntarily opening a hole in your armor. Hear these words and do what you want with them. If you willfully cheat or lie in any area of your life, you are abandoning God's expectations and commands and will be exposed to the enemy’s attacks. If God is dealing with you about anything that could be applied in this message, don't learn this lesson the hard way. Be obedient to God now-today and trust Him to meet your needs through honest God honoring behavior.

Prayer
Lord, I have seen opportunity to find financial gain without any fear of being caught. Although it is dishonest, nobody would be hurt from it and I would be able to use it for my family. These excuses will always be available to me, but I would rather maintain your supernatural provisions through my obedience to your commands than to gain all the money the world has to offer. I am determined to live an honest and moral life and allow you to be my provider. Amen


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Loving Death

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 8

Gold Nugget
Verse 36: 
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.


Commentary
Today’s “gold nugget” refers to God’s wisdom. To neglect, reject or hate the wisdom of God is to neglect, reject or hate God Himself. God is Wisdom. These are strong words, but true. God has put forth His wisdom for us to have life. To reject this life giving wisdom is to accept deadly foolishness. To say, He who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death”, sounds unlikely, but is a reality. For someone to love death or intentionally wrong their own soul seems out of our realm of potential scenarios. In order to see ourselves as possibly falling into this type of situation we might visualize it another way. Maybe you have heard that the person who doesn’t forgive, hurts himself most. When you don’t forgive someone you are often the only one suffering. The person that offended you is potentially sleeping well, not concerned with your bitterness. It is said that forgiving someone else frees yourself. That being said, not forgiving is self destructive. Just as sure as not forgiving is self destructive, not conforming, embracing and seeking the wisdom of God is self destructive. The wisdom of God is life breathing to our mortal souls. His wisdom is eye opening to our darkened lives. His wisdom is guidance to the lost and freedom to the bound. All He has to give is liberation, peace and joy. Adversely, the one who isn't embracing and seeking His wisdom “wrongs their own soul and loves death.

Prayer
Lord, I know your wisdom is readily available to me in the bible. Neglecting to find you in your Word is surely rejecting you. As I turn the pages of your Word, please enlighten me with your wisdom.  Amen

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Self Destruction

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 7

Gold Nugget
Verse 1-2:  “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye.”

Commentary
Proverb chapter 7 deals with a rebellious person. The young man in this passage is willingly and defiantly taking the road to destruction.  The woman that is luring him into sin is wearing the clothes of a harlot. She’s loud and rebellious and has no control over her flesh. She is married and does not deny it to the young man she is promising a night of passion. He willingly overlooks what is right to satisfy his own desires. Who can rescue this person? He knew what he was doing was wrong, but as verse 23 states, he didn’t know it would cost him his life.

“He didn’t know the price it would cost.” That is the biggest trap for any sin. If a young man is full of desire for a beautiful woman that is ready and willing to met him at a hotel and have a passion-filled night until morning; he would be there early waiting for her arrival. Even if he was married, often times he will risk his marriage for a moment of pleasure. He would risk his job and his reputation. Take the same scenario with the exception that she promised him all of those passionate pleasures, but acknowledges to him that she is HIV positive. Even the foolish man will not trade a night of passion for his life. As the bible teaches, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Ephesians 5:29a). Again verse 23 says “He did not know it would cost his life”.

Trying to get people to understand that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a) is of most importance to all of us. Often left abandoned after “accepting” Jesus, this wage of death is true in areas other than the destruction of the soul. Affairs can bring death to a relationship, violence can bring death to a relationship, and laziness can bring death to our jobs, and so on. We need to know that willful sin will cost more than we want to pay. It is best for us to avoid sin because of our desire to please God and our desire to avoid hurting Him, but self preservation is an accepted form of discipline. The scriptures are okay with teaching us to avoid sin because of the hurt it will cause us. The trap is the enemy’s lies that convince us that no harm will befall us. Remember this, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  (Galatians 6:7)

Prayer
Lord, I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking my sin will go unchecked. I don’t want to be deceived into thinking that my willful disobedience will not cost me too much. Assure me that defiance to your teachings and precepts will cost me more than I want to pay. Amen


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Basic Training Manual

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 6

Gold Nugget
Verse 21-22: “Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you.”

Commentary
When the words of Solomon were being recorded over 3,000 years ago, most of the scriptures and laws of God were being passed down from parents telling their children of the Lord’s commands and events involving the children of Israel. It was of utmost importance that children listened and obeyed the commands of their parents in order to ensure God’s laws remained the standard for Israel. Today we may benefit from parents that serve God, but are not out in the cold if they don’t. The Word of God is available to all of us that have an interest in what He has to say and what He expects of us. The commands of our father and the laws of our mother concerning God’s commands and laws are right in front of us whether our parents pass them down or not. That being said, we need to grasp the importance of today’s “gold nugget” concerning how we should regard God’s commands and laws, “Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you.” When I was in the Army over 20+ years ago, I went through boot camp in Fort Jackson South Carolina. For 8 weeks, when they weren’t treating us like the scum of the earth, they were drilling every important piece of information that we would possibly need if we ever saw battle. We carried our “Basic Field Manual” in our cargo pockets wherever we went. If we weren’t running, marching or shooting, we were reading, studying and memorizing. If we ever left the barracks without it secured in our pocket, sealed in a zip lock bag for protection, we would pay a price for it. The purpose was to ensure that when it came to the words of that book we would, “Bind them continually upon our hearts; tie them around our necks. When we would roam, they would lead us; when we slept, they would keep us; and when we were awake, they would speak to us.” They knew that we would not be able to survive without this knowledge. It’s the same way with the Word of God. We must get them off the pages and into our hearts and around our necks. Failure to do so will put us in greater danger than bullets and arrows ever could.

Prayer
Lord, help us to understand that your Words were never meant to stay on the pages of the Bible, but were meant to take hold in our hearts and be worn as an ornament around our necks. We will accept this today as conditional for our spiritual survival. Amen


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The Agent

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 5

Gold Nugget
Verse 21:  “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.”

Commentary
It comes as a great comfort to know that God is aware of not only what I am going through, but what lies ahead of me. He knows me better than I know myself and he is keen on what I can handle and what I cannot. A profitable athlete, actor, singer, etc, often owe a great deal of credit on their agent. An agent is someone that knows the industry better than the person they are looking out for and can help them to avoid and recover from bad decisions. Our God is the greatest of all agents. He knows the path that we should take (And He ponders all our paths) as well as knows the paths we shouldn't take. Like many famous athletes and celebrities, we often get so full of ourselves that we forget the one who we should be seeking for direction. He is our representative and our negotiator. We can't take one step without Him. He knows the "industry" and will instruct us in wisdom and knowledge. He is looking out for our best interest and will ensure our safety and well being. We need only trust and obey Him. It may seem simple to say in word, but difficult sometimes to practice in deed. As farfetched as it may seem, we have a tendency to act like spoiled celebrities that have forgotten where we came from and who got us where we are.  Today’s “gold nugget” says, "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” He knows what lies ahead of us and what we will need to get us through. Let's put away our foolish pride and put our hand in His. He knows what our future holds and we can have peace knowing that He is in control. That is, if we have given Him control. Have you? Will you today?

Prayer
Lord, I put my life and direction into your hands. You are fully capable of handling all of my affairs and circumstances. Lead me and guide me, I will follow. Amen


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