Grace – pass it on

September 29, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.
(Matthew 18:23-35 (RSV))

Does this story hit home?

Think about that for a moment.

In all that you have done, God has given you grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus. Did you deserve that grace and mercy or was it freely given simply because you asked for it by proclaiming a faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Could you have earned grace and mercy on your own?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

If we could have earned it, then why did Jesus come into the world to die on the cross and to be resurrected? If we could have earned it, then His suffering was in vain. It was not needed.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Does your neighbor merit grace and mercy? How many times has he been loud and obnoxious late into the night? How many times were you furious with him? How many times has your neighbor sinned against you? What if God treated you in the same manner that you treat your neighbor? In His own words, He expects us to do just that.

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12 (NIV))

There is an old saying, “To err is human. To forgive is divine.” God wants us to forgive just as we are forgiven. We are all human and we are all sinners. We do not have the right to hold someone in judgment when we, ourselves, deserve to be judged.

Grace is amazing. Pass it on. But be sure to explain where the true source of grace can be found.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Dedication and reflection

September 28, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will serve before kings;
he will not serve before obscure men.
(Proverbs 22:29 (NIV))

Skill is a combination of natural abilities and a dedication to your craft. Many times it is more dedication that eventually gets the attention of others, for a person who is naturally talented but has not dedication will not strive to complete the task at hand.

How many times have you seen someone who is truly skilled in an area, but they do not pursue it? They simply waste the talents that God has given them. They have no desire to see what God has in store for them.

It is those individuals who have been given a talent and who are willing to perfect it through repeated use that eventually find themselves in the midst of those who truly appreciate this talent. They are thorough and very good at what they do.

What makes the difference between these two types of individuals?

Perhaps it is attitude!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 (NIV))

If you do everything as if you were doing it for God, how would you perform? Would you remember the ultimate and priceless gift of grace and mercy that was freely given to you? Would you desire to perform to the best of your ability as a way to show gratitude for this gift? Think about what God has given you through the gift of His Son, Jesus. Are you grateful? Do your actions and your labors show it?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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September 25, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
(Proverbs 16:2-3 (NIV))

Have you ever heard someone say “It was just a little white lie. It didn’t hurt anybody.” Have you ever actually uttered these words yourself? I dare to say that even if we have not actually said them, each of us have probably thought about saying them, or something very similar.

What were the circumstances in your life surrounding these words? There may be as many different reasons for saying them as there are people in the world, still, there is probably an underlying theme behind each and every utterance. If you stop to think about it, ego and pride are probably the roots that gave life to these words.

What we consider little white lies are actually our feeble attempts at covering up something. Something that we do not want others to know about because they will think less of us, or they will know that we are not as perfect as we think we are. Most of our motives are driven by ego and pride. Even acts such as lust, envy and murder are all connected to the way we see ourselves and how we see our relationships with others. Envy is simply an exposure of pride where we long to have what someone else has. We justify this emotion by telling ourselves that we are just as good, if not better, than the person who has what we want. It is probably safe to say that even our professional lives and our social lives are controlled somewhat by pride. We long to be respected and live in a big house regardless of whether that is what we are called to have.

Is this your underlying motive for what you seek in life? Do you commit your time to God so that you will be seen by men? Think about that statement.

What are your motives for the things that you do? Would you continue to do them even if you never receive any accolades from a single person? Would you give of your time if only God knew of your deeds? Pray for guidance and pray that your plans are from the Lord. Pray that He will give you the strength and the courage to discern what is from Him and what is from you. Pray that you are mature in your faith to know the difference.

Have you looked at your motives lately?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Most Valuable Prize

September 24, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV))

Just what is the prize that we are told of in this passage? What is the single most desirable thing that you can imagine receiving? Could that be the prize that Paul spoke of?

To most people, a prize means something of monetary value, or perhaps of public recognition. These types of prizes are fleeting. Money can be spent or stolen. The public can quickly turn on you. Nothing that can be gained through the physical world can be a lasting prize.

Perhaps it is something similar to a treasure?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19 (NIV))

If we are told not to store up treasures on earth, and we know that a prize is fleeting, what prize is Paul speaking about?

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

What is your prize? Is it something that has eternal value? Is it eternity in the presence of God through the gift of grace and mercy bought by the blood of Jesus?

Run in such a way as to get the prize!

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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No one knows

September 23, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
(Mark 13:32 (NIV))

Someone asked me about this the other day. Have you noticed all of the attention that many so-called sources are giving to December 21st, 2012 ? This date is the date that the Mayans predict as the end of the world. The Hindu calendar also seems to point to something of importance happening on this date. Followers of Nostradamus also point to this date. Many say that the Bible code also calls for something catastrophic to happen at this time. I have heard that the new age philosophy predicts a cleansing of the earth. I have also heard that Islam predicts a cleansing of all so called infidels.

I do not propose to know what will happen, but no matter what may happen on this date in the not too distant future, we must stay focused on the promises that God has made. We must stay firmly rooted in our faith.

If you stop to take a look at the predictions, we can almost laugh. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. People are beginning to imitate the concept of people being removed from this planet and times of great distress. As the signs spoken of in the Bible begin to unfold and our promises of Jesus’ return draw closer, we begin to see countless stories of mass disappearances, death and destruction. Satan is preparing the world for what he knows is coming. He is spreading his lies so that those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior will not be surprised when we are removed from the scene.

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
(Revelation 14:14-16 (NIV))

It is true that no one knows the hour or the day, yet, we can know the season and many things are indeed becoming ripe for God’s harvest.

Do you not say, `Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
(John 4:35 (NIV))

As believers in Jesus Christ as the one true Son of God and our personal Lord and Savior, we must not fear what lies ahead. Too many people are claiming to know the future. We must pray for them. We must also hold fast to our faith and not let the future be one of despair. We may not know God’s exact timing and what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.

If December 21, 2012 is indeed the day that will change the world, we, as the body of Christ, know the outcome. We have been given the script and we know who wins. Hold fast to that knowledge and do not allow the things of this world to sway you from what you know and who you know.

Keep you eyes firmly on Jesus and your faith firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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September 22, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives
(Genesis 50:20 (NIV))

Has someone ever treated you really wrong?

What was your reaction at the time? What is your reaction today? Are they the same?

Have you stopped to consider the simple truth that Joseph realized when he was in Egypt? Is it possible that God has been using that very thing that they did to you to mature you and prepare you for something bigger? Think back upon the things in your life that you now have anger and resentment about. What were they? Did your life take a different turn because of what happened? Would you change your life and the people that are now in it for what could have happened if the other events had not happened?

Just as in Joseph’s situation, his brothers intended to do him harm, but God had other plans in store for Joseph, just as He has had other plans in store for you. You life is a series of events, and each event helps to shape the person that God would have you become. Each misfortune builds character and each good fortune that follows helps to build gratitude. Each moment will add to the ones before and slowly build the character traits, and the life, that you have today.

Many people do intend to harm us, but take heart, for God will not allow these trials to overcome us.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

If Jesus has overcome the world, then we have also overcome the world through His atoning blood. Nothing can harm us if we focus on Jesus. No one can ever treat us so wrong that Jesus cannot save us.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Excercise your faith

September 21, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
(Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV))

How many of us would be able to stand up to this test of our faith? How many would be able to face this adversity and proclaim that we would not falter even if God does not save us from the trials that we are facing? Perhaps fewer than we are ready to admit! Consider the young girl at Columbine High School who faced this same test and faced it with courage and faith. We all would like to think that we would pass this test in the same way that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego passed it, but would we? If we were tested in this manner, would God be glorified in our actions or would we cower in fear for our lives?

Consider that faith is like a muscle. It must be excercised if it is to be strong. If we do not exercise our faith, then our faith will be weak when we need it to be strong. Develop an exercise routine that will strengthen your faith. Spend time with God through His Word. Grow strong in the Holy Spirit. Then, when you are faced with your own tests, you will be able to answer just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.

“…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
(Daniel 3:18b(NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Focus !!!

September 18, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NAS))

No matter what you may face in this life, there is one constant that you can always count on. This constant can provide a peace of mind when all around you is falling apart.

What can possibly give you peace when everything is going to the dogs?

The assurance that God is in control, and that salvation is yours through Jesus Christ, His only Son.

Do you have a peace about you at all times? Do you honestly want that peace? It is yours for the asking. Simply admit that you are a sinner and ask Jesus into your heart.

Some people experience the peace quicker than others, however, it is attainable. Focus on Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and the rest will come. The key word is to FOCUS! Do not take your eyes off of Him, for it is through His redemptive blood that we are saved and given this peace.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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So let it be

September 17, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

I had a very interesting conversation recently. It involved a very deep reflection upon my favorite verse and how we don’t always recognize how we can fulfill Psalm 46:10 and “Be still” and know God. It is very interesting how our own egos and desires creep into our quiet time with God. Sometimes, it is difficult to discern whether you are hearing God or you are simply listening to your own desires. Let’s face the truth, unless you are so in tune to what God is saying, your desires will not be God’s voice. Even in the times when your desires are what God is calling you to do, it is not always easy to accept this and move forward in confidence. We are only human, and we feel inferior and uncertain about what we are to do.

All too often we do not see immediate results when we do step forward, and as a result, our human frailties begin to take over and we begin to believe the lies of the enemy. Lies like “God wouldn’t use a sinner like you to do anything for Him.”

When we begin to feel like this, we must remember the “Yes” and the “Amen.” God’s promises are “Yes” if we stand firm in the faith that He has called us, not into our desires but into His. Did you know that “Amen” can be loosely translated to mean so let it be. When we proclaim “Amen” we are accepting God’s desires. Once we accept them, there will probably be a period of maturation and preparation to prepare us for what God has planned. During this preparation and maturation, do not lose focus. Do not take your eyes off of Jesus, for when you do, you will end up like Peter.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV))

If God calls you to a task, He will equip you. It is the times when you take your eyes off of Jesus that you begin to sink. It is a matter of focus. Do the one thing that God has called you to do. Even if you feel that He has given you multiple tasks, there is always a single task that is your first calling. Answer this calling as your priority and wait for the other callings to fall into place.

Everything is in God’s timing. Stand firm in the knowledge that if He has called you, then His promises to you are “Yes” and “Amen.”

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Authority and submission

September 15, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(Colossians 3:12 – 4:6 (NIV))

Many people have taken bits and pieces out of this scripture to uphold their beliefs about someone’s role in their household or in society in general.

Let’s take a look at the whole text and examine the overall meaning. Instead of saying that wives are inferior in status to their husbands, or that slavery is justifiable, take a look at the overall theme running through the scripture.

Paul was writing to not justify the bad practices of society, but to set an example of how we are to act even if we find ourselves in situations that are in authority or are in submission. Simply stated, Paul was saying that we are to be Jesus to the people that we are around, no matter how we find ourselves in relation to them.

If we are in authority, we do not need to take advantage of that authority and harm people under our authority. The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. But, we must remember who is our absolute authority and focus on that.

If we find ourselves in a position of submission to others, we must not desire the power for ourselves, nor must we be angry about our situation. Do your tasks with joy and you will be rewarded. Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow. If you go about your day with bitterness because of your situation, others will treat you as you treat them. If, in your situation, you still maintain a glad heart and joy and love are reflected through you, others will reflect these back to you and your situation will not be as bad as it appears.

To use a saying from the computer industry, “Garbage in, garbage out!” Basically, what you put into life is what you will reap. Put Jesus into yours.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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