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 looked 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 in my 40's 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 bodies begin to head south, our character should grow. Whether its bad character that grows worse or godly character that becomes more Godly, we should be ensuring the 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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20/20 Vision

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 29

Gold Nugget
Verse 18:Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.”

Commentary
Whether it be in church, business or family, if people do not have vision they will perish. Vision is directly linked to hope. Without vision, there is no hope. Trying to make that statement any flashier would only serve to diminish its importance. When my family is going through a difficult time, telling them that everything will be okay is only so effective. However, telling them what it will take to pull us through and what we will need to do to get us there is vision. Giving them vision equates to giving them hope. Failing to give them vision will result in them feeling hopeless. When they begin to live without hope, the result will be apathy. Apathy is a condition where someone just doesn't care anymore. That is one of the worse conditions anyone can be in. Today's "gold nugget" refers to people that cast off restraint when they lack vision. They just don't care about what is right or wrong anymore. Whether church, business or family, people that lack vision will soon lack discipline. Children that lack vision will soon lose respect for their parents and break family rules. Employees that lack vision will soon violate company policies and Christians that lack or lose their vision will soon "cast off restraint" and abandon God's principles. Discovering and maintaining your vision is of absolute necessity. When someone says, "That guy doesn't have any goals!” - What they are saying is he doesn't have a vision. Goals are milestones that are present only in a vision. A vision that doesn't have goals to mark the progress towards satisfying the vision doesn't possess the necessary elements to maintain itself. Have you found your vision? Did you lose your vision? Either one is just as devastating as the other. If you haven't found your vision, there are steps to finding it and those steps need to be your first goals (milestones). Purposing to find your vision should be accompanied by confidence that you will find it. That is hope. This can be accomplished through prayer and often times just good solid counsel. Did you have a vision, but somehow lost it? That happens. Maybe someone stole it from you. Often times other people will rob you of your vision by casting doubts on you. They may have told you that you couldn't accomplish your goals or somehow robbed you of your progress. Be sure of this - they will not return it. You must determine that you will not be derailed any longer. Ask yourself who you are and who you are supposed to be, and then start identifying your most immediate goals. It may be as simple as registering for college, getting a membership at a gym or have the nerve to share a business plan with someone you respect.

I know for myself that the areas of my life where I began to cast off restraint towards God's principles were the times when I had no vision. Some of those times I just got distracted and lost my vision, other times doubters came against me and beat me down. Either way, it has always been my choice to cast off the doubt and press towards the mark.

It is time for you to find your vision or recover what was lost of your vision and set some goals today. Will you take the challenge, or will you stay in apathy?

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the challenge to be reminded of what my vision is and what I need to focus on. Forgive me of the areas of my life that have been infected with apathy. I give those to you, as well. 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 posses 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. “Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” We seem to outgrow reverence towards those that are due and seek it for our own before it is earned. As we get older we see that this state of thinking “we know it all” happened in our life. 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 staying “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 often free from the obstacles that they have cleared from their walk. Amen


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Timing

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 27

Gold Nugget
Verse 14: “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, It will be counted a curse to him.”

Commentary
Timing is everything. Making a joke about a chicken getting ran over while trying to cross the road, all while at a funeral for someone who just passed away from failing to cross the road safely, would be considered bad timing. In today’s "Gold Nugget", our hero is greeting his friend with loud blessings in the morning. There is a proper time, a proper place and a proper way for everything. I was once told by an elder preacher; "When someone is going through a hard time and you want to encourage them, don't tell them, all things work together for good to them that love the Lord..." When I first heard him say this, I thought it was horrible for him to discourage me from using scripture to comfort people. After giving it thought, I understood his meaning. Although this phrase; "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord..." comes from scripture (Romans 8:28), it isn't appropriate to say in every situation. When someone is going through a hard time, there are thousands of verses or things we can do to encourage them. When a young mother loses her child suddenly, approaching her to say, "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord..." may actually contribute to her loss of faith wjile it is being challenged the most. Whether we are complimenting or sharing scripture, there is the right thing to say in the right situation. We need to be walking close enough to the Lord to see what it should be and wise enough to administer it properly.

Prayer
Lord, I would like to think that I have a good word to share with anyone or an encouraging message, but I can't properly do anything without your wisdom and knowledge. Remind me that a word fitly spoken is good, but a word not spoken can sometimes be even better. Help me to know the difference. Amen


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Mind ya Business

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 26

Gold Nugget
Verse 17: “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.”

Commentary
Ever know anyone that has to be in the middle of everyone else’s business? This person feels like every quarrel needs their fighting skills. A peacemaker is worth their weight in gold, but people that want to be in the middle of the drama are a dime a dozen. When we throw the word “drama” in the mix, we unfairly assume that women are the only ones that are hungry for drama. We may not use the word “drama king” as we do “drama queen”, but some people love to fight and it’s a deficiency in men as well as women. For some people, ain’t no business like somebody else’s business. Now that we have painted an ugly picture of this horrible person and we have our own little picture in our head of who we know fits this description, let’s turn the critical eye inward. Whether it is a fight or just other people’s business in general, we need to know where we belong and where we don’t. Again, being a peacemaker is a Christian characteristic, but even today’s “gold nugget” indicates that some quarrels are not our business. “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.” When we are too quick to jump in the middle of a quarrel, we may not be aware of all the details. We may have chosen a defense that isn’t appropriate. We may be encouraging someone to continue in a bad direction because we encouraged it with our participation. We need to be quick to bring peace, but slow to choose sides. That being said, we can be just as useless by neglecting to choose a side. It may be popular, but this “I’m not choosing sides” can be encouraging to the one at fault and degrading to the person being mistreated. All this points to the fact that we need to be EXTREMELY cautious when it comes to other peoples quarrels.

Prayer
Lord, I have jumped in on the wrong side of a disagreement before and have had someone jump in on the wrong side of my disagreement. I see how foolish it is and know I need your help in knowing when to get involved and when to stay away. Reading your Words and spending time with you in prayer will help me to know the difference. Help me to apply this proverb today and from now on. Amen


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Identity Loss

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 25

Gold Nugget
Verse 4: “Take away the dross from silver, and it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.”

Commentary
Identity theft is a growing problem in America today. More and more people are suffering from their identities being stolen. The financial and emotional strain can cause enormous hurt and damage. There is another kind of identity theft that is just as common and yet perfectly legal. People have stolen other people’s identity emotionally. It has been said that when couples come together, often times one person’s identity is absorbed by the other. Therefore they lose their identity. Although not exactly stolen, often times it's just as intentional. However, not all identity loss is a bad thing. When two people come together in marriage, they should both experience some identity loss. For one, they are no longer single. Also, they are no longer providing for themselves alone. They begin to think in an “us” mode as opposed to a “me” mode. Another form of identity loss for the best is the identity you lose as you grow in your relationship with God. The bible teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” That is to say, you are not who you were, nor who you shall be. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3) I really like the last part of that verse about purifying. That brings us to our “gold nugget” for today. “Take away the dross from silver, and it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.” The “dross” is the impurities in sliver. Silver must be purified before it is of any use to the jeweler as jewelry. Anyone that knows anything about purifying silver or gold will tell you that it must be put through just the right amount of heat to be purified. In so doing, it will lose the “dross” part of its identity and become pure for the jewelers use. I have experienced a loss of identity. Accepting the truth from God’s Word has brought me to believe that it has been the heat of fiery trials are burning away the dross and that the identity that I have been losing is leaving more of Him to make up the difference. See, its okay for us to lose our identity as we are absorbed into Christ Jesus. The bible teaches us that He is in us, but it also says in the scripture mentioned earlier, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”. Can you say that you have experienced some identity loss since you have been serving Him? Have you been feeling the loss of your identity as He burns away the impurities? If so, take joy in being fashioned in His likeness for we shall soon be as He is!

Prayer
Lord, I welcome the burning away of the dross in my heart and life. I like the work that you are doing as I decrease and you increase. I pray that you will be able to make good use of me as the dross is being been burned away. Amen


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The Avengers

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 24

Gold Nugget
Verse 29: Do not say, "I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work."

Commentary
Of all the things we've learned walking with the Lord, today's "gold nugget" is a lesson that even the most seasoned Christians seem to let creep back into their hearts. I have seen older Christians seek to return an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. When someone does us wrong; they're going to pay for it! As Christians, we know better than to wish or inflict harm on the innocent, but to those that have it coming - well, we have a different perspective on them. We want justice; even if we have to make sure it happens. This lesson seems to get shelved in light of so-called "meatier" Christian principles. In reality, taking our own vengeance is as immoral as anything we might do. Having vengeance in your heart will cause you to spiritually decay. Consider the instructions given earlier in this chapter; "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." Not only should we avoid taking revenge, but we shouldn't rejoice when those who hurt us suffer from their sin. Verse 12b "will He not render to each man according to his deeds?" If God is rendering a man according to his deeds, do not take pleasure in their suffering. As verse 17 says, "He will turn away His wrath from Him". It’s not that we avoid taking pleasure so that God will keep His hand of wrath on our enemies, but we don't want Him to turn away His wrath simply because of the evil He sees in our hearts. When all else fails, remember the simple and well know scripture - "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Prayer
Lord, help me to trust you with all of my passions. I don't want to take vengeance against those who have hurt me. I don't want to see them suffer, either. If you see fit to discipline those that hurt me, I will morn for their sin and pray for them. I will not take pleasure in their pain. 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 too much of anything is a bad thing. The scriptures support this. Even concerning 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, "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 the wrong interaction with ungodly people. This works both good and bad. Much interaction 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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Keeping Up With the Joneses

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 22

Gold Nugget
Verse 2: “The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.”

Commentary
When we get to heaven, you won't have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses. We'll all be Joneses. For those of you that may not be familiar with this old term, this has nothing to do with The Jonas Brothers. I didn't make a typo. "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a term to describe our lustful and covetous nature to insist we have what someone or everyone else has. We weigh our self value too often by how we perceive the value others. Many of us have an outward perspective of someone based on their social status or financial position. This is limited to us as humans. Animals do not judge according to this stature and neither does God. As today’s "gold nugget" says, "The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.” No matter what we do to get self worth or how we measure the self worth of others, at the end of the day God sees His creation. He is the only one qualified to assess value on us. When we finish this time here on earth, He will see one of two things in us. Either He will see His creation that rejected their maker and will inherit eternal separation from Him or His creation that accepted Him and will inherit eternal life with Him. That's it. It's really that simple. All our efforts to measure ourselves by each other are vanity. We will not be put through the Hitler test on that day. That is, we will not be placed next to Hitler to see if we were bad or not. We also will not be placed next to Billy Graham to see if we were good enough. We simply will not be measured by each other. We will be assessed by whether or not we have given the life we received from Him back to Him. Yes, all He asked was for us to give to Him what was already His. He died for us so we could live for Him. It is time that we started seeing ourselves as He sees us and not by the world's standards.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for reminding me of who you are and who we are. I will purpose to remember this and keep things and people (including myself) in proper perspective. 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 evidence in the Unites States proves that we don’t consider it. When it comes to moderation, we don’t have a corner on the 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 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 will choose a life of poverty because the pleasure of staying in bed takes priority over going to work. Many of these 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 want to keep them in proper perspective. I want to remember the Blesser over the blessings.  Amen


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Need a Second Opinion?

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 20

Gold Nugget
Verse 18: “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
Solomon wrote this proverb and gave good advice that we all should follow. If only his son, Rehoboam, would have taken this advice, it would have forever changed the history of Israel. Soon after taking rule over the kingdom, Rehoboam came into a real political crisis. Although his father was considered the wisest person to ever live, he had taxed the people very heavily. The people cried out in protest, demanding to know if Rehoboam would follow in his father’s footsteps. Being caught in such a difficult situation he knew that there was wisdom in council. His father had taught him that for sure. Seeking such direction, he went to the council his father had established. They advised him to consider the needs of the people. Instead of taking the council of the elders, he got a second opinion. He went to his peers. He asked the people he grew up with what he should do. They suggested he refuse the people’s attempt to push him around and make demands. This met more with his youthful pride and he announced to the people that he would take it even a step further than his father and tax heavier with tougher rule. The end result was the division of the Kingdom of Israel. Divided into two kingdoms, they were sure to fall. “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24) …and fall it did. It is known in the scriptures and in history that Israel and Judah (the other half of after the split) would later fall into slavery. It would never fully recover.  If only Rehoboam would have followed his father’s advice as he wrote in today’s “gold nugget”, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” Although he found good council in the older wiser men, he chose to please himself and his friends to his own demise. When making decisions in life, we should consider the life of Rehoboam. Let us not think so highly of ourselves that we will not submit to wisdom and direction from those who have obtained it. Furthermore, poor council is worse than no council. Finding those that will agree with your position is not confirmation that you should continue with your own ideas. If you seek wisdom, you will find it. When you find it, take it!
 
Prayer
Lord, there have been times where we needed council and you provided it, only to have us seeking a second or third opinion until we found one we preferred. Help us to recognize good council and adhere to it when you send it.  Amen


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The Co-signer

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 19

Gold Nugget
Verse 17:  “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”

Commentary
After scheduling an appointment with the loan officer of a major bank, the poor farmer came with his plea for money. The loan officer looked at the way the man was dressed and only followed up with a glance at the farmer's paper work as an act of formality. He knew there was no way he was going to loan him any money. With his nose in the air, the banker informed the farmer that it would be impossible for him to get money from any bank and that he should just forget about it. He informed the banker that he had a co-signer that could guarantee the loan. Knowing the man could not have friends that would be of worth to guarantee the money; he began to get aggravated with the farmer for wasting his time. He sharply scolded the farmer and informed him that he had more important business to tend to. After several attempts to convince the banker, the man was asked to leave the bank. The banker was excited about his next appointment. It was a rich man that was expected to bring a large amount of money into the bank. So much money in fact, that it would save the banker’s struggling numbers that threatened his job. After sitting the rich man down and offering him something cold to drink, the rich man requested something different. He asked how his brother had been treated earlier that day. He told the banker of his brother that needed money to save his farm and how he ensured his brother that he would guarantee the loan. Of course, as you may have guessed, the banker didn't get the rich man's business and lost his job soon after.

Although I made the story up, I believe its lesson is still of value. Today's "gold nugget" tells us that when we give to the poor, you can consider it a loan to the Lord and know for sure that He will pay it back. We have a tendency to avoid giving or loaning based on how secure the loan is. Giving to the poor cannot be any more secure than loaning to a known thief. When we give, trust that the Lord will not let you go hungry. He will ensure you of your provisions. Consider Jesus' words in Luke 6:30, "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back." Consider your charity as an offering unto the Lord and do not concern yourself with getting it back from the poor. If you give to the poor expecting it in return, then you have not really given anything. All you have done is let them hold it for you. Give and ask nothing in return. That is the character of Christ. Do you reflect His character?

Prayer
Lord, thank you for reminding me that my offering to the poor is guaranteed by you. I do not have to fear whether or not my gifts are secure. You are my guarantee. Thank you for your provisions. 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, you will see 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; that seems to be an 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 others at every turn, who are quick on the draw and usually quick to anger. 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 addresses. 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 pray 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 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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Unjust Reward

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 17

Gold Nugget
Verse 13: “Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”
                                                                                                                             
Commentary
Back in 2011, I remember my impression of just how dangerous and violent a world we live in. After the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona the media was in frenzy over how this could have happened. Although the country has been in a moral decline for many years, we couldn't imagine how something like this could happen. To make matters worse, I don’t think we were reacting in a way that would spark any change. It was very disturbing to see that some people went to extents to make it a political issue of conservatives being negligent and somehow encouraging such behavior. Even more disturbing was a particular spokesperson claiming that the mental illness that led to the killings was no different than any other illness. She went on to say that early treatment would have prevented this tragedy. By the time she was done, some people were cheering her attempts to prove the current health care situation in place by republicans was to blame. In an attempt to push liberal views, she made this cold blooded killer into a victim. In that, she has exemplified today’s “gold nugget”. “Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” Although there are some mental illnesses that should be treated just as any other sickness, there are some people that have issues of a spiritual nature. People that may be spiritually bankrupt should not be lumped in with those suffering from a serious physical ailment. Many times people have such an agenda of their own that they can overlook and even condone bad behavior if it somehow works in their favor. They will support or reward evil as if it is good or pure for their own personal gain. The example used in today’s devotion is one of extreme measure, but it shouldn't keep us from learning a valuable lesson for our own growth. We need to make sure that we don’t do anything to reward or encourage bad behavior. Although we surely wouldn't defend the person responsible for the story in today’s devotion, we don’t want to support, encourage or reward someone that did anything bad… even if on a smaller scale.

Prayer
Lord, sometimes we are in situations where we know someone has done wrong, but somehow there is a way that we can benefit from the scenario. Help us to resist the temptation to let something go that we should take a stand against.  Amen


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Presenting Pride

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 16

Gold Nugget
Verse 18: "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." 

Commentary
Many of us hear these bits of wisdom or read them in scripture. The problem is we rarely believe it is as true as it seems. We see so many people that are full of pride and yet never seem to fail. We have a tendency to assume that if others walk in pride without this "so-called" destruction or fall, that it doesn't always apply. Let me introduce the factor that we often overlook or misunderstand. People that are not in a relationship with God may not ever see the direct or indirect results of their carnal living this side of eternity; where those of us in a relationship with the Lord see it quite often. The reasoning is simple when you see it from God's perspective. The Lord may not enforce all of His earthly principle of reaping and sowing here on earth to those that do not regard His principles. God uses these principles to teach us and build us. We are His workmanship.

When you see ungodly people profit from ungodly deeds, do not envy them. They will reap what they sow, whether it be in this life or after. When you see your own pride cause destruction in your life, do not despise it. God is ensuring that you learn and He is able to help you recover. Avoid pride and a character that acts superior to others. If you exalt yourself, you are asking God to bring you down to size.

Prayer
Lord, I want to remember who I am in you and who I am without you. I am nothing without you and if I am something with you, I want you to receive the glory for it. Amen

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Garbage in, Garbage Out

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 15

Gold Nugget
Verse 2: “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Commentary
“You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.” The old saying lines up perfectly with today’s “gold nugget”. You can’t squeeze apple juice from an orange. You can’t squeeze money from a broke man and you can’t get wisdom from a fool. When you squeeze a turnip you get turnip juice, apple juice from an apple and folly from a fool. Expecting anything to come out of something or someone other than its “contents” is useless. This goes for us expecting anything out of people that are made up of evil or foolish devices as well as it goes for us who allow the same into our lives. The other day a friend of mine and I were discussing our liking classic rock. Although some of it is just blatantly ungodly, some of it is relatively harmless. We both agreed that the reason we limited our exposure to it is because of our desire to put good, healthy, encouraging things into our spirit. It is important that we consider our “contents”. Consider the words of Paul in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Paul knew what Jesus taught concerning the contents of a person. He knew that in order to ensure good things would come out of the believer; good things would have to be put into the believer. This is an altering of our contents.

What is exactly did Jesus teach concerning this that Paul was building upon? It’s all found in The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says, in Luke 6:43-45 “For there is no good tree that bears decayed fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed tree bear good fruit. For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit; for figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a bramblebush. The upright man out of the good treasure in his heart produces what is upright, and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

We think we just choose what comes out of us. Actually, that isn’t true. We don’t choose so much what comes out of us, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”; we choose what goes into us. What are your “contents”? Examine what it is you are putting in and you will know. Remember today’s “gold nugget”, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Prayer
Lord, I know sometimes I don’t guard what comes into my mind and my spirit. Help me to be more cautious of what I watch, listen to and contribute in. I want my contents to be something of value that you wouldn’t be hurt to see overflowing from me. Amen


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Showing Divinity

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 11

Gold Nugget
Verse 17: “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Commentary  
The old saying, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”, although not scripture per say, it is scriptural none the less. Today’s “gold nugget” speaks on this very subject. “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” To forgive is to show mercy. When someone has wronged you we typically put them on our short list. So many violations and then they are out of our life. Where did we get the okay as humans who all err, or even worse Christians that have all “erred” and fell short of the Glory of God, to start even keeping a list? Mercy is better defined as “controlled” forgiveness. Basically, when we have a “right” (and I use that term loosely) to be angry and cut someone out, we show mercy by choosing to overlook the violation. That is to say, we don’t even charge their account. There is of course a wise time and place where we have to draw a line and protect ourselves and our family, but where we draw the line and where God would draw the line are usually two different locations. One night I was in the backseat letting my daughter’s husband (boyfriend at the time) drive us home. We went through an intersection kind of fast, this while another car looked as if they weren't going to yield. I expressed my concern for what had happened. His response was, “We had the right of way”. I (half joking, half serious) replied, “Yeah, and they can put that on our tombstones.” He’s a good guy, but the mind set was that of a young man with much to learn. Being right doesn't always make it right. The point is, we don’t always have to be right and someone else doesn't always have to be wrong. Sometimes we need to be merciful to those that err and show the divine character of God. Elsewhere in Proverbs we read a powerful verse of scripture if applied correctly. Proverbs 19:11 “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” We need to throw away the score cards and show the divine character of God that is merciful and forgiving. Is there anyone that you need to show mercy today? If so, conform now to the Word of God and it will be as today’s “gold nugget” says, “The merciful man does good for his own soul,”

Prayer
Lord, there are those that (in my mind) are not deserving of my tolerance and mercy, but I know that I am just as undeserving of your tolerance and mercy. So for that, I conform to your Word that says, “If I will not forgive others, you will not forgive me”. Amen


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To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 10

Gold Nugget
Verse 5: 
He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” 

Commentary
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

These words were made famous to many by The Byrds in the mid 1960’s. Although recorded several times before and since; Pete Seeger was actually the first to put the lyrics to music in 1959. Even then Pete Seeger wasn't the originator. The originator was the very same person that wrote today’s “gold nugget”, He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” There is a time to work and a time to rest. In addition to Proverbs and others, Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. In this book he originated the words that Pete Seeger would put to lyrics 3,000 years later.

Observe these words taken straight out of the bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Sounds familiar doesn't it? There is a time for everything. Picking fruit too early or too late not only taste bad, but ruins it. The same goes for things in our lives. Sometimes waiting too long or not long enough to do or be something can leave a bad taste and be ruined. Whether it is a relationship,  job or anything that has a great impact in your life, waiting too long or not long enough can cause sure destruction. We often want things right now that we need later and also wait to do things that should be done right now. Ironically, as I am writing this devotion, I received a text message with my sisters Facebook status that read “Those that are looking for Mr. Right should not settle for Mr. Right Now”. Funny how appropriate that fit in with the today’s devotion. Only a close relationship with God and a regular dose of His Word can provide us with the wisdom to know the difference
  
Prayer
Lord, I know that I want things right now that are better for later just as sometimes I want to do things later that need to be done right now. Help me to seek the wisdom in your Word that shows me how to tell the difference. Amen

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The Referee

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 9

Gold Nugget
Verse 8-9: "Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."

Commentary
I recently had to approach someone that was so quick to correct, that he was pushing people away from him. The funny thing about correcting someone for doing too much correcting is doing it without sounding like a hypocrite. How do you correct someone for being too quick to correct? It's all in the delivery. Even a novice can tell if your correction is because of your sincere interest in their well being. Somehow, you will be more likely to win someone over through correction if it is convincingly done in love. This person was so quick to correct every little infraction that I promised to buy him a black and white striped shirt, complete with a whistle and yellow flag. He felt like it was his duty to blow the whistle or throw the flag if someone said anything that wasn't precisely true. Even if it was somewhat true and very insignificant, it could not be overlooked. It had to be entirely true to avoid a halt in the game to point out the violation. If I was to make a comment concerning the television show "Beretta" about the cop that had the white parrot, my friend would have to stop everything to ensure that I knew that it was not a parrot, but a cockatoo.

Have you ever known someone that is so fast to correct you or others that people just decide not to engage with that person? Yeah, I have too. For his best interest, I suggested he stick with only the more significant corrections. If someone says that you can pass while driving over a bridge or in a curve, you should correct them. Minimize the amount of correction you render to maintain openness between others and yourself. Weigh out whether someone is even open to correction. If they are, then you have done a great service. If they are not, why sow discord? Use wisdom in how you engage others in wisdom.

Prayer
Lord, I want to restore people that may have been misled or that may have wandered from the truth. Help me to be able to know when someone would be restored through my correction and when they would just mock and reject wise counsel. If I do see a need to correct, enable me to restore that person in love. Amen

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Rules of the Road

Reading for Today: Proverb Chapter 6

Gold Nugget
Verse 23: “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,”

Commentary
Some folks would think of a law as something that keeps you from something you want, as if the law takes something from you. They see it like a pet in a cage where the law prevents you from being free. It is unfortunate that people misunderstand the laws and commands of God and therefore miss the benefits that come from their adherence. If we were to see the laws and commands of God as they are intended, we would embrace them instead of resenting them. I see the laws of God as more like handrails on the stairs, the solid lines on the road and guardrails on the overpass. They are all in place for your well being. God is looking out for your best interest even when you don't know what that is. Just like those little plastic electrical outlet covers in the home of a toddler, the laws of God are in place to protect them even if they don't understand their importance. Unfortunately, we pick and choose which of His laws we will obey. As the child that refuses to stay away from the fireplace, we often will not learn until we get burned. His laws are for our protection and direction. As today’s “gold nugget” says, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life”. Pretending for a moment that GPS navigation technology is 100% flawless, we would be foolish to reject its direction and continue to navigate in direct opposition of its instructions. The sooner we mature and embrace His laws, commands and precepts, the sooner we will understand and benefit from their design.

Prayer
Lord, I want to accept your laws as your way of providing for and loving me. I will adhere to them more and more as I mature in your Word. Help me to understand them and trust you. Amen


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